The Canadian Dollar is down 20% in the last six months!
That makes it a great time to go heliskiing, or to book your 2016 heliskiing trip to Canada.
Email or Call 866-HELISKI. We will put together the best available heliskiing trip options for you.
Best Heliski Series: Best Resort + Heli Skiing Trips
This is the fourth in our series on the best heli skiing trips. Heliski.com clients often ask us to put together the best short heliski trips. This usually includes 3 or 4 days of heliskiing with minimal travel time and minimal risk. For some, it is more about getting the best deal. Others want to combine heli skiing trips and resort skiing.
Also check out our previous articles:
Best Short Resort + Heli Skiing Trips
Here we discuss the best short heli-skiing trips combined with Resort skiing.
Travel Time / Convenience
When combining resort skiing and heli skiing, minimizing travel time can save a day on the snow. Having said that, some prefer a day off.
Starting at a resort can help heliskiers get acclimated to the Pacific Time Zone.The is true specially for Europeans.
Short Heli Skiing Trip Cost
Another advantage to combining resort and heli-skiing trips is reducing the total cost.
Many HELISKI.com clients would like to get their ski legs before jumping into a helicopter.Combining resort and heli skiing trips is the obvious choice.
Whistler / Blackcomb Resort + Heli Skiing Trips
Whistler is probably the resort most commonly used to warm up before a destination heliskiing trip. Heliskiers connect through Vancouver on the way to all five of the Coast Range Heliskiing operators. And Vancouver is only an hour and a half away.For short trips including Whistler, consider Bella Coola Heliskiing, Northern Escape Heliskiing and TLH Heliskiing.
The Best Short Heli-Skiing Trips – Resort + Heliski
Combo trips with BCHS and Whistler work really well. in fact, we have many clients that do a pre- or post- Whistler trip.
There’s busses that leave from YVR every hour to Whistler, so transfers are super easy. Guests could sleep the night in Whistler, take the morning shuttle to YVR to meet the flight to Bella Coola, and be heli-skiing the longest descents in North America that afternoon.
A sample 7 night combo could look like this:
Day 1) Take a shuttle from YVR up the scenic Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler. Potential to ski in the afternoon
Day 2) Ski Whistler-Blackcomb
Day 3) Ski Whistler-Blackcomb
Day 4) Take the bus from Whistler to Vancouver Airport South Terminal for mid-morning flight to Bella Coola (70 minutes). After lunch and the safety briefing, heli-ski the rest of the afternoon
Day 5) Heli-skiing the epic terrain of the Coast Range
Day 6) Heli-skiing the epic terrain of the Coast Range
Day 7) Heli-skiing the epic terrain of the Coast Range
Day 8) Spend the morning heli-skiing the way to the Airport. On arrival, the guests luggage will be waiting so that they can change clothes for the short flight back to Vancouver, arriving around 2pm. Guests can then fly home that same evening!
Therefore a 7 night trip will give people 2-2.5 days of resort skiing and 5 days of heli-skiing (2 half-days and 3 full days). Not bad!
Great Canadian Heli-Skiing makes this list as well. Golden is home to Great Canadian Heli Skiing and Kicking Horse ‘The Jackson Hole of Canada.’ So it’s a great combination of terrain and easy travel.
- Great Canadian Heli-Skiing will accommodate your group for as many days as you like, starting and stopping on any day.
- All heliskiing is unlimited vertical at GCH, too.
- 6 groups of 4 in an A-Star, so you can find a group with similar ability and aggressiveness
TLH Heli Skiing Tenure is just North of Whistler. A shuttle takes guests from Whistler to Pemberton, where short hop by a chartered plane completes the flight to the lodge. TLH is unlimited vertical, and just one group per helicopter!
TLH / Whistler Heli-Skiing Combo Package can include: Unlimited Vertical Heli Skiing trips at TLH
- 4 nights’ accommodation at Tyax Wilderness Resort & Spa
- 3 nights’ accommodation in Whistler, BC
- 1 night accommodation in Vancouver, BC
- Transportation from Vancouver to Whistler, Whistler to TLH and return to Vancouver (combination of land and air)
- 2 day lift pass for Whistler-Blackcomb Resort
- All gourmet meals at TLH
Northern Escape Heli-Skiing is just 20 minutes from the Terrace airport. So getting from Whistler to the lodge is very easy and convenient. It is possible to ski Whistler Blackcomb in the morning, and have dinner at the Northern Escape Heli Skiing lodge.
