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Heli-ski reviews

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
There are no active threads on Heli-skiing. What are the pros and cons of the various outfits? I'll start -

Ruby Mountain Heli Skiing - I've been there three times. They run a nice, tight, smooth operation. They seem to have enough terrain that you don't come across other people's tracks until maybe 10 days after the last storm. As I recall it's not that steep and the length of the average run is (my guess) 2,000 feet. The lodge is great, the people are friendly. All in all, I recommend the Ruby Mountains as a great introduction to Heli-skiing. Pros-great snow, relatively intermediate skiing, 4 -5 skiers per helicopter, 3 day trips. Cons -limited Cat skiing. http://www.helicopterskiing.com/site.php?b=false

Wasatch Powder Guides - I've skied with them twice and attempted two other times (bad weather, no flying) Incredible awesome skiing. Cardiac Bowl is truelly phenomenal, it's so long that it became a major athletic feat just to ski to the bottom without stopping. The mix of skier abilities was a downside to that operation, which is probably similar to other day Heli-skiing outfits. http://www.powderbird.com/index.html

Other areas that I'm interested in are PNH http://alaskaheliski.com/ and Snowwater http://www.snowwater.com/snow.html

Any other reviews or comments out there about heliskiing?
post #2 of 20
hey if you ever want to pay for me to go I ll will be sure to post some pictures and video up for the board.
post #3 of 20
I skied with Whistler Heli Skiing last december. One day.
They are very professional. I got four runs in of over 2000 feet vertical. Some other guys paid for an extra run.
totally about 25 people that day. they broke it up into 2 groups. about 20 people in one chopper - mostly consisting of intermediates.there were 4 of us in the advanced group in a smaller chopper.

They take you to various glaciers behind Whistler Blackcomb. the Snow was superb - no tracks anywhere.

the big concern i have with going to an operation that is not near a resort - like Ruby, CMH, Mike Weigle etc - is that you have to book months in advance for a week long trip. and if it hasn't snowed in a while - or if the weather is not good - you really don't get your money's worth.

whereas - if you go to one close to a resort - like Whistler, Snowbird, JH - you can basically decide at 3pm the previous day.
post #4 of 20
Originally Posted by couloir8 View Post

Other areas that I'm interested in are PNH http://alaskaheliski.com/ and Snowwater http://www.snowwater.com/snow.html

Any other reviews or comments out there about heliskiing?

I'll have pictures and a review of Snowwater up sometime the first week of Feb 08
post #5 of 20
The downside of some of the resort-based skiing is that you're spending a lot of $ for just 8,000 vertical as in Marty's example. The day skiers tend to be of mixed ability, and the guides are going to be conservative in choice of terrain with people they have not seen before. There's also the one hour + orientation and transceiver drill, which only applies the first day on a multiday trip. In general I think you'll get at least 50% more skiing per day at a heli destination than on a daytrip.

I will say that this March's experience with Chugach Powder Guides at Alyeska was the conspicuous exception. Here the resort, cat and heliskiing are a synergistic combination. If the heli can't fly, it's probably due to storm activity that will mean lots of powder in the resort and the cat terrain. I got one day heli on that trip and it was the best of my 19 lifetime: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boa...pic.php?t=3034 . I've lost 4 potential heli days to no-fly conditions.

Wiegele is the only place I've gone for a week. My particular criteria for that type of trip is to have an abundance of both alpine and tree skiing available, since you never know which will be favored by weather/conditions. I've also done short trips with TLH, Selkirk-Tangiers and CMH Kootenay. TLH is primarily alpine, the latter two primarily trees.
post #6 of 20
My 1st Heli-skiing was with an outfit called Sierra Guide Service out of Bridgeport, CA. They only operated for a few years, I think it was 1979. I was young and poor, but it was a great promo deal for a day @ $125! We got 6 runs in a 4 seat bird. The conditions were stable, & the guide pretty much just let us point to a peak & we were there! Each run was over 3000' vert. & the highest peak was 13,000'. It was March, & conditions were everything from dry powder to Spring corn. Our last run was a first descent. I've been back to that area a few times over the years for backcountry skiing.

The next few times were with Mammoth Heliski. April Promo deals, one was $35 a run & we skied 3 run off the ridge between Mammoth & June Mt. Where they had hoped to put lifts someday. Another was a drop on Mt Morrison for $25, 1st drop on alpine set-up & the 2nd with skins & old school tele-gear, spent the rest of the day touring! The 3rd time was on Mt. McGhee, where Dave McKoy had his first rope tow, again it was an unguided drop. Those were the days...

About 10 or 12 years ago I got invited on a private trip to Wiegles in Blue River B.C. This was probably the best ski week of my life. Mostly bluebird days, 1st class accomodations & food, great group of skiers, 5000' vert runs. The only drawback was that we skied our 100,000' vertical by the middle of the 4th day, & had to pay after that. Oh well!

Last year I did a day trip with RK Heliski out of Panorama, B.C. It was snowing moderately & we stuck in the trees. The snow was fabulous, but the runs were not very long or steep. The group was very mixed in ability & the guides had to make some adjustments to make it work at all. With better weather they do have some better runs up high, or at least that's what they said.

