Top 10 Things to Know about Helicopter Skiing
What is helicopter skiing?
Helicopter skiing, also known as heli-skiing, is a type of backcountry skiing that involves using a helicopter to access remote and untracked areas of mountain terrain. It allows skiers to reach areas that are not accessible by traditional ski lifts, and offers an unparalleled skiing experience.
Helicopter skiing can be dangerous, and it’s important to take safety seriously. It’s crucial to go with a reputable operation whose guides are accredited. Guides should have experience in the area and can provide the necessary safety equipment and protocols. This includes an inflatable avalanche pack, probe, shovel and transponder ‘beacon’. Check out our on post helicopter skiing guides and safety.
Physical Fitness for Helicopter Skiing
Helicopter skiing requires a certain level of physical fitness, as skiers may need to hike or traverse through challenging terrain in order to access the best skiing conditions. Check out our post on getting in shape for helicopter skiing.
Weather Considerations for Helicopter Skiing
Weather plays a critical role in helicopter skiing, and conditions can change rapidly. Skiers should be prepared for a variety of weather conditions.and understand how weather can affect the quality of the skiing. The weather is very different in January than it is in March. See our post on When to go Helicopter Skiing.
Skill Level Required for Helicopter Skiing
Helicopter skiing is not for beginners, and skiers should have advanced skiing skills and experience in backcountry skiing before attempting heli-skiing. Guides will typically assess skiers’ skill levels and choose appropriate terrain based on their abilities. Advanced intermediate ability is the absolute minimum skill level. Ability to ski black diamond slopes comfortably is highly recommended.
The terrain for helicopter skiing can vary greatly depending on the location and conditions. Some areas may have open bowls and wide-open runs, while others may have steep couloirs and narrow chutes. Some offer high alpine / glaciated terrain, and some offer more tree skiing than others. See Series on how to pick the best helicopter skiing location.
Helicopter Skiing Cost
Helicopter skiing is expensive, but worth it! Helicopter time is the most expensive element. Costs can vary widely depending on the location and the outfitter. Helicopter skiing pricing models vary, too. We discuss the three pricing models in the post below. Helicopter Skiing costs several thousand dollars for a multi-day trip. See details on the cost of helicopter skiing and the different helicopter skiing pricing models here.
Equipment Required for Helicopter Skiing
Skiers will need specialized equipment for helicopter skiing, including powder skis, avalanche safety gear (transceiver, shovel, and probe), and warm clothing that can withstand cold and wet conditions. Almost all operators offer specialized powder skis. Here is our review of helicopter skis.
Environmental impacts of Helicopter Skiing
Helicopter skiing can have a significant environmental impact, as it can disturb wildlife and vegetation in remote areas. Skiers should be aware of the potential impact and take steps to minimize their impact on the environment. Many helicopter skiing operators are now carbon neutral.
Permits and Regulations for Helicopter Skiing
Helicopter skiing is regulated in many areas, and skiers may need to obtain permits or adhere to specific regulations in order to access certain terrain. It’s important to research the regulations and requirements in the area where you plan to go heli-skiing. See the map of helicopter skiing destinations here.
Other considerations for helicopter skiing include: