Himalayan Heli Adventures

Overall Rating

Himalayan Heli Adventures

Himalayan Heli Adventures4.5/56
Himalayan Heli Adventures4.5 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
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Himalayan Heli Adventures
Himalayan Heli Adventures

Himalayan Heli Adventures

Overall Rating

Himalayan Heli Adventures4.5/56
Himalayan Heli Adventures4.5 out of 5 based on 6 reviews

Himalayan Heli Adventures

Heli skiing in India with Himalayan Heli Adventures offers the combination of the cultural experiences associated with the intrigue of India, and heli skiing in the Himalayas amongst mega peaks that offer amazing eye candy and hugely varied heliski terrain. The grandeur of Himalayan heli skiing is inimitable.

Himalayan Heli Adventures (formerly Himachal Helicopter Skiing) has been in operation since 1990 and offers guided India heli skiing in some of world's most spectacular and exciting ski terrain in the Himalaya, with exceptional quality powder snow.

Based in the town of Manali in Himachal Pradesh in the very north of India, Himalayan Heli Adventures has grown to become an international state of the art heli ski operation. The international guides are highly qualified, the Swiss pilots are highly skilled and specialise in mountain flying, and the agile B3 helicopters owned by Air Himalayas are maintained by Swiss engineers. All of this combined makes this Manali heli skiing outfit one of the safest heli operations in the world.

As with all heli skiing, down days do occur when Mother Nature is dumping snow on the big mountains. One of the huge advantages of heli skiing in India is that there are plenty of nearby activities for down days, après ski time, or non-skiing partners. Just walking around the local villages provides plenty of sensory overload, or you can ride around the mountain roads on a motorbike, visit hot springs, little temples, Tibetan monasteries and quirky art galleries, or shop till you drop at the Manali bazaar. Or the small Solang Ski Resort is sometimes fun on a stormy day. The HHA experience isn’t just about the amazing heli skiing in the Himalaya, but also the cultural experience of interesting India.

India Heli Skiing, Location & Access

Where is Himalayan Heli Adventures Located?

The location of this Manali heli skiing outfit is truly one of its finest assets! The town of Manali is located approximately 540km north of Delhi in Himachal Pradesh in northern India. Himachal is one of the wealthiest and most politically stable states on the Indian subcontinent.

Manali is located in the “Valley of the Gods”, in a mystical land of temples and goddesses; a place where snow leopards prey on the flocks of goats and the gods determine the proper conduct of life. The valley is a place removed from the frenzy of other parts of India.

Manali heli skiing is at approximately 34° N latitude.

Travel to Manali

Manali is 51km north of the Kullu Manali Airport, which is connected to Delhi via a 90 minute flight. The one-hour drive from Kullu to Manali is a highlight of the trip, as it heads through villages and orchards, past colourful Hindu temples and terraced barley fields which are characteristic of the Himalayan foothills. The transfers between the Manali hotel and the Kullu airport are included as part of the packages, as are the flights from Delhi to/from Kullu.

Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, is serviced by many major international carriers and you can look at flight options and flight times here.

Delhi Hotels

Many flight schedules will necessitate an overnight stop in Delhi. Aerocity hotels are all 4 and 5 star hotels and provide very quick and convenient access to and from the New Delhi Airport.

The Ibis New Delhi Aerocity is a well priced 4 star hotel in Aerocity that is more than adequate for a one night stay in-transit. The Novotel New Delhi Aerocity is a modest 5 star hotel that offers very good value for money, or for a bit more of a splurge, the Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Airport Hotel is just a couple of minutes drive from Aerocity.

If you don’t want to leave the airport, Holiday Inn New Delhi International Airport is a hotel inside the terminal.

Or if you want to combine your heli skiing trip with a few days in Delhi you may wish to stay in central Delhi. We’ve stayed at the Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, which was beautiful and peaceful, without being palatial.

Delhi Hotel Listings

Sightseeing

Before or after your heli skiing trip, you may also wish to partake in a Golden Triangle Tour (Delhi, Agra/Taj Mahal, and Jaipur) or other sightseeing. HHA can assist in organising this.