Snowwater Heli Skiing has a resort/catski/heli skiing trip combo that is unique. It’s called the Kootenay Sampler.
One Resort day, 2 Catskiing days, 3 or 4 heliskiing days.
I have not done the Sampler, but I have heliskied with them, which was great. And the lodge is a ton of fun.
THE PEAK SEASON KOOTENAY SAMPLER PACKAGE INCLUDES:
– your trip starts with a night at the Prestige Resort in Rossland
– breakfast voucher for ski hill in the morning is included
– a day pass for Red Resort ski area
DAY 2 and 3
– 3 nights accommodation at Nelson’s Lakeside Prestige Resort and Convention Centre
– 2 days snowcat at their sister company, Valhalla Powdercats, lunch and morning snacks included
– breakfast at Prestige Resort in Nelson
– breakfast at Prestige Resort in Nelson
– pass for Ainsworth Hot Springs Caves and Mineral Baths.
DAY 5, 6 and 7
– 3 or 4 days of heli skiing with Snowwater Heli Skiing
– 3 groups of 4
– UNLIMITED VERTICAL!
– all alcohol (except cellared wine and premium liquor)
– 3 nights accommodation at Snowwater Lodge
– 3 delicious meals a day for the length of your Snowwater stay
– personal safety backpack with avalanche probe, shovel and water bottle
– use of digital barryvox avalanche transceiver
– avalanche safety and transceiver training
– helicopter safety briefing
– specially selected poles and fat powder skis
– transfer to and from the lodge from the base office.
Last Frontier Heliskiing, for the ultimate warm up plus a full 7-day package. 3 days at Whistler, 1 in Vancouver, and 7 days heliskiing at the Bell 2 Lodge. It looks like this:
Let us know if we can assist with recommendations for the best BC heli skiing trip!
Skeena Heliskiing’s Bear Claw Lodge is one of the best heliskiing lodges we have visited. And owner/GM Jake is one of the coolest.For 2015, Skeena Heliskiing is launching Base Camp Skeena Heliskiing – including dome tent lodging and a great value, for those who are OK without a fancy lodge.
Base Camp guests will ski the same great terrain. Like other Skeena Heliskiing trips, it is for 7-days only.
For 2015, Base Camp Skeena Heliskiing is running during February and March only.The price is $8900 Can., costing almost 30% less than the Bear Claw Lodge program.
Also similar to the Bear Claw Lodge program, the skiing is fast. The Bell2 takes two groups of up to five guests.Base Camp is also closer to the goods. Just one minute to the first run.
The ‘tent constellation’ includes a large communal tent, a shower tent and five guest tents accommodating up to two guests each.
The structures are non-permanent, minimizing environmental impact.Jake has been testing this set up for years, and it is now ready to prime time.
Base Camp Skeena Heliskiing is only accessible by helicopter, fly-in fly-out.Base Camp is supported by the main lodge, just 12 minutes away by chopper.
Interested? Call 866-HELISKI or email TJ.
Tyax Lodge and Heli-Skiing
(TLH Heli-Skiing &
TLH Heli-Skiing Interview with HELISKI.com
We recently got re-acquainted with TLH Heli-Skiing & Heli-Snowboarding (1 Group, Unlimited Vertical Helicopter Skiing.
I have heard you say “TLH Heli-Skiing is the best deal in the Canadian heli-skiing industry.” Explain, please your helicopter skiing offerings.
At Tyax Lodge Heli-Skiing, aka TLH Heli-Skiing, offer a unique helicopter skiing combination of program features that offer the best VALUE in Canadian Heli Skiing. While some heli-ski operators have a couple of the features that make us stand out, we are the only ones with this particular blend that makes our product perfect for so many heliskiers – location, accessibility, heli-skiing program, lodging, price, guides and safety. Our rates align with many other operators, yet we include unlimited vertical (which we back up with vertical guarantees), Single Group heli-skiing, transfers from Vancouver (no additional flights or transfer charges), and incredible lodging. All of our programs are semi-private at the cost of a regular program.
How can TLH Heli-Skiing afford to do just one heli-ski group per helicopter at ‘Standard’ Canadian helicopter skiing rates?
Once you have offered this program, and you have clients see how good the single group program is, you can’t really afford not to. Return clients who can’t see going back to any other way of heli-skiing will keep coming back, and then start bring their friends. Guest retention is a great testimonial. Smaller margins with better guest experiences.
You also like to extol the advantages of heli-skiing in just one heli ski group.
The Single Group heli-skiing program has so many advantages; sometimes people don’t realize how many benefits come with it!
