heli-skiing canada, vail colorado helicopter skiing

Heliskiing vs. Resort Skiing, We Do the Math to Maximize Powder Value

Heliskiing vs Resort Skiing – We do the Math to Maximize Powder Value

EASY MATH: CANADIAN HELISKIING FOR MAXIMUM POWDER VALUE

Written by Tom Jackson

This time of year skiers and riders start to make plans for their winter trips.  Most assume that a resort trip is less expensive.   That may be true (although by a surprisingly small margin when you compare, so keep reading.)  But heliskiing is more cost effective.

It is not obvious, so we did some analysis. We compared a week of heliskiing Canada to a week at Vail, Colorado. And we love Vail.  I spent two seasons and many, many weekends there!  This analysis is getting long in the tooth.  Time to revisit it.

heli-skiing canada, vail colorado helicopter skiing
Full Disclosure: as the leading heliskiing Canada broker/agent, HELISKI.com, I will admit we are biased. HELISKI.com and HeliskiingReview.com represent over 90% of all Canadian heliskiing, so we know the best options.

The lodging we chose for the Resort comparison was Vail’s Tivoli Hotel – a nice 4 Star within easy walking distance of the lifts (although significantly farther than the chopper is from the lodge…..)   It is also not the kind of remote lodge/setting you can get when helisking.

We skied every day, hired an instructor to skip lift lines, ate at moderately priced (for Vail) restaurants and rented nice equipment.  February is the month we chose. We assumed the same airfare for both (even though some heliski operators actually pick up the last leg of the trip.)  Now that the Denver airport (DOA) is in Kansas, we assume the travel hassles to be comparable. In either case, guests can drive, ride a couple of hours in a shuttle or take a puddle jumper.

The cost of the Resort Trip:

February week-long trip to Vail, 1 Person

heliskiing canada costs, helicopter skiing canada vs resort skiing
We also looked at 5 of our favorite Canada heliskiing operators.  For one week, we got an average cost of $8700 Can., $8,430 US

Preliminary Results

Vail Resort:  $8,055
Heliskiing Canada:  $8,430

Amazing, eh?  Admittedly, we conveniently omitted extra vertical charges – some Canadian heli-skiing operators include unlimited vertical, some charge over 100,000 vertical.  Extra vertical is optional, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.  In any case, the Resort is still cheaper, even if only barely.

 

The rest of the Story:

Any comparison must include qualitative information, too. It is hard to compare a week in a remote heliskiing lodge and the convenience, decadence and comfort it offers.  The reader will have to weigh the difference.

Heli-skiing canada lodge, canadian helicopter skiing lodge

Skeena Canadian Heli-Skiing Lodge

How much more exciting and enjoyable is heliskiing?  Untracked on every run, all week, without hurrying?!?  It’s subjective, but for me a powder run is probably ten times better than a non-powder run.  Maybe it’s five, maybe it’s 20.  Let’s use Powder Value (PV) to compare. Each vertical foot of powder will be one PV. One vertical foot non-powder is therefore is 1/10 PV or 0.1 PV.

heliskiing british columbia powder, backcountry heliskiing bc

Is a powder run 10 X better?

A powder run which you do not have to hustle and compete for is certainly more enjoyable.  We could say there is nothing like it on earth, but that’s Vail’s slogan.  So, we give a heliski powder run 25% more powder value (PV).  I know the locals ski until it’s tracked (11-12:00 and that is getting earlier every year…)

The average Vail resort skier/rider accumulates about 12,000 vertical feet/day, totaling 72,000 for the week.  Anyone interested in heliskiing is probably doing more, so we bumped it by about half, calling it 100,000 vertical feet for the week.

On average, one storm will hit in our week. In Vail, that’s a foot of ‘new’, if you’re lucky.  Untracked powder runs will dry up by 11:00 or 12:00, unless you know the mountain and hug the trees.  A side note: this is getting worse every year with faster chairs and fat skis proliferating, but I digress.  We give the benefit of the doubt, and assume ½ of one day, so 9,000 feet of powder skiing (PV) with some effort.  The rest of the week amounts to 9,100 PV (91,000 feet * 0.1).