Kullu Airport

The Kullu Manali Airport is small and located in a deep valley surrounded by high peaks, so it can be challenging for flights to get in and out when the weather is bad. If flights are cancelled, HHA will make alternative arrangements to get to Manali, which may include a long but fascinating drive from Chandigarh Airport. This is India, so you’ll need to keep an open mind when it comes to travel.

Other India Skiing

The Solang Ropeway and Ski Centre is located 12km north of the ManuAllaya Resort. Usually only frequented by domestic tourists who mostly head there for snow play and selfies, the ski area is serviced by a ropeway and T-bar. The southeast facing ropeway terrain is reasonably steep and during the height of winter it can offer some nice storm skiing. The ski centre also offers paragliding.

Gulmarg in Kashmir is another well known India ski destination. Gulmarg is about 600km northwest of Manali; a drive that’s ridiculously long and laborious so you’d probably want to fly back to Delhi and then onto Srinagar to get there.

Himalayan Heli Ski Terrain & Snow

Terrain

Himalayan Heli Adventures' vast terrain is well suited to strong intermediate to expert skiers.

Manali sits by the Beas river at an altitude of roughly 2,000 m, surrounded by beautiful cedar forests and huge peaks soaring to more than 6,000 m. With fresh snow and cold temperatures, it’s possible to ski to the valley floor through massive cedar forests, but most skiing takes place in the alpine on long rolling ridge lines or mellow bowls or down steep cirque bowls. Both during and after storms, the skiing in the trees is excellent and includes nicely spaced birch and oak glades.

The altitudes that will be ridden vary depending on group fitness and ability, the interests of the group, and the snow and weather conditions. Most heli skiing takes place between high valley floors around 2,700 m and ridges at 4,700 m, with verticals averaging between 900 m and 1,200 m. However, some of the most spectacular Himalayan Heli Adventures terrain is as high as 5,000 m.

The size of the Himalayan Heli Skiing terrain is immense; so large that it’s probably never been officially measured.

Snow

Considering the massive size of the tenure and the large range of elevations, the guides have plenty of options to choose the ideal terrain and aspect for the best snow conditions. Manali heli skiing is known for having one of the deepest snowpacks in the Himalaya, and due to the continental climate, snowfalls tend to be of low moisture content. The high altitude and fridge effect of the terrain also contributes to excellent re-crystallised powder. Some aspects also have lots of potential for great spring corn-snow skiing.

While the Manali region is generally blessed with excellent weather and snow, Himalayan Heli Adventures operate in a wilderness environment, so conditions can change quickly, and you may encounter some difficult or poor skiing. HHA guides will attempt to find the best snow possible, but you must be prepared to accept whatever nature delivers!


Skiing and Riding at High Altitude

Skiing at high altitude is one of the most common concerns of HHA guests with respect to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) or Altitude Sickness.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

AMS is the term used for a number of symptoms associated with the physiological reactions to altitudes that are generally above 2,500 metres. AMS is not a concern for most heliskiing guests because although you are skiing at above 2,500 metres you are always sleeping below this altitude at approximately 2,000 metres, which means the body never has to fully acclimatize or adapt to high altitude.

If for some reason guests are stranded above 10,000 feet, AMS could become a concern. To deal with this possibility, the company has placed Portable Altitude Chambers (PAC units) at strategic points around the mountains.

Other Health Concerns at Altitude

Altitude induced headaches are a concern to heli-skiers which can be worsened by dehydration. To counter this, it is strongly recommended that guests drink frequently from the small bottles of mineral water provided in the helicopter.

Certain cardiac conditions may pose a risk at altitude. This is rare, and guests should consult their doctor if they have any cardiac problems.

The reduction in available oxygen at altitude will mean that people will ski fewer turns before they feel tired and out of breath. In the first few days of skiing, guests generally ski 10 to 20 per cent fewer turns per pitch. After a few days, most people do not notice any difference.

Guides & Safety

The safety of guests and staff is the primary concern of Himalayan Heli Adventures.

HHA operates with the lowest guide-to-guest ratio in the world (1:3 or 1:4). The guides are Internationally Certified and experienced heli-ski professionals. They have emergency medical skills and are experts in snow safety, rescue techniques and mountain travel and all have worked with heli-ski operations worldwide. The low number of guests allows them to provide a level of security not normally available.

