Heliskiing – Everything you need to know

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Heliskiing is a incomparable experience. There’s truly nothing else like being lifted to the top of a mountain, to find pristine, untouched virgin snow that you can ski or snowboard down. Here’s a guide to heliskiing in Europe.

What is heliskiing?

Heliskiing does-what-it-says-on-the-tin. You ascend a mountain not by lift, but in a helicopter, which takes you high atop a mountain’s backcountry. The helicopter safely lands – yes, you don’t jump out of a moving helicopter, that is for stuntmen only. Then you ski, or snowboard, back down. Easy.

The practice has been around as a commercial activity since the middle of the 1960s, but in recent years has become a lot more affordable for the average punter. Helicopters have also grown in size, some can carry 10 eager participants to the mountaintop.

How much does heliskiing cost?

Helicopter in the Alps with Italian flag
Photo: © Shutterstock

The price of heliskiing varies wildly depending on where you go. Sometimes you can get a cheaper deal per person by signing up as a larger group, but there’s no hard and fast rule. Similarly, some companies offer discounts if you sign up for more than one drop. Realistically, expect to spend more than €200 per person, as a jumping off point. Remember, you’re not just paying for the price of the helicopter ride, usually you also need to pay for a mountain guide too.

How good a skier do you need to be to go heliskiing?

You don’t need to be an Olympic level skier or rider to jump aboard the helicopter. As long as you’re a confident intermediate, in good physical shape, you can find a heliskiing location that will cater to you. That’s especially true if you do a drop with a guide, which is recommended if you don’t know the terrain, who can cater to your specific needs.

Where to go heliskiing in Europe?

Zermatt, Switzerland

Helicopter above skiers in Zermatt
Photo: © Air Zermatt

Zermatt and the Matterhorn mountain is one of the most iconic backcountry destinations in Europe, with some of the biggest descents in the world. Be warned this is Switzerland, so prices aren’t wallet-friendly. There’s a huge variety of packages offered by Air Zermatt, and the best ones for backcountry skiing will cost you around €400 including a guide.

Livigno, Italy

Diving headfirst (well hopefully skis or snowboard first) into Livigno’s backcountry is an excellent decision. Not only will you glide through the delightful powder off-piste, but costs are less exorbitant at the eastern end of the Alps – especially if you sign up for multiple drops. Heliskiing is still in its infancy here, and that means you’ll find even more seclusion than at a better famed destination.

Baqueira Beret, Spain

Mountains in the Pyrenees from the sky
Photo: © Pyrenees Heliski

Baqueira Beret is a favourite resort among Spanish royalty, and who can blame them? Fly with Pyrenees Heliski and you’re assured breathtaking views across the Val d’Aran. Probably of less interest to the Spanish royals, but of more to you is the cost. Three descents for €460 euro is an excellent deal for a chance to explore virgin snow.

Chamonix, France

Chamonix backcountry
Chamonix’s backcountry is unrivalled. Photo: © Jonathan Gallegos, Unsplash

Chamonix’s backcountry is legendary, but there’s a bit of a catch if you want to explore it via helicopter. Heliskiing is banned in France. However, that’s not the end of the adventure. Mont Blanc sits close enough to the border with both Italy and Switzerland, that you can drop in from either side and traverse back into France. Chamonix Heliski offers this service at €390 per person in a group of four.

Lech Zürs am Arlberg, Austria

Helicopter in Lech Zürs
Photo: © Skischule Lech

Heliskiing is banned in most of Austria. However, Lech Zürs am Arlberg is host to the only exceptions. Expect to see brilliant panoramas and deep Skischule Lechpowder, as a guide takes you down through the Zug Valley. provide you with an experienced guide to accompany you on your descent, and you’re best contacting them directly for rates.

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