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Heliskiing

 Poster: A snowHead
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Anyone done a big heliski trip to Alaska or one of the more remote places e.g. Kamchatka?

A mate went to Alaska (Valdez?) a couple of years back, had great conditions and raved about it but it cost a fortune (over GBP10k) and seems predominantly setup for wealthy American business men which doesn't really appeal.

I guess I'd be looking for similarly impressive terrain but a less "packaged" experience.

Anyone done/researched this?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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@BobinCH,
I haven't personally done it other than a little bit on a trip to NZ many years ago but a good mate went to the Caucasus a few years back and absolutely raved about it. The company he went with also did Kamchatka which he said sounded absolutely fantastic. I think it was all European organised my mate is German and the friends he went with were all Austrian or German.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I had one day of heliskiing one my Gulmarg trip a couple of weeks ago. Awesome experience, but a lot of the alpine terrain was a bit meh (fun, but not steep). The tree skiing was to die for though!

My impression generally (from having worked for an online German surf/(freeride) ski travel agent) is that generally Canada is expensive and often set up for people who have more money than ski ability - i.e. unless you bring enough mates to make a group, you may end up doing a certain amount of meadow skipping. Lodges generally at the v luxurious end of the scale.

On the flip side, the more 'out there' destinations like Russia (Kamchatka or Caucasus), Georgia, and to some extent Kashmir are cheaper, rawer, and geared more to better skiers. Alaska probably sits somewhere in the middle, but unless you can fill a heli you'll be skiing at the level of the weakest in the group, and can get seriously screwed by the weather. The Legs of Steel guys were in AK for three weeks this spring and got 3 days of skiing - the week after they got 3 days in one week in Georgia with very similar terrain.

One thing to bear in mind is the effect of exchange rates on price. When I was last working at the travel agency (a year ago now), many of the Russian trips were effectively half price as the operators typically work and price in Rubles. Most of the Georgian operators function(ed) in €, so no effective discount. Kashmir I believe is/was set in USD but that was a 'work trip' so not 100%!
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If I had the cash it would be Georgia all the way.

The prices have grown quickly and are no longer the big bargain they were, but are comparable to the Icelandic opeations with much better terrain IMHO.

http://heliski.travel/

I'd go with the 3-day package combined with 3-4 days resort skiing at Gudari and then 6-7 days in the Svaneti region

http://www.skigeorgia.ge/

Approx £115 for 10 day multi-resort ski pass good at any of Bakuriani, Goderdzi, Gudauri, Mestia, Tetnuldi, Mitarbi


This is what the resort skiing looks like


http://youtube.com/v/Cd9oFhlVD6g



http://youtube.com/v/Wu1RghOc2J4
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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@BobinCH, kind of out of date, but we did a heli day out of Valdez about 15 years ago (2001?) as a 'warm-up' before we flew into the Central Chugach for a fortnight expeditioning. We were with H20 - Dean Cummings' set up at the time.

Ended up pushing our fixed wing flights back a day as we sat in Valdez for the 3 days we had originally planned with bad weather. Helis were flying the next day and it was definitely worth it - we didn't get on to the real uber-gnar terrain but the stuff we skied was still steep, with proper A-to-the-m-f-K powder.
Not sure what the deal is nowadays with the operations flying out of Valdez and the pass, but at that point were in a medium-sized RV and parked up in town which kept the cost down. Fly time was quite expensive as I recall, but seemed worth it (particularly relative to the snow you might get for similarly priced heli drops in the Alps...).
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Though as someone else mentioned above I wouldn't want to go there without enough bods to fill a bird as joining an open group definitely leaves you at the mercy of the weakest link dictating the terrain you can access.
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Quote:

as joining an open group definitely leaves you at the mercy of the weakest link


This. but having been in a group that tried twice, getting enough chums to commit and not bail is tricky. We were lucky both times.

My understanding is that AK is very flaky on weather. Whereas in e.g. BC you can expect ~1.5 down days in a week, in AK (apparently) you get 3 ski days in a 10 day cycle.

(Philwig might be a better source of info.)

A guide chum does reasonably regular Kamchatka trips. He's impressed by that. Regular heli friends have done Turkey but not so impressed. The best I've seen myself is CMH Galena. Which is muchly steep and not so much alpine if you're in a capable group.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I have AK in winter on my list but haven't got around to it yet. I doubt you'll find anywhere else as steep as AK - you need the terrain combined with the maritime snowpack.
The down day ratio is what it is, but they charge differently because of that.

The reason for the "packages" is that compared with the cost of the machine everything else is down in the detail.
It's easy to avoid all that if you want - I started with a seat on a Greyhound and a motel room.

Helicopters aren't ever going to be cheap.
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I went to Tordrillo Mountain Lodge last year - unbelievable experience - snow to die for and the terrain is epic.
Yes its horrendously expensive and you need to be very lucky with the weather as there are no trees to ski so expect some down days.
I can't wait to go back but Brexit has made it too expensive for now.
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In BC 1 1/2 down days a week? I dont think so - more like 1/2 a down day in around 3 weeks on average. As for experience/ability of skiers in Canada - definitely not for people with more money than skiing ability, skill levels are consistently high and groups are formed of people with similar ability or desires ie fast and steep or more moderate with a couple of variations in between plus skiiers can be moved from one group to another so as to bring greater parity to skill set in each group. Expensive? Yes in high season but moderately reasonable in lower/late season and the late season skiing can be truly wonderful. There is no right time to go it is just different so in February you might get some amazing deep powder but in April you might get new powder which while not thigh deep stills rates as good powder and then you can have a wonderful morning of corn snow. Price differential between high season and later is circa £11k down to around £4k to which you need to add air fares. Once in the lodge everything except alcohol is included. The amount of heli-skiing you can do in a week is probably two to three times more than you would do in a week in Europe so metre for metre certainly in low season the skiing while not cheap is good value.
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@FFIRMIN, That's what I was told by the guides my my first trip - actually maybe it was one down day a week. My second trip we got out two half days in the week. Sad

All 3 of my trips have seen very varied ability levels, I would not have been happy to have been in the lower ability groups. And many of the skiers indeed have more money than sense, esp. in e.g. the flagship CMH lodges. Apparently.

Value? IIRC we did something like 170,000 ft in Galena, and were blessed with more of less perfect conditions following a good fall the prior week. And a fast group. So value for money was pretty good (extra vert is the cheapest heli-skiing you can do).
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under a new name wrote:
@FFIRMIN, That's what I was told by the guides my my first trip - actually maybe it was one down day a week. My second trip we got out two half days in the week. Sad

Average is just that, average. You may exceed it or come short of it.

A couple in our group did it last winter, which was actually a "good year" for the region. They were pretty "unlucky" during their week. Only got 1 1/2 day out of a week. The week prior to that, our group all skied together at Whilster and had really good snow, several powder days. So everybody was thinking about the same thing: is it worth it to do 1 week of heli skiing or spend the same amount of money skiing a lot of days in resort? The answer is actually pretty obvious. If you're limited on how many days you get to ski due to work commitments, but can afford the extra cost, heli skiing will still be the quickest way to get excellent skiing. Just be prepared to be "unlucky". It could happen to anybody. You'll just need to give it a 2nd try, or 3rd try...

I heard the reverse is true about skier make up. From what I heard, Alaska tend to attract really good skiers because the terrain is more radical than anything in the interior. (snow is drier in the interior though) "Wealthy businessmen" tend to go to the interior BC, and they're setup more on the luxury end in all aspect of their operations, down to the food. Alaska is still a mix but also angling towards the luxury end. So if you want to go, maybe do it sooner rather than later?
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@abc, my second trip we warmed up in Whistler and had some excellent skiing and I was thinking exactly
Quote:
is it worth it to do 1 week of heli skiing or spend the same amount of money skiing a lot of days in resort
before heading off to a nice lodge to sit and watch the fog roll past.

AK skiers may well be different. I could believe that. My Galena week involved skiing stuff that's difficult to find otherwise (without considerable effort) and once cashflow is what I'd like it to be I hope to repeat the experience. I must say that although I loved my first heli week much of the skiing was rather tame. Lots of powder though.

The Galena guests included rather a high number of very keen skiers who were not immensely wealthy.
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I've said it before on heli threads but I really recommend Mica Creek

small lodge, a-star helis so small groups, great terrain - less of an industrial feel than the big lodges with hueys. When I was there it was 12 guests - 3 groups of 4. Think it is a bit bigger now - may be only 2 helis so 6 groups of 4.

https://www.micaheli.com/?gclid=CP62rNzauNQCFaa37QodznUH_Q

BC - but interior, west slope of the Rockies. near(ish) Revelstoke
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@jedster, the idea of a-stars is rather appealing.