Each guest will be given an avalanche transceiver and airbag and will be instructed on its use at the beginning of each week. The guides carry extensive rescue and emergency gear and are equipped with radios for communication with the helicopter and base.

Note that the danger of avalanches is always present. The conditions that create potential for avalanches are complex and incompletely understood. HHA guides are highly trained at forecasting and avoiding areas of high avalanche danger, but this is a constantly changing phenomenon, and you must be willing to accept all risks associated with skiing in remote and uncontrolled areas.

Himalayan Heli Adventures, Heli Skiing Review

The week we spent heli skiing in Manali was an amazing high and rather spicy! The heli skiing itself was outstanding, but the overall experience was phenomenal due to the other factors that the location brought. It’s not called “Interesting India” for nothing and prior to Manali we spent a few days in Delhi, Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur, which were all fascinating, and the Manali region was also culturally intriguing. Then there was just being in the Himalayan Mountains. Skiing amongst mega 6,000 metre peaks offered up abundant eye candy, and with many drop-offs at 4,500 metres and one as high as 5,029 metres, we certainly got the powder high we were looking for! Our heli skiing experiences in Canada have been fantastic, but after Manali, BC may not seem adventurous enough!

Of course even though we (and many others) think that Himalayan Heli Adventures is an extraordinary operation, no company is absolutely perfect for everyone. Our review covers different aspects of their operation and hopefully you can determine if Himalayan Heli Adventures is likely to align with your priorities. As a guide to the ratings below, 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 heli ski ratings to see how Himalayan Heli Adventures fares against heliski operations.

Of the many factors we provide a heliski rating for, cultural experiences, down day and après ski activities are usually not included, but if we did, HHA would score mighty well. Wandering around the streets of Manali town and the laneways of the market offered plenty of sights and sounds, and meandering around the roads on a motorbike, visiting little temples, and watching the domestic tourists doing selfies in their retro gear at the Solang Ropeway (good for storm skiing in winter) also gave the senses plenty of stimulation.

Pros
  • Himalayan Heli Adventures has a massive tenure, so the guides have an array of slopes and aspects to choose from to find the best snow and terrain.
  • Whilst the experience offers a good Indian flavour, the operation is run by a global team. The international guides are highly experienced and well qualified. The powerful and agile B3 helicopters are flown by Swiss pilots, that are very adept in dealing with high mountain flying.
  • The heli ski zones typically don’t receive much wind, which brings many positives for the snow quality and snowpack stability.
  • The guest to guide ratio is low at 3:1 or 4:1.
  • Unlike heli skiing in many parts of the world, HHA has some tree skiing zones, which can be good for grey days.
  • The service levels at the hotel and ski room are very high. It makes it hard to return home where the service levels are pretty poor!
  • There are various activities to do after heli skiing or for down times, making the trip feasible for non-skiing partners too. 
Con
  • It requires a decent time commitment to get to India and Manali, and many flight connections often necessitate a Delhi stop-over on the way in and out which further adds to the time requirements.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • Manali provides a great cultural experience and you can add on some time in other parts of India to get the full Indian intrigue experience. Of course, a place like India can throw up some challenges that you probably wouldn’t get with Canadian heli skiing, so the trip is well suited to adventurous souls who can keep an open mind when things don’t always go perfectly to plan.
  • It’s a real joy to fly and ski amongst some of the mammoth peaks of the Himalayas, and the high altitude contributes to great snow. The altitude can provide challenges for a few people. Fortunately you sleep at only 2,000 metres, and for most it’s just a problem of getting really puffed when skiing for the first couple of days. Thankfully the guides take it easy on you.

Powder Snow
Whilst the terrain doesn’t get as much snow as the mountains around Gulmarg because the north-westerly storms from Afghanistan peter out before hitting Manali, the snowfall is still abundant. Rather than getting really frequent resets, the typical storm patterns are massive dumps of snow followed by a period of fine weather.

At the start of the week, there had been no significant snowfall for quite a time, and it was great to see that there was still plenty of amazing snow to be found. The fridge effect and high elevation of the mountains resulted in reconstituted powder, which was lovely to ski. Later in the week a storm came through, and we hit one of the lower zones which included some nice glade skiing in shin to knee deep powder.

