Heli Skiing Europe

Heliski Europe (Pure Heliski Val di Susa & Sestriere)
Heliski Europe. La Thuile, Italy, (photo - Heliski La Thuile)
Helski Europe. Kamchatka Russia. (photo - 9Vallees)
Monterosa heliskiing powder (GMH Heli - Gressoney)
Europe heliskiing. Kamchatka, Russia. (photo - Snow Valley)
Heliskiing Europe in Sweden at Riksgransen. (photo - Andreas Bengtsson)
Heliski Europe
Heliski Europe. La Thuile, Italy. (Photo - Heliski La Thuile)
Europe heliskiing mostly operates out of Italy.
Europe heli skiing in Russia at Kamchatka. (photo - Snow Valley)
Heliski Europe. Arolla-Verbier, Switzerland. (photo - Adrenaline Heliski)
Europe heliskiing accesses terrain over 4000m elevation.
Europe heli skiing. Arolla Verbier, Switzerland (photo - Adrenaline Heliski)
Heliskiing is convenient in the Val di Susa near Turin Italy.
A-star helicopters are typically used for heli skiing in Europe.(Pure Heliski)
Heliski Europe. Kamchatka, Russia. (photo - 9 Vallees)
Heliskiing Europe (Pure Heliski - Val di Susa Italy)
Helicopter skiing at Monterosa with GMH Heli from Gressoney Italy.
Europe heliskiing. Kamchatka, Russia (photo - Snow Valley)
Ski powder in Spain with Pyrenees Heliski in Catalonia.

Heli Skiing Europe

Ski & Sail Norway Lyngen Alps
Wagner Custome Skis

Heli Skiing Europe

Heli-skiing is definitely nirvana for skiers & snowboarders & in Europe it is no exception. Whether it be in the Alps, Pyrenees, the Arctic or the Caucasus in Russia, Georgia & Abkhazia, heliskiing is absolutely the best high a powder hound can experience! Become intoxicated by the spectacular vistas as you ride up in the helicopter, and then revel in the complete euphoria of riding down virgin powder.

But with intoxication comes a price! Heli skiing costs significantly more than a lift ticket at one of the Europe’s ski resorts or cat skiing in its more remote environs; so forget about saving for your retirement. Live now. With heli skiing you get so much more pow for your pound or euro or ruble or kroner or dollar!

Where to Heli-Ski in Europe

Despite the massive profile of skiing in Europe there are relatively few heliski operators, so the perennial question of 'where can I go heliskiing in Europe' is a reasonable one. Europe's high population density & strong local traditions (particularly in the Alps & Pyrenees), have led to a highly regulated industry, limiting expansion (fair enough too!). In the Alps, heli skiing is effectively banned in France & Germany, severely limited in Austria & becoming more restricted in Switzerland.  

Unlike heli-skiing in other parts of the world, the western Europe heli skiing operators cannot just land anywhere within their tenure (there are exceptions!!). Heavy regulation has led to designated landing sites which provide a finite number of lines, contributing to the exclusivity of European Alps heliskiing, but also effectively limiting the amount of freshies one can get. However, the further one travels east (out of the Alps) and north to the Arctic Circle, the wider the terrain and lesser the imitations. The pinnacles of Europe heliskiing are in Iceland, GreenlandSweden and Russia including the mythical Kamchatka in the far east. Helisking in Spain is thought to be similar to the freedom one might find in Canada, so is possibly a 'go to' location. Iceland & Greenland are late season nirvanas for powder seekers providing skiing from summit to sea. New opportunities are always arising, with a new heliskiing operation recently starting in the wild mountains of Albania in the Balkans. High adventure indeed!

In short, the best heli-skiing in Europe (in rank order) is:
1. Iceland - Troll Peninsula
2. Russia - Kamchatka
3. Greenland
4. Caucasus - Georgia, Russia, Abkhazia
5. Sweden - Lapland
6. Italy - Alps
7. Spain - Val d'Aran
8. Switzerland

Greenland

It may be remote & logistically difficult, but Greenland represents one of the world’s last frontiers in heliskiing. Endless peaks provide endless fresh lines plus opportunities for endless first descents. Greenland’s extreme northerly location make it a perfect spring skiing destination with the high mountains & glaciers close to the coast provide a multitude of possibilities from mid-March to June. Greenland heliskiing is a fascinating experience, but one that does come with a requisite price premium!

Iceland

Relatively unknown until the last few years, Iceland’s Troll Peninsula has now reached near mythical proportions for its late winter & spring powder skiing. Three heli-skiing operations fly the expansive terrain on the peninsula, providing a plethora of options for visitors. The longest established & best credentialed is Arctic Heli Skiing, run by local Icelandic team. A journey to Iceland combining the dramatic landscapes, volcanic features, thermal pools, local traditions, ski touring & heliskiing is an unforgettable holiday experience.