That said, Revvie itself can be quite fine. As can Kicking Horse...
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@under a new name, I've had pretty good luck with happening upon powder days in resort. So I'm less sure about heli-skiing myself.

Part of the reason I'm not particularly attracted to heli-skiing is I'm not into radical terrain. I quite enjoy meadow skipping. So it's hard for me to be motivated to pay the extra for advance terrain.

I'm also not too fuss about getting the maximum vertical in a day, not even on a powder day (one can get jaded after a few powder days). So, having to keep on skiing just because the group (and myself) had paid good money isn't exactly the way I want to spend my day.

(That said, on days with very good condition in resort, I do ski more or less non-stop. So perhaps I'm not as jaded as I think of myself. Toofy Grin )
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Thanks all for the replies and ideas

I'm really looking for somewhere with the potential for sphincter-tingling terrain and willing to take the chance with weather.

It'd likely be a once in a lifetime trip and quality definitely more important than quantity.

Seems Alaska is the spot but group dynamics and weather are big risks
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@BobinCH, I've done 4 Heli trips - 2 in Alaska and 2 in BC during 2014-15.

First time in Alaska (start of April) for two weeks. I was alone and was put in a not particularly strong group both weeks - although we had one excellent and memorable (if slow) day skiing some proper steep stuff.

Second Alaska trip (mid March) I went with 3 friends for two weeks and we had our own group in the Heli. The trip was MUCH better as we were all a similar ability and had skied with each other a lot before. We also had much better snow conditions that time, and a guide who was more willing to take us onto the steep & scary terrain we wanted. It was an amazing trip overall and totally worth it despite breaking my wrist!

First BC trip (start of Jan) - Snow conditions were good, but the weather was crap - no sun all week (but no down days, amazing what kind of weather they can fly in!). Extremely cold, got frostnip in my toes. Did some good tree skiing. Lodge was in an amazing remote location and very luxurious, but staying somewhere like that is not for me. It was really expensive, probably double the cost of Alaska.

Second BC trip (start of March) - Weather couldn't have been much worse, rained most of the week at base and up to altitude at times so the snow was heavy and rain/wind affected. Had 4 down days in 7 which is probably almost unheard of in BC - got a partial refund on flying time. No powder. Group were not particularly good, we only skied mellow stuff. Rustic but nice lodge with posh food. Extremely expensive again.

All of them were done while the GBP was stronger - I wouldn't go again (in USA/Canada) at current exchange rates. I'd like to go back to Alaska at some point, but not BC.

As @clarky999 says above the main problem seems to be that either you take your own group with you or you end up in a group of people you've never skied with before. In the latter case, I think you'd have to be extremely lucky to get a whole group whose ability and expectations match up with each other.
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@BobinCH, PNH in Alaska is what you're looking for (and maybe other operations, but they're who I used) , but only if the group / guide / weather / snow all line up.

I saw your posts about the Bec des Rosses, we definitely skied some stuff with a similar scaryness factor. There are not many places I can think of where i've had that sinking stomach, strong heartbeat, deep breathing feeling other than the top of Bec des Rosses, and some of the runs we did at PNH Shocked
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We have skiied with CMH for 22 years and had few weeks where we have had more than a total of 1 down day and many with no down days. Money v skill - havent actually skiied in any lodge (been in four or five) where there has been an issue with inadequate skiers, CMH pride themselves on ensuring everyone has a good time and move skiers around groups if necessary. Luxury? Yes ..... ish if you like a large comfortable bed, ensuite facilities and good food plus a hot tub on the roof but 5* by comparison with 5* hotels it isnt, it is very good comfortable accommodation mostly in remote locations (a couple of lodges can be accessed by road but why would you?!!) with really good care and guest services, relatively simple rooms and oh so lovely!!
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BobinCH wrote:
Thanks all for the replies and ideas

I'm really looking for somewhere with the potential for sphincter-tingling terrain and willing to take the chance with weather.

It'd likely be a once in a lifetime trip and quality definitely more important than quantity.

Seems Alaska is the spot but group dynamics and weather are big risks


I ve done a few CMH trips and they are too mellow - but I haven't skied there steeper lodges as I go with Mrs MM. what you should be looking for is small group Heli ops in A stars , where you are much more likely to get hot terrain ( cos the bird can fit in the smaller slots) - look at Mica and Last frontier , both in northern BC .