Whilst some of the zones around Rohtang Pass receive katabatic winds at times, the rest of the terrain doesn’t get a lot of wind, which can ruin the snow quality and stability in high alpine areas at other heli ski operations.

Overall Terrain
Major strengths include the amount and variety of terrain, the length of runs, and just a moderate amount of no-fly days.

HHA has expansive and varied terrain so the guides have got plenty to choose from depending on the conditions. It’s mostly high alpine terrain, and also includes small zones of trees which provides more flexibility to get out on cloudy days. We were fortunate to heli ski for at least part of each day of the 6 days, and they made an effort to make the most of any weather windows.

This combined with some really long runs makes it easy to rack up lots of vertical quickly, and it’s pretty rare that the minimal vertical guarantee is not reached.

Typically private groups have the flexibility to push further into the terrain pending weather, but they’re also not shy about taking the mixed groups a decent distance from the hotel, especially if some of the guests are ferried by car to a staging area.

Alpine Terrain
Himalayan Heli Adventures has soooo much terrain to play with. Full marks would be awarded here if they played on the steeps more (see below).

Tree Skiing
Like some of the North American heli ski outfits, HHA has the bonus that it has a degree of tree skiing. Ideally the snow needs to be reasonably fresh and the temperatures low to ride there, but the trees provide some options for high cloud days. The trees are a combination of very well spaced birch trees and some evergreens, and much of the terrain is pitchy.

Strong Intermediate Terrain


The HHA terrain has plenty of wide-open runs that drop fall line and have minimal features, that are ideal for strong intermediate riders. However whilst the individual group size is small, the overall operation is also rather small which could limit their ability to match like-abilities together to access certain terrain off the one helicopter. Of course, if you have a private package and a helicopter for just you and your gang, you could almost dictate which terrain you’d like to ride.

Advanced Terrain
This is an absolute strength of Himalayan Heli Adventures, particularly for the alpine terrain. Some zones are so buried in snow that there are minimal features and it’s wide open for zooming, whilst some areas have lots of terrain shapes and playful features.

Expert & Extreme Terrain
If you’re an expert who likes short lived steeps along with some more relaxing terrain, then India will more than suffice, but if you’re main priority for a heliski trip is to ride Alaska-esque steeps and chutes, then your best bet is to go to Alaska!! The HHA terrain has some nice steep chutes, but we didn’t get to experience them as it’s difficult for all the required ingredients to come together: the guides’ perception of the ability level of the group; the ability level of other groups using the helicopter; the snowpack stability; and the operation’s risk appetite. Like with most heliski outfits, essentially if you want to increase your chances of riding very challenging terrain, you need to take the private package.

Guiding
The well qualified guides are from a mix of countries with extensive mountain guiding and heli ski experience in Europe, New Zealand and North America. A few of the guides have been working there for many many years, so even though the terrain is huge, they know it incredibly well. The very low guest to guide ratio is a major pro for safety as well as the skiing experience.

Our guide provided really clear instructions that appropriately varied according to the terrain and visibility, and his really extensive heliski guiding experience was apparent through his discussions with the pilots about how to manage the changing weather, climbing to altitude, and efficient group movement.

Heli
HHA was using modern B3 helicopters, which are ideal for heli skiing at altitude. The helicopter pilots and engineers were Swiss and had extensive experience with heli skiing and high altitude rescue. The helicopters would get full marks if it wasn’t for some unfortunate inefficient Indian bureaucracy during our visit which resulted in the second helicopter being out of action until it had the required permit paperwork. Luckily the week wasn’t full, and all guests happily shared the one bird. Heli skiing in India has many advantages with respect to the cultural experiences but it also throws up some challenges (at least it’s not as bad as trying to get the required permits for Japan heli skiing!!).

Himalayan Heli Adventures work in partnership with Air Himalayas who plan to acquire a second heli for 2021, which would alleviate the permit issue risk.

Avalanche Mitigation Strategies
The HHA team has a long history of putting a lot of effort into avalanche mitigation and general safety, including lots of experience with high mountain rescue. The have lots of safety protocols in place such as portable altitude chambers located around the mountains, as well as emergency campsites. Over the 30 years, HHA has gathered lots of information and expertise with respect to the weather and snowpack patterns, and collecting of real-time data was also evident to guests. Avalanche airbags were provided to all guests, although only one guest radio per group was issued.

