& Heli-Skiing in British Columbia, Canada
by: Keoki Flagg
Columbia, Canada is becoming heralded as the world's number one skiing
destination. Consistent heavy snowfalls and variety of mountain ranges
provide the province with the best attributes for any skier. In addition
to the numerous ski resorts throughout BC, you can also find the ultimate
skiing experiences - Snow Cat and Heli-Skiing.
within this niche category, there are differences. Daily Cat and Heli-Skiing
operations offer the 'first timer' an introduction to the thrill of
skiing virgin powder. Remote destination lodges offer multiple day
packages and are considered to be the creme de la creme by powder
hounds from around the planet.
Pacific coast of Canada, 800 miles across to the Rockies you will find
a number of ranges each offering their individual climate.
In general, the Coast Mountains in the west provide a moist and milder
climate, conducive to very heavy snowfalls and sometimes rain in winter.
As the warm air mass passes over the glaciated areas to the north east
into the South Chilcotin range, the air is cooled and the snow becomes
light and fluffy. Moving east, temperatures drop and the Monashees,
Purcells and Selkirks offer probably the best tree skiing in the world.
One Heli-operator has recently started skiing just east of the Southern
tip of the Alaskan Panhandle in the Skeena Mountains. Here terrain is
probably the wildest of all, with temperatures remaining ideal.
has traditionally been a hot topic with the potential dangers involved
in backcountry skiing. The word 'Avalanche' tends to be places in
the same class as Flood, Fire and Famine. However, when treated with
its deserved respect, it can be tamed. Most, if not all operators
are members of the BC Helicopter and Snowcat Skiing Operators Association
(BCHSSOA). The aim, to make safety the number one priority.
with the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) snow conditions and
stability information is collated and distributed using the Internet.
Stability can change not only from mountain range to mountain range
but from slope to slope. This stability assessment will dictate your
day's skiing. The guides' decisions are paramount and should be respected
element to safety is the flying. Helicopter skiing pilots are seasoned
professionals who have had many 1000's of hours in mountainous winter
flying conditions. They are alert to the onset of sudden weather changes
and work together with your guide to ensure maximum safety. All said,
you should be aware that you are dealing with Mother Nature when venturing
into the mountains and accidents can happen. These find their way
onto your television screens and unfortunately do not represent the
great efforts made to ensure your well being.
Are you thinking of trying Snow Cat or Heli-Skiing for the first time?
Perhaps you are simply returning for your annual pilgrimage to BC's
awesome peaks? We suggest that you contact the operators directly and
find out what they have on offer. They are there to help you make the
right choice. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
are some key points to keep in mind:
many groups per helicopter
much vertical footage guaranteed