The Resort total is 18,100 PV.

Canadian Heliskiing operators include 100,000 vertical feet (or more), with 25% higher PV than the resort.

The heli-skiing Canada total is 125,000 PV

 

Final Results

Vail Resort 18,100 Powder Value  for $8,055
Heliskiing Canada 125,000 Powder Value for $8,430

Fun Ratio: 125/18.1 = Almost 7 times more fun to heliski Canada than a week at a resort!

The price is roughly comparable.  And you can certainly do a resort week for less.  You can also pay more for heliskiing, but the PV will also increase.

But the kicker is that, for about the same price, Heliskiing Canada trip is 7 times more fun!
Best,

tj

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

cant heilski, resort ski

How to Pick the Best Heliskiing – #9 Length of Trip

How to Pick the Best Heliskiing:  Trip Length

– Length of Your Heliski Trip –

Heliskiing packages are available for 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or more days.  Most ‘week’ trips are 7 nights with 6 full days of skiing.  Some will offer heli-skiing on the morning of departure.  Some can get up on the afternoon of the arrival day. Several companies now offer a full seven days.  It works for lodges / heliski operators with easier access.  So guests ski a full day on the last day, instead of using it as a change-over time and lengthy transfer to an airport. But those are the exception.

Resort-based operators cater to shorter trips, especially one-day trips.  More remote operators justify longer trips.  Some resort-based operations will call off the day in time to get out on the lift-served resort.  Small consolation, eh?

cant heilski, resort ski

 

Destination heliski lodges may require a travel day on each end.  But as mentioned in #4 Criteria, Travel, access is the key if you want to ski more and travel less.  Longer trips usually make the best use of time and money.  And they are the most fun!

Down days, unfortunately, do happen.  If the helicopter cannot fly, due to weather or mechanical issues, the heliskiing lodge barbummer is magnified if it is shorter trip.  On the  other hand, if you are not in great shape, a well-timed down day may be a welcome respite during a week long trip.

 

Catskiing backup is catskiing back for heliskiing canadaoffered by a handful of operators.It can save the day and is worth considering, especially for shorter trips.

Let us know if we can help put together the ideal trip for your group.

tj

canada helicat heliski members

Series – How to Pick the Best Heliskiing – Heliski Safety and Guides

Heliski Safety and Guides

Canadian Heli Skiing Safety and Guides

The heliski industry is primarily self-governed. There are industry associations that develop and encourage standards for the heliskiing industry. In Canada it is HeliCat Canada Association. This trade association “promotes the continual improvement of the industry through research, education, advocacy and overseeing a trade accreditation program.”  HeliCat Canada sets strict standards for its members and ensures that they meet them through audits of their operating procedures. To date they have been very successful at self regulation and have a very good safety record.

HeliCat Canada Heliski Members:

canada helicat heliski members

 

Canada and US are the gold standard.  Hopefully, others will follow.  In other countries, exercise extreme caution.   Ask lots of questions.

Guide Qualifications

One of the critical points to consider is Guide Qualifications.  HeliCat Canada recognizes ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides) and the IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guide’s Associations) of which the ACMG is the Canadian member.  John Forrest, GM and Lead Guide at Northern Escape Heliskiing, explains that ACMG requires many years of training and experience, “Most heli ski guides have spent a lifetime advancing their skills and the trade of guiding mechanized skiing. In heli skiing, specifically, the pace at which you move through what may be vast and differing terrain and snowpacks leads to a very challenging decision making matrix. This requires a vast amount of mountain experience to do well.  The more the better.”

HeliCat Canada also recently recognized the Canadian Ski Guide Association – CSGA.

Guests

On the first day of a heliskiing trip, clients receive detailed safety briefing and training.  Some include video and/or slides, as well as field training.  Among the most important topics are backcountry risks and how to ameliorate them.   This includes how to recognize and reduce avalanche threats.  Avalanche procedures are explained and practiced.  This includes training and practice with avalanche beacons.

