Great Bear Heliskiing Review by PowderMatt

Heli Skiers Pick a Wild Region of British Columbia Known for Deep Snow and the Reasons Why they Go Here

British Columbia is big, real big, in fact there are more than 10 major mountain ranges spanning the province. Snow totals vary greatly across the province as well, and also the variety of terrain and access to long vertical ski runs can differ. British Columbia is fortunate in that most heli ski operators have a solid reputation for getting snow. Snow is key, Great Bear Heli Skiing, located on the North Central Coast of British Columbia, just north of Bella Coola, has a snow secret.

great bear heli skiing map, great bear heliskiing

Here is why this location matters -big ocean storms hit the Coast Mountains first!

The Coast Mountains are huge, having peaks towering over 12,000 feet, and vertical ski runs over 5000 feet and because of their size, they create the first major barrier that moisture laden ocean storms hit. Dropping copious amounts of powder snow, and according to weather data, the snow surveys from around Bella Coola, British Columbia, consistently over the last 30 years show that 60 ft to 100 ft of snow falls regularly each year. According to Alan Smith a snow expert, as OpenSnow’s Meteorologist and Operations Manager, summed this region up with these key points:

  • The location is pretty far north in BC, which combined with high elevation terrain, make the area less susceptible to rain events compared to areas further south such as the Cascades and even Whistler.
  • The northerly location and high altitude also result in better snow quality (i.e. more powder) on average compared to maritime locations further south.
  • The Northern/Central Coast Range in BC is well positioned to be hit by storms originating in the Gulf of Alaska, and snow begins to accumulate here earlier in the season compared to areas further south.

So much skiing to be had here!

Many skiers that go to Alaska or other heli ski operations that offer big mountain and alpine terrain, ask about down days and if there are terrain options for when it gets socked in. The difference maker is that Great Bear Heli Skiing, is located near sea level, perched on a knob above the Dean River and upriver on a fjord that is a considerable distance from the open ocean. The Dean River gives the helicopter a flight path to a variety of drainages which offer some incredible tree skiing for those low visibility days. Great Bear has a vast terrain, many first descents are possible, on over 6000 square kilometres with potential to ski runs with over 5000 vertical feet descent.

Most importantly this is family owned and operated.

Guest is a title that does not last long here as you will quickly be made to feel at home. Great Bear Heli Skiing is one of the few family owned and operated heli skiing lodges in North America. A family member is involved in every aspect of your visit, making sure that you are taken care of but more importantly that you feel like you belong. The difference is in the lasting connection you will make with the Blewett Family, leaving you feeling like you matter.

Now that is really cool – this place creates a lasting connection.

Matt “Powder Matt” Mosteller is a Powder Highway-based storyteller and lifelong ski bum and outdoor adventurer. When not seeking flakes, running wild rivers in Northern British Columbia, or exploring the Arctic in a midwinter expedition, Powder Matt sips craft coffee in Kimberley, BC


On Key

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