Italy

Italy is the stronghold of heli-skiing in in the Alps. Italy has Europe's best variety, best value & highest number of heliskiing operators & locations. Heli skiing operators work out of ski resorts and remote valleys from Sestriere in the Val de Susa (part of the ViaLattea) up & around all the way east to the Livigno.

At Sestriere the helicopter picks you up right in the middle of the resort and whisks one away from the great unwashed into the mountains.

Further north, the Aosta Valley (Valle d’Aosta) has the greatest concentration of heliski operators in Europe. Heliskiing is possible from La Thuile, Valgrisenche, Courmayeur, Cervinia and Monterosa.

Elsewhere to the east, the remote valley of Formazza has serious backcountry heli skiing for the adventurous.

Further afield, heliskiing out of Livigno ski resort is very popular & great value.

Russia

Heli-skiing in the vastness of Russia is rightly rather popular, particularly at Kamchatka in the far east and on Elbrus in the Caucasus. These offer a culturally unique adventure in stunning landscapes, whilst also providing the delights of heli skiing. The heliski experience amongst the smoking volcanos and steaming vents of Kamchatka is one of the best in the world. Numerous operators provide tours in the region.

The mountainous region of Abkhazia provides the terrain for the crew of Sochi Heliski, operating out of Krasnaya Polyana. With three of Russia’s premier ski resorts nearby, including Rosa Khutor, there are no down days here! A vast area of terrain is utilised in the western Caucasus. Sochi Heliski also operate heliskiing tours in Siberia, Lake Baikal & Kamchatka.

Spain

In the Spanish Pyrenees, one heliski outfit operates out of Vielha near the large ski resort of Baqueira Beret. Called Pyrenees Heliskiing, it utilises terrain up to 3000m elevation for a skiable vertical on any one run of up to 1500m. As far as we can tell it is the only heli-ski operation in Spain.

Sweden

The Swedes have heliskiing down to a fine art. Way up north past the Arctic Circle, amongst the highest peaks in Sweden, heliski operation is totally unfettered. Based out of the legendary ski resort of Riksgransen & the Northern Lights hotspot of Abisko, heli skiing in Sweden is some of the best value in Europe. Due to its extreme northerly location, operation is from March to late May.

Switzerland

The fun police haven’t prohibited heli skiing in Switzerland (yet) and this country has the second most helicopter skiing opportunities in the Alps.

One Switzerland heli skiing company operates out of Zermatt, whilst Adrenaline Heli Skiing operates out of Verbier. They offer the “traditional Europe-style heli skiing” with single drops. You have to get a taxi back to the heli pad if you want to do multiple runs. They also provide multi-day heliski safaris where you ski to different villages and your luggage is transported each day to the hotel you’re staying in. Sounds cool!

The largest heli skiing operator in Switzerland is SwissSKIsafari based in the Valais region. They offer a range of superb multi-day heli skiing trips as well as customized heli skiing packages. Due to the proximity to Italy and France, some of the itineraries travel across the three countries, whilst others focus on just Italy or France. Some trips combine heli skiing with lift accessed backcountry riding, staying in different hotels and backcountry mountain huts.

Heli skiing is not permitted in the Engadin region, although one exception is a curious form of heli skiing where you fly to the top of the St Moritz ski resort, only to ski down the piste. Huh??!

Other European Heliskiing Locations

There are also at least a couple of heliski operations in Georgia, Turkey and Romania, to name a few. We will report on all of them in due course. Others of note include:

Albania

One of the newest heliski locations in the world, the high peaks of northern Albania have some of the highest winter precipitations in Europe. Remote & wild in winter, Heliski Albania runs an adventurous operation out of the small village of Vallbone.

Austria

The world’s powerhouse when it comes to the best ski resorts on the planet, in the realm of heli-skiing, Austria is limited to only a couple of landing sites. Heliskiing is available in the Arlberg region (near Zurs and Lech) where single heli rides (with a guide) can be purchased, but it is probably better to save your coin & go skinning up the endless peaks to find your own private powder stash!

France

Heli skiing in France is banned but a few loop holes exist, so you can still enjoy the joys of heli skiing when staying at French ski resorts such as Tignes, Val d'Isère & Courchevel. It is legal to use helicopter lifts out of France and to heliski down French peaks and glaciers as long as they don’t land the helicopter in the French mountains. For example, heli skiing is available out of Chamonix with heli drops over the border in Italy & Switzerland.