- You are the first to head out in the morning and the last one to come back at the end of the day which means more ski time, which of course means more skiing. You are never waiting on other groups, virtually never waiting on the machine, so you can keep on skiing.
- If you want to ski different areas in the further areas of the tenure, you can fly out there first thing in the morning and stay out there all day instead of taking half the day to get out there and half the day to get back; with large tenures and 2-4 groups in a machine, you have to slowly make your way, taxiing groups, with one group it’s a direct flight in and back.
- The flexibility in variable weather is greatly increased – obviously you need a longer lead time in changing weather if you need to bring in 2 or 3 more groups, so you have to head in sooner. With one group, you can stay out longer. All of these things mean more skiing, less wait times, more access, and a better experience.
How does TLH Heli-Skiing snow differ from Whistler and the Coast Range operators like Bella Coola, Northern Escape Heli-Skiing and Last Frontier Heli-skiing (LFH Heli-Skiing and TLH Heli-Skiing used to be the same heli-skiing company)?
While our close proximity to Whistler is a great selling feature for us for obvious reasons (accessibility, Whistler Combos), our location is actually in another mountain range, taking us away from the sometimes wet Coastal snow conditions. Located in the South Chilcotin Mountains, the lodge sits in a colder range where we benefit from a higher and drier environment, which often gives us better snow quality. At the same time, our 830,000 acre tenure runs from the Chilcotins into the Coast Mountains, so when the Coast gets the deep, dry dumps, we can get to that too.
TLH Heli-Skiing is known for high alpine Canadian Heli-Skiing. Got trees to heli ski?
We are certainly known for our alpine accessibility and do try to ski the big long alpine lines, but we have great tree skiing as well. There is the opportunity to access varied terrain within our large tenure; our guides will go where the best skiing is, dependent on the current weather and snow conditions. We definitely had some great tree skiing while this last storm rolled through!
Travel to the heli-skiing lodge by ski plane is also unique. Walk us through the process, please.
The ski plane is a Beaver Dehavilland and it is indeed a very unique way to get into the lodge. It flies from Vancouver or Pemberton into the lodge, landing on the frozen lake in front of the resort. The ski plane is generally only used for charters but we encourage guests to utilize this option rather than driving whenever possible. We use helicopters for almost all of our air transfers.
Our regular transfers include transportation from Vancouver to the lodge, a combination of air and land travel. We pick-up in Vancouver and drive to Pemberton, 35 km’s north of Whistler – guests fly in and out of there by helicopter, weather permitting.
We can offer charters directly from Vancouver to the lodge as well, by helicopter or ski plane, a flight of only 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Mostly you offer helicopter skiing in heli-skiing groups of 10 in a Bell 212, right?
Our Signature Program is 10 guests and 2 guides in a single group Bell 212, so only 10 total in the machine all day. We also run a Small Group Program with 4 guests and 2 guides in a single group Bell 407. Both of these programs are also available in our Platinum Private Package with private chalet and service team.
Are the smaller helicopter skiing groups for Heli-Skiing Privates, only?
No, they are available in the main lodge as well. You can have a small group, semi-private vacation, flying solo in your own machine, and coming back to the lodge to share in the festivities with the rest of the guests. We generally only run one 407 at a time so it is important to book this program early to secure dates. [Private 407 for Standard Prices. That’s awesome!]
Tell us about the Tyax Canadian Helicopter Skiing Lodge and food, please.
Tyax Lodge and Heli Skiing Resort & Spa, home of TLH Heli-Skiing, is a boutique Wilderness lodge perfectly suited to the overall heli-skiing experience. Fully renovated in 2010 with ongoing improvements annually, the lodge offers comfortable guest rooms, a beautiful Lakeview dining room, a full lounge and bar, a den, a ski shop, a gift shop and an incredible spa with Eucalyptus steam room, infrared sauna, wood sauna, yoga studio, three treatment rooms, and a 20-person outdoor hot tub. It is the perfect balance between an authentic backcountry heliski lodge and a contemporary resort for the modern traveler.
The dining is, of course, one of the most important elements. We always strive to make sure our culinary offerings are top-notch, and we have received particularly rave reviews so far this season. Comments this last week included “Chef Liam, Whatever you are paying him, raise it!”, “Outstanding dining”, “Food has always been very good, but it was exceptional this time.” Heli Belly is part of the overall experience and we intend to fulfill that! Our 30 ft ceiling, fireside, Lake view dining room is no hindrance to the experience.
In the summer you don’t go heli-skiing, but you do heli mountain biking. That sounds awesome!
