Heli Skiing Canada
Heli skiing Canada is the ultimate experience for powder hounds, although you don’t have to be a true powder hound because there’s no need to sniff out the powder. Helicopters drop you right in amongst it. After that, all you have to do is follow the guide and enjoy the remote backcountry terrain that you normally only get to look at from afar.
Heli Skiing Canada
A commonly reported statistic is that 95% of all heli skiing in the world occurs in British Columbia, Canada. The validity of the statistic is questionable, but BC Canada is certainly the capital of the heli skiing world. Hans Gmoser, an Austrian Mountain Guide, had a major pioneering role in heli-skiing in the 1960s and formed Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH). Mike Wiegele
was also a pioneer in heliskiing Canada, with his operation commencing in 1970. The profile of heliskiing Canada has continued to increase, in part due to the exposure in Warren Miller movies that shows extreme skiers making the most of the fantastic conditions.
Heli Skiing BC
The province of British Columbia is perfect for heli skiing
(and heli boarding) with millions of hectares of backcountry terrain that are covered in legendary BC powder. BC heli skiing is prolific with a large number of heli ski operators.
In the Central Interior of BC to the west of the Rocky Mountains are the Columbia Mountains, which comprise the Purcell Mountains, and then moving in a NW direction the Selkirk, Monashee and Cariboo Mountains. These mountains are heli skiing BC havens, and the snowfall in some of these areas is world famous with reported annual snowfalls of 12-15 metres. The dry champagne powder is a distinct advantage for heli skiing in this region, but the proximity to various ski resorts is also a plus for those who want to combine some resort skiing with heli skiing. Some of the heli-ski operations are near Golden (e.g. Purcell Heliskiing near Kicking Horse
(e.g. Selkirk Tangiers
, Eagle Pass Heliskiing
), and Panorama
There are also a few Whistler heli skiing operators (Coast Mountain Range) such as Whistler Heliski
, Coast Range Heli Skiing
and Powder Mountain
, which allow the possibility to combine resort and heli skiing. A 2.5 hour drive north of Whistler is TLH in the South Chilcotin Mountain Range, and further north there are couple of operators around the Bella Coola area.
In Northern BC (approx 15 hours drive north of Whistler) in the Skeena, Stikine and Coastal Mountains are various heli ski operators that are based near the towns of Terrace (Northern Escape
), Smithers and Atlin.
The climate within BC varies significantly, but as a gross generalisation, the snowfall further inland tends to be more dry and fluffy. Associated with this may be a weaker snowpack and associated avalanche risk, particularly on extremely steep slopes.
Heliskiing Canada Terrain
The Canada heli ski terrain varies somewhat from that found with Alaska heli skiing
, Chile heli skiing
and New Zealand heli skiing
, in that some of the skiing is below the tree-line. Choppers might still be grounded due to weather factors with heli skiing in Canada (so keep your itinerary flexible), but the likelihood of “down-days” is reduced somewhat because the trees afford some protection from inclement weather and provide better visibility for skiers. Other advantages of tree skiing include less wind-affected snow, and the added challenge of skiing around obstacles. In addition to the tree skiing, other Canada heli ski terrain can include wide-open glaciers and bowls, drops and chutes.
You don’t have to be a stunt skier to go heli skiing, but it’s certainly not for beginners, and possibly not for many intermediate riders. Most operators claim that they can cater for intermediates, but in reality, intermediate skiers and boarders would need to be very, very strong intermediates, and be capable of coping with a variety of snow conditions including waist deep powder, dust on crust, wind-affected snow, and have the ability to manoeuvre around trees. An intermediate level for resort skiing on groomed runs is very different to that required for off-piste conditions. Nevertheless, operators can generally cater to a range of abilities and will group people accordingly. If you’re unsure of your ability, it’s best to check with the individual operator.
Most Canada heli ski operators guarantee a certain number of vertical feet for each package they sell. Typically most operators will guarantee about 4,350-5,000 metres per day, but on average the daily vertical will be about 7,000 metres, and up to 9,000 if you’re lucky. The amount of vertical per run varies between heli ski operators, between runs, and will be dependent upon the snow condition and terrain available on any given day. The average vertical per run may be approx 760 metres with some heli skiing runs as long as 1,700 metres in vertical.
Typical Heli Ski BC Packages
Most Canada heli ski companies offer the option of “private” heli skiing (the definition of which might vary a little) or standard group packages, but a couple of operators only provide one option or the other.
Most of the trips consist of multi-day packages that include meals and accommodation, which is typically in a remote dedicated lodge. Alternatively, accommodation may be in a lodge or hotel in a small town. Either way, sharing the lodging with the rest of the group involves plenty of opportunities for fire-side conversations and embellished stories of the heli skiing experience. These multi-packages are typically 3, 4 or 7 days in duration.
