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Heliskiing

 Poster: A snowHead
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@BobinCH, looks lovely. Not too much Alpine? Saw some steep pitches...

Otherwise, as far as I am told, CMH Galena is an excellent lodge for lots of trees and little alpine.

We had a blast, and I’ll be returning as soon as I can raise the entirely disposable funds Happy
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I did "Northern Escape" at the end of the season - their closing week. Mid April conditions were nothing like late-season should have been (a good thing). Several operators are running later next year, perhaps because this year late-season was so good. I do believe their maximum weekly vertical was achieved that week wink None of it's particularly "packaged" - you'll not find many tourists up there. Probably not the best sort of place for novices, but otherwise excellent.

https://vimeo.com/ 264255093
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Terrace BC 2018 from phil 45464
https://vimeo.com/264255093

Very good for late season.

That part of BC has been on the list for some time
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Weathercam wrote:
That said I'm more than happy with my "lot" and I'm even leaving the French Alps for a couple of weeks in Japan, so watch the French Alps have their best ever season.


Yep. What lottery numbers do you suggest this week? wink
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I was trying to be slightly less pushy there, but no matter wink

The conditions were unexpectedly good. That video was the only day of sun I think. Mostly trees, one day we had to use their cat backup as it was dumping. They will have lost money on the "unlimited vertical" deal.

I shall go back to the more northerly bits next season. Transport etc is easy as there aren't really any tourists, and although I didn't visit the local hills I expect they're good and everything is likely cheap as chips (although the chips may not be great, but that's a different issue).
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I ended up going to Alagna in March with James Orr Heliski (www.heliski.co.uk), on a trip hosted by Graham Bell. Open declaration - this trip was free for me as I wrote an article about it and do content work for James Orr.

This is what Graham had to say about the trip. Personally, I had a great time - only two helidrops, but superb backcountry environment.

<iframe></iframe>



http://youtube.com/v/csrVR8icoiU
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@iainm, there is just no way in a snowball’s chance that you arelikelynto get the comsistent quality powder in Alagna that you reasonably can expect in BC.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Have been to tordrillo mountain lodge, utterly brilliant but eye wateringly expensive.
Expect down days as no tree skiing but when the sun shines its unbelievable good, if you have a good group.
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Should be Banned in Europe.
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under a new name wrote:
@BobinCH, looks lovely. Not too much Alpine? Saw some steep pitches...


Looks plenty steep and Alpine to me!

http://youtube.com/v/

i think Tordrillo is where Richard Permin records a lot of his amazing footage: https://instagram.com/p/Bi1r7rIBh8a/

Would love to go there but Alaska seems to be at another level in terms of cost and weather risk
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under a new name wrote:
@iainm, there is just no way in a snowball’s chance that you arelikelynto get the comsistent quality powder in Alagna that you reasonably can expect in BC.


That's true enough, but then again it's £1500 v. £5000 - long weekend v. a week plus. You pay your money and you take your choice! Blush
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@BobinCH, yeah, the AK reputation seems to include a lot of sitting around waiting for the weather.
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Bumping up this thread as have finally bitten the bullet and signed up for an eye-wateringly expensive Private Bird Alaska trip with Valdez Heli ski for next April. A mate has pulled together 8 decent riders so conditions allowing we have a chance at the steeper terrain. If this year’s taught me anything it’s grab opportunities when you can...
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Nice !!

I did 9 days last year at home (Nz) and am booked for another 10 this year.

Getting it cheap (ish) locals rates, but well worth the financial pain - the cost is forgotten but the memories stay.

I ride with the same small group, so having had a few days with the guides they got us off the heli ski learner slopes for a few days.....

Nearly shat myself a few times Happy. But awesome fun getting into the bigger stuff.
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hang11 wrote:

Nearly shat myself a few times Happy. But awesome fun getting into the bigger stuff.


These are the things you remember Very Happy
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Yes. I can give you some tips on getting stains out of gore tex pants if you want Happy
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That's ironic, I've passed on a heli trip today over in Italy, just can't see the conditions being worth spending €300+.

Mates have still gone and I'll obviously be interested in how it went/what I missed or not.
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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?
As well as a few single descents in the Alps, I have had 2 heli weeks. In both cases we lost only one day of skiing to wind but in both cases we were unlucky in that the snow had mostly been spoiled by wind. Undeniably it is exciting repeatedly flying in helicopters and enjoyable skiing far from any lifts with just the people from your lodge. The areas involved were huge but I was surprised how small the mountains were and how short the descents (especially in Alaska).