Clients learn how to wear, operate and maintain avalanche beacons.   Guides will check to make sure all beacons are set to ‘send.’  In the event of an avalanche, everyone in the group turns their beacon from send to receive, which is extremely important.  Then the systematic search protocol is explained and practiced.  Guides bury a beacon and the group practices search and recovery in a controlled outdoor setting.   Most importantly, make sure the others in your group pay attention, as they will be the ones digging you out….

Many operators now provide or rent avalanche airbag systems.  In the event of an avalanche these devices significantly decrease the chances of being buried.

helicopter skiing pack, heli-skiing canada

Use of probes, shovels and radios is part of the training as well.   Typically all of these will be carried in the backpack of every client.  That is a good place for an extra pair of gloves, goggles, neck gator and maybe a thin vest.

Finally, guests learn how to act around and in the helicopter.  In addition, loading and unloading procedures are explained.  Listen to the do’s and don’ts for the safety and enjoyment over everyone.  Every guest needs to know the  location of emergency equipment and how to use it.

Guides begin their day with safety review and forecasts.  Heliski operators share data on snow conditions and stability.  Guides combine assimilate this information and detailed weather  and avalanche forecasts.   This information is used to formulate plans for the day, including what  aspects and slopes offer the  safest and best skiing, and which to avoid.  Throughout the day, guides continuously monitor snow conditions, including  digging pits to check for depth and stability of snow layers.   They may seem relaxed and casual, but the guides are constantly evaluating risks, and how to minimize them.


heli-skiing safety

United States

Many operators in the US belong to Heli-Ski US Association.  These members “work cooperatively to help establish the highest safety and operating standards in the helicopter skiing industry.”

Members of Heli-Ski US:

Alaska Snowboard Guides

Chugach Powder Guides

High Mountain Heli Skiing

Majestic Heli Ski

North Cascade Heli

Points North Heli-Adventures, Inc.

Ruby Mountain Heli-Skiing

Sun Valley Heli Skiing

Telluride Helitrax

Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

Valdez Heli Ski Guides

Wasatch Powderbird Guides

 

 

Series – How to Pick the Best Heliskiing #7 – Helicopters – Size Matters

How to Pick the Best Heliskiing #7 – Helicopters

There are several helicopters common in the heliskiing industry.  Most popular with the boutique operators is the A-Star.  It typically carries four guests across a bench-like seat in the back; the pilot and guide sit in front. Some get five guests in each lift.  It also comes in variety of models: A, B, B2, B3, BA and D.  Operators may run two, three or four groups of this size.  Most will run three small groups per helicopter.

AStar NE Heliskiing

The Bell 407 typically seats five in the rear; the pilot and guide are up front (With the exception of the last ride home – don’t be shy about asking!)

Bell 407 coming in for landing

 

RK Heliski Bell 204 helicopter

 

Bell 204 shuttles up to 7 guests to the powder at RK Heliski.

Bell 205 and 212 carry up to eleven guests, a guide and a pilot.  CMH, Wiegele and TLH primarily run Bell 212 helicopters, seating up to 11 guests.

tj HeliPanaorama cmh adamants

Here I am saying, “I brought 9 buddies.  Today, Bigger is Better at CMH!”

 

There are trade-offs.  Bigger helicopters have somewhat longer load and unload time.  But the biggest difference is skiing in lager groups.  Some terrain does not lend itself to 12-52 sets of tracks.   Operators with smaller helicopters, and thus smaller groups, have more flexibility in arranging groups, reaching terrain, etc.

The big advantage of the big helicopters is cost.   It is significantly less expensive to lift one group of 12 than three groups of 4.   Whether or not the savings are passed on to the guests in the form of lower prices depends on the operator….

Northern Escape Heli Skiing uniquely offers the Koala helicopter, seating 6 guests, and running three groups per helicopter.

NEH Lodge and chopper 500

The number of groups served is also a very important consideration.   TLH offers just one group of 10 per Bell 212, which rocks.

Private packages are offered by most operators, with just one group having exclusive use of the machine.   With 7 or more in a group, a private may be the best deal. HELISKI.com is happy to help find the best arrangement for your group.

Tell us how many in your group, and we will give you the best options.

Series – How to Pick the Best Heliskiing #6 – Lodging and Food, Beware of Heli-Belly!

