What is heli skiing?
Heli skiing is an exhilarating experience that involves skiing or snowboarding in remote, backcountry areas that can only be accessed via helicopter. The best heli skiing in the world can be found in British Columbia, where boutique ski lodges like Northern Escape Heli Skiing offer pristine terrain and powder paired with luxurious lodging, meals, and amenities.
“We make sure that every guest has the best powder skiing experience of their lives,” says John Forrest, ACMG guide and President of Northern Escape. “Exploring the mountains and riding untracked slopes is what it’s all about.”
When it comes to planning your first trip, it’s important to make sure you know what’s involved.
Should I go heli skiing?
Do you love to ski and want an epic adventure? Heli skiing can be enjoyed by skiers and snowboarders of (almost) all abilities but there are some important considerations to keep in mind before deciding if this is right for you including; fitness, skill level, equipment and of course budget.
How fit do I have to be?
Heli skiing involves skiing or snowboarding in deep powder in remote, off-piste terrain. It’s important to have a good level of fitness and stamina to be able to ride all day in these conditions.
You’ll want to be fit enough to keep up and enjoy the experience, so be sure to do these recommended pre-season workouts to prepare for your heli skiing holiday.
Powder skiing can be hard on the knees, so you will want to let your guide know if you have a history of knee injuries. It’s important to be in good physical health and to consult with a doctor if you have any medical conditions that may affect your ability to ski or snowboard.
Want a harder or slower pace? In that case, consider choosing a private heli ski trip. “Our private heli skiing package offers guests a fully customized experience, and we choose the terrain they prefer based on their skill level and how they are feeling that day,” says Forrest.
Do I have to be an expert skier or snowboarder?
At the minimum you should be a strong intermediate (blue run) skier at a ski resort before booking a heli ski trip, and be able to keep going for several hours. From there, it depends on the operator, with many of the larger operations and day heli skiing operators tending towards the less experienced skiers and boutique operators, like Northern Escape, favouring more advanced skiers and riders.
It’s also helpful to have some backcountry (or slackcountry) riding experience. You should be comfortable skiing or snowboarding in a variety of conditions, including deep powder snow, trees, and steeper terrain. (The guide will always choose terrain that best fits the conditions and the group.)
“Typically our guests are advanced-expert skiers,” says Forrest. “Powder skiing is very different from groomed runs and backcountry terrain is also more challenging.”
What gear do I need for heli skiing?
Heli skiing requires specialized ski or snowboard equipment for use on deep snow. When powder skiing you want to use fat skis or snowboards with a slightly pointed nose designed for flotation. Most heli ski operations, including Northern Escape, provide these to guests with their trip package and will recommend the right skis or boards depending on the individual skier and conditions.
Boots are a more personal item though, and you should always bring your own ski or snowboard boots with you on a trip. Some of the other basic gear needed includes a waterproof and breathable shell, layers, face protection like a balaclava, multiple pairs of goggles, gloves, and a comfortable helmet.
Avalanche gear, along with basic instructions on how to use it, is supplied by the heli ski operator.
How Much Does Heli Skiing Cost?
Like most things, the cost of heli skiing can vary quite a bit. Doing a single heli run at a day-heli ski operation may only set you back a few hundred bucks. On the other end of the spectrum, private yachts can be rented out with helicopters that cost in the mid-six figures per week. But generally, the cost in an all-inclusive heli skiing lodge averages between $2000-3000 per day. One of the best ways to save money is booking in the low season which can be excellent and is lower in cost due to lower demand. If you decide to book a December or April heli package, look at Northern BC, where the season is much longer than further south.
Are You Ready for the Best Heli Skiing in the World?
Ultimately, whether or not heli skiing is right for you depends on your individual abilities, fitness level, and of course, budget. It’s important to do your research and to consult with an operator to determine if it is the right experience for you.
If you find yourself scrolling through pictures and videos of ski porn and you can check off all of the above, it’s time to book your first heli skiing holiday. And if you’re going to do it, why wouldn’t you book with the best heli ski operator in the world? In 2022, Northern Escape was awarded Best Heli Ski Operator in the World at the World Ski Awards.
A Premium Small Group Experience
Since 2004, Northern Escape Heli Skiing has operated small group heli skiing in Northern BC’s Skeena Mountains, near Terrace, BC. Named World’s Best Heli Ski Operator in 2022 by the World Ski Awards, our premium ski experience, three boutique lodges, snowcat skiing backup and big mountain, deep powder terrain attracts riders from around the world. Our lodges are easily accessible from Vancouver via Terrace Airport.