Summer Guide Update: Mark Rikkers
July 9, 2015

The History of Telluride Helitrax

Telluride Helitrax was founded in 1982 by four Telluride friends: Mike Friedman, Mark Frankmann, David Bush, and Brian “Speed” Miller. The operation, originally named the Telluride School of Ski Mountaineering, sought to provide backcountry guiding services around Telluride.

Friedman, Frankmann, Bush and Speed quickly realized they were a bit before their time with a  backcountry ski operation, so they shifted their mindset from human powered skiing to helicopter powered skiing. These guys were adamant backcountry skiers and knew they all had the skills and snow safety education necessary to start and run a heli-skiing business. They got in touch with the US Forest Service and submitted an operating plan to utilize the terrain surrounding Telluride. A few months later they were granted a Special Use Permit and began operations.

Telluride Helitrax launched its first trip over Mountainfilm weekend in 1983 and has been in continuous operation ever since. Helitrax utilized a Bell 47 Soloy in the early years which fit a pilot plus two people. Typical groups were characterized by one guide and three clients skiing powder conditions in the winter and corn snow in the spring.

It’s rumored that the Telluride Ski Patrol pulled four skiers’ passes for skiing out of bounds which led to the formation of the Telluride School of Mountaineering. Thanks Telluride Ski Patrol class of 1982!

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Photo: Mike Friedman/Telluride Helitrax Collection

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