Best Heli-Skiing:  Lodging and Food

Most BC Operators offer very nice lodges in remote locations.   A few offer less expensive options, including hotels, especially those that cater to day-trippers.   Some offer private cabins and central dining areas.  Most will offer excellent amenities including bar, hot tub, wireless internet, ski shop, massage, pool, TV/movies, etc.  Some have full-blown spas.  Some have gyms.

MO-Exterior-300x195

The lodges vary widely. It is best to talk with someone who has been there, stayed there.  (Like us!)  Some are so remote that clients must fly in by helicopter.

search for the best heli-skiing Canada

 

Others are right by the road or in town.

tlh dining-area-thumbgallery-crescent-spur-dining at night-1

Destination heliski operators almost all offer great food and lots of it.  Hotel based operations may be a little less gourmet.

Some of the bigger operators dowhat is heliskiing socializingbuffet style, but the food is great.   It’s not uncommon to gain wait on a heliskiing trip.
The food is so good, and often so rich, that clients (and guides) run the risk of heli-belly! 

 

Alaska is considerably more rugged, with a couple of exceptions.   The center of gravity is Valdez.  Most operators shuttle clients back and forth from their motel in Valdez.  A few have their own accommodations. Another interesting option in Alaska is a motor home.  The operators make it easy to hook up and hang out.

base camp skeena heliskiing inside communal dome tentsnowwater heliskiingrobe_lake_lodge_4-300x199 inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activities include ski touring, cat skiing, resort skiing, fishing, snowmobiling, sea kayaking and more.

skeena heliski lodge day, BC heli-skiing lodgenorthern escape heli-skiing lodge and helicoptertlh_heliskiing_lodge chopper night

There are lots of great choices.  Let us know if you want our opinions.

Series – How to Pick the Best Heliskiing. #4 – Travel

How to Pick the Best Heli Skiing – Travel

heliskiing canada travel issuesEvidence that getting stuck in an airport for two days can make you go stir crazy…

Best Heli-Skiing: Travel

Total travel time and hassle are important criteria that are often overlooked when searching for the best heliskiing experience.   Travel itineraries can be an episode of planes, trains, and automobiles.  Some of the oldest heliski operators require bus rides of eight hours on both ends of the trip!  This is an ironic contrast to the fast, luxurious, convenient service offered during the heliskiing.  It may not sit well with clients who can afford to heliski.

It is a good idea to get the travel itineraries for everyone in the group before you book.  Getting to and from a heliskiing destination can range from straight forward to very challenging.  Some places are easy to reach, with frequent ‘commuter’ flights.  Book these ASAP.  The good flights often sell out, and the cheap seats sell out first.  Others charter flights, require lengthy bus rides and are susceptible to weather delays. Some require renting a car or taking a third party shuttle.  Others are quick and easy.   Most have vans or buses for the last leg of the journey.

The primary connecting airports for heliskiing access are Vancouver, Calgary, Anchorage and Seattle, in that order. Destination airports include Terrace, Smithers, PrinceGeorge, Kelowna, Cranbrook, Kamloops, and Valdez.

Many itineraries require a night stay before or after the trip, some both.Some operators include this in the price, others do not.

Convenient travel results in more heliskiing for a given trip length. Some easy-to-reach locations allow West Coast heliskiers to fly up in the morning and ski that afternoon.  It may also be possible to ski the morning of the last day and fly home that afternoon.  This allows three days of heliskiing in a total of four days.

Trip insurance is a good idea.  It covers change of plans or travel problems.  We strongly recommend trip  cancellation/disruption insurance.  It is an add-on to the package price when guests make their final payment.  This ranges from $200-$300, depending on the date of the tour, and the age of the participant.  We partnered with Lifestyle Financial to offer trip insurance to HELISKI.com clients.

 

heli-skiing travel considerations

Can’t Bear to Miss Heliskiing!