It is awesome!! Its actually by float plane rather than heli. We use the same ski plane from our winter charters, put floats on it and utilize it for flightseeing and mountain bike drops. The region is home to some of the world’s best mountain biking, with day drops to multiple lakes with 25-60km rides back to the lodge on single track, or backcountry hut-to-hut trips. If you are into the outdoors, we are worth visiting every season. You can also check out www.tyax.com and www.tyaxadventures.com for summer adventures.
Heliskiing in January at Eagle Pass Heli-Skiing means ‘Bring your snorkel!’
The Monashee Mountains around Revelstoke, British Columbia Canada offer up copious amounts of dry, light powder. The new lodge is a treat for the 12 lucky guests (see pictures below)
Here are the comments from Kiel and Ryan about January heliskiing at EPH.
“Early January is a great time to come – January has tons of snow! Start your year off right!
3 Day Trip
– NEW YEARS TRIP! Arrive January 1st – Depart Saturday January 4th
– Arrive Wednesday January 8th – Depart Saturday January 11th
– Arrive Saturday January 12th – Depart Tuesday January 14th
4 Day Trip
– Arrive Sunday January 26th – Depart Thursday January 30th
Longer trips available upon request for these time periods.
Email or call TJ to hold your seats – 866 HELISKI
Let us know if you are interested.
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CMH Bugaboos, the first heliskiing lodge/area started by Canadian Mountain Holidays in 1965. It’s next in our series of heliskiing operator interviews with HELISKI.com and HeliskiingReview.com.
1. CMH Bugaboos Lodge is “The Birthplace of Heli-Skiing” Tell us about that.
2015 represents the 50th birthday of the heli-ski industry, a pretty significant milestone indeed. Even though the industry has changed significantly since those early days, one thing that never gets old is standing on top of those magnificent mountains, pointing your skis (or board) down the fall line, and dipping into some perfect powder turns. Technology, skis, helicopters and accommodations may have changed, but the experience of deep powder snow in untouched mountains remains the same. It is a gift from nature. [Well said!]
2. Heli-Skiing these mountains since 1965, you must be getting to know the best runs, eh?
These mountains are big and the landscape is constantly changing. It is amazing how we are still exploring the nooks and crannies of our terrain even after all this time. We definitely know where to look for great runs, but each season our guides are still able to root out new, exciting lines to test out.
3. What level of ability and heli-skiing pace is best suited for CMH Bugaboos?
The Bugaboos is a fantastic place to come if you are looking for a wide mix of terrain including tree runs combined with high alpine glaciers, stunning scenery, and the experience of a comfortable, cozy and luxurious remote lodge. The Bugaboos has it all – great skiing by day followed by all the bells and whistles for the perfect après ski experience. You can relax after a full day in the mountains by cozying up by the fire, a soak in the roof-top hot tub, testing your skills on the 4-story climbing wall, treating yourself to our massage services, or enjoying a few extra cocktails from our fully stocked bar.
4. Bugaboos is roughly half way between Banff and Revelstoke. Tell us about getting there.
Guests typically fly into Calgary where we’ll transport them by motorcoach to the Bugaboo Lodge heli-pad (2 hours west of Banff). The bus leaves early in the morning from Calgary so we can have you out heli-skiing by the afternoon! Return ground transfers from Calgary are included in our CMH Bugaboo packages.
5. Easier access is why Bugaboos offers a variety of trips (Family, Masters, Intro, Fusion), including 4, 5 and 7-day trips?
Access is one of the reasons, but also because the Bugaboos are so iconic. People travel from all around the globe just to witness the grandeur of these mountains. Skiing amongst the peaks of the Bugaboo Spires is truly magnificent and makes this location so coveted. It is one of our most popular locations because of the mix of terrain and the extreme beauty of the area. As a result, we like to offer as many trip options as possible to keep our guest happy.
6. Bugaboos are in the Purcell Mountains. Tell us about the heli-ski terrain, please.
The Purcell Range includes a wonderful mix of alpine glaciers together with excellent tree skiing. The Bugaboos represent a sub-range within this larger area, a sub-range that is visually spectacular. The Bugaboo Spires are an anomaly of alpine beauty. They are made of granite, the stone that comprises most of the famous rock spires of the world, from the Himalaya to Patagonia, Yosemite to the Alps. It resists the carving power of glaciers better than most rock, so it tends to form smoother faces, as if the ice were a giant knife in the hand of a master sculptor cleaving great slices from the mountains to leave great cathedrals of stone. In the surrounding mountains, the glaciers shaped the softer sedimentary rocks as well, but left more rugged faces as if the carving force of the glacier were in the hands of a drunk with a bulldozer. [Poetic!]
