Experience the Thrill of Heli-Skiing in North AmericaHeli-skiing in North America translates to getting on a helicopter, excited chatter around you, and feeling the machine rise above the massive and majestic peaks. Ready to take you on an adventure that’s on every skiers’ bucket list.
Heli-skiing, or helicopter skiing, is a popular form of skiing commonly used by those who frequently excel in freeride skiing. In contrast to taking lifts and gondolas to reach the top, helicopters are used to lift you to the top of steep mountains with plenty of virgin powder.
By embarking on a heli-skiing adventure, you get the opportunity to ski on the most remote locations on the planet. Certainly, the views are better with a limitless thrill and adventure.
History of Heli-Skiing
It was back in Canada, in the early 1960s, that the concept of a different skiing holiday emerged. The tour and skiing guide Hans Gmoser started a business called the Canadian Mountain Holidays.
The way Gmoser differentiated himself from the competitors, was by using a helicopter to take skiers who wanted more thrill to the top of the mountains. Consequently, business thrived, and from there on, the rest was history.
Different Forms of Heli-Skiing
Heli-skiing and snowboarding services variate from one resort to another. In the US, most tour operators offer a day pass, a single pass, or a double run pass.
Some companies in the US charge the skiers according to the time spent in the air and skiing passes. Canadian tour operators are more keen to offer longer duration and offer multiple day tours with lodging facilities included in the packages.
Heli-Skiing in North America: How Much Does it Cost?
The cost of heli-skiing depends on the resort and the package you choose for a trip. A single day package in the US costs anything from $600 for a day pass to $10,000 and more for multiple day trips.
Some resorts offer single heli drops for around $200. The tour costs in Canada are somewhat similar, but a single day pass is usually not available.
Best Locations for Heli-Skiing in North America
Alaska in the US and British Columbia in Canada have some of the most challenging off-piste slopes perfect for heli-skiing.
Canada is home to some of the best heli-skiing spots, and one of the most popular resorts is the Whistler. Whistler has been servicing skiing enthusiasts for almost 40 years now. The resort is known by skiers and snowboarders worldwide, because of its extensive wide-open slopes and low angle terrain at an altitude of 14,000 vertical feet.
The terrain includes 173 glaciers and 475 runs. Operating dates are from December to April. Outside the slopes, there is plenty of powder accompanied by breathtaking views.
Chugach Mountains in Alaska
The Chugach Mountains receives an annual average of 17 meters of snow. Since the mountain is located near the coastline, the snow is moist and stable on the steep slopes.
The tours in the Chugach Mountains are ideal for small groups of about four people. Due to the remoteness of the Chugach Mountains, the trips usually involve getting on a boat with a helicopter before the actual ascend onto the mountains on the helicopter.
Once on top of the Chugach Mountains, skiers will have an opportunity to experience untouched pistes with a drop from between 1000 to 1500 vertical metres (3000-5000 vertical feet).
Telluride Helitrax in Colorado
Colorado has some of the best ski resorts and it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to some of the best heli-skiing destinations. The Telluride in Colorado is a one of a kind ski resort but is also ideal for taking a heli-skiing trip.
Bella Coola in British Columbia
Bella Coola is a paradise for heli-ski lovers. The resort is the perfect getaway from crowded slopes. Head there now to experience some of the most beautiful pure deep powders. Bella Coola has a perfect terrain that outlines its location right at the transition zone. This is between a wetter Pacific climate and a dry British Columbia weather. The proximity to the coast is the reason why Bella Coola gets massive amounts of snow.
The best part of taking a trip to Bella Coola as compared to other heli-skiing locations is that the tour operators use small but powerful helicopters that can land in tight spots. This allows skiers to get more terrain. The packages available can last from 3 to 7 days. In peak seasons, tours could only allow 7-day packages.