A heli-skiing trip is the ultimate dream come true for any powder fanatic, and Canada’s terrain and snow record make it the perfect place to give it a go.
If you’re looking for a powder experience to top all others, then a heli-ski trip must surely be top of the wish list. Imagine pristine white slopes of powder, stunning mountain scenery and your own helicopter to ferry you around. Heli-skiing is nirvana for any keen skier or boarder and Canada; with its backcountry terrain and champagne powder, is the perfect destination to sample it for yourself.
What is Heli-Skiing?
Heli-skiing is the ultimate experience for those who are bored with the usual ski-lift accessed slopes. A helicopter will take skiers to higher, more remote, otherwise unaccessible spots with fresh powder snow.
Where to Heli-ski in Canada
British Columbia is the capital of the heli-skiing world. With millions of hectares of backcountry terrain and high annual snowfall, the area offers unlimited possibility for heli-skiing trips. In addition, much of B.C.’s terrain lies below the tree line – reducing the risk that your heli-ski trip will be delayed due to bad weather; trees provide protection from the wind and give better visibility to the skiers.
Heli-ski operators can be found in the Central Interior and in Northern B.C. In terms of climate, generally the further inland you travel, the drier and fluffier the snow. The annual snowfall in the Central Interior is usually around 12 to 15 metres. If you wish to combine heli-skiing with resort skiing, operators can be found close to Whistler, Kicking Horse and Revelstoke.
What to Expect on a Heli-Ski Trip
Heli-ski terrain can include wide-open glaciers, bowls, drops and chutes. Operators will usually guarantee a certain number of vertical metres for your package, which can vary from between 4,350 to 9,000 metres. The amount of vertical covered per run will vary depending on the terrain available and the conditions on the day.
In order to experience a heli-ski trip you will need to be a strong intermediate skier or boarder. This is definitely not an experience for beginners. Skiers or boarders need to be capable of dealing with powder, wind-affected snow and be able to manoeuvre around obstacles, such as trees. If you are unsure whether you have the necessary ability, check with your operator before booking.
Heli-skiing comes with risks, but most heli-ski operations take safety very seriously. The industry has a long history in Canada and many operators have years of experience and expertise to draw upon.
Guides are generally highly skilled in mountain and ski guiding, avalanche forecasting, emergency response and first aid. Close monitoring of snow and weather conditions enables guides and pilots to mitigate risks.
Operators will usually state on their website any certification they hold. Check that they are a member of the governing body of mechanized operators, the B.C. Helicopter and Snowcat Operators Association and that their guides are members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, the Canadian Ski Guide Association and/or the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations.
Typical Heli-Ski Costs in Canada
Heli-skiing doesn’t come cheap and costs vary depending on the type of package taken: A single day, three run package starts at around $710, while five runs costs around $830. Many operators offer packages that include accommodation and meals, and prices for these vary wildly.
The timing of your heli-ski trip can influence prices. Many operators have a high, low and shoulder season. Other factors that can affect the price are the number of people per helicopter, the vertical covered and whether transport to the point of takeoff or lodge is included.
The use of an avalanche transceiver and hire of powder skis is usually included in the price but make sure you check with your operator when booking to be sure this is the case.
Ready to Go Heli-Skiing?
Heli-skiing in Canada is the ultimate ride. Dodge the lift queues and tracked-out slopes and find your own piece of powder paradise – What are you waiting for?2015-09-25