Hall of Famer

Hans Gmoser

Affiliated Discipline(s): Alpine
Date of Birth / Death: 1932 - 2006
Hometown: Brunau, Austria / Harvie Heights, AB
Active Career Period: 1951 - 1991
Induction CSHF: 1989
Induction Category: Builder
Hans Gmoser. Photo courtesy WELT.

Born in Austria in 1932, Hans Gmoser came to Canada in 1951, and began his career as a mountain guide working for Lizzie Rummel at Mount Assiniboine. His pioneering work as a guide was to evolve later into a role as the major driving force behind the growing popularity of skiing, climbing and guiding.

In 1957, he initiated what was to become the most unusual ski business in the world: Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH). It was also to become the largest mountain adventure operation in the country. Conceived as a guiding business for summer and winter ski touring and climbing it was based in Banff, operating in the Stanley Mitchell Hut in Little Yoho and the Wheeler Hut in Rogers Pass and included tours across the Wapta, Freshfield and Columbia Icefields. For many years during this time, he would also travel throughout North America and
Europe living in a Volkswagen tirelessly showing the 10-feature-length films he produced to promote skiing and climbing in Western Canada.

An inspired link-up with helicopter pilot, Jim Davies, in 1965 led to the introduction of the world’s first helicopter skiing business operating from an abandoned lumber camp at the foot of the Bugaboo Mountains in south-eastern British Columbia. Just three years later, he would
open the Bugaboo Lodge and then began a process of expansion into other remote skiing areas and the building of a number of comfortable lodges; the Cariboo Lodge in 1974, Bobbie Burns Lodge in 1981, the Gothics Lodge in 1986, the Galena Lodge in 1989 and the Adamant Lodge
in 1990. Today, with some 500 staff, there are 12 heli-ski areas and lodges attracting over 7,000 skiers annually.

In 1978, at the urging of Arthur Tauck a United States tour operator, Gmoser introduced another novel concept — heli-hiking which now attracts over 3,000 hikers a year. He continued as President of Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) until 1991. Although perhaps best known as the father of heli-skiing and an innovative businessman, his contribution as a mountain guide was equally formidable.

During his 20-years of active guiding he made numerous first ascents including the popular Direttissima on Yamnuska and the first guided climb of Mount Alberta. He distinguished himself on many other expeditions:
• He was the first to reach the summit of Mount Blackburn in Alaska (5030m) in 1958.
• In 1959, he led the first Canadian ascent on the East Ridge of Mount Logan, at 6060m the second highest peak in North America.
• In 1963 he lead the first ascent of the Wickersham Wall on Mount Mckinley (6194m), the highest mountain in North America.

He received Canada’s highest honour when he became a Member of the Order of Canada in 1987.

He was also made an Honorary Member of the Alpine Club of Canada in 1986, an Honorary Member of the International Federation of Mountain Guides in 1992, and Honorary President of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides in 1997.

In 2004 he received on Honourary Doctor of Laws degree from the University College of the Cariboos.

He was also a founding member and Chairman of the Standards Committee of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) and also a founding member and President of the Association of B.C. Heli-Skiing Operators.


Please Note: The ski information gathered here is compiled from a number of sources; it may not be inclusive of all accomplishments. Copyright © 2021, Canadian Ski Museum. For Personal/Educational use only. All Rights Reserved.

Hans Gmoser. Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH).

Hans Gmoser. Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH).

Hans Gmoser, with skis, ice axe and camera leads his group up Mount McKinley in 1963. Photo Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.

1965 Heliskiing with Hans Gmoser. Photo Ski magazine.

Inductee Hans Gmoser and Canadian Ski Museum Chair, Bill Tindale, at 1989 Canadian Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. CSHFM Collection.

Fraser Pullen (left) and Inductee Hans Gmoser at 1989 Canadian Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. CSHFM Collection.

Hans Gmoser Film Collection Launch Video - Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

A Hans Gmoser Movie | Live video mountain skiing

Hans Gmoser - Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

A Hans Gmoser Movie | With Skis and rope

Mike Wiegele and Hans Gmoser started heli-skiing in the Canadian Rockies

Mike Wiegele and Hans Gmoser started heli-skiing in the Canadian Rockies.

Take Flight: Dream Sequence

In 1965 our founder, Hans Gmoser, invented Heli-Skiing, and CMH has staked out an exclusive 3 million acre region across 11 unique areas, served by iconic backcountry luxury lodges - amongst the best skiing on earth. Canada's Columbia Mountains (Selkirks, Monashee, Purcell and Cariboo sub-ranges), pull powder out of Pacific storms at a staggering rate. Situated perfectly away from the warmth of the ocean and naturally protected from blasts of arctic air, temperatures stay consistant and in mid-winter the snow you ski is usually 3-4 metres deep, if not more. Sitting smack in the middle of this powder bullseye, our lodges are home to every type of terrain skiers love including rolling glaciers, sustained steeps, couloirs, perfectly gladed trees, pillows and spines.