I think the multi-day trip is the way to go, especially if you can get a group together at the same level.

I was supposed to go to Alaska last year, but the trip fell through because of injuries in the planned group. We will try again this year I hope!

Heli-skiing is great!!!
post #7 of 20
Wasatch Powder Guides: Last year my wife and I booked a day with them on 3 days notice, for which they billed our credit card about $1,500. Because of the weather they couldn't fly, but did not take the charge off our card for a month dispite my repeated calls. They kept giving me some b.s. about their accountant. Their Release form says it may take "four weeks" for a refund, but any high school dropout working at Wallmart can reverse a credit card change in about a minute. I thought this was an extremely cheesey policy obviously designed to get interest on their customers' money. I know they offer great skiing, but I have a very bad feeling about them as a result of their refund policy, although it probably won't stop me from trying to go with them again if we hit a storm and they have room.
post #8 of 20
Here is a promo video from Snowwater from 2006. It's a great area with a cat as a backup in case the heli gets weathered out. The snow is generally good to incredible most of the time as it's in a fertile snowbelt just outside of Nelson, B.C. The lodge area is very comfortable, excellent food, very remote cabin feel to it but with all the comforts you need for a great time. The terrain is chosen to suit the ski group but they're really geared to expert skiing with lots of steeps and the best gladed steep tree skiing I've ever had. I only mention that because that's the kind of terrain available by cat. For heli, it's got it all. We skied the Valhallas last year by heli and it was also very awesome. I think in total, their tenure is something like 151,000 acres so there's plenty to chose from. I highly recommend it.

While I'm at it, here's another SnowH2O clip:

post #9 of 20
Originally Posted by UGASkiDawg View Post
I'll have pictures and a review of Snowwater up sometime the first week of Feb 08
I got an e-mail from Maria and she said you booked with them based partly on my recommendation. :

Awesome! I'm looking forward to your TR. :
post #10 of 20
4ster - What was the Sierra peak you got a first descent on, and how do you know it was a first descent. Just curious, Thanks
post #11 of 20
Originally Posted by @mammoth View Post
4ster - What was the Sierra peak you got a first descent on, and how do you know it was a first descent. Just curious, Thanks
Wow, it was a long time ago... I believe we skied off of South Peak, Black Mountain & a few runs off of Dunderberg Peak, do those sound familiar? Our last run was off what I would guess was the NW side of Dunderberg (sp), or maybe 1 peak to the west. I don't know for sure if it was a first descent, but the guide said it was the first time they had been there. We christened the run "Detante".

post #12 of 20
4ster - Thanks for the info. I wish I had done some Heli skiing around Mammoth back in the day. Oh well, I have skied Dunderberg, Black, South, and Olsen. They are at the end of Virginia Lakes Road, and thus easy access in the spring. This area is pretty well covered in the 1971 guide book Sierra Spring Ski-touring by HJ Burhenne, so I doubt it was a first, but still way cool. The Ridge between Mammoth and June is San Joaquin Ridge, another popular BC area. Sorry to hijack the thread, but thanks, @mammoth
post #13 of 20
I've only done it once so i have no basis for comparison but Great Canadian Heliski (past Kicking Horse) was excellent - excellent terrain, great guides (including Greg the Ski Nazi), great food, and they fly small groups - 4 people and a guide, so you get a better match of skills/interests.

post #14 of 20
I echo drb's comments; I too have heliskied with Great Canadian only. I had a great time and all, but to me, for what you get for your money catskiing makes more sense. If you are going to heliski, though, by all means go with someone who takes small groups (like Great Canadian).
post #15 of 20
The small group operations are in vogue now vs. Wiegele and CMH.

I will say that Wiegele has so many people there each week that their guides pay attention and you will be sorted into a compatible group. I changed groups twice in my week, once to move up after the first day, then to drop back just a bit after 4 days when I was getting tired.

The times I've seen the biggest problems with too wide an ability range have been cat skiing. You need to watch out for this particularly at a small operation with only one cat.
post #16 of 20

On SnowWater

I forgot to cross-post this trip report to SnowWater from last year. They definitely get the job done. It was a sweet trip!

post #17 of 20
Bella Coola Heli Sports in BC is a great small group operator.  It has the largest terrain area in Canada and the tallest mountain (Mt. Waddington) of any Canadian heli ski operator.  I've skied Revelstoke and the Canadian rockies and I'd have to say Bella Coola has the most impressive alpine terrain - peaks, bowls and chutes.

Easy flight from Vancouver and you can ski on the day of arrival - just over an hour.
Germany/Austria/Switzerland URL:  www.bellacoolahelisports.de
English language URL: www.bellacoolahelisports.com

No cat skiing back up but after a 40K foot day you won't mind.  

I'm a supplier of theirs and they are great people with a phenomenal product that needs to be in any short list.  
post #18 of 20

You mean 2000 vertical meters?

post #19 of 20

Here are the prices and information about free space on Programmes at Heli ski http://www.adventurebus.ru/#!heli-ski-and-heliboarding/c248p

post #20 of 20


Attention competition!

Giving away a place in the team for the tour Heli ski in 2015, which will be held from 07 to 14 February, in the West Tien Shan (Uzbekistan). Read more about the program 

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