whistler blackcomb heli skiing, heliskiing whistler

Whistler Heli Skiing Operator Interview. 15 Questions with Heli Skiing Whistler Blackcomb – HELISKI.com

Whistler Heliskiing Interview with HELISKI.com

Whistler Heliskiing is one of two operators offering Whistler Blackcomb heli skiing.  We recently visited with Whistler Heliskiing, the original Whistler helicopter skiing operator and heliskiing Whistler pioneer.  Enjoy!

1. Whistler Heliskiing has been completing bucket lists since 1983. You must lead the world in bucket list fulfillment. How often does a guest say “Best Day Ever?”

Every time we go Heliskiing Whistler guests are ecstatic and pumped from the day they had. Whether it be their first time or their 20th time we have the terrain and the snow to keep guests having “the best day ever!”

2. Whistler Heliskiing offers 3, 4 and 5 run packages. What do most clients choose?

We actually offer 3, 4 and 6 run packages. We recommend picking a package that suits your ability, pace of skiing and or your goals for the day. Most first timers start with a 3 or 4 run package depending on their ski experience especially in powder.

whistler blackcomb heli skiing, heliskiing whistler

3. Can guests buy extra runs? How much?

Yes we typically offer extra runs depending on the day (conditions, weather, timing).  $120-140 Can.

4. What is your average vertical per run?

  • 4 runs (approx. 6,000 – 10,000 vertical feet, or 1,800 – 3,500 vertical meters of skiing)
  • 6 runs (approx. 9,000 – 15,000 vertical feet. or 2,700 – 4,600 vertical meters of skiing).

whistler heliskiing, heliskiing whistler

5. Does Whistler Heliskiing recommend lodging for your guests?

Most guests are in the resort of Whistler for a couple of days skiing on Whistler Blackcomb or doing other activities as well as heli-skiing. That’s one of the best things about heliskiing Whistler is that there numerous options for places to stay in Whistler based on your budget, or other requirements. We typically recommend staying in Whistler the night before to check in and get ready for your Heli-day. We always make the final call on whether we can go heliskiing or have to cancel due to weather the morning of.

whistler blackcomb heli skiing, whistler heliskiing glacier

6. How many guests are in each lift when heliskiing Whistler?

It depends on the package you purchase. The 3 and 4 run packages are in the Bell 205 Helicopter which typically holds between 7-10 guests. The 6 run package is in the Bell 407 which holds up to a maximum of 5 guests.

7. How many lifts per helicopter?

Depending on the time of year and volume of guests we have up to 3 groups per helicopter.

whistler heliskiing, heliskiing whistler chopper

8. What happens if the weather does not cooperate?

If Whistler Heliskiing has to cancel due to poor weather we offer guests a FULL Refund and or the ability to move to the next available day or try to get them out on the next they want to go.

9. So you have a photographer / videographer?

Yes it is included in the 3 and 4 run packages. A photographer will work with each group to take some photos and a video of one run of each group.

whistler heliskiing heliboarding, heliskiing whistler

10. How many of your guests are heli-boarding?

I’d think 30-40% of our guests are heli-boarders.

11. Do you have powder snowboards for your guests?

Yes Whistler Heliskiing (WHS) has many great powder boards to rent. We highly recommend boarders use them as it makes the day so much easier and fun to really float on the fresh snow.

12. When does the Whistler Heliskiing season open?

Season dates for 2011-12 are Dec 3rd 2011- April 22nd 2011

whistler heliskiing, heliskiing whistler side by side

13. Can guests get a deal if they book multiple heliskiing Whistler days?

Yes we offer $100 off and free rentals for subsequent days within the season.

whistler heliskiing deep powder, heliskiing whistler

14. Do you offer heliskiing Whistler deals to groups?

Depending on the time of year and availability WHS does offer some incentive for groups of 10 or more people to pre-book Heli-skiing.

15. Anything else you would like to add about Whistler Heliskiing?

Just beyond the ski lifts of Whistler and Blackcomb, minutes from North America’s #1-ranked Ski Resort, awaits the ultimate high-alpine experience. Imagine carving through untracked powder, endless terrain and breath-taking scenery. With hundreds of ski runs, there is a tremendous variety of slopes to accommodate all levels of skiers and boarders from intermediate to expert. The skiing varies from wide-open glaciers to beautiful gladed tree runs. The heli-ski area is made up of several zones and is approximately 50 miles north/south by 30 miles east/west (80km by 50km). Your guide will select terrain within a zone according to snowfall, the weather, and your group’s ability.

whistler heliskiing, heliskiing whistler tracks

Thanks. See you in Whistler!

Best,

tj

Tom Jackson
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)
HELISKI.com
866-HELISKI
(866-435-4754)

Expert Advice – Knowledge is Powder

whistler heliskiing helicopter, heliskiing whistler

Escape from the Lift Lines!

heli skis, northern escape heli skis

HELISKIS – Helicopter Skis – Heli Skis – Review of Heliskiing Operators Heli Skis

HELI SKIS – Helicopter Skis – Heli Skis

Review of Heliskiing Operators’ Heli Skis

Heliskis are important for heliskiing.   But what Heli Skis to popular operators ski?

HELISKI.com asked some of our popular heliski operators what heli skis they use, how they choose heli skis, and what assortment of helicopter skis they have in their quiver.   Below are the heli skiing operators discussions of heli skis.


Tyax Lodge and Heli Skiing / TLH Heli Skis

Anne Haight of Tyax Lodge and Heli Skiing (TLH) wrote this about their heliskis:

Hi Tom,
In terms of powder skis, we offer a combination of Rossignol Super 7 and Soul 7, and new for this season, K2 Mindbender 108ti and 116c, all in various lengths.
I use the Rossi Soul 7 when I go.

Northern Escape Heli Skiing Heliskis

John Forrest, GM Northern Escape Heli Skiing replied about their heli skis:

Morning Tom,

We’re right I. The middle of guides training and everyone is pretty busy. I can help quickly though.
We always choose a variety of skis. Most companies have gone away from the completely up-side-down skis (reverse camber) and opted for what I call bent tip and tail skis (early rise). We’ve always felt our skis require camber for the average skier in our deep snow conditions so we seek out skis that still have a reasonable camber and minimal early rise.
I know that goes against all the Marketing from the ski companies that want to sell you skis, but after nearly 4 decades of Heli Skiing I’ve seen a lot of marketing selling gimmicks…😎 (some of you will remember sending skis in for warranty when you bent the tip cause it skied like shit…)
With our deep powder we also look for the Fatest skis we can find. You need/want the widest skis possible up here.
We chose the Blizzard Spur and the K2 Mindbender as a good selection for our guests. I really like the Spur personally.

Northern Escape Heli Skiing Heli skis

Martin Wehan of Skeena Heli Skiing added this about their heli skis:

 heli skis, northern escape heli skis
Why? Because it works and guests have fun. Great quality, we can keep the skis in our line up for 3 seasons no problem.

Tim Wilkinson, heliski industry veteran and also from Skeena Heliskiing offered this on their Kastle heli skis?:

Funny the timing of this Tom.

I’m about to share an IG Reel that includes an interview with Sascha Schmid, a Swiss freeskier (ex world cup, Freeride World Tour, tons of movies etc) who skis and works with Kästle, and heliskis with us every winter. In the interview we ask him about Kästle and Skeena, and here’s what he said:
Skeena Heliskiing: You work very closely with Kästle as an athlete and on product development. Why do you think Kästle skis are a good fit for Skeena?
Sascha Schmid: Because we are producing high-quality skis and that’s what Skeena has in terms of a high-quality heliski experience. That’s the main point, we have really good, high quality products for passionate skiers. Kästle is not the biggest company, that means we do not change every year the direction of marketing and the whole ski range.