My first experience was with CMH in a lodge at Stewart, British Columbia, by the coast next to the Alaskan border. I chose it as a compromise between the normal BC experience at places such as the Monashees and the full Alaskan. I was told the steepness of the skiing would be somewhere between the two and the chances of down-days less than in Alaska.
In the event the wind had trashed the snow above the tree line, so we were skiing entirely crust or breakable crust on the top half of the descent, but quite nice powder on the lower half among the trees. They wouldn't drop us at the tree-line as the lifts would have been too short. The descents were all very mellow, with nothing approaching 40º. I and my friend were in the top group and all European (two had been ski instructors). The other two groups were mostly rich Americans. Certainly we did quite a lot of vertical, but in terms of skiing enjoyment I feel it was comparable with our much cheaper warm-up week in Whistler with Extremely Canadian guides, where we did ski some steeper terrain, but I somewhat missed the greater freedom of Alpine off-piste.

It took me a while to get over the disappointment but finally I decided to go for the full Alaskan experience. So the second experience was in March 2017 with Valdez Heli Ski Guides (VHSG) who I gathered were one of the very best heli companies. It cost $11,000+. The lodge was 20 minutes drive from Valdez.
My first surprise was how small the mountains were, how short the descents, and unfortunately how bad the snow was. Again it was wind affected and we were skiing entirely crust or breakable crust all the way down, with a very few small patches of OK powder in low gullies that had escaped the wind. Several people gave up and went home after a couple of days. Again we skied nothing much over 35º. We had one down day when we took a pleasant boat trip on the bay from Valdez. Finally on the last day they had worked out a way to helicopter us 80 miles further North for the day to an area that had not been trashed by the wind. (One of the problems was re-fuelling at that distance). We had a very good day, skiing many fairly short descents in nice powder, but again nothing demanding.

I am not planning to try again though I could afford it. I just think a couple of weeks with a good guide in the Alps is more enjoyable and much cheaper. Also I don't think I can justify the carbon footprint.

A descents on our one good (last) day in Alaska. This is the full height of the mountain.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Tue 2-03-21 10:26; edited 2 times in total
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@snowball,

Apart from the big pile of cash required, that's why I'm in no hurry to go heliskiing.

Perhaps I'm a bit odd, but to me skiing big untracked mellow powder, whilst very pleasant, is well, kind of dull.

Been Cat skiing several times, and though the snow was awesome, the terrain was much more limited (by avi danger) than the preceding warm up in resort where the snow was almost as good. In resort had the advantage that we didn't have to wait for those in the group that either couldn't ski powder, or couldn't follow the guides instructions.

I'm reasonably confident that if I spent the same amount of money as a heli trip and/or put a bit of slack country miles in, I could easily ski the same vert of fresh powder in a season - almost every season

Going to Alaska would be cool though.
Watch out for the daylight - was looking at going to Aleyaska (my son has a comp venue there, normally in January), and the days were very short


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Mon 1-03-21 15:35; edited 1 time in total
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Quote:

I'm reasonably confident that if I spent the same amount of money as a heli trip and/or put a bit of slack country miles in, I could easily ski the same vert of powder in a season - almost every season


You would need to have a lot of free time though. Heliskiing is really aimed at the cash rich / time poor!

The environmental footprint is an issue for me. I've only done one lodge trip. I would still like to do another - ideally with my kids. But the cash and CO2 may deter me!

FWIW - the place I went - Mica Creek (Mica Heli Guides) - was not overly mellow. Plenty of steeps, pillows. etc
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@stuarth, did you mean Alyeska, near Anchorage? I did 2 days there as warm up for the heli. A bit small for a whole week (though I'd be very happy to be there right now!)

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@snowball,

Yes, that's the one Madeye-Smiley
Would only be there for a long weekend.
Unfortunately it's another thing that'll have to wait until next year Sad
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Yes, a long weekend would be about right.
There is one good slope with several variants (steeper than anything I did heli-skiing) running from here (the top of the cable car) round the corner to New Year's Gully. All double black diamonds. There should have been more beyond but the area was closed, as were the Headwall and Shadows areas. Consequently about three quarters of my descents were here.
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@snowball, interested in your experience at VHSG. They certainly advertise big terrain and verticals in the Chugach . I know this is CNN but seems to support.
https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/worlds-best-heli-ski-spots/index.html

Your experience of the reality was very different?

