Series – How to Pick the Best Heliskiing #7 – Helicopters – Size Matters
There are several helicopters common in the heliskiing industry. Most popular with the boutique operators is the A-Star. It typically carries four guests across a bench-like seat in the back; the pilot and guide sit in front. Some get five guests in each lift. It also comes in variety of models: A, B, B2, B3, BA and D. Operators may run two, three or four groups of this size. Most will run three small groups per helicopter.
The Bell 407 typically seats five in the rear; the pilot and guide are up front (With the exception of the last ride home – don’t be shy about asking!)
Bell 204 shuttles up to 7 guests to the powder at RK Heliski.
Bell 205 and 212 carry up to eleven guests, a guide and a pilot. CMH, Wiegele and TLH primarily run Bell 212 helicopters, seating up to 11 guests.
Here I am saying, “I brought 9 buddies. Today, Bigger is Better at CMH!”
There are trade-offs. Bigger helicopters have somewhat longer load and unload time. But the biggest difference is skiing in lager groups. Some terrain does not lend itself to 12-52 sets of tracks. Operators with smaller helicopters, and thus smaller groups, have more flexibility in arranging groups, reaching terrain, etc.
The big advantage of the big helicopters is cost. It is significantly less expensive to lift one group of 12 than three groups of 4. Whether or not the savings are passed on to the guests in the form of lower prices depends on the operator….
Northern Escape Heli Skiing uniquely offers the Koala helicopter, seating 6 guests, and running three groups per helicopter.
The number of groups served is also a very important consideration. TLH offers just one group of 10 per Bell 212, which rocks.
Private packages are offered by most operators, with just one group having exclusive use of the machine. With 7 or more in a group, a private may be the best deal. HELISKI.com is happy to help find the best arrangement for your group.
Tell us how many in your group, and we will give you the best options.
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