Best BC Heliskiing: Heliskiing BC’s Best Short Heliskiing BC Trips

Best Heliskiing BC Series: SE British Columbia’s Best Short Heli Ski BC Trips

 

This is the third in our series on the best heliskiing BC trips.  Heliski.com clients often ask us to put together the best short heli-skiing BC trips.  This usually includes 3 or 4 days of heliskiing BC with minimal travel time and minimal risk.  For some, it is more about getting the best deal.   Others want to combine heli-skiing BC and resort skiing.

Also check out our previous articles on Revelstoke’s Best Short Heli Ski BC Trips and Best Short Heliskiing BC Trips – Coast Range   

Here we discuss the best short heliskiing BC trips in the mecca of heli-skiing BC- Southeast British Columbia.
In future posts, we will offer advice for the best heliskiing in the US and the best heliskiing BC combined with resort skiing and riding.

Heliskiing BC Travel Time / Convenience

Southeast British Columbia is where the majority of BC heli-skiing is found.  It is remote.   But paraphrasing Hans Gmoser, Founder of CMH Heliskiing, ‘Beautiful places are not always easy to reach, but it is worth the effort.’  Most heliskiers fly into Calgary, then drive or take a bus or shuttle to the lodge or to the helipad.   Flying into Kelowna is also becoming more popular, with direct flights from these airports:

Edmonton, Victoria, Kamloops, Prince George, Red Deer, Abbotsford, Cranbrook and Whitehorse, LA, Phoenix, Seattle, Las Vegas, Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.A couple of lodges, including one mentioned below, are accessed through Spokane, Washington in the US.

Heli Ski BC Cost

SE BC heliskiing operators offer the best deals in the early and late season.   Unlimited vertical packages may be worth it, especially in the Spring when days are longer.  More traditional pricing, including a specified number of vertical feet, allow guests to decide when to pay to continue skiing.

Heliskiing BC Down Day Risk

Down day risk lessens as one moves North in SE British Columbia.   The North is typically colder, and the snow can be drier and lighter.  And surprisingly, the South can be influenced by Coastal weather patterns.   That means tons of snow, but can ground the chopper.   This is one of the  reasons why we like Snowwater Heliskiing’s catskiing backup.

The Best Short Heli-Skiing BC Trips – Southeast BC Heliskiing

And the winners are:  Great Canadian Heli-Skiing, CMH Kootenay Heliski BC and Snowwater Heliskiing

Great Canadian Heli-Skiing BC

Great Canadian Heli-Skiing BC runs a great operation in Golden, BC.It is only 4 hours from Calgary.GCH offers a shuttle, but only on Saturdays.And it is on the East side of Rogers Pass-the most frequently closed highway in Canada.So a rental car in a good option.One of the best features for short trips is that Great Canadian Heli-Skiing allows guests to begin and end visits on any day, which is unique, and very cool.

All trips at Great Canadian Heli-Skiing BC are small group and unlimited vertical.   It is not the least expensive option, but guests can rack up the vertical.  Some of their best terrain is very close to the lodge.  So guests heliski / heliboard early and often.   Great Canadian Heli-Skiing BC is also on the leeward side of the Pass, so they enjoy lighter drier snow and fewer down days. Great Canadian Heli-Skiing BC boasts just two down days per season!

The Great Canadian Heli-SKiing lodge accommodates 24 guests.  Heli-Skiing is in six groups of four.  So if you do not bring your own group, Great Canadian Heliskiing can always match you with other like-minded heliskiers with compatible abilities.
heliskiing bc GCH Burnt Forest offer high-speed tree skiing.

CMH/Kootenay BC Heliskiing

Canadian Mountain Holidays has 12 BC heli-skiing lodges. The best kept secret may be CMH Kootenay, formerly known as K2.  It was a join venture between the two companies, with obvious symmetry. The trips are usually pretty good deals.  Kootenay BC heliskiing is famous for tree skiing.