Dave M, Ski Expert, Curated.com

For heli skis, I like rocker in both tip and tail, and ski width 110 plus.  I prefer very close to center mount on the ski, and a decent amount of rocker in the tail – a must have feature for my powder skis.  More side cut for added floatation and added width is expected.

Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing Heli Skis

Ryan Bush gave us this funny summary from Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing about the MWHS stable of heli skis:
Short and fat is where it’s at! The days of 210 straight skis are long behind us. It’s a well-known story around Blue River that Mike Wiegele sat down in a bar with his good friend Rupert, from Atomic skis, and drew up the design of the first powder ski on a napkin. His concept and inspiration were taken from the snowboards of the day, later evolving into the Atomic Powder Plus, and the Atomic Powder Cruise. This still remains true to this day; a fat ski provides more floatation bringing the skier out of the snow making it easier for them to pivot the ski! Our most popular ski and what we refer to as a day saver, is the K2 Pon2oon. The Pon2oon is offered in 10cm increments from 159cm through to 189cm. This ski has been a part of K2’s fleet for years and MWHS guides have been working alongside the K2 R&D team in hopes of building the next best thing in years to come. A new addition to our fleet this season is the K2 Dispatch, 120 mm underfoot and this ski’s light weight construction will surely be a guest favorite this season!
Our long history with Atomic should not be understated, and in fact the majority of our fleet is made up of the Atomic Backland 117mm and 107mm waist.
Our Backlands are complete with custom Mike Wiegele top sheets to highlight the long-lasting relationship with the brand.
The other ski that has been in our fleet for years has been the Atomic Bent Chetler. This ski has seen many alterations since its conception some 12 -15 years ago but has been a staple ski at MWHS ever since.
I’ve attached our full list of skis but in the text above I’ve highlighted our favorites.
Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing Heli skis, Heli Skis
mike wiegele heli skis, wiegele heli skis
Mike Wiegele heli skis, heli skis mike wiegele helicopter skis
heli skis used by mike wiegele helicopter skiing in 2023, heli skis
Wiegele heli skis, mike wiegele heli skis mike wiegele helicopter skiing heli skis, heli skis wiegele Wiglie helicopter sks, wiegly heli skis

Ryan Bush


Bella Coola Heli Sports Heli Skis

Ben Duthie of Bella Coola Heli Sports offers the following on their heli skis:

For our heli skis, we have brought in a new line-up of Salomon, Armada, and Blizzards. All three of these brands represent the best of the best when it comes to performance skis and it is important to us that we offer a wide variety of lengths, widths, and stiffness options for our clients.
At 112 underfoot, the Salomon QST Blank is made for Bella Coola. It is an extremely light and playful powder ski, yet still incredibly stable at speed. It also guarantees the required floatation to get the most out of the deep conditions Bella Coola routinely offers.
The Armada ARV and JJ line-up has been a core offering for Bella Coola for many years and is a crowd favourite amongst our guides. With a poplar-ash core, these skis are incredibly responsive and offer tremendous pop in playful terrain. They offer tremendous floatation without compromising stability from tip to tail.
Heli Skis Bella Coola Heli Skiing, heli skis
For our snowboards, we have partnered exclusively with Burton Snowboards. Their length of tenure in the industry and unsurpassed commitment to quality made it a no-brainer for us. We have opted for a traditional twin in the Flight Attendant and a more surf-oriented directional powder board in the Fish 3D for our 2023 offering.
The Flight Attendant gives those riders who are more familiar with a traditional camber board the opportunity to experiment with a tight turning board that performs as well on hardpack as it does in powder. Riding in Bella Coola presents riders with a full bouquet of line selection choices as well as the opportunity to explore massive amounts of terrain. We wanted to choose a board that can handle it all. From deep powder slashes to moraines and wind lips, to mixed conditions in transition zones in the high alpine. This board does it all.
The Fish 3D is just fun! It builds on years of product design prototypes and the integration of the 3D nose makes it unbelievably responsive and playful in the deepest conditions. This board is an all-time favorite for many of our team members and our guests are quickly learning why. This increased width allows guests to ride a shorter board than they are used to which also increased maneuverability and playfulness right out of the helicopter.
Bella Coola Heli Skiing Heli skis, Heli skis

Heli Skis and Heli Snowboards at Silvertip Heli Skiing

Silvertip Heli Skiing did not comment, but sent us a list of the Heli skis they like.

Heli Skis

K2 Pon2oon 132
Shane McConkey arguably single-handedly changed the direction of the sport of skiing and ski design with his devil-may-care attitude and out-of-the-box thinking about what a ski can do. His legend lives on in the K2 Pon2oon, a full-on power powder ski that is designed to do one thing—rip deep snow on THE pow day of the year.
Available in 189, 179, 169, and 159cm

K2 Mindbender 116
The Mindbender is a powder ski built for those epic days everyone dreams of. A generous 116mm waist floats through powder and powers through chop. Featuring Spectral Braid technology, and Power Rocker profile, this surprisingly lightweight ski lets you take on the burliest of lines and the reality of getting to the stash and back again. A favorite amongst team riders like Max Hitzig and Taylor Pratt.
Available in 193, 186, 179, 172, 165cm

Dynastar M-FREE 108
This progressive freeride ski is an ode to freedom and a very lightweight toy for forays between the trees or fast-paced descents in the middle of beautiful virgin slopes. Its Hybrid Core technology combines Poplar, a natural and high-performance material offering an excellent balance of rigidity and responsiveness, with P.U. for suppleness and ideal dampening.
Available in 189, 180cm

Salomon QST 118
QST 118 is the widest ski in the range, with full twin rocker to help you float in the deepest powder. You can also charge with confidence with the C/FX layer, a unique reinforcement that delivers all the power of metal at a fraction of the weight.
Available in 192, 185, 181, 178, 174 and 171cm.

Salomon Rocker 122
A playful deep powder ski. The super-wide platform, TWIN Rocker profile and very lightweight tip and tail construction let you surf in deep powder.
Even the sidecut helps reduce tip and tail hang up especially in mixed snow.
Available in 192, 184, 180 and 172cm.

Salomon Rocker 108
Twin Rocker – Long, low rocker shape at the tip and tail enables more playful, easy pivoting in powder and excellent flotation. Retains long contact zone on edge with camber in the middle of the ski for stability in all-mountain skiing.
Available in 174 cm.

Salomon QST Stella 108
Go beyond the trails with QST STELLA 106. The Spaceframe has an inverted 3D Woodcore for power and floatation in varied snow conditions. And the C/FX reinforcement provides a smooth ride with minimal weight.
Available in 158 and 167 cm.

Heli Snowboards

Salomon Takaharu Nakai
Designed and built from start to finish by snowboard icons Wolfgang Nyvelt and Takaharu Nakai. This board brings a unique tapered directional profile featuring Powder Camber profile and tons of rocker on the nose making this masterpiece extremely nimble and smooth.
Available in 161cm

Salomon Wolle Nyvelt Fish
The HPS Wolle Nyvelt Fish is a celebration of Wolle’s profound expertise in shaping powder snowboards. Focused on craftsmanship using the finest materials, the tapered directional HPS Fish features Powder Camber and a precise torsional flex for a playful board with superior control, float, and maneuverability. Wolle’s crystal magnifying device.
Available in 161cm

Salomon Snowboard First Call
The First Call introduces a shaped powder board focused on the freestyle rider. Take it from wind lips to cat tracks, park to pow; the First Call offers a unique look at freestyle riding while bringing all the technical goods to the table.
Available in 151, 157 and 162 cm.

