Heli-skiing is for the insane, rich and famous. People like Tom Cruise.
Wait, no, that’s not right, let me fix that.
Heli-skiing (short for helicopter skiing) is for anyone that loves skiing, adventure and freedom.
1. You don’t have to be a pro skier to enjoy Heli-Skiing
Skill wise, if you consider yourself intermediate to advanced and are willing to take on a black diamond or two, you’ll have the patterning down. Fitness wise, if you’ve been going to the gym consistently and have the endurance to hit the slopes on consecutive days, this activity will be just fine for you. Of course, adding extra sport specific training exercises would likely increase your capacity (and therefore enjoyment)! Strength training, agility drills, cardiovascular conditioning, it all helps!
You also don’t have to be an experienced powder skier. One of the best ways to improve skill is by doing the activity. How often do we get to experience great powder on our local hills? Chances are, if you’re a recreational skier, not as often as you’d like (and you may not have the equipment for powder). By doing heli skiing, you’ll not only have a guide to give you coaching, you’ll also have the equipment, tons of fresh snow to practice on, and likely become a pro in one trip!
If you consider yourself a novice, it’s always nice to keep your eye on heli skiing as a goal and plan for a future season.
2. You hate lift lineups and freezing in a chairlift
Need we say more?
3. You love adventure and freedom
Glaciated alpine mountains
Naturally spaced trees
Wide open vistas
Untouched champagne powder
4. You get to jump out of a helicopter
Just kidding. Most people opt for the civilized version of exiting a helicopter, but if you want to channel your inner James Bond or favourite RedBull sponsored athlete, that option IS available for the brave and bold.
With the helicopter you can go from the ground to the top in a couple of minutes, while experiencing the kind of views people pay hundreds of dollars for on sightseeing flights.
5. Your family also loves snow or just wants to get away from the rat-race
Did you know that children age 14 can heli-ski? Obviously this depends on the tour operator but with the right company and your child’s skill level, which is the same as in point 1. If they’re keen, why not bring them along?
If not everyone in your family is a big skier, or isn’t quite interested in that kind of a thrill, opt for resort based, or short trip heli-ski operations.
The best lodges come fully equipped with relaxing amenities for that gorgeous snowy getaway. Alyeska in Alaska, is a major destination ski resort so if weather is bad and you just want to hit the local slopes, this is a great place location.
6. Heli-Skiing is a unique experience and some epic photos of you never hurt to show off
7. You can book a short getaway, to 10 day escapes
Tour operators offer multi-day packages, and depending on which one you pick, some will be as short as 2 days although many offer 7-10 day trips.
8. It’s easily accessible
Living in Vancouver, you’ve got the convenience of heliskiing locally in BC and with our neighbours in Alberta. Alaska is also great as companies there advertise offering greater challenge, more technical aspects, perfect pillow drops and wind lips (did we mention the photos).
9. No special equipment needed for your Heli-skiing adventure
Often tour operators will provide the equipment you need for a great time out although you’ll need to bring your own boots (which is personalized equipment anyways), outerwear gloves goggles and helmet.
10. Heli-skiing is safe
While every activity comes with inherent risk, don’t let stories of “2 skiiers found by North Shore rescue after 2 nights in the off limits, back-country area” dissuade you. These incidents are often a result of unprepared and naive individuals sneaking off into dangerous territory in search of “free” adventure.
You’re sent out with experienced, well-trained guides and the best operators limit group size. Personally I always research any company I am booking for activities, especially for a solid safety record.
So there you have it! If you’ve made it this far on the list, then hopefully we’ve peaked (get it?) your interest in this amazing activity. If you’ve been heli-skiing and have some pointers to share, or favourite locations / tour operators to tell us about, comment below!