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Cat/Heli Skiing 2007?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I want to plan a trip next year with my 17 year old daughter that is as close to "can't miss" as possible. Since I have been recovering from an indoor soccer injury (broken leg 1/11/05 - tibial plateau fracture requiring bone graft and implant - buttress plate and 6 screws) we were not able to take full advantage of the INCREDIBLE snow this year. The leg works better than expected with the help of a brace, we did catch a long weekend to Vail/Breck/Winter Park in January with one decent powder day in Vail bowls.

I ski (level 8) and she rides a snowboard. Next year, I want to take her on a 7-9 day (Thursday > following Sunday) trip where we can be GUARANTEED great conditions and thus I have the following questions for cat or heli skiers:

A) January or February trip?
B) Where should I consider in US? (We live in Wisconsin)
C) Where should I consider in Canada?
D) Cost difference between cat and heli skiing?
E) Is cost difference between cat and heli justified? Hoping that the answer is no since that long a trip could get really expensive if heli skiing.

Now I know there are no guarantees that we'll have another year like this. But where are our odds best for great conditions? It also does not have to be the most incredible and amazing place in the world. Just darn good rock solid cat or heli skiing. (Means good guides as well.)

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Mark
post #2 of 5
I wrote this article awhile back: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/helivscat.htm .

I also did a week with Mike Wiegele in February.

I'm reading from your post that this will be your first cat/heli experience. By word of mouth I think Blue Sky West at Steamboat might fit the bill. Lots of snow, 4 groups for ability splits.

I'm biased toward Canada due to more expansive terrain and still lower prices. The newer cat operations up there that you can get into often run only one or two cats, skiing is mostly in the trees, so you will not be popular if you can't keep up.

The elite cat operators with multiple cats and great service (Island Lake, Chatter Creek, Selkirk Wilderness) are booked solid by repeat customers for the two months that you would want to be there.

Competition from cat skiing has made heli bookings easier to get. Wiegele was not totally full during President's Week. Wiegele and CMH intro weeks do accommodate first timers. But I wouldn't spend those $ until I had reasonable confidence that I could ski the whole week without having to take time off to rest.

I thought RK at Panorama was great for first timers. And late in the day after the 3-run people quit we got 2 extra long and steep runs to cap our day.

My apologies if I've misread your powder experience. I don't have a fast learning curve at sports and it took some time (plus the introduction of fat skis) before I could ski powder (and some of the variable snow you'll encounter) consistently.
post #3 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by exoman
A) January or February trip?
B) Where should I consider in US? (We live in Wisconsin)
C) Where should I consider in Canada?
D) Cost difference between cat and heli skiing?
E) Is cost difference between cat and heli justified? Hoping that the answer is no since that long a trip could get really expensive if heli skiing.

a) either, Feb the base will be a bit deeper, but either can be cold, or deep

b) not many options

c) lots of options in BC, CMH and MW for the most terrain and options, any of the cat operators have about the same amount of terrain

d) $500/day vs $1000/day deals for both if you look around, and most include all food, acc'm, rentals, guides, etc

e) $$ vs vert skied, I think it is a better deal in the heli. 30,000 a day is average for CMH/MW good group, good guide, good stability, etc and 50,000 on the glaciers is not unusual. Big day cat skiing is 20,000ft.

week of heli will be $6000ish US, but again that is EVERYTHING but booze, massage, gifts, and usually unlimited vert (will get 80K or a refund, 150K common)

day of cat stnadby (last minute) is 350 each and find your own food, acc'm, full private A star heli is $30Kish for the week each.

search heli skiing for more info
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Gentlemen:

Tony - Great article and a perfect starting point for my considerations.
mntlion - Thanks for your comments also.

In years less stellar than this (at least in US), is it really necessary to go further north in Canada (Selkirks) for conditions you can count on?

Mark
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Disregard previous post.

Great information in Tony's First Tracks - Snowcat vs. Heli article.
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