Salomon Snowboard Super 8
The Super 8 Snowboard is designed with Backseat Camber that puts the power and control under your back foot, whether you’re ripping pow or laying down turns on groomers. Featuring Rocket Science—a wider design for loose and wild maneuverability, this board has power, speed, control, and belongs in every quiver.
Available in 160 and 163cm.

Salomon Snowboard Pillow Talk
This tapered twin is tailored specifically for women featuring a wider design for maneuverability and floatation in deep snow. Powder focused shape providing 10-12mm of taper keeping you on top of fresh snow.
Available in 151 cm.

Salomon Snowboard SickStick
A Directional Twin with taper and Rock Out Camber for pop and float in any condition.
Available in 157, 161cm


heliboarding

Alaska Snowboard Guides Interview – Heliboarding Innovators

Alaska Snowboard Guides Interview – Heliboarding Pioneers

 

  1. How do you differentiate Alaska Snowboard Guides from the other Alaska heli-skiing / heliboarding operators?

 

  • We founded Alaska Snowboard Guides on the idea we could operate on a better model. One that has our clients best interest in mind. That is why our packages offer the longest time to complete the amount of heliboarding / heli-skiing we sell of any operator in Valdez. You can always buy more heliboarding at a discounted rate after you complete your package.

 

  • We operate through out the range from 3 separate bases, which allows us to use the entire range with unmatched efficiency.

 

  • We treat our public ship like a private. That means we use the whole range not just a small circuit near our base like most operations.

 

  • We use a fuel truck in addition to our 3 bases for maximize efficiency. That allows us to take our public groups to terrain previously only skied by private helicopter groups. It also allows us to travel to the best weather. Beyond the “blue hole”…

 

  • We provided Free Demo gear for our inclusive packages.

 

  • We were the First operator in Valdez to provide airbags to All of our clients at no charge during their week.

 

  • We are the only operator to offer a Helicopter-Only package to keep prices affordable for anyone. If you don’t want to pay for high-end lodging and food – DON’T. We want to keep Valdez accessible.

 

  • We have been Pro Athletes, Clients, Guides and now Owners. Unlike any other operator we know what its like to spend our own money to go Heli-Skiing. “Here’s my money – please make my dreams come true.” This gives us a perspective that only a client can understand.

 

  • We are the only operator that truly caters to snowboarders – Why would you ride with anyone else? That said we offer amazing ski guides too. Honestly we don’t care what you ride….
[foogallery id=”5123″]
  1. Let’s do the numbers. Why do you say your heliboarding pricing is the best value?

We offer 4 Personal Hobbs Flight hours per Week long package. The Classic is $6,495 US, and is the least expensive package for this amount of Flight time. It also allows our heli skiers / heliboarders 7 days to complete their package. When they do they are welcome to buy more skiing. Why buy runs or hours you may not get to use in the event of weather?

Lets say you choose our inclusive package… You can ski Heli Ski with us for 2 weeks for about the price of one week at our competitor’s lodges.

heliboarding

  1. So the Classic Package is heli-only and Inclusive has lodging, breakfast, transportation, and demo gear, right?

 

The Classic is designed for people who would like to Rent an RV or have other lodging arrangements in Valdez. Many of our clients love RV’s. The adventure and flexibility are unmatched. The Inclusive has Heli Lunches, too. We can add custom menu catered meals for groups of 4 or larger. Prices depend on menu selections.

 

  1. Why does Alaska Snowboard Guides only offer 7-day heliboarding packages?

 

Due to the nature of weather in Alaska we believe that this offers the best opportunity for clients to complete their package. We prefer for our heliboarding clients to go home happy and satisfied, not upset that they were sold too much skiing for ant given week. Sitting inside for 3 days in a row is not what you come to Alaska for but the reality is that is can happen. We feel that selling 3 and even 5 day packages can be a recipe for disappointment.

We know what the weather is really like in Alaska. Some operators claim 90% Fly rates but in our experience Flying a low quality run in Flat light is not what people come to Alaska to experience. If someone wants to book a shorter package we can create a custom package but we want to talk to them at length and discuss the reality of weather so they understand the risk. Over time this forthright approach will benefit both ASG and its clients.

heliboading alaska

  1. What do you offer for ski and heli snowboard demos?

We offer Lib Tech Powder skis. For those who are not familiar with them their patented Magna Traction technology provides amazing control on all snow surfaces. Our Ski Guides love them and they have quickly become the favorite for most of our clients including many former ski racers. Simply put – They are Incredible.

We offer Lib Tech Snowboards and Union Bindings

– Birdman 160,165,170,180
– T- Rice
– Jamie Lynn Rat Tail

– Gnu Barret Christy

 

  1. Which board(s) do you like for heliboarding deep snow?

     

All of the guides ride the Lib Tech “Birdman.” That said as a rule of thumb we tell people to bring a board that is at least 10Cm longer than their normal resort board. We offer a wide range of suitable demo boards from LIBTECH and GNU

 

  1. Tell us about your Custom Heliboarding Packages?

     

We are willing to create custom packages of any length for our public helicopter or private helicopter. We offer Helicopter Boat trips. Heli assisted ski touring, Snowmobile assisted skiing and touring. Remote Base camp trips. Fully catered Heli Glamping. Inclusive packages with custom catered private dining. Remote exploration heli-skiing and snowboard from any location in Alaska. Anything you can dream up we can do it!

 

  1. What is your mix of heliboarders and heliskiers?

 

It’s 50/50 on most weeks. Our Guide ratio is about the same, half boarders, half skiers.

 

  1. Is the Blue Hole on the leeward side of Thompson Pass real?

     

The light grey hole? Well they do “window shop” in grey light across the street from their base quite often. The run is less than desirable, that said its not just their terrain we are permitted to operate there too. We tend to go further north than that for better light and more terrain diversity. Remember our fuel truck?

 

  1. What are the dates of your heliboarding season?

 

March – April

 

  1. Where do your heli snowboarding / heli skiing guests stay?

     

The Chugach Suites. The Finest lodging available in Valdez

These 500 square foot suites that feature:
– Bed rooms and Bath rooms separated from main living area – Full kitchens
– Living area
– Couch/Coffee table
– Washer dryer
– Work Station

 

  1. How many lifts do you run?

It depends on group Fitness but when it blue we shoot for 8 or more.

 

  1. Got trees?

     

No one in Valdez has Heli skiable / heli snowboard-able trees.

 

  1. How does a strong El Nino affect Valdez heliskiing/heliboarding?

     

This El Nino is unlike any before, due to the warm water mass that is so far North. That said, we are expecting another great season per our long term forecasters.

 

  1. How long have you been operating / guiding?

     

We have been operating for 5 years. Our Lead Guides Experience in Heliboarding varies from 5 to nearly 20 seasons.

 

Cool. Thanks, Dave.

TJ

 

 

HELISKI.com Interview Crescent Spur Heli-Skiing

helicopter skiing in Canada

Heli-Ski Canada Interview: Crescent Spur Heli-Skiing answers 15 Questions with HELISKI.com

 
Oct 19, 2011, 08:22 am | Tom Jackson

I had the good fortune to ski a few weeks with Crescent Spur Heliskiing, most recently this last April. Mark and Regina have a unique offering, heliskiing in two groups of ten in the Rockies and Cariboos. Even though she knows better, Regina agreed to answer 15 Questions with HELISKI.com.

crescent spur heli-skiing, heli-ski canada

2 Groups of 10 are Unique

1. Crescent Spur Heli-Skiing is the only heli-skiing Canada operator that runs two groups of ten guests. Why do you? And why doesn’t any other operator?

