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powderbird has a team dedicated to your questions
Are Snowboarders Allowed?
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Yes! Many snowboarders have ridden with us throughout the years.
Why Powderbird?
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Established in 1973, Powderbird Helicopter Skiing has evolved into a helicopter skiing operation like no other. With two locations just a short 45-minute drive from Salt Lake International Airport, Powderbird is the most accessible helicopter skiing operation in North America. Focusing on small group heli-skiing adventures, Powderbird has developed a program that offers our guests the ultimate in helicopter skiing flexibility. From individual seat reservations to private group excursions, Powderbird has the team and the helicopters to make your backcountry dream a reality.
How good of a skier or snowboarder do I have to be to heli-ski?
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Helicopter skiing is not an activity reserved for professional “extreme” skiers. Most accomplished skiers and snowboarders have the necessary skills to heli-ski. Powderbird guides will match your ability level to our broad mix of terrain, from gentle ridges and bowls to steeper more exciting runs. Perfect style and technical expertise are not prerequisites, but the ability to control your speed in a variety of snow conditions is critical. There may be trees and other natural features that are more challenging than on the maintained slopes of a ski area. It is necessary that you are proficient at kick-turning, traversing and side-slipping. These skills will help you handle anything we might encounter. Snowboarders must be able to traverse and carry their speed across flats.To fully enjoy helicopter skiing, it helps to have previous soft snow experience and enough endurance to ski a full day at a moderate pace. Though we try to access the best snow available, occasionally we encounter sections of tricky skiing such as heavy snow or crust. On some days, backcountry snow conditions can be exhilarating for seasoned soft-snow skiers, while at the same time intimidating for less experienced guests.However, snow in the backcountry can often be more consistent and easier to ski than the snow found within ski resort areas. Tricky snow can often be easily negotiated if you are on the newest generation of wide-bodied skis or backcountry snowboards.Please note that once we leave our base, we do not return until the end of the day. If you are flown in early for any reason, we must charge you for the full day of skiing, plus the cost of the fly-in. Wondering what level of skier you are and where you might fit in for heli-skiing? Click here to take our quiz.lity, and social ethics such as certified Global Food Safety (GFSI) or Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
Do I have the fitness level to helicopter ski or snowboard?
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For advanced and expert skiers or snowboarders, heli-skiing is no different than skiing off-trail at your local resort. However, there are a few things to consider:
Do you feel confident that you can ski or ride a full run at a moderate pace with minimal falls?
Do you feel comfortable skiing or riding on most blue and black runs top to bottom with limited or no stops?
Do you have experience skiing or riding at elevation?
If you have a pre-existing medical condition that may be exacerbated by exercising at elevation, do you feel it is manageable?
If you answered yes to all of these questions you should be well-suited to fly with Powderbird.
What is your weight policy?
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It is very important that we have accurate client weights in the helicopter. Loads are based on the weight you give us. You will be weighed on the day of participation. Please be sure and give us an exact and accurate weight when booking your reservation. If your weight differs significantly from the weight you give us you may be declined participation, but will still be responsible for the price of the seat.Sometimes the total weight of a group may preclude group members from flying together in the same load. Although every member of your group may not fly together, we will make every effort to allow you to ski together. We often pair heavier individuals with lighter individuals to minimize the total load weight in the helicopter. Groups comprised of all large individuals and individuals over 230 pounds may not be able to be sufficiently paired together and should be prepared to purchase either part of, or an entire portion of, an additional seat.
What happens if there is a flight delay or bad weather?
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If we don't have the weather clearance to take off we simply begin the morning with Snowcat Skiing or Guided In-resort skiing at Snowbird. If the weather clears up before the afternoon, we will shift gears and be ready to get in the helicopters. On the days we know it's not clearing up, we start the day with a breakfast and brief then head out for Snowcat Skiing or Guided In-resort skiing at Snowbird. After spending the day on the snow we head back to the Powderbird Heliport & Clubhouse for Aprés ski food and drink. At Powderbird we provide access to a legendary experience each time you join us for a remarkable day of skiing, regardless of the weather.
Park City or Snowbird: Which departure location should I choose?
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When it comes to selecting your departure location, it comes down to a matter of convenience. For our guests, that might be selecting the closest facility to their accommodations. Both our Park City and Snowbird locations access the same terrain and offer a comparable experience. So pick the base that is most convenient for you and let us fly you to the best skiing locations in Utah. Click here to learn the differences between our Park City Hangar and Snowbird Heliport locations. Both locations also offer excellent resort skiing which can be important for family or friends that aren’t heli-skiing or for you to enjoy during down days. Deer Valley Ski Resort and Park City Mountain are excellent choices if you’re staying in Park City. If you’re staying in Little Cottonwood Canyon, you’ll actually be staying at either Snowbird Resort or Alta Ski Area. Salt Lake City accommodations are of equal distance to either of our locations.
