Series – How to Pick the Best Heliskiing #5 – Cost

Best Heli-Skiing:  Cost

This is the fifth in the Series on how to select the best heliskiing trip.  If you are thinking about a trip this season, give me a call or email.

I’m happy to send the best available trips based on your criteria.


Criteria #4:  Cost for Heliskiing / Heliboarding

cost of heliskiing, expensive but worth it

Heliskiing and heliboarding are expensive.  The good news is that it is worth it.  Packages range from $800 to $1800 Canadian per day.  More good news, that is $600 to $1400 US!   This includes food, lodging, and helicopter lifts.  Alcohol, massages, etc. are additional.

Most packages include a guaranteed minimum vertical.  Additional vertical feet are typically $35-45 Can. per thousand.  Everyone in your helicopter group or ‘lift’ must agree to the extra vertical, or groups must be reformed.  It is common to re-configure the groups late in the day to allow one or two groups to go for the extra vertical.

If weather or mechanical downtime prevents reaching the guaranteed minimum, most operators will issue a credit toward a future trip.  It is unusual to get a refund.  Operators vary widely on their willingness to accommodate clients for missed vertical.  Refunds and vertical achieved are often the cause of friction on the last day as type-A guests butt heads with cash-strapped operators.  There is ample room for disagreement about the cause of slow groups and missed vertical.  Negotiation can be successful, but it is best done in private and with a cool head and respect.

Other packages include unlimited vertical.  Some operators offer unlimited vertical on every package.  Others offer it during the early and late season.  One operator offers it as an add-on pricing option.  It is worth comparing, based on your desires, physical stamina and the time of year.

Critics of unlimited vertical believe that clients and operators have conflicting goals.  The helicopter is the biggest expense for the operator. Some operators have been accused of starting late, taking long lunch and quitting early to minimize helicopter expenses.  Those offering fixed-price plus extra vertical argue that goal congruence is the best way to optimize cost and enjoyment.

We recently put together a spreadsheet comparing over a dozen options for a group of heliboarders.   The price of unlimited vertical must be compared to the fixed-price plus various amounts of extra vertical.   We calculated $/K vertical for different packages at various levels of vertical.  Then judgments plays a role.   It helps that we know the operators and can get the straight story on average vertical.  In addition, the time of year is a factor.  March trips offer much greater opportunity to get extra vertical than January trips.   Finally, the group make-up, both yours and others should be considered.

Also check out the cost of travel.  If you have to add a $500 commuter flight or a rental car to your trip, you may have better options. is happy to help do the math.

One more thing, remember to tip, please.  The gratuity is shared by guides and house staff.  It is a significant part of their compensation.  I recommend $50-100/day.


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