The advantage of BC over Alaska ( from what I gather) is that there are far fewer down days due to the tree skiing - the trees there are nothing like Europe by the way - the Heli guys co ord with the logging in the summer where possible so they create opportunities.
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Just want to add to @mishmash's post by saying that Mica and Last Frontier were the operations I went to in BC, on advice online by others saying there was a good chance of steep and interesting terrain. Due to a combination of weather/snow/group, we only skied mellow stuff. The Last Frontier trip was particularly disappointing because the package I signed up for was specifically marketed to strong/fast skiers who wanted to push the boundaries.

The trees were definitely much better than those typically found in Europe but I found them to be similar to the "America Trees" area at Bruson opposite Verbier - good, relatively steep and well spaced. I was sometimes thinking I could be getting almost as much quality vertical lapping those trees on a powder day for about 5% of the cost...!

NB: The area I mean at Bruson is traversing quite far skiers right off the top drag lift and dropping into the spaced out trees.
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Quote:
I was sometimes thinking I could be getting almost as much quality vertical lapping those trees on a powder day for about 5% of the cost...!

Isn't that true of most terrain?

A powder day, whether in resort or by helicopter, are the same. Snow falls on all mountains whether you get up the by lifts, by helicopter, or by skins.

With helicopter, you have a much faster lift. And no worry of others tracking out the powder. (But run the risk of the chopper not flying at all) When one add up the cost of lift tickets when there's no powder, it probably work out similar in pound-per-powder-feet
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abc wrote:
... A powder day, whether in resort or by helicopter, are the same. Snow falls on all mountains whether you get up the by lifts, by helicopter, or by skins.

With helicopter, you have a much faster lift. And no worry of others tracking out the powder. (But run the risk of the chopper not flying at all) When one add up the cost of lift tickets when there's no powder, it probably work out similar in pound-per-powder-feet
I'd say you're not doing it right then. wink
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I'm more the type that like to earn his turns when skiing outside of the resort so take my thoughts with a pinch of salt. However, I have done a lot of skiing around Golden / Rogers Pass area out of several of the BC huts and I think that if I were going to do a motorised trip then that is where I'd go because there is a good mix of options (trees / mellow / steep / great resorts as an alternative) which means that depending on conditions you are always likely to get out and do something fun. I have friends who have gone to Alaska and not been able to do anything for 2 weeks due to weather and or snowpack stability.

Secondly - just a thought - depending on your objective, almost all the guides that I have spoken with in the BC area seem to prefer cat skiing over heli. This seems to be based on a few things:

1) They run much more reliably - the cats can still go in fairly bad weather.
2) The guides say that the atmosphere is more relaxed with the cat - everyone bundles into the back together - you have a ride up to the top providing a chance for tall stories and flasks of hot chocolate between runs.
3) They are cheaper
4) On average, taking into account downtime etc... the true figures of average vertical skied are not as different as you might expect between cat and heli.

I guess it kind of depends on your expectations. Heli is going to get you the most vertical unless you get unlucky, but cat skiing might be a better option to avoid disappointment if this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, or if you prefer a more sociable angle to the trip.

Just to repeat, I don't have firsthand experience, but I thought that this option was worth mooting in this thread.

Ben
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Quote:

@jedster, the idea of a-stars is rather appealing.


Yeah - the guides said that they couldn't really ski the terrain in their area with bigger groups so a-stars were perfect.

I went before revelstoke built a lift but we did three days in KH to warm up.
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Quote:

I guess it kind of depends on your expectations. Heli is going to get you the most vertical unless you get unlucky, but cat skiing might be a better option to avoid disappointment if this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, or if you prefer a more sociable angle to the trip.


Definitely something I'll explore. We lost 3 hours to high winds on our trip but you can get fogged in which would be incredibly frustrating.
In fairness helis are not just about the speed of the lift - you can access a huge area, much bigger than you could by cat. Mica Creek has 7 valleys of terrain to play with. When we were there every group did at least one 800-1000m descent that had never been skied before (and were given naming rights Very Happy ).
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I'm subject to my failing memory, but IIRC the guides suggested that realistic average days (once you have factored in all the down time etc...) might be ~15,000 feet vertical for heli vs ~10,000 for cat depending on the operation. Jedster, You make a good point about the size of territory that you have to play in, although I'd suggest that for most the priorities are skiing nice lines with no sign of other skiers or tracks and you don't need that big an area to achieve this.