Characteristics of European Heli-Skiing

Heliskiing in Europe, particularly in the Alps & Pyrenees, can differ somewhat from the traditional convention of heli skiing in Canada. Rather than being destination heli-skiing with a week-long trip where you stay in a remote backcountry lodge, most western Europe heliskiing is based at a ski resort or local village. This provides the huge advantage of being able to combine heli skiing with resort skiing. You can stay with your family or friends and also enjoy the famous European après ski, nightlife and excitement of an alpine village.

The traditional European Alps style heliskiing consists of just a single heli drop or perhaps two to three heli drops in one day. Multi-day heli trips are available in Europe, but they are not the norm & aside from the heliski stronghold of Italy, tend to be in far off locations like Iceland, Russia & Sweden. The accommodation is mostly in hotels, but some utilise mountain lodges in the more remote parts of Europe. Some provide heli safaris where you stay in a different hotel each night and your luggage is transported via road. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and one can do anything for the right price!

The Alps heliski terrain is largely up in the treeless alpine zone, often utilising glaciers. Several operators do include tree skiing opportunities. Heliskiing in the Arctic nations can include runs all the way to the sea shore.

In the Alps, the heli-ski runs are generally longer than heli skiing elsewhere, but the downside of this is that the snow conditions can vary significantly along the vertical of the run. Skiable vertical of over 2000m is possible. The snow quality in the Alps is generally not as good as what you may find with North American heli skiing locations but everywhere is good on its day – you’ve got to be in it to win it!

More Reasons to Go Heli Skiing in Europe

Europe provides diverse & magical cultural experiences. Combine this with the age-old tradition and majesty of skiing in the Alps, and the festivity of many of the European alpine towns and villages. Far away from the groomed perfection of the Europe ski resorts and the elbowing that occurs in the lift lines, heli skiing provides the MOST amazing skiing or snowboarding experience. Increasingly, as new operators start up in more distant lands, heli-skiing in Europe is also providing ski travel adventures to places previously seldom visited in winter. You don’t have to 'pant' for your powder, the views are stupendous and heli skiing provides line after line of pristine virgin snow…………. most of the time!

Heli Skiing Tours in Europe
Abkhazia Classic Heliskiing Day
GUIDED HELISKIING DAY TOUR | ABKHAZIA, WESTERN CAUCASUS
1 & 2-Day
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Abkhazia near Sochi is the best place for heliskiing in the Caucasus. A huge territory, varied terrain, great snow! From wide endless powder fields to excellent tree skiing or steep narrow couloirs. Explore the amazing Western Caucasus by helicopter. Join a small group day tour from mid-Dec to mid-April.
Price p/p From price based on a single day heliskiing in a group of four.
Base/invoice currency is in EUR incl taxes.
USD 1,109
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Abkhazia Heliskiing 5 Day Package
GUIDED HELISKIING 5 DAY TOUR | ABKHAZIA, WESTERN CAUCASUS
6 Days | 5 Nights | 5 Heliski Days
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Abkhazia near Sochi is the best place for heliskiing in the Caucasus. A huge territory, varied terrain, great snow! From wide endless powder fields to excellent tree skiing or steep narrow couloirs. Over 5 days explore the amazing Western Caucasus by helicopter. Join a small group day tour from mid-Dec to mid-April.
Price p/p From price based on 5-days of heliskiing in a group of four.
Base/invoice currency is in EUR incl taxes.
USD 5,522
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Heli Ski Kazbegi Georgia
GUIDED HELI SKIING
6 Days | 3 Ski Days
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
All inclusive heli ski & cultural tour in the Greater Caucasus of northern Georgia near Gudauri ski resort. Tour includes all meals, accommodation, 2 full days guided heliskiing, transfers & more. Private groups apply for your best dates. or join another group if there is availability.
Price p/p From price based on a group of 4 people.
Base/invoice currency is in EURO inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 3,114
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Heliski Kamchatka Volcanos Russia
GUIDED OFF-PISTE HELISKI ADVENTURE
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Ski Days
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Helski on volcanos in one the most stunningly beautiful places in the world. Enjoy 6-8000m vertical a day with single descents of up to 1600m. Stay in wonderful accommodation with its own hot springs. Join the "fixed date" tour or get your own group of 4+ together for a custom tour.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share room occupancy.
From price based 12 people in a group.
Base/invoice currency is in EURO inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 6,216
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©Dirk Collins
GUIDED HELISKIING | TROLL PENINSULA ICELAND
4 or 6 Day Package
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Heliski the fabled Troll Peninsula with exclusive access to the longest runs & best summit to sea skiing in Iceland. Combine world class heli-skiing, with the Northern lights, midnight sun, volcanic activity, hot springs, lava fields & a unique Viking culture for a true ski adventure experience.
Price p/p From price based on a four day heliskiing program, double occupancy accommodation.
Base/invoice currency is in EUR incl taxes.
USD 8,288
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