We are going with the private option at considerable expense to guarantee the group level and have the choice of terrain (snow conditions permitting). We picked start of April for longer days and hopefully more stable snowpack to get at steeps. I am most definitely not going for meadow hopping!!!
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Well, the 900m end of the height range they quote sounds right, rather than 1500m from my experience. The higher figure presumably exists somewhere.
The slope below was the only steep one we skied (it might be 40º at the top, perhaps) and it was also the smallest vertical on any drop (this was the whole thing). It may be there were steeper slopes that couldn't be skied due to the snow conditions.
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For balance here is the BC heli holiday terrain from above. We were skiing the two nearer ridges, not the steep slope in the distance (but then it would have been crust that you sometimes broke through, so would have been dangerous). This was certainly the more enjoyable of the two holidays, but the snow in the denser trees made it so.
You can probably see how wind scoured it was if you blow up the pic.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
stuarth wrote:
Perhaps I'm a bit odd, but to me skiing big untracked mellow powder, whilst very pleasant, is well, kind of dull.
I don't think that's odd. People who ride more all end up preferring trees and more varied terrain to "alpine" stuff.

jedster wrote:
... The environmental footprint is an issue for me. ...
FWIW - the place I went - Mica Creek (Mica Heli Guides) - was not overly mellow. Plenty of steeps, pillows. etc
On the first I forgot to have kids so I'm good to go.
If people visit BC and aren't taken on steep terrain then there's probably a good reason for it.
Some of the Icelandic stuff was skiable very steep, but not particularly challenging.

Here's a bit of alpine terrain ("Echo"). The heli is that red blob at the bottom of the main glacier.
This is massive and fast and exposed, but not difficult.

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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Helicopter balancing on a very narrow ridge - nose projecting over the other slope. Impressive pilots.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@BobinCH, I should have responded about the private groups. Yes, we would have been shipped up to the better snow much earlier if we had been with a private group. If you have a group of the right ski standard and wealth it is certainly worth doing a private group.


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Tue 2-03-21 14:03; edited 1 time in total
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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Out of interest, what does a heli day cost in Alaska roughly?
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 Poster: A snowHead
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hang11 wrote:
Out of interest, what does a heli day cost in Alaska roughly?


At VHSG it’s approx:
USD12.5k 7 day private - all inclusive
USD6k 7 day group - accommodation/food etc on top
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Anyone remember that golden ticket thing some outfit (Points North?) did a number of years ago? Think they were raising capital so were selling lifetime standby passes. I wonder if anyone got payback on that?
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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?
You can't really control the weather and slide risk, although the AK stuff is priced the way it is because of the way those risks work there.
The brochures obviously show stable conditions, good flying weather and competent people. Some rich people think that money can
substitute for all three of those things, which often causes them angst.

Quote:
... Think they were raising capital so were selling lifetime standby passes...

<cough> I and one other person I know have "lifetime passes" at another operator. As far as I know many places were originally funded in that manner, notably Wiegele.


Here's a recent tale of a machine I flew in which left service a day or two later following mechanical issues.
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A mate had a good day yesterday in Italy, Sestriere, he blew €600, four runs, two open mountain and two tree runs, all totally untracked.

I'm almost tempted, I was a little sceptical thinking everywhere might have been skied out as we've had no snow for nigh on six weeks, but maybe people can't get out of Turin?

I'll know more tomorrow as he's coming touring, though he's going to have a 45min head start Laughing
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March 19 , Valgrisanche and Ruitor glacier access via Ste Foy .


http://youtube.com/v/tb8dIfUS2NE

The heliskiing on the Italian border never disappoints me , currently open it you can get there .
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@Rob Mackley, HEROIC soundtrack Toofy Grin
Looks very fun though
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@Rob Mackley, very unfair showing us that: I think I drooled onto my shirt.
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Incidentally, why is this thread under "Piste" rather than "Off Piste"?
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and that was just the Sassicaia

lovely skiing tho - was that really OCTOBER?
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jedster wrote:
and that was just the Sassicaia


reassuringly expensive way to quench your thirst after a hard day skiing Cool
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