Places like the legendary Mont Blanc massif in the Alps have similar climbing opportunities, but as a ski destination the Bugaboos have become known worldwide as a place to have an experience unlike anything else on earth. The tectonic intrusion that pushed the granite into the sky also lifted the surrounding area into a high plateau, creating deep valleys on all sides and ski runs that begin within snowball-throwing distance of the surreal rock walls and go for miles down rolling steep glaciers into uninhabited valleys.
7. And the lodge has been remodeled four times?
The lodge has changed and grown since 1965. It is a lodge that has embraced its history while keeping up with the needs of our modern guests. The lodge is a living museum where the mountain stories continue to be layered on. Our guests can see how the building has grown and expanded over the years – with renovations in keeping with the natural surroundings. Today the lodge boasts a 4-story climbing wall, roof-top hot tub, steam room, dry sauna, private guest rooms with heated bathroom floors, and wifi to keep everyone connected. Guests can relax in our library or check out the many mountaineering artifacts in museum cases. The lodge is rich in history and a modern tribute to the sport of mountaineering.
8. CMH Bugaboos opens early and stays open later than most, eh?
The Bugaboos is a very popular heli-ski location that gets great annual snowfall. As a result, we are able to open early and heliski well into late April/early May. From a snow perspective we could keep going, but by that time of year our guests have turned their interests towards summer oriented sports.
9. Which of the other ten areas is most similar to Bugaboos?
From a historical and terrain type experience, our CMH Cariboo Lodge is relatively similar: excellent mix of terrain, beautiful historical location, fantastically BIG mountains, and a remote, but full service backcountry lodge.
10. What else would you like to share about the CMH Bugaboo Location?
Go – it should be on your bucket list!
We caught up with Darryn Schewchuck, GM of Mica Heli Guides (aka Mica Heliskiing) as the summer is turning to fall in the Canadian Rockies. He is still riding his dirt bikes, but looking forward to another great winter of light, deep snow. It’s not about the Mica Heli Skiing price!
Here are Mica Heli Guides 15 Questions with HELISKI.com.
1. Hey Darryn, Mica Heliskiing has been recognized in the press recently. Tell us about that, please.
Recently we were rated “Best Heliskiing” in BC Canada by the editors and writers of SKIING Magazine in their 2011 Resort Guide. Ski Canada rated our powder “second to none” in their “best of” issue last fall, and Good Connoisseur Magazine rated Mica Heli Guides “the best once in a lifetime experience”. These recognitions are based on several factors, 2 groups of 4 per heli, max 16 guests, dry champagne powder and incredible terrain found in the BC Rockies.
2. You seem to have more options than most operators. The Classic is three groups of 4. The Premium is two groups of four and two helicopters?!?
Definitely the option to ski more vertical! At MICA our standard program is called a Premium Tour – 4 groups of 4 guests serviced by 2 A-Star helicopters (2 groups of 4 per heli, similar to what is referred to as a semi-private with other operations). 30 of our 36 tours this season are Premium tours. The other 6 tours are a combination of a Private Tour (4 guests with their own private A-Star) and our Classic Tour (3 groups of 4 sharing one A-Star). Maximum capacity at MICA is 16 only guests.
Mica Heli Skiing Price Model
3. Some packages are unlimited vertical and others have extra vertical charges, right?
Correct, our December and early Jan tours are unlimited vertical (no extra vert charges) and we also offer some vertical incentives for April tours which cover most of our guests vertical. All season we guarantee 4500 meters/day. At MICA we have averaged only 1.5 no-fly days per season over the last 8 seasons, for the odd day we can’t fly we go Catskiing (Cat vert is not counted in the 4500m/day). [Nice!]
4. How did you come up with such a cool spot for your lodge?
The position of the lodge is very spectacular indeed! Our hot-tubs have one of the best views in the world. The main purpose of the lodge position was elevation. We wanted to get above the low cloud, fog and freezing rain found lower in the valley which is what hinders flight for many other operators. The other benefit is that we ski right down to the lodge at the end of the day, and can Catski right from the lodge.
5. Catskiing backup is getting more popular. How often do you use it at Mica Heliskiing?
Mica Heliskiing was the first to start using the Cat for backup four seasons ago. We had the cat from our sister operation Island Lake Catskiing for snow removal around the lodges, so we put it to good use. We typically take guests Catskiing one or two full days per year. Additionally a few times each season we will do a cat run or two in the morning, the weather will break and we go heliskiing for most of the day.
