Our Review

Our Review

Wagner Custome Skis
Eagle Pass Heli Skiing Review The Powderhounds were stoked to get the opportunity to head out with this Revelstoke heli skiing outfit to review their day heli operation. We had an amazingly epic day! Whilst we only got one tiny glimpse at their terrain, we were suitably impressed with the variety of terrain and the bountiful delights and features for experts to play amongst.

As a guide to ratings, a 5/5 equates to absolutely phenomenal, 4/5 is excellent, whilst 3/5 is still a very good score. You can check out our cat and heli ski ratings to see how Eagle Pass compares to other mechanized backcountry operations (where you’ll note that no operator gets perfect scores).

Pros
  • The Eagle Pass terrain has lots of juicy features for experts such as cliff bands of varying sizes, pillow lines and other launching pads. They’ve really got the goods with respect to terrain.
  • The small helicopter and group size has multiple benefits including: safety factors; better access to terrain in tight spots; more freshies; and a higher probability of being grouped with others of the same ability level, which is particularly important for experts who are hankering to get to that awesome terrain. Only one other Revelstoke outfit offers small group heli skiing and they don’t provide day trips.
  • This is a small company so the experience is somewhat personalised and it doesn’t feel like a mass production.
  • In addition to multi-day trips with lodge accommodation, Eagle Pass provides single day heli skiing. This caters to a range of budgets and allow the flexibility to combine heli skiing with resort skiing or cat skiing. Eagle Pass is only one of two Revelstoke heli skiing companies to provide day trips.
  • Eagle Pass Heliskiing has an excellent emphasis on safety considerations.
Cons
  • One minor shortcoming was that the flow of the day (the morning in particular) lacked finesse.

Powder Snow
As is typical for Revelstoke heli skiing, the quality of the powder is generally really good. Further strong points of Eagle Pass include huge terrain with plenty of aspects to find great snow, as well as lots of tree skiing where the powder is highly likely to be primo.

The day we headed out the powder was boot deep. It was somewhat heavy and was sticky in a few spots. We only went to a maximum elevation of 2,150 metres (100 metres lower than Revelstoke ski resort), which may have been one of the contributing factors to the NQR snow.

The annual snowfall at Eagle Pass isn’t cited. The three nearby Revelstoke heli skiing operators range markedly from 9 to 18 metres, with an average of 13.6 metres, so a guesstimate would place the Eagle Pass annual snowfall in this realm which is reasonably impressive.
Overall Terrain
The Eagle Pass terrain size of 157,000 hectares is about 6/10s of the average for Canada heli skiing, yet only a very small group of guests use the terrain, so it’s pretty massive.

The terrain is outstanding and it has incredible diversity. They only lose a point for the way it can be utilised and the vertical on offer. Firstly there was a little déjà vu whereby the drop-off would be the same for 2-3 runs with slightly different lines down. The runs were surprisingly short (their stats average is 711 metres but we only did 510 metres per run) and we skied a lot less vertical than expected. Their vertical guarantee for the day is 3,000 metres (9,842 feet – which equates to less than two top to bottom runs at Revelstoke Mountain Resort). Top Dog skied 3,576 metres (11,700 feet) of vertical with a fast group, whilst I managed much less due to a slow skier in the group (they don’t undertake screening of guests’ ability level except for ticking a box on a registration form).

Sure it’s not all about scoring vertical, but you can get more vertical with most BC cat skiing outfits and the Eagle Pass package is touted as “unlimited vertical”.
Alpine Terrain
Eagle Pass Heliskiing has a lot of alpine and sub-alpine terrain, and like any backcountry operation, the degree to which it can be ridden depends on the weather, snow and avalanche conditions. Eagle Pass has a moderate amount of low angle alpine terrain (for high avi risk days), but much of it is steeper, and some of it is super steep and challenging so there are many days that it can’t be readily accessed. This could be considered a pro and a con, because many of us would happily forego the dramatic yet mellow alpine terrain to ride the steep trees instead!
Tree Skiing
These mountains are renowned for the tree skiing and Eagle Pass doesn’t disappoint. The terrain includes slopes of varying pitches, diversity in the tree type (including burnt forests), and some of the zones are littered with a feast of features. Get high on magic mushrooms, test the knees on big pillow lines, or launch off a variety of other treats. The trees are definitely interesting!

The only minor shortcoming (and this just comes down to opinion) was two runs that were largely on alternating camber, traverses and little gullies that our snowboarder guide took the primary fresh line through. The guide might have reveled on the run, yet the 4 skiing guests really wanted to hit the fall line a bit more.

