Johnny Berger

For octogenarian Johnny Berger, aging only means heli-skiing with a slower group.

November 22, 2019 | | Over the Next Hill

For octogenarian Johnny Berger, aging only means heli-skiing with a slower group. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

For octogenarian Johnny Berger, aging only means heli-skiing with a slower group. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Snapshot: Meet a Community Elder

At 88 years old, Johnny Berger is still  flying high. Every winter, the Inglewood resident spends at least two weeks heli-skiing deep in the wild heart of British Columbia’s magnificent mountains.

Working as an engineer on the Avro Arrow and then as an entrepreneur in the truck parts industry, Johnny raised two boys with Gay, his wife of 58 years. The couple moved to Caledon 33 years ago, and when her husband was in his 60s, Gay gave him her blessing to try heli-skiing. “You had better do it now before you get too old,” she said at the time. She had no idea that Johnny would still be challenging the majestic slopes 28 years later.

He has had to come to terms with the fact that his age means he now skis with a slower group, but he is proud that at some point this winter, with luck, he will reach a personal milestone – he will have skied downhill a total of more than two million feet.

Though Johnny acknowledges that heli-skiing is not an ultra-safe sport, he believes the rewards are worth the risks. Finding his rhythm in the endless wonder of pristine snow in high alpine glades and runs is his idea of paradise.

A multifaceted adventurer, he also spent many years both hang gliding and paragliding.

With the help of a personal trainer, Johnny takes fitness seriously, never knowing when he might get an opportunity to plunge again into the unknown.

About the Author More by Gail Grant

Gail Grant is a freelance writer who lives in Palgrave.

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