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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
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