Safety Briefing
The safety briefing was very good, although the detail was more typical of what we’ve see for day heli operators rather than multi-day mechanized operations. Many key elements were covered but it didn’t include practical components such as beacon search practice or using the shovel and probe.

Frills
The added extras were excellent. The powder skis available for use were reasonably new, which included some with touring bindings for down days. Staff were eager to wax and patch our skis and carry our equipment to load on and off the heli. The Guest Relations Manager did a lot of work to organise logistics and extras for guests, including baggage couriers so that guests didn’t have more than 15kg on the flights between Delhi and Kullu. Lunch in the mountains was rather simple, and not the usual gourmet feast that you see with luxury heli and cat outfits, but it’s likely that no one saw this as a priority.

Not usually included under frills, but we’ll also put cultural experiences and alternative activities under this category, which as outlined above, are a major pro. Riding the motorbikes around the mountain roads and villages seemed particularly popular.

Value for Money
All heli skiing requires significant investment in powder happiness, and Himalayan Heli Adventures is a very good investment in not just powder satiation, but also in adventure ski travel and seeing a fascinating part of the world. Of course value all comes down to the exchange rate at the time, but heli skiing with HHA provides very good value for money, especially considering that the package includes the internal flights.

For 2021 rates, HHA was 8-25% cheaper than various equivalent 7 day packages in Canada, and naturally significantly cheaper than a couple of luxury operators that offer unlimited vertical.

Accommodation
The Manu Allaya Resort is a large hotel with good facilities and amenities. It’s not an opulent lodge like you see with some Canadian backcountry outfits, but it provided deluxe and very comfortable accommodation. The hotel employed a huge number of staff and the service levels were very attentive. It felt like our room was cleaned 6 times a day and the restaurant staff were good at anticipating our wants.

Our room was very large (and spotless!), the heating was excellent, the water was hot (not something you take for granted in India), and the views across the mountains were lovely. As is common in India, the power went out often, but they had a generator that kicked in pretty quickly. The wifi was very intermittent, but after being in Kashmir where it’s close to non-existent, the internet seemed reasonably good!

The hotel had a large communal room for exclusive use of the heli ski guests, where meals were served and guests gathered for pre-dinner drinks and hors d'oeuvres. The meals were great, and there was abundant food to enable the potential for heli belly. An English chef was leading the cooking and offered up a huge range of international dishes to cater for a variety of tastes as well as vegetarians. Rather than plated fine dining that you find at some cat/heli outfits, breakfast and dinner were served mini buffet style so you could select the dishes that took your fancy. Most nights there was a mild dahl available along with mostly western dishes, and one night was dedicated to Indian cuisine with very subtle spice. To fully immerse in the Himachal culture, I personally would have liked local cuisine every night, but it quickly became apparent that many of the Euros on the trip weren’t that keen on spicy food.


Notes Regarding Review

The review is largely based on our experiences, but also on discussions with staff, other 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. We acknowledge that everyone’s experience will be slightly different. The ratings are from our perspective only (from reviewing 45+ mechanized backcountry operations). The photos and video have not been filmed using professional riders; they aim to show an example of the sort of experience that average people like us would get.

Further Information & Bookings

Click here to reserve the trip of your life!

So Much More Than Just Heli Skiing

16/03/2020

POWDERHOUNDS.COM

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  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Month:
    March
  • Admin Rating
    5

So Much More Than Just Heli Skiing

16/03/2020
Jaw dropping views
Plenty of amazing skiing on reconstituted powder
Amazing snow conditions considering it hadn't snowed in a while
Meeting some of the locals
They found a nice weather window on the last day
Heli skiing in India in the Himalaya would have to be up there as one of our best ski travel experiences. The heli skiing itself was amazing, with turn after turn after turn of untracked snow. Early in the week it was blue skies and reconstituted powder which skied very nicely, and our last day was shin to knee deep powder. Bliss! Of course, major factors that set Himalayan Heli Adventures apart were the Himalayan backdrop and the cultural fascination of being in India.