 

This is the fourth in the HELISKI.com Series on how to select the best heliskiing trip.  If you are thinking about a trip this season, give me a call or email.   I’m happy to send the best available trips based on your criteria.

tj
866-HELISKI
925-683-7676

Criteria #4: Travel for Heliskiing / Heliboarding


 

Heliskiing Criteria Series – How to Pick the Best Heliskiing. #3 – Groups

How to Pick the Best Heli Skiing

Best Heli-Skiing:  Groups

Heli-Skiing Group Size and Number of Groups per Helicopter

The size of the group and the number of groups per helicopter, or machine, are both important when choosing your heliskiing operator.  Some of the big operators like Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) and Mike Wiegele use primarily big helicopters with 10 or 11 guests.   Almost all of the boutique, smaller operators use A-stars or Bell 407s.   These hold 4, 5 or 6 guests.  It is a more intimate group.  In addition, smaller helicopters are more maneuverable.  Small groups can access tighter areas that could not handle 13 sets of tracks (remember two guides) or 52 sets of tracks if you share a drainage.  Smaller is usually better, if for the simple reason that you are only as fast as the slowest skier/boarder.  And if one person falls or loses a ski, the entire group waits.

bc heliskiing robson pick us up Hey, Pick Us Up!!!

However, bigger helicopters are more cost effective.   To lift 12 guests, guides and a pilot, it takes a Bell 212 one trip.   It takes three trips in an A-Star, ferrying the pilot and guide as well.  So the bigger helicopter trips should be less expensive, but they are not always…..

An ideal situation is to find an operator with groups size that match yours.  One group per machine, aka Private, is great, but expensive.   One operator does one group of ten for each helicopter!

chopper downhill Skeena Rips with two groups of 5

Groups per helicopter

Groups per helicopter is another important criterion.  A helicopter can usually service two or three groups without much waiting.   Four groups per machine can be slow.   Our friend Dave Geis of Alaska Snowboard Guides points out that Alaska is an exception, “I would note is that 4 groups out of one heli in AK, especailly the Chugacth, is different than BC. This is due to run length. Because of the long runs there is very little waiting with 4 groups – barely enough to get a drink of water. In BC so many short runs makes the helicopeter much busier with take offs and landing which burn quite a bit of time.

Operators will attempt to group guests of similar ability and speed.  But all groups can only go as fast as the slowest group, unless or until a group can be passed.  The amount of waiting depends upon the slowest group, and upon the willingness of the guides to ‘leap frog’ the slow group.  This is frequently a cause of tension and discontent.  It can also hamper the lead guide’s flexibility in choosing the terrain.  This is especially true if the groups contain skiers with different ability and or speed.

Another issue can arise if some guests are interested in ‘extra vertical’ (for extra money) and some are not.   This requires a group of the right size, so that the helicopter economics work.   And is requires proximity to the lodge to take the others home, usually on a fuel run.   Again the bigger the groups, the more difficult it is to make everyone happy.  Three groups per machine is the industry norm for smaller, boutique operations.  But there are notable exceptions.  We are happy to help.

the best heli skiing, heliskiing powder

Heliskiing Criteria Series – How to Pick the Best Heliskiing. #2 – When to Go

How to Pick the Best Heli Skiing Criteria #2:   When to Go Heliskiing / Heliboarding

Best Heli-Skiing:  When to Go

British Columbia heliskiing operates January to early April.  Whistler and a few others offer December days.  The Christmas to New Years week is also available from some operators.  Primetime is February, but January and March are usually very good, can can be less expensive.
the best heli skiing, heliskiing powder
JANUARY 

  • Some say January best kept secret in the heliskiing industry. Most guides and operators will tell you this is their favorite heliskiing of the season.
  • Colder – So you may have to bundle up, but you may get drier, lighter powder
  • Short days – This can limit your vertical; which is bad if you are paying for unlimited vertical. It’s also worse the farther you go North.  Alaska gets twice as much light at the end of their ‘season’ as they do in the beginning!   And the Alaska heliskiing season is March & April.
  • Snowpack /Coverage /Stability – Not usually a problem unless it’s a lean year, or you are very early in January.       Early season will have fewer boundary layers, but may also be relatively unsettled.   Expect to heliski more trees and less high alpine, bowls and glaciers.
  • Price – early January and late March are the best heliskiing deals going. Early April is a very good deal, and many heliski operators would keep going if demand existed. The ‘prime’ weeks are now bleeding into late January and early March.