Lodging is a hotel.   The best feature is the outdoor hot springs.  So if you are looking for a deal, consider Kootenay.  CMH runs both small and large group trips at Kootenay Heli-Skiing BC.Special weeks include Steep Shots and Pillow Drops.3, 4 and 5 day trips offer great flexibility. Guests need to find their own way to the lodge in Katsup.  This usually means flying to Kelowna, BC or Spokane, WA and renting a car. The drive is 4 and 5 hours, respectively.

heliskiing bc, cmh k2 lodging

Snowwater Heli-Skiing BC

Another gem of SE BC heliskiing is Snowwater Heli-Skiing BC.  It is an intimate setting, hosted by the owners, husband and wife Patric and Maria.

Snowwater is also exclusive, catering to 12 guests at any one time.  The food and wine are excellent.

Snowwater Heli-Skiing BC offers 3, 4, 5  and 7-day trips with Unlimited Vertical.   Three groups of four share the A-Star.  And if the weather does not cooperate, catskiing backup is on the ready.  I have had the good fortune (I think) of experiencing this first-hand.   Our group switched back and forth seamlessly a few times during one day.  In my experience, Snowwater does it better than any operators.

Snowwater also offers a combination Resort, Cat, Heli Ski BC Trip called the Kootenay Sampler.   Although it is not a short trip, it is a very cool week of powder skiing at a very attractive price.

Guests usually fly to Spokane, WA, rent a car and drive 4 hours North.   It is possible to fly to Castlegar, BC and take a cab to Nelson.

heliskiing bc, snowwater heli-skiing bc, canada Cheers from Maria and Patric,, Married Owners & Guides – Snowwater Heli-Skiing BC.  Image: Bryan Ralph
Let us know if we can assist with recommendations for the best BC heli-skiing trip
tj

coast range heli-skiing, heliski coast range

Coast Range Operator Profile: Skeena Heliskiing. Don’t go postal, go coastal

The evolution of heli-skiing continues.  Smaller operators are offering alternatives to Canadian Mountain Holidays and  Wiegele Heli-Skiing.  This series will give a brief summary of the operators in the Coast Range of British Columbia Canada.

coast range heli-skiing, heliski coast range

The Coast Range of British Columbia is home to some of the heliski industry innovators:  Bella Coola Heliskiing, Northern Escape Heliskiing, TLH Heliskiing, Last Frontier Heliskiing and Skeena Heliskiing.  Coastal weather patterns provide copious amounts of powder, and travel is usually MUCH easier than the more famous operators to the East.   How do they compete with the big boys and deal with the huge amounts of snowfall?

Glad you asked.

Each of these BC Coast Range heli-ski destination operators have a strategy, or two, to differentiate their offerings.
Today, we take a closer look at Skeena Heliskiing.

skeena heli-skiing, helicopter skiing bc canada

Skeena Heliskiing is a boutique operator, with one of my favorite lodges,  catering to fast, fit skiers (read Europeans).  Jake is a tremendous host, even to an American like me.   But Skeena books up well in advance.  Think 2014.  Jake skies in just two groups of 5, so they really turn the laps!

skeena heli-skiing, heli-ski skeena mountains

 

Skeena boasts one of the best heliskiing lodges in the business.  It is a prototypical BC log lodge.  The dining/living space has an amazing cathedral ceiling.  Each guest has a huge bedroom.  Great place, better skiing.

skeena heliski lodge, helicopter skiing skeena
Skeena Lodge is Awesome

heliski lodge interior, skeena heliskiing

skeena heliski lodge day, BC heli-skiing lodge

 

heliski lodge rooms, skeena heli-ski rooms

Travel to Skeena Heliskiing by flying Vancouver to Smithers.  just three hours from Vancouver to their incredible lodge.