One thought that came to mind when considering heli skiing in India was the safety aspects, but it quickly became apparent that this international heliski outfit places a lot of emphasis on safety, and the helicopter engineers and pilots are Swiss and very diligent and experienced. However other minor parts of the trip didn’t always run like a Swiss watch, which is to be expected in India, but this all just added to the adventure, and the operations staff were quite adept at managing some of these Indianisms.

Would we recommend going heli skiing with HHA? Absolutely!

Pros
- Himalayan Heli Adventures have a massive tenure, so the guides have an array of slopes and aspects to choose from to find the best snow and terrain.
- Whilst the experience offers a good Indian flavour, the operation is run by a global team. The international guides are highly experienced and well qualified. The powerful and agile B3 helicopters are flown by Swiss pilots, that are very adept in dealing with high mountain flying.
- The heli ski zones typically don’t receive much wind, which brings many positives for the snow quality and snowpack stability.
- The guest to guide ratio is low at 3:1 or 4:1.
- Unlike heli skiing in many parts of the world, HHA has some tree skiing zones, which can be good for grey days.
- The service levels at the hotel and ski room are very high. It makes it hard to return home where the service levels are pretty poor!
- There are various activities to do after heli skiing or for down times, making the trip feasible for non-skiing partners too.

Con
• It requires a decent time commitment to get to India and Manali, and many flight connections often necessitate a Delhi stop-over on the way in and out which further adds to the time requirements.

Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
- Manali provides a great cultural experience and you can add on some time in other parts of India to get the full Indian intrigue experience. Of course, a place like India can throw up some challenges that you probably wouldn’t get with Canadian heli skiing, so the trip is well suited to adventurous souls who can keep an open mind when things don’t always go perfectly to plan.
- It’s a real joy to fly and ski amongst some of the mammoth peaks of the Himalayas, and the high altitude contributes to great snow. The altitude can provide challenges for a few people. Fortunately you sleep at only 2,000 metres, and for most it’s just a problem of getting really puffed when skiing for the first couple of days. And thankfully the guides take it easy on you.

See our full review of Himalayan Heli Adventures for more information.

Best ever

Dirk Reich
03/03/2020
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    51-65
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    Switzerland
  • Month:
    March
  • Admin Rating
    3

Best ever

Dirk Reich
03/03/2020
This has been my best ever Heli-skiing vacation: the mountains and views are awesome, our highest drop-off today was at 4600 m with runs up to 1000m - the Sky was blue and we had between 10-40cm fresh snow.

The Indian / Swiss / multinational team is very professional and flying skills and safety is leading edge.

Ground staff around Markus and Flavia do the best and try to read the guests wishes from their lips - excellent customer service and good in improvising when things don’t go as planned.

We will come back with friends !

Heli Skiing in

Maurice Ruckstuhl
04/11/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Strong Intermediate
  • Country
    Schweiz
  • Month:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    3

Heli Skiing in

Maurice Ruckstuhl
04/11/2019
I can only recommend this place and the company responsible for it. It was a great pleasure and the experience was great. Especially the landscape was phenomenal. The people who work there are professional and very hospitable. The mountains are incredibly fascinating. The helicopters are well equipped and everything is organized very safe. Heli pilots are very experienced and know what the snowboarders want to ride, but can also assess the danger potential very well. I can only say thank you and would immediately go on such a tour with this crew.

Great snowboarding, great staff

Thomas
04/11/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    Switzerland
  • Month:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    5

Great snowboarding, great staff

Thomas
04/11/2019
We (group of 6 snowboarders) spent a week at Manali in Feb / March 2019 and really had a great time and enjoyed some incredible powder days. Upon our arrival, we immediately felt the "laidback" and smooth spirit of the operation and the staff - very serious when it comes to safety, the heli operation and guiding, but relaxed in the evenings and always up for a chat during the day. The whole trip was well organized and we felt "pampered" throughout. On a down day (wheather), the crew organized a day trip to get some powder turns at the gondola in the nearby Solang Valley, which was quite an experience!

The guides really do know the terrain and share the excitement of the guests and, to some degree, also were open to our input and ideas. The terrain is impressive and seemed to be endless... and ranges from steep alpine terrain to funny tree runs. We went up to +5000m which ensured good powder even on warmer days. All in all, very recommendable for riders who are looking for a good and friendly vibe, helpful and approachable staff and endless light/dry snow!