 

MARCH

  • Warmer – usually very comfortable. Be aware that late season can include ‘corn snow’ in addition to or instead of powder. And too warm can make south-facing slopes ski like mashed potatoes.
  • Longer Days – Think huge vertical and tired legs. 40-45K vertical feet in a day is possible! If you choose Unlimited Vertical, you can really rack up the vert.
  • Coverage/Stability/Terrain – By March, everything is skiable. Some cornices may build up, but stability is usually very good.  Spring heliskiing usually includes a heavy dose of high alpine / glacier skiing. Runs so smooth and consistent that you may want to bring something to read…..kidding.  I have counted 50 turns with my eyes closed, however.
  • Price – Not as cheap as  early January, but the later you go, the better the price.

APRIL

  • Many heliski operators lament that everyone switches to golf and tennis, even though winter is still going strong in Canada.   Early April can be great.  Some lodges stay open and few heilskiers makes for fast laps!

ALASKA

Alaska has a much later season.  Some operators open in February.  Prime time is March and April.  Some will accommodate early May.  It may be corn snow, however.  There is twice as much sunlight at the end of the season than at the beginning.

This is the second in the HELISKI.com Series on how to select the best heliskiing trip.
If you are thinking about a trip this season, give me a call or email.   I’m happy to give you free input.

tj
866-HELISKI
925-683-7676


We are here to help.  When you are ready to consider heliskiing or heliboarding,
email tj@HELISKI.com or answer 4 questions, or Skype HELISKI.com.
We will get back you with the best available trips and pricing that meets your requirements.

tj

Heliskiing Criteria Series – How to Pick the Best Heliskiing. #1 Location

This is the first in the HELISKI.com Series on how to select the best heliskiing trip.
Over the coming weeks, we will discuss the most important criteria, including:

  • Terrain
  • Snow Conditions
  • When to Go
  • Groups (size and how many per helicopter)
  • Cost
  • Travel
  • Lodging and Food
  • Length of Trip
  • Helicopters
  • Safety and Guides
  • Intangibles
  • References & Reviews

If you are thinking about a trip this season, give me a call or email.   I’m happy to give you free input.
tj
866-HELISKI
925-683-7676


Criteria #1:   Location

British Columbia Canada is the center of the heliskiing world.  It has the perfect combination of terrain, climate and precipitation.  It is home to the majority of heliskiing and heliboarding operations on earth – over 90%.   Within British Columbia there are different regions with different advantages and disadvantages.

best heli-skiing locations map
Canadian Heliskiing Operator Map – Click to Explore

Snow quantity is directly affected by proximity to the Pacific. In general, more snow falls in the Coast Ranges.  Many operators report receiving the most snow in January and the least in March.

Snow quality is based on a combination of factors, but most notably is the distance North (cooler temps) and the elevation (the higher the dryer).   A minimum amount of snow is required for both ground coverage and general stability and for this reason the vast majority of Heliskiing occurs in the Interior ranges and the Coast Ranges. The Rockies generally receive less snow fall, but the snow tends to be lighter.

Terrain varies within and among mountain ranges.  Steep, trees, bowls and high-alpine cruisers can be found most places.  But many operators tend to offer a predominance of a  particular type of terrain. Let us know what you prefer, and we can offer feedback on the ones we have visited….which, luckily, is most!

 

AK map small
Alaska Heli-Skiing Operator Map – Click for more

Alaska is home of the steep and deep.  The season is later and there is not much tree skiing compared to BC.  Most operators are out of Valdez,
but there are a couple in Haines, and some outliers.  Alaska can be more difficult to access.  For example, Anchorage to Valdez flights are cancelled over one third of the time in the season.  Alaska can have more down days than many BC operators.  There are some options better than others.

The United States mainland offers heliskiing and heliboarding in the Lower 48 as well.  Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Washington and Idaho all have heliskiing.  Many of these are located at or near resort skiing and cater to one-day trips, although longer trips are also available.

