Heli-skiing: the stuff of adrenaline fuelled dreams. The reward is in the acres of deep, untouched powder. It’s easy to get lightheaded when you’re up to your eyeballs in powder, but bear in mind that it’s a dangerous sport. Do your research; enquire about group sizes – the smaller the better.
Go higher and access more with OnTheSnow’s top five heli-skiing resorts.
For true Alaskan wilderness and the ultimate heli-skiing experience, head to the spectacular Western Chugach mountains. The terrain includes deep powder bowls overlooking the Pacific, steep spines and couloirs, high alpine summit ramps and breathtaking views of Prince William Sound.
You won’t be limited by the likes of gondolas and chairs. The terrain serviced by the Chugach Powder Guides includes the Northern Chugach Range and the Talkeetnas for a truly inspiring adventure filled with high altitudes, endless runs and stunning scenery. The company can access steeps from the Seward Range to the Pacific Coast. Perfection.
Photo Courtesy Michael Neumann
Bighorn at Revelstoke, British Columbia
Heli-skiing originated in British Columbia more than 50 years ago and of the 40 or so dedicated heli-skiing operations in the world, 20 of them are found in BC.
Of these, we love Bighorn. Why? Champagne powder and more than 500,000 acres of diverse terrain comprising of steep and open powder faces, bowls, glades, glaciers and tree skiing – the resort has it all. The region has been a magnet for heliskiers the world over attracted by the incredible annual snowfall of light, dry powder for five decades. What better way to experience it than by private helicopter? There are a number of luxurious operators offering bespoke packages. Many come with attentive staff who can create a unique itinerary to suit your group. Personal chefs, spa treatments and fully stocked cocktail bars – it’s all part and parcel.
In the event that storms prevent your helicopter from taking off, you can ride the lifts at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. At 5,620 feet the area has the most vertical of any mountain in North America so either way, you’ll have lucked out.
Helicopter pad outside Bighorn at Revelstoke
Famed for its light dry powder, resorts in Colorado attract visitors the world over. Lucky then that it has a top-notch heli-skiing operation called Helitrax. Operating since 1982, the guides have extensive knowledge and experience of the region and have led numerous high-altitude expeditions.
Helitrax has access to over 200 square miles of virgin terrain; they operate at some of the highest elevations in the States and frequently ski off mountain tops and in high alpine basins and cirques.
Bluebird conditions and awesome views in Telluride.
Operated by riders for riders, Mazama is the kind of experience that will blow your mind. Riders will be dropped at the top of the North Cascades, nicknamed The American Alps for its snow-capped peaks. North Cascade Heli has access to 300,000 acres of pristine powder on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and can service runs starting at altitudes between 7,000 and 9,000 feet. The vertical drop on their runs range from 1,500 feet to 4,000 feet for a descent like no other.
The company heads out in groups of five people which is at the lower end of heli group sizes so rest assured that you’ll be taken care of.
Something of an insider’s secret heli-skiing destination, the mountain range of Kaçkar has deep, deep powder. The region, found in the northeastern part of the country, benefits from frequent storms which blow off the Black Sea. The experience can be described as Canadian style descents mixed with a middle-eastern atmosphere and unmatched hospitality – it can’t be beat. Heliskiing Switzerland has a base in Turkey and operates safe expeditions taking out groups of four people at a time. All of their guides are UIAGM certified.