 

Each of these operators has figured out a way to offer something unique and very appealing to help differentiate their offering.  Email or call and we will help you find available trips with easy travel and plenty of deep snow.  866-HELISKI or Skype HELISKI.com

 

Best Regards,
tj
Tom Jackson

CPO (Chief Powder Officer)
HELISKI.com
HeliskiingReview.com
Heliboard.com
WhistlerHeliski.com
866-HELISKI
(866-435-4754)

Expert Advice – Knowledge is Powder

HELISKI.com Operator Interview: Great Canadian Heli-Skiing and Heli-Boarding

Great Canadian Heliskiing and Heliboarding

Small Groups, Unlimited Vertical, Flexible Dates and Easy from Calgary

1. How did you come up with your name? [tongue firmly in cheek]

 

The name comes from the experience people get from skiing/riding with us!

 

2. You are known as a boutique operator. What is different about Great Canadian Heli-Skiing?

 

Back in 2003 our owner, Greg Porter, first coined the term “boutique heli-skiing” to describe the format in which we ski. We have been around since 1988 and now a few others have also started using the same term. In 1988 we were the 1st heliskiing company in Canada to heliski exclusively in small groups of 4, then in 1994+1995 we tried out Unlimited Vertical then in 2006 we became the 1st company to incorporate it full-time in all packages.

 

What really separates us from the rest now is our FLEXIBILITY. Without doubt, we have the most flexibility in the Canadian heliskiing industry. With our location being the closest multi-day operation to an international airport (Calgary), most people can arrive mid-day and be eating dinner in our lodge that night and heli-skiing the very next day. Our guests can start ANY day of the week. And for ANY duration! We are the only company that offers this level of flexibility. This is a big advantage for time-sensitive people. We are here to accommodate our guests schedule!

heli-skiing canada, heli ski canada

3. Tell us about your format. 3 groups of 4 per machine and unlimited vertical, right?

 

Without doubt, the Small Groups format with Unlimited Vertical is the best way to heliski. People are now catching on that skiing in a group of 4 is much more fun than a large group, plus you get more skiing done and it’s easier to match up people of similar abilities.

 

4. What’s your average vertical for a week?

 

Our AVERAGE vertical in a week (6 days of skiing) is 141,000 ft! And note I said AVERAGE. So stronger skiers can ski more than that.

 

5. You are way to the East in BC. Compared to other British Columbia helicopter skiing, does that mean you get less snow, but it’s lighter?

 

It’s much lighter! And we get 46 feet of it every winter which is a huge amount. I think most people would prefer to ski dry, light, fluffy snow than a few more feet of heavier, wet snow. In addition, because of this we have WAY fewer down days. At Great Canadian, we average just 2 down days ALL SEASON long, so there’s more skiing and no need for snowcat backup….we’re here to heli-ski!

 

heliskiing heliboarding bc canada, heliboarding heli-skiing british columbia canada

Eastern British Columbia Snow – Light and Dry

 

6. Describe the travel from the Calgary airport?

 

Getting here is super easy. Arrive into Calgary around lunch time, take the major highway in Canada (the TransCanada) and in 4 hours you have checked into our lodge. This saves you money as no extra city hotel nights are necessary, and most importantly, it means few travel days and more days you get to skiing!

 

7. Great Canadian Heli-Skiing is a little pricey compared to some Canada heliski options. How do you justify it?

 

So is a Porsche…. you get what you pay for! [I should never have told him what I drive]

The same with heli-skiing. When comparing heli-skiing operations, it is important to compare apples with apples. It’s illogical to compare us, with small groups, to an operation that has 12 people in a group, as our operational costs per person are much higher, however the experience is so much better. We want to provide a more personalised, intimate and tailor-made experience to each of our guests.

Heli Ski Canada, Great Canadian Helicopter Skiing Canada

8. That is a cool lodge. How many guests can you accommodate at any one time?

 

We cap numbers at 24. We feel this is a perfect number. It also allows us to run 2 helicopters, each with 3 groups of 4 people.
heliski canada, heli ski canada

 

9. Compare and contrast January, February and March at Great Canadian Heli-Skiing.

 

If you want super deep pow and steeper terrain, join us Dec to early Feb. If you prefer high alpine and glaciers, come in mid-March to April. If you are after a mixture, join us in February. Having said that, you can get any of those conditions at any stage of the season!