Interesting article comparing the two here: http://skicanadamag.com/cat-vs-heli-we-all-win/ with the particularly unexpected comment:
"Usually the most contentious topic in my heli vs. snowcat conversations is musing about the terrain one might actually ski. Although I still hear rumours of ultra-steep terrain being skied by private small groups of trusted repeat guests at certain heli ops, my experience has encountered a clear pattern: snowcat skiing is consistently steeper."

Kind of going off topic, but personally I'd also put in a pitch for going self powered if you haven't considered it. By comparison with the above, I have done 6, week long self powered hut trips in BC and across these I have averaged 6,500 feet/day with a min of around 6,000 and max of 8,000 and no down days at all. Obviously you have to 'work' on the uphill and this is not everybody's cup of tea, but I think that this kind of trip is much more within most peoples capabilities than they might think. You get more of a wilderness experience, the satisfaction of earning your turns, a bit of fitness and (if you care about these things) less of an environmental impact.
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Quote:

You get more of a wilderness experience, the satisfaction of earning your turns, a bit of fitness and (if you care about these things) less of an environmental impact.


Although the flight to Canada is probably the biggest item in the environmental ledger...
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Quote:

Interesting article comparing the two here: http://skicanadamag.com/cat-vs-heli-we-all-win/ with the particularly unexpected comment:
"Usually the most contentious topic in my heli vs. snowcat conversations is musing about the terrain one might actually ski. Although I still hear rumours of ultra-steep terrain being skied by private small groups of trusted repeat guests at certain heli ops, my experience has encountered a clear pattern: snowcat skiing is consistently steeper."


Could be true. Have to say I found Mica pretty steep - enough opportunities for "sluff management"!
My mate and I were the weakest skiers in the two groups that were running on our trip. And we are pretty competent. The other group was four Austrian's in their early 30s including one guy with a sponsorship - fast as hell, and I can still see the backflip he pulled in full crucifix position of a lip on one of the alpine bowls. It was a quiet time in Jan so our group was filled out with staff from MHG's office!

When we were flying in, the previous party was leaving - a bunch of pros shooting a movie. The guides were pointing out what the had been skiing "yeah they'll ski any face that has more white than rock if we let them"
Very Happy
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BTW - I really like ski touring. I think its going to be my "thing" for a good while. But I think it is a very different experience from Heli (or Cat) - it is much more about travelling through the mountains and more about the up than the down. Skiing >30000ft of vertical all in powder in one day is an utterly different experience (we did 3.5 days 10000m, 8000m, 8000m and 5000m).
Of course, arguably it's a bit like eating 10 perfectly cooked and aged sirloin steaks in a row - you can have too much of a good thing. But that's a different argument.
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philwig wrote:
abc wrote:
... A powder day, whether in resort or by helicopter, are the same. Snow falls on all mountains whether you get up the by lifts, by helicopter, or by skins.

With helicopter, you have a much faster lift. And no worry of others tracking out the powder. (But run the risk of the chopper not flying at all) When one add up the cost of lift tickets when there's no powder, it probably work out similar in pound-per-powder-feet
I'd say you're not doing it right then. wink

Doing what right? Heli or resort?
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jedster wrote:
Quote:

You get more of a wilderness experience, the satisfaction of earning your turns, a bit of fitness and (if you care about these things) less of an environmental impact.


Although the flight to Canada is probably the biggest item in the environmental ledger...


Depends on your criteria - from a carbon footprint you may be right (although I'm not 100% sure as a heli is very inefficient and you doing a lot of work with the climbing. A passenger flight burns a lot of it's fuel during take off and landing so long haul flights are not as bad per mile flown as short haul).

But there are also other criteria - a heli flying overhead impacts the wilderness experience and this doesn't just affect those on the tour - it also impacts from other users experience. In some areas, fresh lines are also a limited resource and a large heli operation adds greatly to the pressures on a limited 'resource'. I'm not a die hard hippie, and don't want to come across all preachy as I'm pretty aware that skiing generally is not the most eco friendly activity, but I do think that comparatively ski touring is much more sensitive to the local environment. I guess it sort of depends on whether you view of the mountains tends toward them being a playground, or a wilderness. I enjoy skiing at a resort as much as the next person, but I'm also in favour of trying to preserve our wilderness areas.