Running only two groups allows us to access all of our licensed terrains without the groups waiting on each other (which means we get lots of skiing in a day!) – and doing it at a reasonable cost.  I don’t know why other operators don’t do it.  This has been a good decision for us – our guests tell us they love the configuration of our program and our return rate supports this as well.

2. Your prices are among the best. Is that because
A.  Your costs are lower
B.  You are too nice
C.  You are poor business people

Heli-skiing doesn’t have to break the bank.  We are happy with what we charge.  And – our price reflects our belief that it’s best to offer a base price for a set amount of skiing and then let the customer choose to ski more or not.  There has been a lot of debate on offering a set amount of vertical or offering unlimited vertical.  We offer 100,000 vertical feet for our 6 day package price and let you choose whether to continue skiing or not based on the snow conditions, your ability, and fitness level.  Our charge for additional vertical is so reasonable [actually lowest in Canada] that you would have to ski almost 206,000 vertical feet with us to reach the price that one of our competitors charges for an unlimited vertical package. While having just one bill for your package might seem convenient, in today’s challenging economy we think our guests appreciate that they are only paying for what they choose to ski.

However, we could charge YOU more Tom, if you like.  [Oh, thanks!]

And – as you know, we ARE nice. [True]

heli-skiing, helicopter skiing canada
Co-Owner Regina hard at work!

3. Your lodge is in the valley between the Cariboos and the Rockies. This gives you lots of options, I know. How do the two ranges compare?

Within each range, there is lots of variety/types of terrain.  Most of our glaciated terrain is in the Cariboos.  There are excellent tree and bowl skiing in both ranges.  The snowfall is quite consistent between the ranges.  Having the two ranges give us the option to choose where we think the best skiing will be on a given day.  This decision combines snow quality, safety, visibility, and flying conditions.  This can differ from one range to the other on a given day so it has certainly proven to be an advantage to have the choice of ranges.

heliskiing, crescent spur heli-skiing canada

4. I met lots of CMH (Canadian Mountain Holidays) alumni at Crescent Spur Heli-Skiing. Why do so many Million Vertical suits end up with you?

We see that people are trying a variety of operations. We have a great return rate – over 75% – which means that we have established a very loyal clientele. We have many guests that have skied with us for over 10 years. Our guests tell us they really like our “2+2+2” concept – 2 guides per group, only 2 groups in the entire operation, and 2 mountain ranges to choose from.

5.  Your partner Mark was recently recognized with the “Founder’s Award” from the industry association, HeliCat Canada.  Tell us about that, please.

The Founder’s Award is the highest HeliCat Canada award given by peers in recognition of  “Extraordinary Leadership, Performance, Initiative and Contribution to the Aims and Objectives of HeliCat Canada”.  Mark’s involvement with HeliCat Canada spans many years, including positions on the Board of Directors, Ethics Committee, and the Standards Committee (a position he still holds).  Mark is also a professional member of the Canadian Avalanche Association.   

Some of your readers may not know that HeliCat Canada is an organization of operators whose primary objective is to improve the safety of the sport of heli-skiing and snowcat skiing.  HeliCat Canada, through its members, has sponsored a research chair at the University of Calgary, which has resulted in internationally recognized research projects and techniques that are directly used by professional practitioners today.  In addition, HeliCat Canada is continually updating its operation guidelines to reflect improvements in risk management.  HeliCat Canada also conducts independent reviews of member operators by risk management experts to ensure that individual members are meeting the strict requirements of the operations guidelines. 

Crescent Spur Heli-Skiing is now in our 20th year of operation – it seems like yesterday that we started – I guess that’s how it goes when you like what you are doing.  We both started in the snowcat skiing business where we worked for a great snow cat company (me for 10 years, Mark for 6) before launching our own heli-ski company in 1992.

heli skiing canada, crescent spur heliskiing

6. Travel to Crescent Spur is much easier than most Canadian heliskiing lodges.  Last April the Trans Canada highway was closed due to a burning tanker. You called the train; had them stop to pick us up; gave us a few cases of beer and a couple of bottles of Patron, and off we went to Prince George to catch our flights home. Can we do that again?

We can do that with our other groups, but I believe that your group, unfortunately, has been banned from any future train travel in Canada. [Who, me?]

You are right, however, in saying we are easy to reach.  Everyone flies into Vancouver International Airport, and we are then a one-hour direct flight to Prince George, where you are met for a 1 ¾ hour drive in our comfortable coach to our lodge. 

7. Crescent Spur Heli-Skiing only offers 5 and 6-day trips. Why is that?

We are not situated close to any major cities, so we don’t draw the 3-day package interest.  People want 5-day/6-night or 6-day/7-night packages.  We like this setup too as it means the group is together all week, without new guests coming in midweek.

8. How does the Crescent Spur Heli-Skiing weather and snow compare to other British Columbia Heliskiing locations?

The interior ranges of BC are a mixture of coastal and continental weather systems which means lots of snow, typically very dry snow, with minimal fog and frequent clear periods between storms.  This makes for amazing skiing!   [Yes, it does!]

heliski canada, heliskiing

9. What is the average vertical for a week at Crescent Spur Heli-Skiing?

It depends of course on a lot of factors but generally, we will ski 130,000 to 150,000 vertical feet with good groups later in the spring reaching 200,000.

heli-ski canada, helicopter skiing canada

Cozy and Casual Lodge at CS

10. Your lodge has a family atmosphere (albeit a crazy family). What do you do to foster that feel?

We are just ourselves (and I think you described us pretty well..) and we have a great, friendly, highly professional staff – some of whom have been with us for 15+ years.  We love what we do and I think it shows.  We have guests that come from all over the world and they say they feel instantly comfortable here. We provide a warm, friendly atmosphere with incredible skiing– and the professionalism of our staff makes it appear seamless.

11. Any plans to hosts more than 20 guests at a time?

No, our program works very well as it is.  Also, remember that we will run private groups where a group of up to 10 can reserve the whole lodge, helicopter, and terrain for themselves.  In this situation, it is truly a ‘private’ week, as there are not other groups of skiers in the lodge or on the terrain.

heli-skiing Canada, helicopter skiing canada

Glacier Skiing in the Cariboos

12. Did the term Man Soup originate in your hot tub?

I’m not sure, but I believe the correct term is “ass soup”.  I’m also pretty sure it started with your last week here (of course I could be wrong…).  It came about when 20 guys crowded into our 12 people outdoor hot tub – kind of like the old days of packing a phone booth. 

13. How many down days do you average in a season?

Each year is different depending on the season – but some years we haven’t missed a single day.  Historically it sits around 2 days per season. We are fortunate that some of our best tree skiing is in an area we can reach in bad weather

Our Macleod Creek drainage in the Cariboos is famous among our guests – people want to ski there whether it is a snow day or not – it’s just that good. We can ski an enormous area (miles!) of steep north facing trees from multiple landings.  We get some of the best skiing of the week in when others might be unable to fly.   We also have a great area in the Morkill drainage of the Rockies with dozens of tree skiing runs.  [Yeah, top to bottom, perfectly spaced trees…..lather, rinse, repeat]

14. Who is your second favorite agent/tour operator and why?

We only have a favorite, no second favorites. Do you want me to say who the favorite is??   [Afraid to ask…]

heliskiing canada, helicopter skiing canada

Artsy, rare pic of my brother Dash doing work

15. Is there anything else you would like to add about Crescent Spur Heli-skiing?

People who haven’t tried heli-skiing should give it a shot – the value is definitely there.  Most experienced skiers have the ability to do it and will be rewarded with an incredible experience that goes beyond just the skiing. They need to give you a call!  [Great idea!  866-HELISKI]

Thanks, Regina. Hi to Jessica, Erin, Adam and rest of the Crescent Spur Heli-Skiing family.