The forest directly above MICA lodge has been gladed providing excellent 2500 vertical foot tree skiing right to the lodge. So its quick and easy to rack up some pretty good vertical Catskiing at MICA. We don’t count the Catskiing vert in the package and it is very rare for a guest to not make minimum vertical on a tour at MICA.
6. Mica even has a backup outdoor hot tub! Did you think of everything?!?
When you are a remote backcountry lodge you need to have a backup for everything. For the last eight seasons, we’ve been compiling the guest comments and work hard to improve all aspects of our program dramatically each season. We have created something very special a MICA.
7. The Monashees have been made famous by CMH Heliskiing. I have skied the Adamants, Selkirks and Cariboos, all somewhat nearby. How would you compare your terrain?
Mica’s terrain is the western slope of the BC Rockies across the lake from the Monashees and Selkirks. We have a lot of steep tree skiing (similar to CMH Monashees) but the Rockies are visually more spectacular like the Alps. We ski a lot of trees, have the world’s best pillow lines and have big alpine terrain. Mica Heliskiing’s terrain is very diverse; we have something for every taste.
8. Guests fly into Kelowna. Tell us about the trip to the lodge.
We pick up in Kelowna and drive to Revelstoke (2 hours). At the office in Revelstoke we sign the waivers and get lunch for the trip north to Mica Creek (1.5 hours). From there it’s a quick 10 minute flight up to the lodge. We also have direct flight options from Kelowna (1.5 hours) or Revelstoke directly to Mica Lodge (45 mins).
9. Do you have many guests stopping in Revelstoke to ski/ride for a few days to warm up for heliskiing with Mica?
Yes, we have quite a few guests who ski Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) for a pre-MICA warm up. We will cover their lift tickets and usually I will ski with them to show them “the goods” at RMR. It’s a tough part of the job but someone has to do it.
10. What are the biggest challenges of operating a boutique heliskiing lodge for only 16 guests?
The biggest challenge is getting new people seats in our high season, most sell out 10 months in advance!
11. You have a lot of ‘lifers’ coming back every season, right?
Yes, the majority of guests are regulars who bring groups each year and rebook their spot for the following year upon departure.
12. Love your old tagline. Is it really “Deeper at Mica?
The majority of our guests will tell you MICA has the deepest powder they have ever skied. There are places on the coast with a deeper snowpack, but coastal snow is not the same as the interior’s cold smoke. MICA tends to be slightly cooler in temperature than the Selkirks and Monashees, which is why we have the super dry “Champagne Powder” that everyone raves about. Like Utah, but deeper!
13. Is it true Mica Heli-Skiing is almost booked solid for next season.
Jan 14 to April 3 is 95% sold, only a few seats left. Almost regardless of the Mica Heli Skiing price. The good news is that Dec and early Jan are when we get some of our deepest skiing. And April is fantastic. Longer days and more sun opens up a lot of the really big alpine runs that we don’t get to in early season. Shoulder season is excellent skiing, and we have some great vertical incentives as well.
14. How will you fit in FAM trips for Heliski.com?
I guess I will have to give you my seat…or not…we will talk. [Damn!]
15. Do you ever abbreviate your title to Director of S&M?
Yes, but only on the last weekend of the month
Thanks, Darryn. I hope I can get up there to experience Mica Heli Guides soon.
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)
Expert Advice – Knowledge is Powder
I know the title sounds sexy. I actually met him at the lodge helicopter skiing Canada ,and we had a couple of meals together. He and his Oakley film crew were off in their own chopper (and I can’t believe he poached my line!). I also met Kazu Kokubo, an amazing Oakley team rider and nice guy.
I saw this video on the Last Frontier Heli-Skiing Helicopter Skiing Canada site, and it reminded me of that great trip. It was the second half of a heli-safari, having spent the first week at Ripley Creek with Team Salomon – but that’s the subject of another blog post.
Last Frontier Bell 2 is all about small groups, excellent terrain, high-speed tree skiing runs and cabins with a wood-burning stoves. I have been there a couple of times. What’s not to like?!
Back to Seth Morrison. He is one cool dude. Unassuming, soft spoken and genuinely friendly. We screened his life-documenting video, Ordinary Skier, one night while he provided narration. It’s a “Documentary about Seth Morrison’s journey from middle class suburban kid to world famous skier, and his struggle to stay on top of a rapidly evolving sport.” Very interesting journey….and he really pushes the limits.
