Heli skiing is the ultimate luxury ski vacation, untracked snow, small elite ski groups, a helicopter as your flying limo to amazing snow covered peaks, and a gorgeous remote luxury lodge for apres ski, gourmet meals, spa and sleeping. Heli skiing is exclusive, expensive, extraordinary. See our reviews of helicopter skiing British Columbia Canada at Bella Coola, The Purcell Mountains, and Revelstoke.
Top 10 Heli Ski Tip
- Find the best heli ski operations. There are many heli-skiing companies in British Columbia, Canada especially that range from a few days to a week. Some heli ski outlets like CMH and Mike Wiegele serve a large clientele, using bigger helicopters and large lodges. Others are smaller and more exclusive like Bella Coola Heli Sport which hosts just 15 skiers in their lovely Tweedsmuir Lodge and private cabins. Bella Coola’s A-star helicopter seats just four skiers and a guide plus the pilot so you access awesome terrain. Purcell Heli Skiing and also use smaller helicopters for their day heli ski operation.
- Start with a heli ski day before committing to a week, with a heli ski operation located near a ski resort. Revelstoke offers heli skiing with Selkirk Tangiers and Eagle Pass Heli Ski, plus cat skiing, and you can ski the resort on down days. At Kicking Horse you can day heli ski with Purcell Heli Skiing. Also in BC, Panorama has RK Heli Skiing next door so you can heli ski for a day to see if you want to book a week. It’s likely you will be hooked on heli skiing.
- Get in shape. You don’t want to be the weakest link, holding up your heli ski group. Condition are variable, so is the terrain, be prepared to ski anything and everything. Some heli ski tenure, like the Monashees with Eagle Pass, includes more skiing in the trees than big snow fields – so high alpine weather and avalanche danger are reduced, but heli glade skiing is different from the photos of endless snow covered summits and wide open powder bowls.
- Get ready for a wild helicopter ride. This is a big part of the price of admission, and a large part of the fun factor. Flying around untouched mountain peaks in remote mountain ranges is spectacular and exciting. Being deposited with just your skis and your guide on a pointed summit at 10,000 feet with the flurry of snow and chopper blades whirring above is your average commute.
- Heli skiing lodging should be luxe. At the beautiful Tweedsmuir Park Lodge in BC, you have your own private cabin, a hot tub and masseuse at your beckon call, the helicopter picks you up right outside the main lodge after a chef’s bountiful breakfast, and returns you at day’s end to the 60 acres resort compound for an evening of fine dining, with an extensive wine list, and camaraderie with your new ski buddies around the fireplace. There are also places that resemble winter camping with yurts, woodstoves, and outhouses…
Top 10 Heli Ski Tips Continued…
- Be safe. Heli skiing is relatively safe, but you are significant factor. Your guide presents the safety protocol, how to use beacons (transceivers), shovels and probes. But it’s your job to pay attention during the heli skiing safety briefing, to wear your helicopter seat belt, to be aware of your surroundings while you are skiing, and to ski where the guide tells you. Don’t ski pass your guide, or you could find yourself in a crevasse or an avalanche slide. Heli ski guides are highly trained and very thorough in their snow safety checks, analyzing snow stability and weather to assure the safest ski conditions. Most heli-ski accidents happen when skiers or snowboarders ski beyond the guide’s designated zones. Take the heli ski safety seriously, and respect the guide’s instruction, experience, and discretion.
- Dress in layers. Heli skiing is a work out, in good way, from your heli ski safety training to loading and unloading the chopper, skiing deep pow and waiting for the heli copter to pick you up and do it again – your core temp and extremities will fluctuate from warm and tingly to chilly. Technical fabrics with wicking and quality base layers, plus water resistance outerwear to keep you dry in deep snow (and in the event you fall – no worries the snow is usually fluffy) are highly recommend for heli skiing. Goggles are a must, helmets are recommended but not usually a requirement. Magnetic zippers are a no-no since they can interfere with your avalanche receiver.
- Powder skis are key, and often provided/included in your heli ski cost. If not, you will want fat skis or a powder board. Bring your own ski boots for comfort. Transceivers, also known as peeps, or avi air bags are outfitted by your heli ski tour operator as well.
- Eat well and hydrate, drink extra water a week before your heli ski vacation and always start with healthy breakfast. You need energy to sustain you until the on mountain catered picnic lunch served chopper style – in a flat spot on the mountain. You burn extra calories and can get dehydrated at elevation.
- Women heliskiing are a minority (our editor Heather is oft the only girl in the group). Know that your restroom facilities will be outdoors during your heli ski day – call it your big powder room. Pack tissue, and pack out a place in the snow to squat and go. No one said heli skiing was glamorous, but more women when should try and fly – heli skiing is awesome.See our Reviews of the best helicopter skiing vacations and Cat skiing vacations.