Q: When heli skiing Canada, does it make more sense to pay for unlimited vertical , or to pay as you go for extra vertical?
A: It depends.
Unlimited vertical appeals to those who like certainty, ski like hell, or both.
For many BC heliskiing operators, unlimited vertical is the standard including Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing, Great Canadian Heli-Skiing, Snowwater Heliskiing, TLH Heliskiing and now Eagle Pass Heliskiing and Heliboarding. There is no stressing over how much you have skied, and no surprises at checkout (other than your bar tab). Proponents appreciate that there is no stress about racking up the vertical throughout the week; and no $1-3K bill at checkout. Northern Escape Heli-Skiing now offers unlimited vertical as an option, for a higher base rate.
Detractors point out that unlimited vertical lacks goal congruence with the operator. The hourly expense of the helicopter provides a huge economic incentive for operators to shorten the day. Some think it may tempt operators to call it early, take a long lunch, start late, etc. or even to call a ‘down day’ early. The operator has your money and a disincentive to fly.
Operators who offer a basic price with extra vertical charges point out that paying in advance for unlimited vertical can be very expensive if you don’t have a great week. It can result in a much higher price per run or per vertical foot. For some, the break-even point can be over 200,000 vertical in a week, although prices and extra vertical fees vary.
Another consideration is the date of the trip. Unlimited vertical in Northern British Columbia in January is limited by the hours of daylight. And conversely, unlimited Alaska heliskiing in April could go on for 16 hours…..
We encourage clients to do the math before booking (or HELISKI.com will do it for you). These minimums and extra vertical fees vary (not to mention the math converting currency and meters vs. feet). Let us know if we can help. 866-HELISKI
We will help you decide which is the best heliskiing deal for your group.
One of my favorite operators has a low base price and a low vertical charge. I calculate that you can get twice the guaranteed vertical for the same price that another operator charges for unlimited vertical.
Like I used to say to my ex, “Do the math.” Then decide what’s best for your group.
PS. Operators vary widely on their willingness to accommodate clients for missed vertical. In fact, some operators have been known to start late and quit early to minimize helicopter expenses.
PSS. Some packages include unlimited vertical. In fact, a couple of operators offer unlimited vertical on every package! Others offer it during the early and late season. It may be built into a higher price. It is worth shopping around.
Expert Advice – Knowledge is Powder