The trees varied from sparse to gladed so there was always plenty of space to get the momentum up or fully let it rip. Steep, tight, technical tree skiing is not the forte of Eagle Pass, but this probably isn’t a concern for most riders.

Strong Intermediate Terrain


Eagle Pass has some wide open mellow terrain that strong intermediates could tackle, but the likelihood of being out with others of the same ability are somewhat slim (unless you organise your own group) because the operation tends to attract more experienced riders. First timers and those with limited powder experience would be better placed to go out heli skiing with Selkirk Tangiers.
Advanced Terrain
Eagle Pass has phenomenal terrain for advanced riders. The only potential limitation is that it’s mixed in beside expert terrain. We had an inexperienced guide who didn’t check whether we wanted mandatory air before getting us cliffed out, so you’d potentially need to be very clear with your guide if you didn’t want to leap.
Expert & Extreme Terrain
Ooooh divine! Above and below the treeline are plenty of drop-offs, cliffs, and big pillow lines galore. This is paradise for experts and those looking for an extreme experience.

Of course the ability to access this terrain is dependent on being in a like-minded group. All cat and heli operators suffer from the risk of having some skiers and snowboarders over-estimate their ability level, which can impact on the experience of others. At least with small group heli skiing, the likelihood of a mismatched group is lower, or it’s much easier to pull your own group together. You only need three expert friends!
Guiding
We’ve heard great things about the guiding at Eagle Pass Heliskiing, but unfortunately our experience was incredibly mixed. Both of us had two different guides who were poles apart.

The lead guide was excellent and clearly knew the terrain and operation very well. On the contrary, the associate guide did not fill us with confidence in his abilities and his instructions were lacking. In addition to the comments above regarding the cambre runs, on one run he took us down a slope that was largely tracked out from the previous group. On another we had to traverse or wait whilst he fossicked around to find a line. The guide didn’t ascertain the group’s preference or capability for mandatory air (he didn’t actually watch us ski for the first few runs because re-grouping spots were behind trees). On various occasions we got cliffed out, but luckily the group was keen for a bit of vaulting and the day worked out just fine.

The small guest to guide ratio is far superior to a couple of the neighbouring heli ski outfits that have huge groups.
Heli
Rather than the bus type Huey helicopters that a couple of the nearby operators use, Eagle Pass has small agile helis that can land in tight spots. The pilot was awesome and seemed to enjoy landing on mushrooms! The rear of the heli was rather roomy relative to some other choppers, which made it more comfortable and a bit easier to get in and out.
Avalanche Mitigation Strategies
As to be expected for a BC heli skiing outfit, their emphasis on safety regulations and avalanche mitigation strategies was excellent, and the lead guide made these very apparent to the group out in the field.

Impressively, all guests were provided with a backpack with an airbag, radio, shovel and probe. The lead guide provided advice and reminders on when to unzip the handle for the avalanche airbag, whilst the associate guide didn’t mention it so it was easy to forget to use it.
Safety Briefing
Other than not covering general backcountry hazards such as tree wells, the safety briefing was pretty comprehensive. It was a bit disorganised and skipped all over the place, but it was effective in conveying the right messages and allowing adequate opportunity for beacon practice. Safety considerations around the helicopter were very well covered.
Frills
The included frills are very good. A great range of powder skis and snowboards are available for use, and the après ski session with beers and pizza is a great finale to the day.

Lunch was a simple affair with soup, a sandwich and tea. No snacks were on offer during the day and they provided us with water to put in our packs. As to expected for small group heli skiing, there was no photography service on offer.

One weakness was that the start of the day was a bit of a shambles. No one seemed to know what was going on except the lead guide. It was an early start to the day, and those that didn’t need to use the Eagle Pass powder skis or snowboards could probably have turned up an hour later.
Value for Money
This is a fantastic experience that you have to pay a pretty penny for. It’s more expensive than the other Revelstoke day heli skiing operator, but the major difference is that you get small group heli skiing. For experts and upper end advanced riders, it’s definitely worth paying the extra loonies for Eagle Pass.

The degree of value is probably somewhat dependent on the amount of skiing achieved on any given day. Some groups get 10 runs in and get good value, but if you only ski 6 runs and 3,000 metres of vertical, the value is somewhat diminished. For reference, Stellar Heli Skiing costs about the same, provides small group heli skiing, and you generally get about 6,000 metres of vertical.

Of course it needs to be stated that this is famed Revelstoke heli skiing, so it’s probably worth spending whatever it takes to give it a crack!

Notes Regarding Review The review is largely based on our experience, but also on discussions with staff, former guests, and information available on their website. Our review has some limitations as it’s not possible to ski every run and in all possible snow and weather conditions. Every guide is somewhat different and we acknowledge that everyone’s experience will be slightly different.
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