Rest of the World.  Europe heliskiing is somewhat restricted, starting late and ending early.  France outlawed it.  More eccentric locations include Russia, Turkey, Iceland, Sweden. ‘Summer’ locations include Chile and Argentina in South America. Australia and New Zealand also offer some limited heli skiing.
We are here to help.  When you are ready to consider heliskiing or heliboarding,
email tj at HELISKI.com or answer 4 questions, or Skype HELISKI.com.
We will get back you with the best available trips and pricing that meets your requirements.

tj

Heli-Skiing in Canada: The Importance of Location – Four Subdivisions of the Canadian Rockies

Heli-Skiing in Canada: The Importance of Location

Nine out of ten heli-skiing operations in the world are located in the Canadian Rockies. However, the notion that there is not a large number of location options is mistaken. The Canadian Cordillera is nearly 1,000 miles long. As such, there is as much diversity of terrain and snow-types as any place on Earth.

 

Equally as important is the fact that many mountain ranges in the Canadian Rockies receive more snow than any range in the lower-48. Some mountain ranges in the Canadian Cordillera get as much as 45 feet annually.

 

To get a better idea of where you might want to spend your next heli-skiing in Canada trip, consider the differences between the Canadian Rockies five principal subdivisions and the mountain ranges within each.

 

The Four Subdivisions of the Canadian Rockies

 

Though each subdivision of the Canadian Cordillera has a large number of independently identifiable mountain ranges, dividing the Canadian Rockies into four sub-ranges simplifies the geography.

 

The list of sub-ranges below includes the general location, a short description and a few of the heli-ski operations running tours in the area.

 

Northern Rockies – Second only to the Southern Continental Ranges with regard to annual snowfall, the Far Northern Rockies are home to the Unuk River´s Eskay Creek Mine, home of the second most annual snowfall of any place in the Canadian Cordillera. The area receives an average of 43 feet of snow a year. Even those areas that do not accumulate that much — Pleasant Camp, for example — still get nearly 300 inches.

 

A number of the popular heli-skiing operations in the Northern Canadian Rockies include: Last Frontier Heliskiing, Northern Escape Heli Skiing, and Tulsequah Heliskiing.

 

Central Mountain Ranges – The Central Mountain Ranges are far less popular than those of the South and the Central Front Range. That isn’t because they don’t have large sums of snow, it´s because of the remoteness of these mountain ranges. Even the ranges in Northern Canada do not create the sense of isolation the Central Mountain ranges do. For the person seeking adventure, the Central Mountain Ranges are the place to be.

 

Additionally, the Central Mountain Ranges offer the highest quality of snow, very dry.

 

Cariboos CMH, Mica Heliskiing Guides, Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing

 

Central Front Ranges – The Central Front Mountain Ranges are impressive because they are both less popular than those to the south — meaning they offer a more unique experience — and because of the views. A large number of the mountains with heli-skiing offer views of both the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. These mountains are also renowned for getting a great deal of snow, particularly the Tahtsa Lake West area.

 

The companies running tours out of the coastal mountains include: Big Mountain Bella Coola Heli-Sports, Coast Range Heliskiing, Powder Mountain Heliskiing, Tweedsmuir Bella Coola Heli Skiing

 

Southern Continental Ranges – The mountain ranges in this area receive more snow than any others in Canada. In addition, the mountain ranges in this area are known for being the most rugged in Canada. A few of the notable Southern Continental Ranges are the Selkirks, Purcell and Monashee Mountain Ranges. Mount Fidelity is buried under more than 45-feet of snow every year. Even the ranges that get less — Fraser Camp, for example — gets 275-inches plus.

 

Some of the heli-skiing operations in the Southern Continental Ranges are Adamants CMH Heliskiing, Selkirk-Tangiers Heli-Skiing, Bear Paw Heli-Skiing, Bobbie Burns CMH, Bugaboos CMH Heli Skiing, Eagle Pass Heliskiing Heliboarding Revelstoke, Galena CMH, Gothics Canadian Mountain Holiday Heliskiing in Canada, Great Canadian Heli-Skiing, Monashees CMH Heli-Skiing, Purcell Heli-Skiing, Revelstoke CMH Skiing, RK Heli-Skiing, Snowwater Heliskiing, Stellar BC Heli Skiing