Thanks, TJ (you’re the best..)    [I KNEW IT! Eat your heart out Garry]

Best,
tj

Tom Jackson
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)
HELISKI.com
(866-435-4754)

HELISKI.com Interview with Mica Heliski Guides

HELISKI.com Operator Interview: Mica Heliski Guides, 15 Questions with Mica Heli Skiing

Sep 12, 2011 07:33 am | Tom Jackson

We caught up with Darryn Schewchuck, GM of Mica HeliSki Guides (aka Mica Heliskiing and Mica Heli Skiing) 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.

Here are Mica Heli Skiing 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.

mica heli skiing british columbia canada, mica heliskiing BC Canada mica heli ski guides

Mica Heliskiing Blue Bird Day, Cold Smoke Anyone?

 

2. Mica Heli Skiing seems 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.

 

3. Some Mica Heli Skiing 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!]

Mica Heli Skiing Canada Lodge View, mica heliskiing View, and this image, courtesy of Mica Heliski Guides

 

4. How did you come up with such a cool spot for the new Mica Heliski 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 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.

 

Mica Heli Skiing image Keri Knapp, Mica Heliski

Two Hot Tubs with this View!

 

6. Mica Heliskiing 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’s terrain is very diverse; we have something for every taste.

 

8. Mica Heliski 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 Heli Skiing?

Yes, we have quite a few guests who ski Revelstok 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 to Mica Heliski 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.

Jan 14 to April 3 is 95% sold, only a few seats left.  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 to Mica Heliski?

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.

Best Regards,
tj
Tom Jackson
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)
HELISKI.com
HELIBOARD.com
866-HELISKI

HELISKI.com Interview with Skeena Heliskiing

HELISKI.com Heli-Skiing Operator Interview with Skeena Heliskiing
 | Tom Jackson


Skeena Heliskiing was one of the first visits for HELISKI.com many years ago.

So it is only fitting that owner/guide Giacum “Jake” Frei is the first Heliskiing Operator Interview with HELISKI.com Heliskiing Canada Series.   Thanks!

Skeena Heli-Skiing BC Canada, Helicopter Skiing BC Canada Skeena mountain range

Jake – Great Host, Amazing Skier

helicopeter skiing Canada, Skeena Heli-skiing Canada

1.  The Skeena Mountains may be new to some heliskiers and heliboarders.  Tell us about the Skeena Mountains of BC Canada.

The Skeena Mountains have been on the heliskiing scene for about 15 years. It is a newer area for sure. What makes the Skeena’s special is the combination you get between Coastal precipitation, interior dryness and a northern cooler climate. Depending on where you fly in the Skeena’s you can have a bit more of one of these options. This allows for an operation with a larger area to switch skiing zones if the conditions vary.  Some parts of the Skeena’s have a lot of precipitation, you have a lot of natural glades, which makes for very enjoyable skiing.

2.  What made you decide to start your own heliskiing operation?

I guess what really started the idea was that I grew up just a few hours drive south of the current lodge and I always had the goal of bringing guests here to see and experience this part of B.C. The area was not new to me, it was my back yard. I have explored the Skeena Mountains since I was old enough to. In 2003 I was per chance in the government office and out of curiosity had a talk to the officials in charge of tenure leases. From that talk it never stopped. Through government I met Norman Winter, who was also looking for an area and we teamed up. Later Norm went on to develop another area near Revelstoke, BC.

skeena heli-skiing bc canada, heli-skiing bc skeena mountains

3.  You may be the best skier with whom I have heliskiied.  How did you get to be so damn good?

Thanks Tom, nice of you to say that. Hmm, I guess I can say, I devoted my entire teens and early 20 to skiing. I opted to complete my high school through correspondence and moved to Switzerland at age 15. I skied every chance I got. I also completed any course I could take and was lucky enough to ski with some amazing skiers and mountain guides from different fields. I landed my first sponsors [freeskiing] at 16, and sure did not want to let them down. I was pretty ambitious and devoted to improving my ski level to the highest I could take it. I would also say being in front of the camera really helped me improve, you see yourself all the time, see your position, your posture. You also want to get it right on the first try, hit the right spot.

4.  What is different about Skeena Heliskiing in BC Canada?

A few things that make Skeena Helisking different are:

canadian heli-skiing, heliskiing heli-boarding bc Canada Skeena Lodge

The Lodge and the Skiing are Exceptional

A.  The lodge!

B. Large area and large selection of terrain

C. Close proximity to an airport, easy access

D. Low number of down days

Heliskiing Canada, Heli Ski Canada Skeena Lodge interior

Skeena Lodge Interior, Does Not Suck

5.  You are known for European guests who like to ski fast.  Is that a fair reputation?

I would say so, yes. Even adding a bit of a straight line in there somewhere ;)   Skeena Heliskiing is also known for providing the clients with a wide variety of runs.  Not so much for lapping the same run; but trying to find runs that challenge the keen skiers, giving them a good selection, and trying to motivate them to improve as well. I love to see that someone is really stoked that he or she skied something very well. Love helping them out.

6.  What is your average vertical in a week?

Our average vertical varies per year from 118,000 feet to 151,000 feet over the last 6 years. We do ski more from late Feb onwards, due to the longer days. In January the days are shorter and we ski more technical runs in the trees.  Sometimes the big powder days are slower, as every wipe out cost lots of energy and time if the snow is really deep.  [That’s why Jake fills his choppers with good skiers…]

7.  Skeena may have the best small heliski lodge in the business.  How did you pull that off?

I also have to thank “luck” for that. During the exploration days prior to heliskiing we noticed that there was a lot of new traffic on the main road, we went to see what was going on and we drove to the lodge site just as the building was being started. Original plans were for a primarily summer-use fishing lodge. Original plans for Skeena Heliskiing were to start 2 years later, after completion of a small lodge structure in the skiing area.  Needless to say we were pretty happy when the owner said, he would rent out the lodge to us for the winters.

8.  How big is a group / lift?

A group consists of 5 skiers and 1 guide. 

9.  How many groups / lifts per helicopter

Our standard is 2 groups of 5 per heli [Awesome!].  On occasion when a party wishes it, we also run 3 groups of 5. Starting this season, if we use this program, we use our second helicopter to shuttle the groups out to reduce shuttle time.

10.  How many guests can you accommodate at any one time?

Max 15.

heli-skiing bc canada, bc heli-skiing heli-boarding Skeena Heliskiing Room

Shame to have this room all by yourself…….or not

11.  How many down days do you average per season?

The average is 7 down days per season over the last 7 years. [Surprisingly good]

12.  How far is the ride from the Smithers airport?

Depending on the road conditions, between 1.5hrs to 2 hrs.

13.  What do you do to accommodate helisnowboarders?

We actually have almost 20% snowboarders. We work with the heli-skiing booking agents, like HELISKI.com, and clients to try to organize snowboard groups, to get them together. We have a small fleet of K2 snowboards to use for snowboarders.  We have enough boards and bindings that work well for the current conditions. So the heli-boarders always have the most current, well maintained gear and no luggage hassle.  [I didn’t even beg for that plug]

14.  Are there any disadvantages to being a small operation?

      A.  You have to be more careful that the groups fit together, that every one in the group has the same level

      B.  As a business, having a small operation and a short season, it is really important that the weeks are full, or else it really hurts us.