 

great canadian heli-skiing canada, heliski canada

1, 2, 3, 4….plus Guide = 5

 

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

 

Only 2 ALL SEASON LONG! We’ve even had a couple of winters when we have had ZERO down days!

 

11. Describe the terrain you ski and how it compares to other heli skiing Canada areas.

 

We have hundreds of heli ski runs, offering every type of terrain – glaciers, open bowls, gladed trees, pillow lines – and every slope angle and exposure.  Great Canadian stands out in the industry because of the quality and accessibility of our terrain above our base at Heather Mountain Lodge (our heli-pads are at the lodge and the closest runs are just 60 seconds away!).   One of our greatest assets are the burnt forests. This is where a forest fire has come through and destroyed all the undergrowth and small branches, leaving beautifully spaced tree trunks. This terrain often has the best snow conditions and it’s steeper. Even guests who don’t normally like tree skiing really enjoy our burnt forests.

heli skiing canada, helicopter skiing bc canada

Best Use of a Burnt Forrest!

 

12. What do you do to accommodate heliboarders?

 

I’m one of them! Also, our owner Greg Porter used to be on the Canadian National Snowboard team….although that was back when if you could do a 540 you’d get sponsored! [Oh, nice dis on the boss. Better give him credit for the photos at least]

Our guides are snowboard-aware, so they will avoid flat spots where possible and if there is a tricky transition, they will forewarn boarders.

We carry the Burton Fish, Malolo and Supermodel in our rental fleet. Fat skis and snowboards are included for free in our packages.

 

13. How many of your clients are fist timers?

 

We have quite a few first timers joining us. They are attracted to our Small Groups. It’s much less intimating than holding up a large group! And Advanced skiers/riders needn’t worry about being in a group with people of much lesser ability, as with the small group format it is much easier to group people of similar abilities…..and people often come with friends or family to make up their own private group of 4!

helicopter skiing canada, heli skiing canada

Great Canadian Heliskiing, Kicking Horse Resort, Calgary BC

 

14. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is nearby. Is it really the Jackson Hole of Canada?

 

Yes! Kicking Horse rocks! I’ve skied both extensively and the terrain difficulty breakdown is very similar. Kicking Horse has 4,131 feet of vertical, just 8 feet shy of Jackson’s. And like Jackson, what is designed as a blue run is often a black run elsewhere! We can create combination packages for our guests who want to combine a few days of resort skiing with a few days of heli-skiing.

 

15. Anything else you would like to add?

 

This winter is shaping up to be another BIG SNOW year. Reputable meteorologists are saying we are heading into another La Nina like last year….and last year was AMAZING! You will not want to miss heli-skiing this coming winter! Thanks TJ!

Thank you, Deane.  I’m looking forward to taking you up on your invite.
Best,
tj

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

heliski canada, helicopter skiing canada heli ski canada, heli-skiing canada

heli-skiing canada, helicopter skiing bc canada

Expert Advice – Knowledge is Powder

Heliskiing in April? Yeah!

Does it get too warm in British Columbia in April? No.

Is the season over in Alaska? Not. It’s prime time up there. The days are twice as long in April as in February.

Does it quit snowing? Nope

Why does heliskiing wind down? We all get out our golf clubs, tennis rackets, mountain bikes and boats.

What does this mean? There are great deals and great heli-skiing in April.

Why is this blog post all questions? I don’t know.

Is it irritating? Sorry. Maybe I have listened to too many lame Bowl Game announcers this week.

What do I recommend for heli-skiing in April?

Heli-Skiing Canada, Gest Heliskiing Canada
Great Canadian Heli-Skiing, Great Lodge, easy travel and all packages offer Unlimited Vertical!

