A simple history. A life of adventure.
No board of directors, no parent corporation, no fancy titles. From 1974 to the present day, Purcell has been owned and operated by the Gertsch family, who proudly call Golden home. It’s a simple formula that has persisted all these years: love what you do, do it well, share it with others. The opportunity to share the joy of heli-skiing with visitors from around the world is a tradition Rudi, and his son Jeff, intend to continue.
Rudi earned his full mountain guide certification in his native country of Switzerland. He immigrated to Canada in 1966, and his timing couldn’t have been better. He quickly became active in the guiding community in Banff, and started working for CMH in the summer of ‘66. By the winter of 1968 he had a job that had never existed before: he was a heli-ski guide. Working for CMH as a heli-ski guide was not only an unexpected thrill, it was to be the beginning of a lifelong career.
Eight years later, he decided to start an operation of his own, and Purcell Heli-Skiing was born. Golden as a mountain destination had already been established by the Swiss guides who came before, hired by the Canadian Pacific Railroad to safely promote mountaineering in the area. Purcell has proudly continued the tradition of mountain guiding that took root more than a century ago.
A short time later, Rudi, along with other early operators, saw the potential for promotion through cooperation. In 1978, the British Columbia Helicopter and Snowcat Skiing Operators Association (later renamed HeliCat Canada) was formed to define safety standards and operational guidelines. British Columbia has since become a leading destination of heli-skiing, recognized worldwide.
As long as there has been heli-skiing, Rudi has been onboard and out front. Jeff learned the family trade starting at three years old, and has become Rudi’s partner and lead guide. Today, as a small, locally owned company, we can offer our guests a flexible and personal attitude that adds as much to your experience as the quality of the snow.