15.  Have you ever considered extending your season?

We have, but for us the best time of the winter is from January to the start of April. Running later is a higher risk of down days since the tree skiing can be finished if it gets warm.  During November and December we are fully focused on sales in Europe for the next years winter season.

Bonus Question:   You have such a large area and you are booked solid.  Do you have any plans for expansion?

Yes, we do. We will have Cat Skiing in our area for this coming winter. We have contracted out a section of our southern tenure to Skeena Cat Skiing  www.skeenacatskiing.ca who are hard at working getting things going for this winter.  We are also looking at various different locations to start another small operation.  We have something very interesting planned for that, but cannot tell you any more right now.  I will keep you updated, but I can tell you it is a very cool concept.

Thanks, Jake.  I hope to make some turns with you again sometime soon.

tj

Tom Jackson
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)
HELISKI.com

866-HELISKI
(866-435-4754)

Altitude is Everything – HELISKI.com Interviews RK Heliski

 

RK Heliski Interview with Panorama Heli Skiing Operator

 

RK Heliski is one of the pioneers of heliskiing, including an affiliation with Hans Gmoser and CMH / Canadian Mountain Holidays.  For 46 years RK Heliski has offered heliskiing in the Purcells from the Panorama Resort.

This past season was challenging.   But working with RK, we were able to rescue some clients by sending them to RK, where the conditions were excellent.   One client wrote, “You are a genius!!!  Thank you so much it was perfect!!!!!!”   So, thanks to RK Heliski for making us look good!

We had a chance to talk with Graham Holt, GM of RK Heliski.   I hope you enjoy it.

rk heliski chopper pic

Should your slogan be “Altitude is Everything”?  (It is now, after I suggested it!)


Love that, TJ!

Heliskiing the Purcells for 46 years?!  You came right on the heels of CMH. How did you pick your terrain/tenure?

The initial operation was owned and operated as CMH Radium which ran for a year in the front ranges of the Purcells. During the same time Roger Madson (RK) was pioneering fixed wing skiing via a Platus Porter aircraft on the NorthStar and Catamount Glaciers. After a few challenging landings, and requiring a rescue for a maintenance issue of the plane in the backcountry, RK had heard of Hans Gmoser utilizing a helicopter further up valley and enlisted his services. From that day forward Roger Madson entered into an arrangement with Hans and moved operations adjacent to the Panorama Ski Area where the real snowbelt could be accessed. Over the years, the further West in our tenure you go the deeper the snowpack. Overtime the tenure has grown to 1500 sq/km. Altitude is everything, and 45 yrs later we have pioneered our entire ski/snowboard tenure and know it intimitley.

Describe the RK Heliski terrain in the Purcell Mountains, please.


Alpine glaciated terrain 3400m-2600m, Treeline terrain 2600m-2200m, below tree line terrain 2500m-1500m. Average length of run approx. 800m. Good stability and clear skies we can access runs that average 1000m with the longest runs being 1500m. Treeline terrain is a mixture of wide open bowls with very sparse trees at lower elevations, adventure terrain, with a mixture of boulders, morainal features. Below tree line skiing is open maintained runs. Steeper tree skiing can be 45 degrees. During poor weather or stability we have numerous safe runs to handle all levels of experience.

RK heliski high alpine

RK Heliski offers a wide variety of packages.   Please give our readers a summary.


RK offers daily packages starting at a 3 run or a 5 run package for those looking for a single powder adventure. Guests also have the option to ski extra runs and can be decided on the day they are skiing. We gear our 3 run packages to first time/intermediate heli skiers and our 5 runs toward more advance to expert skiers.

We also provide a number of private packages ranging from a Powder Private which includes 5 runs. This package allows you up to 7 skiers and the exclusivity of your own group. Whether your group prefers to ski at a mellow place or ski at a fast and aggressive pace this option is for you. Our Elite and Platinum packages are based on 1.5 hrs. of flying time so for those that really love to ski and want to experience the Purcell Mountains on their own terms this is for them. These packages include a private breakfast in the morning as well as have exclusive use of the Bell 204 helicopter. Our Platinum package includes an extra ACMG ski guide.

All our packages include breakfast in the morning, lunch out in the field, ski’s/poles and/or snowboard, guest pack containing shovel, probe and radio as well as your transceiver and holster. We provide full training on the use of this equipment. All our packages can be transformed to multi-days as well.

I think HELISKI.com clients appreciate the Private Platinum package.


rk heliski tele pow shot

How much vertical can they expect with 1.5 hours of flight time?

9000-10000m

What is the mix of day heliskiers and multi-day/private?


50% day skiers and 30% multi-day, 20% exclusive privates

 

rk heliski trees

RK Heliski, like most resort-based operators, does not have a lodge.  How do multi-day clients find lodging?


RK Heliski can provide a wide range accommodation found on our website that meets the needs of all ranges of budgets. Being based at Panorama Mountain Resort we have a variety of accommodation to suit every guests needs and budget from hotel rooms, condo units, townhomes and private chalets.

Why do you recommend the Cranbrook airport.


1hr 45min drive by vehicle to arrive at our base operations the Heli Plex.  Calgary is 3.5hrs away.  After a long flight this proximity is what we recommend.  For those clients that want to heliski and explore other ski destinations a stop over from Calgary in Banff is also a must do.

rk heliski to airport map

Why do RK Heliski Private packages use a Bell 204 Plus?


The 204 plus is a Bell 204 with a 205 engine, lot’s of power and fuel efficiency at altitude. A lot of space to stretch out between runs, easier access entering and exiting the aircraft when compared to light machines.

Tell us about the Banff and Lake Louise options.


World class accommodation at the Fairmont hotels in Banff and Lake Louise. These two gems are the basis behind Banff National Park being established when considering Western Canadian being accessible from the building of the historic Canadian Pacific Railway in 1888. A wide range of chalets, private homes, quaint mountain accommodation.

Thanks, Graham!

Interview Selkirk Tangiers Revelstoke Heli Skiing

Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing Revelstoke

Revelstoke Heli Skiing

Selkirk Tangiers Revelstoke Heli Skiing Interview

Interview by Tom Jackson, HELISKI.com

1. How long has Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing Revelstoke been flying out of Revelstoke, BC, and how many skiers and riders have had their best day ever with Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing and Heliboarding?

This is our 40th year of operation at Selkirk Tangiers Revelstoke Heli Skiing!

Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? We’ve got a huge client base from all over the world.

revelstoke heli skiing, selkirk tangiers heli skiing revelstoke

2. A few years ago you joined forces with Revelstoke Mountain Resort. How have things changed?

It has created lots of opportunities for us to create new packages and offerings for our guests (heliski out of Nelsen Lodge, Lift & Heli Combo incl. 3 days of heliskiing and 2 days at RMR…). We still offer our guests the same amazing heliskiing products we always have but with a lot more options.

3. Your 500,000-acre tenure includes the Monashees and the Selkirk Mountains. Compare and contrast the two, please.

A lot of the same goods! Both ranges run North-South through and around Revelstoke, BC. The Selkirk mountain range lies to the East of Revelstoke and the Monashee mountain range lies to the West of town. The bulk of our tenure is located in the Selkirk mountains so we tend to spend a lot of the time there, but we do like to check out the Monashee side of STHS as often as possible as well! They both include plenty of treeskiing, alpine bowls and glaciers for our guests to enjoy.

4. I get ‘Selkirk’ (the mountain range), but what the heck is Tangiers in Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing Revelstoke?

It’s Tangiers is the name of a zone river in our northern Selkirk terrain, named after the Tangiers river. It is where the company’s original founder and owner, Peter Schlunegger, took his first heliski guests to heliskiing with STHS 35 years ago!

