Complete Guide to First-time Heli-skiing

September 6, 2022 Heli-Skiing can be intimidating — even for the most advanced skiers — but it can also be one of the most amazing experiences of your life. This expert guide provides you with everything you need to know about planning and booking your heli-skiing adventure.
Heli skiing

Heli-Skiing

Heli-Skiing can be intimidating — even for the most advanced skiers — but it can also be one of the most amazing experiences of your life. This expert guide provides you with everything you need to know about planning and booking your heli-skiing adventure.

Table of Contents

Heli skiing

What is Heli-Skiing?

Heli-skiing is a type of backcountry skiing involving being transported to remote areas by helicopter to ski or snowboard on untracked powder. Heli-Skiing is considered one of the most extreme types of skiing and is most often undertaken by experienced skiers and snowboarders, but can be done by those in all skill ranges. 

Do you have to be an expert to go Heli-Skiing?

This is the first question that most people ask when they think about a heli-skiing trip — the answer is ‘no’; you don’t need to be an expert to heli-ski.

Truth is, most heli-skiers are not extreme backcountry explorers or expert freeskiers. They are simply average skiers like any of us, looking to escape the crowds and want to experience the pristine conditions off the main pistes.

Your heli-skiing experience does not have to involve extreme terrain either. Most heli-skiing runs are comparable to a black diamond run at a typical resort, making them accessible for many skiers. What sets them apart are the conditions and the length of your runs — you will typically cover more ground in a day of heli-skiing than you will skiing at a resort.

Heli skiing

Ski Guides

At Skican, we know the immense value in having a trained, professional guide when exploring a new mountain — and this goes double for heli-skiing!

Guides are specially trained to understand the risks of heli-skiing and keep you safe from avalanches, dangerous terrains, and other hazards. They know their mountains, and they’ll be able to show you where to find the best fall lines, the perfect powder bowls, and much more.

A great guide will help elevate your heli-skiing experience from good to great. If you’re looking for a recommendation, our team can connect you with fantastic heli-ski operators across Western Canada. Start a quote today and let us know that you’re interested in heli-skiing.

What are the best ski resorts to go heli-skiing in British Columbia?

There are a few main ski resorts in British Columbia that offer heli-skiing, including Whistler Blackcomb, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, and Panorama Mountain Resort. All these resorts offer different terrain and different levels of difficulty, so it's important to choose the right one for your ability level.

Whistler Blackcomb

Everyone knows that Whistler is a top skiing destination in North America - it also serves as a heli-skiing base for the Coastal Range. Whistler has exclusive rights to 432,000 acres — an area 50 times the size of Whistler — and their heli-skiing service has been operating since 1981.

If all or part of your group is interested in heli-skiing, Whistler is a great destination, as it provides something for everyone! Kids can join a ski school program for the day while they experience unbeatable big mountain terrain by helicopter.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Revelstoke has a legendary reputation among experienced skiers as one of the best destinations in British Columbia. It was formerly a mecca for cat skiing and heli-skiing before being developed into a resort, and there is still considerable terrain to explore in the area.

If you’re interested in pushing your limits with a heli-skiing adventure, Revelstoke is a great destination to choose.

Panorama Mountain Resort

Set in the middle of the Powder Highway, Panorama offers a great base of operations for a heli-skiing trip with fantastic snow conditions. It’s an excellent family ski resort, with a great place to put the kids into a ski school program while you are adventuring in the mountains!

At Skican, we have partnered with RK Heliski to organize heli-skiing trips from Panorama to nearby peaks. RK Heliski has been operating for nearly 50 years in the Purcell Mountains and offers a variety of packages for week-long or single-day trips. Explore a range of terrain from open powder bowls to perfect gladed tree runs!

If you're looking for an adventure, heli-skiing in British Columbia is the perfect way to spend your vacation. There are several different resorts and helicopter companies to choose from, so you'll be able to find the ideal package for your ability level and budget. 

