Tired of queuing for the lifts during peak ski-season? Snow-park jam-packed with pro’s and park-rats? No-problem – it sounds like you need to get away from the crowds – somewhere with plenty of powder, bowls, off-piste and spectacular views of course. If only you had a chopper – you could go pretty much anywhere - right?
Enter ‘heli-skiing- which as you might suspect form the name involves a helicopter, a suitably qualified mountain guide, you, your buddies and your safety and avalanche equipment.
Heli-skiing is off-trail, downhill skiing which embraces skiing in a natural environment, without the effort which would required for hiking into these areas to enjoy the same untouched runs as you would need via ski touring or ski mountaineering or other means.
Most heli-skiers are looking for natural powder snow, huge long descents, natural terrain contours and features, smooth corn snow, old-growth tree glades, and steep slopes – all of which are close to non-existent in the artificial ski-pistes and snow-parks found in ski-resorts.
Chartering a helicopter and a guide (to minimise risk), enables skiers with little or no mountain sense to enjoy a natural environment in a safe manner.
Safety equipment should of course be used when heli-skiing due to the increased dangers of avalanches in highly elevated natural areas. Remote avalanche transceivers, snow-shovels, and probes are required, as well as a backpack to keep your avalanche rescue gear in.
Clothing needs to be sensible too. As well as a helmet, goggles for eye protection, a suitable hat, ski gloves, neck warmers etc, layered clothing is important as you are likely to be riding in sub-zero temperatures.
Where to go Heliskiing
|Apart from France (which banned heli-skiing in 1995 to ‘minimise man’s encroachment on the wilderness’) you can generally go heli-skiing in any country with enough snow, although the Italians have limited heli-skiing to two locations: Val Ferret and Val Grisenche. Some resorts (such as Canadian Revelstoke) with very little in the way of groomed pistes, but a huge area of terrain are definitely suited to heli-skiing.All-inclusive ski holidays from the UK to Canada will cost you around £1200 for a week (prices via ChaletWorld).
Contributed by Niall Tomas – a powder lover and ski-blogger for the Independent snowboarding holiday Guide.
Article produced for Simply Piste