5. What percentage of your clients do a single day heli skiing Revelstoke?

40-60%. Since we are ‘turning over’ guests daily rather than weekly, this allows us to accommodate many more people each week in our Day Heli programs than our multiday programs. However, we find that many single day clients end up adding at least a 2nd day to their experience and a lot will come back the following year for multiday packages!

6. Can you please summarize the three single day heli skiing Revelstoke packages?

Day Heli Experience – a great introduction to heliskiing including 3 runs

Day Heli Advanced – for skiers/boarders with previous heliski and/or extensive backcountry experience. Includes 3,000 vertical meters rather than the 3 runs incl. in the Experience package.

Private DayStar – our premiere day heliskiing experience. You and up to 3 friends in your own helicopter with your own guide experiencing all our terrain has to offer! Includes 5,000 vertical meters of skiing.

ALL these packages also include breakfast, lunch, and après-ski snack, ski/board rentals, ACMG certified ski guide, safety equipment and training. Extra runs/meters available for a fixed rate (based on weather, time and group consensus).

Small choppers are also an option from Selkirk-Tangiers

7. What is the most popular multi-day Revelstoke heli skiing package?

We see lots of guests booking our 3 Day Classic packages because it is a great fit for busy schedules. The 6 and 7 day Classic packages still tend to be very popular however, lots of people are still looking for that traditional week-long heliski experience!

8. Tell us about lodging for multi-day guests with Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing?

We are based out of the Coast Hillcrest Hotel, located 5-min from downtown Revelstoke. A beautiful rustic log themed hotel, there are plenty of amenities (spa, hot tubs, fantastic dining room, lounge, work out facility, STHS retail shop etc.) for our guests to enjoy.

Best Day Ever Groundhog Day

9. What other multi-day Revelstoke heli skiing packages are available?

We have Private AStar packages for groups of 4 or 8, flying from the Hillcrest Hotel, Nelsen Lodge or Bighorn Lodge (at the base of RMR).

New this season we have a special 3 day Women’s Retreat (Jan.7-10 and Mar.10-13) just for the ladies, a 3 day AStar Steep Camp (Mar.3-6 and Mar.17-20) for clients looking to explore some of our more aggressive terrain and get more vertical, and our new Lift and Heliski combo incl. transfers from Kelowna airport, 6 nights accommodation, 2 ski days at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, plus 3 heliski days with STHS.

10. What is the average vertical for a day at Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing Revelstoke?

Depends on a number of factors – what the weather is doing, time of year, what package the guests are booked for. Typically we will see a range of 1,500-3,000 vertical meters per day for our day packages and 3,000-5,000 for our mult-iday packages. However, if we have plenty of light, great weather and keen skiers/boarders, we can see groups skiing up to 8,000+vertical meters some days!!

Tree Skiing from Revelstoke

11. Tell us about your Selkirk Tangiers Revelstoke Heli Skiing Only packages.

These packages offer a little more flexibility for our guests. They can still ski with STHS but are free to arrange accommodations for elsewhere in Revelstoke. Available for certain 1, 2 and 3 day packages.

12. What are the options for Private Heli Skiing at Selkirk Tangiers Revelstoke?

Our private packages can be 1-7 days in length, with our 3,,4,5 and 7 day AStar packages including lodging at the Hillcrest hotel. Shorter private AStar packages can be arranged without accommodation for clients who already have somewhere to stay in Revelstoke.
Revelstoke Heli Skiing

13. If the weather grounds the helicopter, can guests go catskiing or make it to the Revelstoke Mountain Resort in time to get a full day?

Multi-day packages: if there is a down day during your multi-day package, guests have the option to go to the ski resort. The group’s guide will drive the group there/back and ski with them; lunch and lift ticket will be provided. If at the end of the package, guests haven’t reached their guaranteed heliski vertical for weather reasons, we will refund at a set rate for the unskied meters.

Day Heli packages: Guests will get a full refund plus have the opportunity to get a ride to the ski resort if their heli day is cancelled first thing in the morning. If they do go out and at the end of the package guests haven’t reached their guaranteed heliski vertical, we will refund at a set rate for the unskied meters/runs.

2 Edges or 4…

14. What percentage of Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing guests are heliboarding?

Hard to say, but it seems to be around 30-40%. It’s definitely not just for skiers, we’re happy taking skiers and boarders out and have a great fleet of rental powder skis & boards to choose from.

15. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing Revelstoke?

There’s a reason we’re still offering up heliskiing and boarding for our guests after being around for 40 years – we know what we’re doing and our guests love it, coming back winter after winter! Revelstoke is a world-renowned destination for heli skiing for good reason and we’ve done our best to provide just that for thousands of our guests from all over the world.

Thanks. I hope to get back up there to Revelstoke to make some turns with you soon!

Best,

tj

Tom Jackson
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)
HELISKI.com
866-HELISKI
(866-435-4754)

Interview with Bella Coola Heliskiing: Beat British Columbia Heliskiing Guide/Owner

 


Interview by Tom Jackson, HELISKI.com

Bella Coola Helisports offers heliskiing and heliboarding out of Bella Coola, BC ( 1 hour flight North of Vancouver) from three different lodges. We talked to owner Beat Steiner recently about the flagship operation at Tweedsmuir Lodge.

 

1. Beat, Bella Coola heli-skiing and heli-boarding is known for your terrain. Tell us about the Tweedsmuir Lodge area.

The Bella Coola area’s particular attraction is the unrivaled alpine terrain we can access. The runs are long, varied and always interesting. Combine this with a solid snowpack and it’s skier’s dream come true.

In my previous life as a ski and snowboard cinematographer, I was fortunate to ski all over the world, including with heli operations on 5 continents and at many of my competitor’s lodges here in BC. It has to be said that there is nothing else like British Columbia for the skiing and snowboarding enthusiast. The particular configuration of the mountain ranges, the weather patterns, the topography, the trees and the vast spaces, makes it the best and most reliable place to ski powder in the world.

For me, Bella Coola has all of what makes BC great in the best possible combinations.

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Beat “Enjoying the Fringe Benefits”

 

2. You have integrated travel into your trips better than any other operator. Explain how a typical trip works, please.

For sure this seems to be a more and more important consideration in our busy world. The way it works for us is as follows: our clients catch a one hour 10 minute flight to Bella Coola [in the morning]. On their arrival at 11:30, we meet them as they disembark and drive them 300 yards to the heli port. We serve lunch, they get changed into ski clothing, do some safety exercises and then go skiing. It’s as fast and simple as that. They then ski and fly their way to the lodge, where at the end of the day, the heli drops them on the lawn outside their private chalet. It’s a very cool set up. We have clients from California, Seattle and Toronto that wake up in their own
The return journey is equally efficient. We ski and fly from the lodge and land the clients at the airport on the tarmac outside the terminal. It’s a rock star finish to the week.

 

3. The snow at Whistler Blackcomb has given the Coast Range a bad rap. How is your snow at Bella Coola Heli Sports?

I love the snow in Whistler. I’ve lived here for 30 years and I would argue it’s one of the most reliable places in the world to find good powder skiing and snowboarding. Yes, sometimes it can be wet, but all destinations have their issues. To me the most important thing is that it’s generally stable and we can ski super cool lines. There is a reason why so many film crews shoot their best stuff in the Coast Range from Whistler stretching north to Alaska.