When is the best time to heli-ski?
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People often ask us, “When is the best time to go heli-skiing?” The short answer to this question is whenever possible. Here in Utah, powder conditions are generally suitable from December 15th through April 15th. However, there are some other variables to consider when booking your heli-skiing trip.December 15th-January 15th is considered early season as it provides the year’s first large snowstorms. Depending on the year’s snowfall, operation can be limited as we pick out terrain that has ample coverage. However, if preseason snowfall is strong, this can be a great time to take advantage of large storms that often frequent the region. January 15th-March 15th is our peak season. While conditions can vary throughout the season, generally this time of year offers the most consistent and reliable conditions for helicopter skiing. For guests joining us in January and February, the lower sun angle and shorter days promote cold temperatures, thus preserving the snow many days after a storm. Guests joining us in March are often greeted by warm temps and a monsoonal flow that brings large storms to the area. March 15th- April 15 is considered late season. During this time of year conditions and temperatures can vary widely. From intense spring storms that bring feet of snow to the mountains to warm high-pressure systems that create perfect corn conditions, guests joining us this time of year may experience a variety of conditions in a single trip. For guest who are looking to experience the high alpine experience of “Corn Skiing” this is the time of year to seek out those high-speed backcountry conditions.
How long are the runs?
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Some runs are short and some are long. We sell skiing by the flight and not by the length of the run. This is because we’re looking for the best and safest terrain rather than simply maximizing vertical. However, runs typically range from 1,000 to 3,000 vertical feet. The length of the runs selected by the guides each day depends on the group’s ability, weather, snow, and avalanche conditions.
What is the elevation?
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Most of the terrain that we fly to is between 7,000 and 11,000 feet above sea level, so acclimation is key. When traveling to Utah, it is important to stay hydrated and limit excessive alcohol consumption on the evening prior to your day of heli-skiing with Powderbird. This will ensure that you are feeling fresh and ready to enjoy a beautiful day in the mountains.
How many people fit in the helicopter and what are the group sizes?
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We use medium-sized helicopters that hold 4 guests, 1 guide and a pilot. Each package varies slightly. For our Individual Seating package, we fly in groups of 4 guests and often ski as a full group of 8 guests. This means that the helicopter makes two flights to transport 10 people (8 guests and 2 guides) to the top of the run. This allows us to have more knowledgeable guides in the backcountry that can assist in guiding, instruction and unforeseen circumstances. Private Group and Charter options vary.
What is a flight hour?
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Individual Seating is like having a fixed price menu. Guests are charged by the flight, not the flight hour. Private Group and Private Charter packages are based on helicopter flight hours. This allows guests more flexibility in terrain selection and in the number of flights flown. Flight hours measure the amount of time the helicopter is actually flying. Guests do not pay for the helicopter while it is waiting between runs.
Do you offer extra runs?
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Conditions permitting, extra runs are available upon request with rates varying depending upon which package you’ve reserved. To request an extra run simply let your guide know as you approach the end of your ski day.
Do I need powder skis and are they available to rent?
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Yes & Yes. Whether you are an intermediate or expert, it is highly recommended to use skis wider than 110mm underfoot when flying with Powderbird. We have partnered with Head Skis to provide an extensive demo fleet to all our clients, free of charge. This can be organized on the morning of your adventure. We do not offer ski boot or snowboard demos. If you have any questions about where to rent equipment, we invite you to call our sales team.
What safety equipment will be provided?
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All guests are issued a Backcountry Access avalanche transceiver (beacon), and are offered an airbag backpack, shovel, and probe at no additional cost. Prior to embarking on your ski day, guides will review these tools and explain the best practices for using these devices.
What else do I need to bring?
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Similar to skiing/riding at the resort, guests should come prepared with outerwear, ski boots, skis, snowboards and anything needed for a day on the mountain. However, when you arrive you will have plenty of time to gear up, so please bring comfortable shoes for your time pre and post flight. Items to bring: Skis or snowboard, ski/board boots, helmet (recommended, but not required), outerwear, gloves, goggles, sunglasses, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, pertinent medications, and a few warm layers. If you wish to demo our powder skis, please bring your traditional downhill ski boots. Alpine touring (AT) boot soles are not compatible with our bindings. All other items including meals, snacks, beverages, and safety equipment will all be provided.
Do I need to bring food?
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We are proud to provide consistent, high-quality food service to our guests. Upon arrival, you will be served a hot breakfast and coffee to fuel up for the day. While in the field, you will be provided snacks and water. After our day in the mountains, our chefs will have prepared a large après ski lunch with beverages for all to enjoy as the sun goes down.
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