Edited to add - I agree that they are likely very different things. I could see that I would happily sign up to a day or two of cat skiing to gorge myself on powder, but I think that for a week or longer I'd be more inclined to put my skins on and take it at a different pace. As you say - you can have too much of a good thing.

Anyway - ignore my hippy rant - back to the important topic of helicopters because they are cool!
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musehead wrote:
@BobinCH, PNH in Alaska is what you're looking for (and maybe other operations, but they're who I used) , but only if the group / guide / weather / snow all line up.

I saw your posts about the Bec des Rosses, we definitely skied some stuff with a similar scaryness factor. There are not many places I can think of where i've had that sinking stomach, strong heartbeat, deep breathing feeling other than the top of Bec des Rosses, and some of the runs we did at PNH Shocked


I came across PNH $6000 for the week including 4hrs heli - looks really good. Also looked at Valdez Heli Ski guides which my mate went with which is over $11k if I read it right. Any idea why such a big price difference?

Not interested in trees / hiking / touring for this trip. Do plenty of that in Europe for free!
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BobinCH wrote:
Not interested in trees / hiking / touring for this trip. Do plenty of that in Europe for free!


Understood, although for the record, trees / hiking / touring in Europe and BC are not the same thing in my experience.
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@BobinCH, I'm not sure why the price difference. PNH was one of the cheapest I found. The lodge is fairly basic - food is OK with lots of calories but it's school canteen rather than restaurant style! The 4 hours of heli-time you prepay for equates to approx. 3 full days (the average you'll get in a week there), maybe VHSG give you more heli time for the initial cost?

I got the impression at PNH that most of your money is being spent on the heli/skiing side of things rather than posh lodge/food, which suited me fine.


abc wrote:
Quote:
I was sometimes thinking I could be getting almost as much quality vertical lapping those trees on a powder day for about 5% of the cost...!

Isn't that true of most terrain?

A powder day, whether in resort or by helicopter, are the same. Snow falls on all mountains whether you get up the by lifts, by helicopter, or by skins.


The difference was that in BC, we were skiing terrain that I could have easily skinned up or lapped off a lift. In Alaska, we were often skiing terrain that would be inaccessible for anyone but a determined ski mountaineer. I felt like there was much more purpose in using a helicopter to access terrain that would otherwise be extremely difficult to get to (in terms of actually getting to the top of the run, rather than the remoteness of the area).
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I've heard good things about PNH. The other left field option is hitting Tailgate Alaska - kinda a ski bum festival where you can get sled bumps or helis by the drop.

I've got a feeling that the more dirtbaggy the lodge the better your chances of skiing with a solid crew.
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musehead wrote:

The difference was that in BC, we were skiing terrain that I could have easily skinned up or lapped off a lift. In Alaska, we were often skiing terrain that would be inaccessible for anyone but a determined ski mountaineer. I felt like there was much more purpose in using a helicopter to access terrain that would otherwise be extremely difficult to get to (in terms of actually getting to the top of the run, rather than the remoteness of the area).


^^^ this!

PNH sounds perfect. When's the best time to go?
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@BobinCH, you could always touch base with http://www.heliskiguidessweden.com/ I've know Stefan for nigh on twenty years.

He really has been at the forefront of skiing different parts of the world.

He'll be able to advise you and help you fit into a group etc

He's based in Chamonix so you could always pop over and see him and start thrashing ideas out Cool
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The big benefit of the heli think for me is the intensity. Our last CA trip I lost ~2 kgs and my BMI is around 22...just through exercise and cold (consistently -15C). Despite hearty breakfasts, snacks, big lunches and 3 course dinners.

We were lucky that the 3 groups in our machine were all pretty fast and the conditions allowed the guides/pilots to work very efficiently - so it was rare to wait for a pickup. Which translates into a lot of ski time.

So you get to ski run after run of powder in a way you don't get to do so really anywhere / anyway else. I definitely transformed my off piste/powder skiing my first trip.

Re steepness. The CMH folk are pretty adamant that Galena is not recommended as a first experience. There were some weaker skiers but most groups moved pretty well. Most of the skiing was in trees and reasonably steep. Not perhaps bec des rosses steep must say.

My big thing against AK was always that it seemed that you could easily get caught out by the wx and I was always limited by corporate holiday time.
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