He is no ordinary skier, but he’s a pretty ordinary guy. Very refreshing on a Canada helicopter skiing trip.
At the end of the trip I gave him a HELISKI.com hat, which I am sure he wears daily….Thanks, Seth!
Helicopter Skiing Canda Advice for over twenty years.
Helicopter Skiing Canada in One Group with Unlimited Vertical, and Easy Travel from Whistler
1. TLH Helicopter Skiing Canada is the only Canadian heliskiing operator offering just one group per helicopter in a standard, Classic package. Every group heli skis with their own helicopter. How did you decide to offer what amounts to an inexpensive Private Helicopter Skiing Canada package?
“At TLH Helicopter Skiing Canada we separate ourselves from the pack by offering Canadian heliskiing and heliboarding packages that are more boutique and exclusive. A single group per helicopter offers the guest an unrivaled experience in the mountains as there is no waiting for additional groups. This also allows us greater bad weather tolerance as we do not have to extract multiple groups from the field with one helicopter. Every group heli skis on its own.
After a big snowfall when the sky opens up to that endless bluebird day we are out into our big terrain skiing within 10 minutes. Packages that offer three groups per heli will have the third group waiting at least 30+ minutes to fly out after the first group, even when the first run is close to home. The first group out will also have that 30 minute wait to get onto their second run. The single group helicopter eliminates this wait time.
Single groups also give our Canadian helicopter skiing program more flexibility in marginal snow conditions. We can move our program in and out of different drainages quickly and efficiently as we don’t have to ferry 3 loads in and out of zones.”
[I love that!]
2. On top of just one group per machine, you offer unlimited vertical! Other Canada heliskiing operators tell me that it reminds them of the rancher who won the lottery, who plans to ‘keep on ranchin til it’s gone.’
How can you make money offering one group and unlimited vertical?!?
“Over the last 20 years of operating, TLH Heli-Skiing Canada has gained an intimate understanding of how much the average Canadian heli-skiing client is capable of skiing. With this in mind, we ran a pilot project to see if our vertical numbers reflected what guests would ski on an unlimited basis and budgeted accordingly. The pilot was a success, and we decided to carry it forward into our regular program. When guests can eliminate the need to balance their budget while they earn their turns, everyone “just heli skis.” . The experience is greatly enhanced because they will ski morning to night and never concern themselves with the add-ons to their bill. No one gets left in the lodge after reaching their guarantee to save money, and the skiing becomes an unlimited possibility. The skiers that have seen our 200,000 vertical weeks, with no additional charges, would ask “how we can afford not to?” as they re-book.
3. Critics of the unlimited vertical heli skiing Canada offerings point out that the guests and operators are not goal congruent (high tech marketing jargon, sorry I couldn’t resist).
What do you say to skeptics who contend you may quit early or otherwise slow the pace to save money?
“Our answer to this is that the ‘proof is in the pudding’ so to speak.
Our average daily vertical for 2011 was 8700m or 27,710 ft per day.
Over 7 days that’s 200,970 ft. [WOW!]
Most Canada heli skiing packages that the competitors offer give you 100,000 vertical feet before you start paying for every additional 1000 ft. The last 4 weeks of 2011 saw us skiing over 200,000 ft. weekly, with one week at 250,000. As far as quitting early goes, our daily program runs from 0830 to 1630 in the field, and the only time we come home early is due to tired legs or bad weather.”
4. What is the average vertical for a week at TLH Helicopter Skiing Canada?
See above [That is one hellacious average!]
5. Flying a 212 helicopter must be much less expensive. Comparing to 407’s or A-Stars, what’s the difference in operating costs?
“Each aircraft has different operating costs based on the type of helicopter and the required maintenance on them. Generally smaller helicopters cost less to operate than a Bell 212. ” [Sorry, I was thinking per person]
6. The group is only as fast as the slowest heliskier. What happens if the one group has a “lagging gaper” who can’t hang?
“At TLH Heli-Skiing Canada, all of our groups in the single group program run with 2 guides. When we have a dramatic split, one guide will take the faster skiers and lap the slower guys or pick a different line to cater to ability levels.” [Good answer!]
7. TLH Heli-Skiing Canada is probably the most convenient to Whistler-Blackcomb of any destination Canadian heli skiing operator. Describe the travel from Whistler.
“The transfer to TLH Heliskiing Canada is part of the adventure and experience, and a perfect start to your heliskiing holiday.