As with regards to the snow in Bella Coola, I would say it’s ideal. It’s certainly lighter than here in Whistler. After all, we are further North and operate at a higher elevation. The biggest thing however, is that we operate primarily on the east side of the range, the dry side, whereas Whistler is on the Western slope. It’s the same pattern as in California where the east side of the Sierra’s drops down into the desert (there are even places in BC with rattle snakes). In any case, we have what I think is a perfect snowpack. It’s reliable, stable, and light, but with enough resistance and density that you float on top rather than ski the rocks and ice underneath. Check out the picture.

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Shred Alert!

4. With a huge tenure stretching West to East, is it true you can find good snow just about any day?

Yes, 2.65 million acres! Having a big tenure does guarantee that we can pretty well find good snow every day. However, the magic of Bella Coola is not that the tenure is so big, but more the micro climatic conditions of the zone we are in. The storms roll in off the Pacific and as they move east dumping their load of snow, it gets progressively drier. Being in the transition zone means that if it’s storming we stay more in the eastern parts of our area, but if it clear and it hasn’t snowed in a while, we can head west into the big snow zone. [Nice!]

 

5. Some think a huge tenure is irrelevant, because operators stay close to the lodge to save on fuel. Does size matter?

It’s true that we have more terrain then we can ski in a lifetime. In total it’s 10,700 square kilometers (4,300 sq/miles). This is equal in size to the entire Swiss Alps, except there are no ski lifts, no roads, and no people. And yes, costs and logistics demand that for the most part the heli has to stay reasonably close to refueling options. However, one of the things I have always enjoyed most about skiing is exploring. Going to new places, seeing what’s over in the next valley, skiing stuff nobody has ever skied before. Lots of the guides working for our company are old ski buddies from the ski bum days, who have this same philosophy. Anyway, I like the idea that we as a company will still be exploring our area well into the future. It makes it interesting and exciting.

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6. Tell us about the Tweedsmuir lodge, please, Beat.

The Bella Coola Valley is a magical little slice of what is a magical part of the world. The reaction we get from lots of people is that they feel like they have somehow landed in Shangri-La. The vertical relief out of the valley is huge. Combine this with big rock walls and tumbling glaciers, and it creates what are some of the most stunning views in the province.
The Tweedsmuir Park Lodge sits at the base of Mt. Stupendous (the name says it all) and is on the banks of the Atanarko River. We are inside a provincial park so it’s a very pristine and wild environment.

Accommodation at the lodge is in private double occupancy chalets with the main lodge for dining and socializing. It’s a great set up offering lots of privacy, yet intimate enough that by the end of the week everybody skiing that week has gotten to know each other.

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Alps? No, Mt Waddington – highest peak in BC
7. What is the average vertical in a day of heliskiing / heliboarding at Bella Coola Tweedsmuir Lodge ?

The average vert varies a fair bit depending on whether we are skiing on a sunny day or a bad weather day. If it’s sunny and we are skiing the huge alpine lines the vert racks up pretty fast and its common to ski 30,000plus feet. On bad weather days we ski in the trees, and the average vert maybe closer to 15,000 for the day.

 

8. You ski in groups of 4 or 5 in A-Star ships, right?

Yes that is correct. For the most part we do 4 people per load for the sake of comfort and increased operational flexibility (we can carry more gas and fly further into our tenure). However, with the A-star B2 it is possible to add a 5th client and if we have a group of 5 that want to ski together then we try to accommodate that.

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Love to Keep a Taxi Waiting…
9. How many groups share a helicopter?

The Tweedsmuir Park Lodge can host 16-18 people per week. On a normal week this breaks down to be four heli loads, which we would service with two machines. So each machine is flying just two loads. [Wow]

As you know the standard for most heli ops is three loads. On occasion we also do three loads in one machine, but that would be the maximum.

 

10. How does your skiing change from January to April?

In January we ski more trees and can sometimes ski from a 7,000 foot summit right down to 1,500 feet above sea level. My personal favorite time however is probably late March and April. The days are longer, the snowpack is settled, and the weather generally more stable. This is when we do most of our exploring and ski some great circuits in the really big alpine. Even late April is not too late to get superb powder snow. Our area is very heavily glaciated and all that ice acts like a giant freezer keeping the snow cold. We have even had clients come up and ski in June, July and even as late as September. The idea was to go ski corn snow, but more often than not they also get to ski some powder.

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Bella Coola Heli-Skiing April 12th!

11. How often do people mispronounce your name, Beat?

I have to say I don’t even notice anymore. I grew up with it and it’s always been difficult for English speakers. If people ask, I tell them my dad was a drummer. The fact is that it’s actually a fairly common name in Switzerland (my dad is Swiss). It’s the male version of Beatrice and is pronounced similarly. I like it. It’s the same root as the beatitudes and beatific and comes from the latin adjective beatus which means happy, fortunate or blissful. My life has been all that so no complaints from me. [What a great answer, BE-ot]

 

12. What % of your guests are European?

At the moment I would say about 70% of our clients are from Europe. A few years ago the split was closer to 50/50 between North Americans and Euros. That changed with Lehman Brothers going under. [Ouch]

Also, back in those days our currency was the Canadian peso whereas the currencies are more or less at par now. I’d like to get our numbers back to a 50/50 split. I am counting on this interview to help! [Occupy Bella Coola!!]

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13. What is your most popular package?

The most popular program is the standard one week vertical package. This is 100,000 vertical feet of skiing over the course of a 7 night stay. With 7 nights in Bella Coola, there is an opportunity to ski 6 full days and two half days. The semi-private program is also popular and is ideal for a group of 8 people who know each other and want more input in deciding when and where to go skiing.

 

14. What % of your guests return the following year?

I would say that about 75% of our clients each year are returning guests and 25% are first timers.

 

15. We will talk about your other two lodges (Pantheon and Big Mountain) next time. Is there anything else you would like to add about your Tweedsmuir Lodge operation?

What I really want to try to emphasize to your readers is how much fun heli skiing and snowboarding is. Resort skiing simply doesn’t come close. It’s not only about the endless untracked powder either, but also the fantastic thrill of flying into the mountains in this magical machine, a helicopter, and then having the pilot put you down on some remote peak in the middle of nowhere. Being out in these kinds of environments is an awesome privilege. Being able to ski or snowboard as well is a bonus. I would strongly urge anybody that likes to ski and snowboard to book heli skiing at least once in their lifetime, either in Bella Coola or with one of my competitors. [No way, Beat. You are one of a kind!]

After all, there is a reason so many people list a day of heli skiing as the best day in their life !

Thanks, Beat, always a pleasure!

Best,
tj

Tom Jackson
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)
HELISKI.com

HEIBOARD.com
866-HELISKI
(866-435-4754)

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TLH Heli Skiing – Tyax Lodge and Heli Skiing – Tyax Heli Ski

Tyax Lodge and Heli-Skiing

(TLH Heli-Skiing &

Heli-Snowboarding)

TLH Heli-Skiing Interview with HELISKI.com

We recently got re-acquainted with TLH Heli-Skiing & Heli-Snowboarding aka Tyax Lodge and Heli Skiing

(1 Group, Unlimited Vertical Helicopter Skiing.)

Hope you enjoy our operator heli-skiing interview series on Canadian Heli-Skiing!  TLH Heli-skiing BC Canada, HELI-SNOWBOARDING CANADA

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 and 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 trees, Tyax Lodge and Heli-Skiing TLH heli-skiing tree area, helicopter skiing trees   TLH heli-skiing into trees, TLH helicopter skiing

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!

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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.

tlh heliskiing pad vancouver
Heli Transfers To/From Vancouver for some TLH Heli-Skiing Trips

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.

TLH Heli-Skiing Lodge, Canadian Helicopter Skiing Lodge

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.

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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.

Thanks!

tj

HELISKI.com