Great Canadian offers unlimited vertical during the first week of April for $8,820. You can rack up the vertical!

CMH Revelstoke offers a 5-day, April 2-7 for $4775. This location gets rave reviews and that’s a great price. Also March 28-April 2 for the same price.

CMH Galena has a one-week special March 26 – April 2 for just $5900. There is a slight catch. Call or email for more details.

Always wanted to ski the Bugaboos, the birthplace of heliskiing? How about a week April 16-23 at CMH Bugaboos for $6400?!

cmh bugaboos lodge, heliskiing bugaboos
Bugaboo Lodge, Canadian Mountain Holidays

CMH Cariboos are open April 9-16 for $6600.

OR, try Alaska Heliskiing. Long runs, crazy steep, bucket-list worthy experience. We work with most of the operators and can set up a great experience for your group. Check out:

H2O

Valdez Heli-Ski Guides

Chugach Powder Guides

Alaska Heliskiing

Alaska heliskiing valdez alaska heli-skiing
Alaska Heliskiing Rocks in April
helicopter skiing alaska, heli-skiing alaska, valdez heliskiing
Alaska Heliskiing is Steep and Deep
canadian heliskiing, heli-skiing canada

Half-Price Heliskiing, Mar 26 – Apr 2, $5900 at Galena, a Premier CMH Lodge

We just discovered an amazing deal at CMH’s Galena lodge, March 26 – April 2.  It’s designed for parents to bring a kid, but it is now open to anyone!

It’s $5900. Awesome deal if you don’t mind some kids in the lodge/chopper.  Galena trips are normally $10,770

Or bring your kid for half-price!!


canadian heliskiing, heli-skiing canada
CMH Galena is Known for Deep Powder

CMH is the largest heliski outfit, with 12 lodges/areas to choose from.  Some with more extreme terrain than others.   Galena, Bobbie Burns and Monashees are to most aggressive.

They invented heliskiing!  Forty-one years of accumulated experience allow them to claim ‘Our staff and guides, some of them veterans from the very early days, will proudly show you the friendliness, hospitality and great times in the mountains that bring 70% of our guests back every year.’

Galena is “best known for ultra-deep powder and varied, challenging tree skiing.”   This week they will cater to the group’s ability.

Travel is somewhat arduous, 7 plus hours, plus 2 to get in.  The ferry ride breaks it up.  This lodge has a cult like following and usually books up fast.

CMH Helicopter Skiing, Canada
Galena Terrain is Legendary at Canadian Mountain Holidays

Call me ASAP if you want to hold seats – 1-866-435-4754

A Heli-Skiing Down Day Will Make You Think

Years ago I was sitting in a remodeled gas station in a remote corner of British Columbia. Fog from the nearby river combined with low clouds to keep our helicopter grounded. Our hosts suggested a road trip to Alaska so that we could say we had been there……I passed.

I said to the person across from me, “I wish I could talk to someone who has been to these places before I book.” That was the genesis of the first helicopter skiing review site, HeliskiingReview.com. It offers objective reviews and advice, based on both my heli skiing experiences and those of many others.

From that modest beginning, Heliskiing Review has grown to be the biggest directory of heliskiing Canada operators. In later years, we added Alaska heliskiing, North America heliskiing and beyond.

Heliskiing is like other high-end all inclusive holidays – the experience must meet the expectations. That’s where we come in for helicopter skiing information.

This summer my partner Mike and I introduced Heliski.com, the ultimate resource for BC heliskiing and the Canadian heli ski community. It includes details on 95% of the heliskiing and heliboarding operations in the world. Heliski.com is also a community, facilitating communication and networking among those of us who love heliskiing and heliboarding.

We have added a store, newsletter, forum, pictures, videos and a Heli Finder utility to help visitors find the best trip for their group. Also new this season are partnerships with the two biggest operators – Canadian Mountain Holidays and Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing. Check it out, join Club Heliski.com and let us know what you think.

See you there,
tj