A 20 minute land transfer from Whsitler to Pemberton brings you to the airport, where you will board a DE Havilland Beaver ski plane. A 30 minute beautiful scenic flight over the mountains brings you to Tyax Wilderness Resort & Spa, where you will land on the frozen lake in front of the lodge. [Very cool!]
All of our packages include this air transfer. When traveling by land, a pretty drive along a classic mountain highway offers views of frozen rivers, deep valleys, and diverse peaks. The Duffy from Pemberton to Lillooet is well-known for its incredible ski touring access and terrain.
Our proximity to Whistler allows us to build custom combo tours for guests who would also like to visit the world-renowned resort while on vacation.”
8. How about travel from, and return to Vancouver?
“Guests coming from Vancouver will travel up the Sea to Sky corridor through Whistler to Pemberton then connect with our air transfer to Tyax. The Sea to Sky is a famous, scenic drive through some of the best recreational playgrounds in Canada, including North Vancouver, Squamish, and Whistler. With views over the Pacific Ocean, you move through some of the most ideal terrain for outdoor activity in all of British Columbia, while being captivated by the view of the white-capped Tantalus Mountain range towering in the background.”
9. Your lodge has been upgraded recently. What’s new?
“Tyax Wilderness Resort & Spa, the home of TLH Heliskiing Canada, underwent a massive renovation last summer and fall. We opened the 2011 heliskiing season with a completely revamped property. The space has been elegantly updated to modern standards to meet the expectations of the contemporary traveler while the ambiance of the lodge has been maintained; the goal of our renovations was to upgrade and enhance the level of luxury while maintaining the rustic feel of the lodge, representing our wilderness setting.
All guest rooms were completely renovated while the main areas saw complete upgrades and re-decorating, including the bar and lounge, the dining room, outdoor patio, and the den. The furniture in this Canadian heli-ski lodge has been replaced on all levels. That includes easy chairs and leather sofas in the bar, warm inviting sofas in the lobby and bedding of the highest quality in all guest rooms.
The exterior of the lodge has seen all the balconies and decking replaced, giving the exterior of the lodge a modern and clean look. Our newly renovated kitchen is now producing a dining experience far beyond what was available historically. And very importantly for our heliskiing guests, we now offer a brand new spa with three treatment rooms, an infrared sauna, a wood sauna, a steam room, yoga studio and well-designed change rooms guaranteed to relax our guests. We will continue to improve our product and services as we move forward to winter 2012, including a new outdoor Jacuzzi in the fall renovations and an even greater emphasis of guest satisfaction and service.”
10. What’s the best thing about working with Canadian helicopter skiing agents like HELISKI.com? Bonus Question: What do you think about shameless plugs by interviewers?
“They help connect us to clients on a broader spectrum; they are specializing in the product which in itself is very specialized.” [Yeah, it’s a niche of a niche, eh?]
11. Some clients are concerned about heliskiing so close to Whistler, where some storms dump heavy snow aka Sierra Cement. How does your snowfall amount and quality compare with other heliskiing destinations?
“Luckily TLH is on the East side of the Coast Mountains. The storms have to rise over the high peaks of the mountain range and then drop their snow on us. This means we avoid the warm temperatures on the West side of the Coast Mountains, where TLH heli skis! That combined with the influence of the cold interior plateaus to the east of us we receive deep, dry snowpacks, quite different than that of Whistler.”
12. How many down days do you average in a season?
“1/2 day per week.
So pack your sunscreen! ” (My daughter makes me use sunscreen to limit the damage!)
13. What percentage of your guests is heliboarders, and what do you do to accommodate knuckle draggers?
“The heliboarding numbers vary from week to week but on average I would say 40% of our guests are on boards. When we have boarders in the group we simply alter our terrain choices to eliminate long traverses or flat sections.” [SWEET!]
14. Do you know how snowboarders introduce themselves?
“OH! Sorry, Dude!”
[I’m not hating, I do both]
15. Is there anything else you would like to add about TLH Helicopter Skiing Canada?
“We offer a boutique product in an amazing lodge with a ski program that is suited to people that really want to ski. Canadian Heli-skiing needs a shot in the arm and we are attempting to do it. Products and programs have been stagnating, and I think you will find most heli operators following our lead (once again) over the next few years! My comments are based on 13 years of heliskiing as a mountain guide, working actively in the guiding and the management of the heliskiing industry. We will be launching a new website this winter to bring our online presence up to the quality of our operation.”
Thanks, Cliff! Looking forward to seeing the new lodge upgrades and skiing some deep untracked!
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)
Expert Advice – Knowledge is Powder