Average to poor

Philippe Fatzer
08/07/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    51-65
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Country
    Switzerland
  • Month:
    March
  • Admin Rating
    1

Average to poor

Philippe Fatzer
08/07/2019
I will not return to Manali, nor recommend it, for some of the following reasons :
Lack of availability of relevant equipment
No group order rotation
Preferential group treatment
Very lengthy rotation
No corrective actions implemented despite regular feedback
Restricted skiing terrain
Guiding style

Editor’s Response:
This response has been formed from discussion with the operator regarding correspondence between the client and the operator.

The guest’s main concern was that he didn’t feel like he got good value because he felt like he was treated like a second class customer. The client was seeking financial compensation for this lack of perceived value, with the assertion that he would advertise the shortcomings of the operator on social media and review sites such as Powderhounds if they failed to give him money (hence this review).

Some of the background to him feeling like a second class customer was because clients in another group were treated like first class customers. For example, on arrival he was advised to choose his skis but felt a choice of skis was lacking because the other group had arrived prior and already chosen skis. As the guest brought his own powder skis, it’s unknown why this was considered such an issue.

The other crew generally had the first group position with the lead guide, whilst the guest was in the second group and felt like he didn’t get untracked snow, which seems unusual considering the open alpine terrain. It is very common for heli ski companies to have a lead guide whose group goes first, and for the guide and guest relationships to not be disrupted during the week by swapping the lead guide between groups.

One day the guest was concerned that the runs were too short and they only did 5,100 metres (16,700ft) of vertical (which for many heli skiing companies would be considered a very respectable day). In the middle of the day, the guide tried to call off the heli skiing because visibility was low, and the guest had to “vehemently protest” to convince the guide to continue skiing for more time. It’s a concern that the guest was trying to bully a guide into compromising on safety.

Iconic Heli Skiing

20/11/2016

Andrew Henderson

Powder Enthusiast
Powder Enthusiast

Andrew Henderson

Powder Enthusiast
Powder Enthusiast
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    51-65
  • Admin Rating
    5

Iconic Heli Skiing

20/11/2016
Very dry snow, plenty of it, and unlimited vertical. An amazing place to ski.

There is sublime tree skiing and, of course, more true alpine than you can shake a stick at. The high altitudes assure dry, good quality, never ending snow. We didn’t see very deep powder during the time we were there, but knee deep is standard and the mid weight snow is perfect. The pitch and terrain is as steep and varied as any skier could want and the setting is mind blowing. The irregular pointed peaks surrounding you could only be the Himalayas. You have no doubt you are skiing somewhere very special.
The conditions vary from crystal clear, warm days, where you can see forever, to overcast conditions, with visibility too poor to fly. I got the impression that the latter are not uncommon. There were 4 consecutive no fly days during the time I was there. The days we did ski however had conditions that were as good as you could ever dream of.
The vertical is more limited by the clients than the hours in the day. Heliskiing is a lot of work. Make sure you are fit enough to make the most of it. Even if you are fit, expect the altitude to make the first day or two tough. The weeks are organised to try to acclimatise guests as much as possible. The first one or two days might be spent in the trees before going higher into the alpine, so that you can enjoy the skiing more. The first run from over 5000m will have you gasping for air, but reeling with pleasure.
Manali is only a quick flight from New Delhi, but the airport is often affected by cloud and there are limited flights. The Manali Heliski team meet you in New Delhi and manage your time there, including transfers to the airport and any changes to the itinerary that need to be made. Usually they manage to get people to the other end on the day intended, but it is not always possible. If the flights are cancelled you may have to fly to Chandigarh instead, not far as the crow flies, but a long way from Manali on a bumpy road. Staying another night in New Delhi may be a better option.

The guides are international, a mix of local, European, Australians and New Zealanders. All very experienced and great people to ski with. The head guide is Roger Kingston, who works for Harris Mountains in NZ in the southern winter and is a top bloke. The helicopter pilots are from Zermatt and amongst the most experienced and skilled mountain pilots in the world. They are occasionally called on to perform rescues while they are in Manali and while we were there, they rescued some very, very lucky hikers lost in the high country.