What are the best resorts to go heli-skiing in Alberta?

Want to enjoy a pure heli-skiing experience? At Skican, we can coordinate several backcountry trips directly from Calgary to locations near Banff & Jasper with partners like CMH Heli-Skiing.

What is CMH Heli-Skiing?

CMH Heli-Skiing is the world’s oldest and largest heli-skiing tour operator, with over 50 years of experience and offering private access to over 3,000,000 acres of terrain. CMH has industry-leading snow safety and helicopter practices, as well as luxury lodging and gourmet food for its guests.

A heli-skiing trip with CMH is a truly unique experience that you’ll undoubtedly remember for the rest of your life!

Get in touch today if you’re interested in booking a heli-skiing trip with Skican.

Jasper

Jasper is one of Alberta's most popular ski resorts and is home to some of the best heli-skiing in the province. The resort has various terrain, from gentle slopes to steep and challenging runs. Many helicopter companies operate out of Jasper, so you'll have plenty of options when choosing a package.

Banff

Banff is another great option for heli-skiing in Alberta. The resort is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and offers various terrain, including everything from open powder fields to tree-lined runs.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise is a great option for Alberta heli-skiing if you're looking for something more challenging. The resort is located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and offers various terrain, including steep chutes and challenging tree runs. 

If you're looking for an adventure, heli-skiing in Alberta is the perfect way to spend your vacation. There are many different resorts and helicopter companies to choose from, so you'll be able to find the perfect package for your ability level and budget. So what are you waiting for? Book your heli-skiing trip today!

How much does it cost to go heli-skiing?

The cost of heli-skiing depends on the package, the time of season you book, and the number of days you want to go skiing or riding. To access the best deals on heli-skiing, sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know about specials.

Get in touch today if you’re interested in booking a heli-skiing trip with Skican.

FAQs

What gear do you need?

The first thing that you’ll need for heli-skiing is the proper equipment. Like any type of skiing, heli-skiing has many elevation changes — but these changes can be more extreme. That’s why we recommend layering your clothing, so you can easily add or remove layers to stay at the proper temperature.

You should also invest in warm, waterproof gloves, high-quality goggles, and a good helmet to protect you in case of injury. Depending on the terrain you’re exploring, you may need other safety gear — so talk to your heli-ski tour operator for their recommendations.

Finally, you’ll want to get a good pair of powder skis. These wider skis will help you float through the powder and get the maximum enjoyment out of the experience.

What is the best time of year to go heli-skiing?

Heli-skiing is done from December to April, depending on the snow conditions.  

What are the benefits of heli-skiing?

There are many benefits to heli-skiing, including the ability to access remote and untouched terrain, the thrill of riding down a mountain by helicopter, and the opportunity to ride in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. 

What are the risks of heli-skiing?

Since heli-skiing takes place in remote and often untouched terrain, some inherent risks are involved. These risks can include avalanches, falling trees, and crevasses. However, these risks are mitigated by following the safety guidelines set forth by your guide and choosing terrain that is appropriate for your skill level. 

How do I book a heli-skiing trip?

The best way to book a heli-skiing trip is to find a reputable outfitter who can provide you with the necessary equipment, supplies, and information. You can also call us at 1-888-475-4226 to speak directly with an Experience Manager. 

What is the difference between heli-skiing and cat skiing?

The main difference between heli-skiing and cat skiing is that heli-skiing involves being dropped off at the top of a mountain by helicopter.

In contrast, cat skiing typically involves riding in a snowcat up to the top of the hill. Cat skiing can be done in powder and packed snow conditions, while heli-skiing is typically only done in powder conditions. 

What are the safety guidelines for heli-skiing?

The safety guidelines for heli-skiing are similar to those for any other backcountry skiing or boarding type. These guidelines include: always skiing or riding with a partner, never going off-piste without a guide, carrying the proper safety equipment, and being aware of your surroundings at all times.