For those who want to experience heights that a ski-lift can never reach, heli-skiing can let you ski among the clouds.
The premise is simple. A helicopter takes you up to the ski run, drops you off, and you ski down to the pick-up point farther down the slope. This gives you unprecedented access to the highest runs and a more varied mix of terrain.
Besides the amazing views from these heights, one of the best features of heli-skiing is that far fewer people are doing it. That means you can often get runs with pure untouched snow.
There are many locations that offer heli-skiing throughout British Columbia so you should have no problem finding the right spot. In fact, British Columbia is where most of the world’s heli-skiing takes place. You can find hundreds of runs that will take you over glaciers, steep drops, through forests, and more. These aren’t groomed runs, so be prepared for a more wilderness experience while you ski down the mountainside.
Revelstoke, BC has the reputation of having the best heli-skiing terrain and conditions on the planet. You can also find heli-skiing opportunities in the Cariboo, Monashee, Selkirk and Purcell Mountain regions.
It may seem extreme, but being higher in the mountains doesn’t necessarily mean the runs are more difficult than on traditional ski hills. That means that anyone with at least a moderate level of skiing experience can enjoy the thrills of heli-skiing.
All heli-skiing operators who are members of Heli-Cat Canada must have at least one professional guide that joins every group of skiers that heads up the mountain because you are going to be way out of reach should anything unforeseen happens.
Avalanches are not common but are always a possibility when skiing at such high altitudes on natural snowpacks. Your tour operator will know the current conditions, and shouldn’t let you ski if there is a serious risk of avalanche. Even so, it’s mandatory to wear transceivers that would help rescuers locate you should an avalanche strike.
For equipment, all you really need is the right pair of skis. If you already have skis for powder conditions or “all-mountain” skis, you should be just fine with what you have. Most tour operators will give you the chance to rent their skis if you prefer. And of course, snowboarding is another option.
To get the best conditions, not only for skiing but for safe helicopter flights as well, heli-skiing trips are booked from December through April.
Sound tempting? Heli-skiing is extremely popular in British Columbia but it’s not a sport for the budget-conscious. Because you are riding in a helicopter with each run, no more than 10 to 12 people can be accommodated at a time. This means high costs, so expect to pay a few thousand for 2-day package. Longer packages and more vertical feet will increase the price.