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Heli-Skiing 101 – Are You Ready to Take the Plunge?

You may have caught the skiing bug cruising down one of Whistler and Blackcomb’s many runs and in its backcountry bowls, but there may come a time when you would like a little more and to ski and board away from the crowds. At this point in time, it is time to consider a heli-ski trip where you can join the elite ranks of thrill-seekers who desire to do things off the beaten track. Not only will you have the ski of your life, it’s something that anyone with a passion for skiing should be crossing off life’s bucket list.

When this realization hits there are many different options in the Whistler area. Heli-skiing definitely requires a solid intermediate level of skiing or boarding so make sure you are at that level by a skills-assessment that make it easy to determine if you are ready to make the leap to backcountry.

Skiing in Remote Areas Makes Skiing a Lot More Fun

In some ways, heli-skiing can be less demanding on the body than skiing and boarding within the resort. “There’s no bumps below the powder that you’d get on Blackcomb or Whistler,” says heli-skiing guide Erin Tierney. “The design of fat skis has made skiing powder so much easier.”

Whistler Mountain Heli-Skiing

The Right Skis and Boards are Essential for the Backcountry

Heli-skiing equipment is definitely important so make sure your skis (buy or rent) and apparel are appropriate. Don’t think you can take any old pair of skis or any snowboard heli-skiing. You need specific equipment to keep you high up on that soft powder – making your day a lot more enjoyable and keeping your legs from tiring out too soon. Therefore, when it comes to skiing, fat skis rule. They are also shorter than traditional skis used for within-resort use. You can rent skis and boards designed for heli-skiing, chosen for your ability and the weather conditions.

What to Wear: Layer, Layer, Layer!

Layering is essential to dress properly for what may be changing conditions over the course of your ski day. Many people make the mistake of wearing an insulated jacket, but experts and guides warn against this for the simple reason that once you get back into a warm helicopter to prepare for the next run, you will heat up too much. Wear an uninsulated Gore-Tex jacket and layer underneath, so that your heli-ride is comfortable.

Bragging Rights: The Heli-Skiing Bonus

There are definitely many people who have heli skiing on their bucket list, but not just for the thrills and epic lines. For some, the bragging rights are worth the heli-skiing trip alone. Make the most of yours with après socialising, video, and photos which will commemorate your day in the backcountry.

What are You Waiting For?

Time to check this one off. Chances are you will be hooked – many Whistler visitors make this an annual outing to backcountry bowls, glades and glaciers a trip they look forward to all year.

Photo Credit: Steve Rogers