Since the launch of our Heli Skiing holidays, a common question we are asked is ‘how hard is Heli Skiing?’ and ‘am I a good enough skier to Heli Ski?’. Understandably, thanks in part to various action sequences in films (James Bond we are thinking of you), the impression given is that Heli Skiing is only for extreme skiers.
To dispel this myth and to answer the question ‘What level skier do you need to be to Heli Ski’ our Heli Ski specialist, Charlie Brooksbank, has answered a few frequently asked questions.
What exactly does Heli Skiing entail?
For starters, it’s important to note that Heli Skiing doesn’t have to be extreme. Think of a helicopter simply as the world’s best cable car. Safe and comfortable, it is capable of taking you to the best peaks with miles of untracked snow which are far beyond the reach of resort crowds. Understanding that your helicopter is simply like a private cable car often means a lot of the anxiety typically experienced by first-time Heli Skiers drops away .
When we arrive at the top of a peak, what happens next?
A common perception is that you will be expected to jump from a hovering helicopter with your skis on. Definitely not! Our skilled pilots will land the helicopter (usually at a tried and tested landing spot) before the door is opened for you and you’re helped out. Skis are carried in a panier on the side of the helicopter and once they’ve been unloaded the helicopter will depart, leaving you along with your guide and the rest of the group at the top of a pristine run. With your skis on you’re ready to go.
How steep are the runs? Are we talking about leaping off cliffs here?
No, not a cliff in sight. You’ll be skiing under the expert wing of a mountain guide who is there to find a safe (but incredible) skiable line down the mountain. You still have the flexibility to pick your own way down, and you can certainly find the odd tree trunk to jump if you want to get some air but cliff jumping is off the menu. The gradient is likely to be similar to that which you’d find in a red run in a resort with the primary difference being you’ll be enjoying the run on fresh powder snow.
Powder snow? Isn’t that for experts only?
Not at all. If you are a good intermediate level skier then you’ll be able to learn to powder ski very quickly. For complete powder novices, we can organise First Timer Heli Skiing trips. A unique program which utilises hands-on coaching and video analysis, you will be skiing in a group of 10 like-minded guests with 2 guides, ensuring you gain the confidence and skills to tackle powder like a pro.
Is Heli Skiing safe?
Each of our trips start with a comprehensive Avalanche Receiver and Safety demonstration. Each day our teams test the snow pack and put together a plan for the day, usually before you’ve even finished your morning coffee.
How fit do you need to be to Heli Ski?
Whilst you don’t need to be an Olympic athlete, there is no doubt the fitter you are the more likely you are to enjoy your trip… but this applies to any type of skiing. The important thing to remember is not that Heli Skiing is unusually arduous but that the frequency of skiing is likely to be much higher than if you were at a resort. Expect to Heli Ski 8 to 12 runs in a day and up to 50,000 vertical metres in a week.
So, with the above in mind, just what level skier do you need to be to Heli Ski?
Typically, Heli Skiing clients will be comfortable tackling red runs and will be reasonably fit. Some off piste skiing experience is a bonus but not essential. Quite simply if you are a strong piste skier and want to ski powder snow then you are ready for heli skiing. And if you are a powder skiing novice then we can accommodate you on a coaching programme which operates at a more relaxed pace and with an extra guide to ensure you have a safe and thoroughly enjoyable trip. In summary, Heli Skiing will probably be the best skiing you’ll ever experience so don’t let unfounded nerves put you off.
For more information and details on our Heli Skiing holidays, please contact Charlie by calling our team on +44 1993 899 420 or click here to enquire online.