Heli-skiing in Europe seems to be getting more and more popular with everybody packing their skis, ABS and thermals before heading out to Europe to be able to take part in the adrenaline rushing sport. Therefore, we thought we would give you a little insight into the sport so you can make the decision if to see if you are going to be taking part in heli-skiing this season.
What Is Heli-Skiing and Why Do People Do It?
Heli-skiing is the sport whereby you board a helicopter to take you to the top of the slopes you want to try, before collecting you at the bottom and taking you either to the top of the same slope or taking you to another slope of your choice or the pilots advice. However, unlike the mundane ski lifts or hiking to the top of the slopes. Heli-skiing offers much more to the user and can literally give you one of the best skiing experiences you will ever have.
This method of skiing is also a lot more efficient than the normal methods or getting around the slopes, simply for its exclusivity and speed. This means that there is no waiting in lines, waiting for slow cable cars or even waiting for ski lifts to be able to take you around. There is also a huge benefit of being able to see the mountains from a bird’s eye view, which gives you some of the most aesthetically amazing views available and turns your entire experience into something amazing.
Finally, there’s the huge benefit of heli-skiing being able to reach the slopes that other people can’t, this gives you a whole completely untouched slope to be able to try for yourself and these slopes are infamously known for offering the best snow around. If you are a backcountry skier and want to be able to escape the crowds entirely or just want that added level of safety by having a helicopter on hand, it is well worth investing in heli-skiing to be able to take you out to the most remote and beautiful locations surrounding your ski resort.
Where to Heli-Ski?
Heli-skiing seems to vary its nature depending where you are in the world for a number of reasons. These include legal restrictions, traditions and in some cases simply price as operators cannot afford licence and legislation fees. So it important to be able to know where to heli-ski if you are looking to make the most of this amazing experience.
North American Heli-Skiing
America is usually the most common location for heli-skiing, this comes simply as the entire country has no restrictions on heli-skiers landing zones. In Europe, heli-skiers can only land in certain areas and use certain runs whereas in America and Canada you can ski virtually anywhere in the country after being picked up by a helicopter. This leaves you with over 1000 square miles of snow to be able to ski on and a whole range of unique rock formations, tree runs and remote landscapes.
American heli-skiing unfortunately is hard to come by if you only want to take part for a day or two. Many heli-skiers take part in weeklong tours where you would be taken to a remote or a rural log cabin by your helicopter pilot and in turn remain there for roughly a week. This gives you a quiet little log cabin in the Rockies for cosy nights followed by adrenaline filled days out on the slopes in the rural and untouched areas of Canada and North America
However, if you want to get the most from your heli-skiing experience then we would recommend trying heli-skiing in the Canadian Rockies. This in turn gives you a very high level of powder accompanied by amazing views on what could arguably be the most beautiful mountain range in the world. Well worth visiting for anybody who wants to try this breath taking sport.
European heli-skiing is not like American heli skiing in anyway. European heli-skiing usually tends to take skiers to 2-3 runs before returning them to the resort or taking them to a slope to be able to fill out the rest of their day. This is great if you are on a weekend away or only want to make use of the helicopter ride for a day or two, but if you are looking for a helicopter tour then they can be very hard to come by.
European heli-skiing only also has a very limited level of runs and places you are able to ski so this means there are a lot less skiing operators in the region. This may seem like a downside as it means they are hard to come by but it actually works in your favour if you are thinking of booking a heli-skiing session as it gives you a lot of areas that are completely untouched along with a completely refined skyline to be able to take in during your trip.
Overall, European heli-skiing holds a high level of beauty and exclusivity and is perfect for anybody who only wants to take part in heli-skiing on a day trip or as a weekend sport instead of a long holiday.
Heli-skiing in Japan has been named the safest heli-skiing region in the world with japans push on high safety and landing zones that have to be on hard ground on the summits to avoid avalanches and way off any lose snow before the drop. This clever approach to heli-skiing means that there is little to no chance of an avalanche and at the same time you can be sure that you are going to have the longest possible time on the ground heading down your chosen run.
Some people seem to think this takes the thrill out of Japanese heli-skiing however and prefer to head over to America and Europe for the best experiences. However, if taking things slow is not for you there are a number of American and Canadian tour operators that conduct their tours differently and in turn opting to take you to some of the more daring locations within the Japanese mountain ranges. This offers a huge variation in heli-skiing that can be used to suit just about everybody’s skill level.
Where Should You Heli-ski?
Where you should heli-ski all depends on what type of skier you are and how long you will be on your skiing retreat for. If you are heading away for a week or two and want to be completely cut off from the outside world for a relaxing and peaceful experience then American heli-skiing could be for you due to its isolated nature. If you want to be in an area where you can heli-skiing day and enjoy alpine lifestyle in the evenings, or simply only have a weekend away and want to make the most of a heli-skiing experience then Europe should be the destination for you.
Then finally, if you are looking for a heli-skiing tour and only have limited experience then you should probably head to Japan. Japan offers a wide range of tours for people who have only been skiing a couple of seasons and in turn, you will be completely safe and have a ski escort with you if anything was to happen.
No matter where you go however, you will need to ensure to pack your S’No Queen Thermals to be able to stay warm on the slopes and block out wind chill from the helicopter as this can sometimes be uncomfortable in the wrong clothing.