What is Heliski, an adrenaline-filled experience alone with nature? Where are the best Heliski routes?
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If you find powder snow so deep and fresh that your skis don't touch the hard ground during turns, this is the gateway to paradise: You feel weightless, as if you are floating or flying in space, floating on soft clouds in nature, among the trees or looking down from above at the trees below, especially if you are in a high place, watching the clouds and white landscapes below on a sunny day, leaping slightly, dancing in a cotton field, with a feeling of infinite freedom and a feeling that you have expanded your boundaries much more. You are alone with nature, silence, you only hear the whisper of your skis in the snow. The clean cool air fills your lungs, you are full of energy, you are full of life. You want this day and this moment to never end, the next thing you know you are at the next stop and the helicopter is waiting for you. This is the feeling that once you get hooked on heli-skiing, you can't let go...
What is heliskiing?
Heliskiing is one of the most exciting and different skiing experiences in which helicopters drop those who want to ski in areas that are not accessible by lifts, except for the pistes prepared for skiing, to the summit where there is no other kind of transportation, and land by skiing. Although the transportation is usually by helicopter, there are also variations with snow vehicles and snowmobiles. It is usually accompanied by specially trained mountaineering and ski instructors who know the region, the mountain and snow conditions, and the routes suitable for skiing and follow them regularly.
As the most extreme form of off-piste skiing, heliskiing is the most enjoyable and fun form of skiing, alone with nature, away from the pistes and crowds of other skiers, especially in powder snow. You don't have to be a very good skier to heliski in large centers in Europe and America, they offer a pleasant heliskiing experience by choosing routes suitable for skiers of all levels from intermediate and above with people at their own level.
Heliski in Turkey
There is a very successful heliski operation in the Kaçkar Mountains in Turkey. Accompanied by a Swiss pilot and experienced Swiss mountaineers and ski instructors, it offers a unique skiing experience in the Kaçkar Mountains, where there are no pistes nearby. Weekly packages are offered for experienced helicopter skiers/snowboarders.
World's Best Heliski Destinations
Canada, Alaska, Western USA and the Rocky Mountains, Greenland, Iceland, New Zealand, Kamchatka Volcanoes in Russia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, a few places in the Himalayas, Chile and Argentina in South America are some places where heliskiing is practiced. In Europe, Italy, Austria and Switzerland are the countries where most heliskiing is practiced. Although it is forbidden in France, there are companies close to Italy that take their customers skiing in Italy and sometimes even heliskiing on the French side of the border. In Northern Europe, heliskiing is practiced in Finland and Sweden, but banned in Norway.
Whistler - Canada
Whistler in the BlackComb Mountains of Canada is considered the most important center for heliskiing. Many companies offer heliskiing and cat-skiing snowmobiles, which allow you to ski shorter distances during the day but are much more affordable. For this reason, prices are more affordable than in Europe. Revelstoke in Canada is also one of the most attractive ski resorts because of its ski resort and heli-skiing services. In fact, Revelstoke has several features that make it very attractive, it has the ski resort with the highest altitude difference in North America, you can go from 1,000 meters altitude to 3,000 meters with a lift and ski 2,000 meters altitude difference without taking a break or taking off again.
In addition, due to nature and trained pilots, the number of down-days, i.e. days when the helicopter cannot fly and heliskiing cannot be done, which is 3-4 days a week in many places, is at a very low level of 4-5 days during the whole season. In this way, you can enjoy flying and skiing almost every day. Another advantage of this region is that it allows skiing at different altitudes in different natural and snow conditions. When the snow and weather conditions are favorable, even when there is fog at high altitudes, the visibility between the trees is better, so you can have fun skiing in powder snow among the white trees at 1,000-1,500 meters, and when the weather is warm and the snow quality starts to deteriorate at low altitudes, helicopter skiing is offered in the alpine ski area up to 3,000 meters altitude. Of course, the cute little ski town is a bonus for those looking for a bit of action in the evenings.
Kamchatka - Russia
One of the most exotic places for heli-skiing is Kamchatka, located in northeastern Russia on the Bering Sea coast, famous for its geysers, volcanoes, wild and harsh nature, offering a very long ski season. For heli-skiing in Kamchatka, it is very important to ski with an operator with a high level of local experience and a strong focus on safety. In this very exotic place, the most important criteria are that safety is ensured to European standards and that the equipment used is new and modern. Larger Russian helicopters are used here and skiing is done in groups of 12 people accompanied by 3 guides. Kamchatka has probably the most visually impressive nature in the world. You can ski in a very large area, you can ski between active volcanoes, even into the crater of an active volcano at one point, and you can ski between geysers. In some of the tracks on the ocean shore, you can come to the ocean shore with your skis. This year we were prepared and wore swimsuits, we slipped from the summit to the shore, took off our clothes and threw ourselves into the ocean, which was 2 degrees Celsius. Then we dried off, put our skis back on, had lunch on the ocean shore with a beautiful view and continued skiing. It was an unforgettable experience...
Italy & Swiss Alps
Italy and Switzerland offer the most skiing options, and depending on the weather and snow conditions, you can ski on different hills and mountains or even in other countries. This increases your chances of heli-skiing and finding good quality snow in the short time you are there. Of course, the quality of food and accommodation in Switzerland and Italy are also among the best places to stay, but it is possible to find more affordable prices for accommodation in Italy. The Valgrisenche valley, located between the Mont Blanc and Gran Paradiso mountains in Italy, offers a wide range of opportunities with more than 20 helicopter landing points and around 350 km of skiable terrain.
New Zealand offers heliskiing with beautiful views around Mt Cook and Queenstown. In Queenstown, a candidate to become the adrenaline sports center of the world, it is possible to combine your ski holiday with adrenaline-fueled activities such as sky-diving, bungee jumping and thrilling tours on very fast boats in narrow canyons on the river.
In South America, heliskiing in the Andes can be done both in Chile and Argentina. This can be combined with a trip to Patagonia, especially to see the natural beauty and harsh nature of Patagonia, or with a visit to the rapidly developing wine centers in both countries.
What to Pack for Heliskiing
Equipment to bring:
- wider off-piste skis than piste skis (can be rented in some centers)
- waterproof clothing with good protection
- thick gloves, plus spare gloves
Usually provided by the heliskiing company, but you can also get your own equipment if you wish:
- Transceivers for avalanche detection
- collapsible shovel
- collapsible snow search stick
Advice for First Time Heliskiers
It is very important for those who will try helicopter skiing for the first time to first take off-piste skiing techniques lessons to learn and improve their off-piste skiing techniques and to improve these techniques with instructors in places close to the piste in order to get the maximum pleasure when they go up by helicopter. For first-time helicopter skiers, you can choose one of the 3-day packages in Kaçkar Mountains in Turkey or the tours offered in Europe, especially in Italy and Switzerland, which cost around 200 Euros for a single departure, are affordable and good opportunities for them to try themselves and not push their limits too much in their first experience.
It is recommended that you carry spare gloves in case your gloves you will take off while getting on and off the helicopter get wet on your hands that get wet with the melting of the snow. Since you will be sitting in the helicopter instead of the windy lift, if it is not too cold, you will feel less cold than you do in skiing, and you do not need to dress too thickly. As in skiing, it is necessary to dress in many layers to adapt to the weather conditions that may change during the day and to wear only thermal clothing. You should not wear woolen or cotton clothes or t-shirts between thermal underwear and fleece, as these fabrics do not have the ability of thermals to expel sweat, but absorb sweat and cause you to get wet and cold.