Revelstoke in Canada is hard to beat as an all-round heli ski destination. It has a consistently good snow record and light powder snow that is amazing (and fun) to ski. The terrain is vast and varied – a mixture of high glacial bowls and the world’s best tree skiing. There are several heliski operators including Selkirk Tangiers, CMH and Eagle Pass, each with their own tenure and ski style. The key here is flexibility – you can heliski for one day or one week and there is a world-class resort as back up in case the helicopter can’t fly in bad weather. Revelstoke Mountain Resort also offers fantastic backcountry skiing, cat skiing, ski touring and even dog sledding and paragliding. Alaska may have the best steep skiing, but for all-round adventure BC is your best bet.
2) Best Time of Year
Traditionally, the heliski season in Canada runs from January to March, with February being the most popular month. For those that want sun and more temperate climes March is the best month and for guaranteed fresh tracks, the biggest dumps of snow come in December and January.
3) The Right Equipment
Most heliski operators will include rental of powder skis with your heli ski experience. These skis are wider and aid flotation over deep snow. Layers of clothing work well as you heat up whilst skiing and cool down whilst resting. The experts at Bighorn in Revelstoke recommend a merino wool base layer, down mid-layer and a shell jacket. A spare pair of gloves, goggles with interchangeable lenses and boot warmers are also useful recommendations for skiing in deep snow.
Make sure that your chosen heliski operator uses guides that are fully qualified by a recognised association such as the ACMG or IFMGA. You should receive a full safety briefing and avalanche training before heliskiing, including a rescue simulation to practice using equipment such as transceiver, shovel and probe. Wearing an ABS airbag backpack is another precautionary measure that can be taken and most heliski operators rent these out for a small fee.
You can heliski either from a Bell 205 or A Star helicopter. The Bell accommodates 10 skiers plus guides and the A Star takes 4 plus guide. The ultimate heli ski experience is achieved by chartering a private helicopter for your group. This allows you to maximize the amount of skiing you do: a totally bespoke experience tailored to your group’s needs and wishes. Guests at Bighorn in Revelstoke can even fly direct from their private helipad. A private charter comes at a price however, so there are more economical options for shared groups that fly in a Bell and offer the same wilderness ski experience.
There are types of accommodation to consider: self-catering apartments, hotels or a private full-service ski lodge. Apartments are the best budget option, whereas hotels offer greater amenities and meal options. For groups, a private lodge is a superb option with Bighorn Revelstoke offering meals prepared by an executive chef, a private helipad and luxury spa facilities. Think about proximity to the ski area, the type of facilities your group needs and the range of activities that are accessible in case of bad weather.