The package includes accommodation at a quite luxurious Manali hotel. The helicopter pad is within the hotel grounds. Literally a 50m walk from your bedroom door. The skiers’ meals are also provided and there is a large dining room and bar where you can eat and socialise with the other skiers, guides and staff. It is the off season for Manali, so you more or less have this enormous hotel to yourself. The hotel design is pleasingly mad and the staff are very nice people.

The skiing in the 2016 season was affected by the weather. Even in the Himalayas the snow can be off in a bad year. The advantage in this part of the world is that you can go higher or search further to find perfect conditions. We did end up with a little less skiing than we were hoping for. That was no one’s fault, the weather just did not cooperate. The skiing we did get will be remembered for a lifetime. Be aware though that the guaranteed vertical is 20,000m (or was in 2015) and you can chalk that up in two days. If you don’t get that vertical in your week you get a discount on the following season, but no refund. They try hard to make sure everyone gets a fair deal. Certainly there are a lot of repeat customers, but read the small print.

This is one of the iconic heliski destinations of the world. The only commercial skiing above 5000m. Top guides and pilots.
Himalayan Heli Adventures Packages
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Himalayan Heli Adventures - Odyssey DETAILS
Price p/p From price based on per person twin/double-share room occupancy, Standard Odyssey Package, Peak Season (Per Person)
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USD 9,435

HIMALAYAN HELISKIING (MIXED GROUP)
7 Nights | 30,500 Vertical Metres Included

Early bird: book before May 1st for 7.6% discount on listed prices for mid season dates
Location: India | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Price p/p From price based on per person twin/double-share room occupancy, Standard Odyssey Package, Peak Season (Per Person)
Base/invoice currency is in euros inc all taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 9,435
Odyssey heliski packages are for mixed groups of solos, duos or small groups. A maximum of 15 skiers share a helicopter, broken into small groups of 3-4 skiers per guide. 6 full days (weather permitting) and 30,500 vertical metres of skiing, with a minimum guarantee of 20,000 vertical metres. More
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Fixed Date(s)
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 23 - Jan 30, 2021
Days: 8
Price: USD 8,492
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 30 - Feb 06, 2021
Days: 8
Price: USD 9,435
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 06 - Feb 13, 2021
Days: 8
Price: USD 9,435
Availability: Enquire
Fixed Date(s): Feb 13 - Feb 20, 2021
Days: 8
Price: USD 9,435
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 20 - Mar 27, 2021
Days: 36
Price: USD 9,435
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 27 - Mar 06, 2021
Days: 8
Price: USD 9,435
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Fixed Date(s): Mar 06 - Mar 13, 2021
Days: 8
Price: USD 9,435
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Fixed Date(s): Mar 13 - Mar 20, 2021
Days: 8
Price: USD 9,435
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Fixed Date(s): Mar 20 - Mar 27, 2021
Days: 8
Price: USD 9,435
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Fixed Date(s): Mar 27 - Apr 03, 2021
Days: 8
Price: USD 8,492
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Fixed Date(s): Apr 03 - Apr 10, 2021
Days: 8
Price: USD 8,492
Availability: Enquire
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Himalayan Heli Adventures - Private DETAILS
Price p/p From price based on a group of 9, twin/double-share room occupancy, Himalayan Exclusive Package, Regular Season (Per Person)
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HIMALAYAN HELISKIING (PRIVATE GROUP)
7 Nights | 8-14 Helicopter Hours

Location: India | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Price p/p From price based on a group of 9, twin/double-share room occupancy, Himalayan Exclusive Package, Regular Season (Per Person)
Base/invoice currency is in USD inc all taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
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This is an adventure of a lifetime! Immerse yourself in the rich Himalayan culture & ride some of the best skiing terrain on the planet. These PRIVATE packages include 7-nights of deluxe accommodation, all private chef prepared meals, guided heli skiing, domestic transfers & more. More
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Custom Booking Period
Min Days
Price
Availability
Custom Booking Period: Feb 15 - Apr 10, 2020
Min Days: From 7
Price: Enquire
Availability: Enquire
Custom Booking Period: Jan 23 - Apr 10, 2021
Min Days: From 7
Price: Enquire
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