Only a handful of companies offer the option of single day heli skiing (or heli boarding), which is obviously a much more affordable option for many people and provides the opportunity to give heliskiing a try. Single day operations include packages with 3, 4, 5 or 6 runs. Examples of companies that provide a one day option include Selkirk Tangiers
, Eagle Pass Heliskiing
(Revelstoke), RK Heli-skiing
), Whistler Heli-skiing
and Coast Range Heli Skiing
(near Whistler). Due to their location, you can combine heli skiing or heli boarding with resort skiing.
See our Canada heli skiing statistics
document for more information on heliski operators and the package durations they provide.
Typical BC Heli Ski Costs
Heliskiing is an expensive activity, but most people are happy to save their pennies for an opportunity to get access to the freshies and amazing terrain on offer. Prices vary, but a single day 3 run package costs about $770, and 5 runs about $810-$825. A 3 day package that includes accommodation and meals costs about $2,750 to $4,880. A standard week long experience can vary from about $7,590 to as much as $11,860 for twin share. (All prices are in Canadian dollars and do not include GST). For “private” packages, the cost is much more.
There are many factors that influence the price of the heli skiing package. Some of the lodgings are incredibly luxurious with fine dining, hot tubs, and massage services, whilst others are more basic. The timing of the season is a major cost determinant and typically there are high, shoulder and low seasons. Other factors that may influence cost are: the number of people per helicopter and per guide (a group size of 4 or less is very good); vertical covered; and whether transport to the lodge (via road, cat or air) is included in the price.
In most cases, the use of an avalanche transceiver and the “rental” of powder fat skis is included in the price. For snowboards, it’s a hit and miss affair as to whether boards are available through the operator.
See our Canada heli-ski comparison
for more information on the cost of BC heli skiing, and factors such as vertical and the guide to guest ratio.
Heli Ski Canada Safety
The majority of the Canadian heli ski operators are incredibly safety conscious and are happy to advertise this on their websites. The long history of Canada heli skiing is advantageous to safety because the operators have many years of heli-ski experience and significant expertise. The guides are licensed with appropriate bodies such as the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG), the Association of British Columbia Heliski and Snowcat Operators, and/or IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations).
There are risks associated with helicopter skiing, but the guides and pilots work their utmost to mitigate these risks which includes monitoring of weather, snow packs and choosing the right terrain on any given day.
Where is the Best Heli Skiing?
When choosing the best heli skiing
operation for your next snow holiday, everyone has different factors that are important in the decision making process. For some the choice is largely based on location, but for others it may be about the quality of the tree skiing, the amount of expert terrain, the emphasis on safety, or value for money. To help you choose the best heli skiing experience for you, we have provided ratings on various operations in Canada, USA, New Zealand and Chile, and broken the ratings into various determinants including the most important factor of all….the powder! See our Powderhounds cat ski and heli skiing ratings
for more information.
More Reasons To Go BC Heli Skiing
Heli skiing is an incredibly exciting form of skiing or boarding. Avoid the crowds, tracked out slopes, and slow chair lifts at the ski resorts. Ride the ultimate chair lift, and enjoy powderhound paradise.
Heli Ski Canada Operators
||Eagle Pass Heli Skiing
Located in Revelstoke, EP caters for advanced to expert skiers & borders. All small groups of 4 guests per guide/heli. Day trips from Revi and multi-day packages available from their lodge.
||RK Heli Ski | Panorama Mtn Resort BC Canada
Combine resort & heli skiing together on your next ski holiday - single and multi-day trips available. You don't have to be an expert, just a strong intermediate to enjoy this great experience.
||Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing | Revelstoke BC
An iconic heli ski operation voted by Powderhounds as the best value heli skiing in Canada. Day and multi-day packages available. A huge amount of alpine terrain to suit all levels.
||Coast Range Heli Skiing | Whistler BC Canada
Want guaranteed freshies when you head to Whistler? Book a day or 2 of Whistler heli skiing with Coast Range. 24 times the terrain of Whistler & Blackcomb combined & just a handful of friends to share with!
||Stellar Heliskiing | Meadow Creek BC Canada
A 5-star heli skiing experience in the remote Selkirk & Purcell ranges. Single days available but you will want to do at least 3 days here. This is Canada heli skiing at its best!
||Whistler Heliskiing | Whistler BC Canada
Operating out of Whistler village, access is super easy and you don't have to be an expert skier or boarder! Be sure to add a day or 2 to your itinerary whilst in Whistler Blackcomb.
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|Northern Escape Heli Ski | NE BC Canada
A whopping 20 - 30 metre annual snow fall, 1.5 million acres of terrain, a helicopter, a remote lodge & a few friends. Why not add a 3 - 7 day heli adventure to your next BC Canada visit?