rocky mountain high!
January 16, 2006 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Heliskiing? What did you wish you knew before going?

I'd love to organise heliskiing for a group of about 4-5 people, somewhere in Europe.
We all ski/board on different levels: some are advanced intermediates, others are near professionals.
But before toeing the water tasting the snow, I'd love to get some general feedback from those who did this before..
Was it much more challenging than you initially thought? Did you go in group or solo?
Where did you go? Were there any hidden costs?
What do you recommend?
Anything everyone should know before?
(insurance polcies? first aid? gear? )
posted by ruelle to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total)
I thought Heliskiing was more of a North American thing.

Anyhow, I found this: ""

I also know a bit about the Eastern BC operations like Wiegele's and CMH, and I understand they're totally everything covered and they guarantee a particular number of vertical feet over the course of the trip.

Can't help more about Europe though sorry.

On preview - about 50-50 of whether to post or junk this answer. Oh well.
posted by mikel at 10:03 AM on January 16, 2006

Take an avalanche safety & rescue course and get lots of practice using your safety gear -- tranceivers, gps, etc.

Make sure everyone going knows how to spot dangerous snow conditions and knows how to search for a missing skier. It's about having the right gear, but it's also about knowing how to use it and how to act in the worst case scenario. You have to learn that before you go up in the heli. Believe me, I've been in very sticky snowboard & ski situations, and preparation is what will keep you and your friends alive.

Also, make sure everyone is very aware of what their own body needs throughout a hard day of skiing in order to stay focused and energetic. A super long heli skiing run is much more physically taxing than what most amazing skiers are used to.

If possible, have everyone go on several long backcountry snowshoe trips first, so they're physically up to snuff and so that the backcountry is something they've seen before. It will also give everyone great perspective as to just how great heli-skiing is compared to hiking it.
posted by JekPorkins at 10:26 AM on January 16, 2006

Heli-skiing is definitely more of a North America thing. The resort skiing in Europe can be easily as exciting and challenging as heli-skiing. There are so many different ways that terain is served there.

I'll second that everyone should practice using avalanche rescue gear together...

And, that being said, I live in a ski town, and a local man I know was killed by an avalanche while heli-skiing in BC last winter. The guides and pilots do not make any money if you do not go because conditions are not good: they will take chances. Or rather, many of them will. There are guides who will tell you that they do not take chances, but I have it on personal authority from several well established, busy, busy guides that sometimes they are taking clients skiing while terrified of avalanche potential and lying about it. Also, if conditions are bad, even terrible(ice sheet, tumble 2000ft. terrible), but flying conditions are okay and there is no glaring avalanche potential, you do not necessarily get your money back if you decide not to go. I know several people who've just decided to be out the money instead of risking serious injury.

And, with good conditions, it can be the best skiing of your life...
posted by maelanchai at 1:42 PM on January 16, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks guys! We're still debating the whole feasibility aspect over here. I'll check back with the details if we decide to go. :)
posted by ruelle at 1:24 AM on January 17, 2006

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