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What's heli-skiing?

Heli-skiing or Helicopter skiing is a type of backcountry skiing and riding that uses a helicopter to transport you and your friends to backcountry terrain and give you access to endless lines.
simply, the best way to access pristine skiing

the guide to heli-skiing

People are often unsure if helicopter skiing is for them due to what is portrayed in the ski films and the misconception that you have to jump out of the helicopter into steep terrain with cliffs and trees. The truth is, heli-skiing is simply the most effective way to access a variety of terrain and untouched fresh lines suitable for many skier abilities. If you enjoy fresh snow, crowd-less slopes, and awe-inspiring arial views, then heli-skiing should be on your list bucket list.

how much does Heli-skiing cost?
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The cost of heli-skiing varies slightly from operator to operator and depends on the type of helicopter and skiing package. Most heli-skiing operators offer shared and private access to the helicopter. Private group heli-skiing will typically cost more than shared access or single seat heli-skiing. The helicopter skiing cost includes flight time of the helicopter, ski guide wages, food & beverage, backcountry skiing safety equipment, and powder ski demos. Some heli-ski operators offer both lodging packages or single day heli-skiing packages, which may affect the cost of helicopter skiing. Travel costs are also important to factor into the total cost of heli-skiing. Travel to more remote destinations such as Canada or Alaska can be more expensive than traveling to frequently served international airports and metropolitan destinations such as Utah.
how good do you have to be to heli-ski?
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If you can comfortably ski most blues and blacks in any resort, you are typically good enough to enjoy heli-skiing. The truth is helicopter skiing can accommodate a mix of many skier abilities. Many skiers/snowboarders will tell you powder skiing is easier and more effortless than skiing the variable hardpack conditions commonly found in-bounds of ski resorts. The advantage of helicopter skiing is using the helicopter to access large amounts of mixed terrain. In many places like Utah, Canada, and Alaska, the slopes that are accessed will resemble the black, blue, and even green slopes of a ski resort. Helicopter skiing in the backcountry requires a higher level of awareness due to natural objects and obstacles not being removed or marked as they are at a ski resort.
WHAT EQUIPMENT SHOULD YOU PACK HELI-SKIING?
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Equipment to pack for heli-skiing includes:
- Powder-skis or snowboard
- Normal downhill skiing outerwear,
- Ski goggles or sunglasses
- A ski helmet or hat for safety and warmth
- Backcountry safety equipment which is often supplied by the heli-ski operator.

If you don't have your own powder-skis or snowboard, you can use demo ski gear that is supplied by the heli-ski company or a local ski shop.
WHERE IS THE BEST HELI-SKIING IN THE WORLD?
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Helicopter skiing is offered worldwide, and each geographic location and heli-ski operator provides unique advantages.
However, we believe Utah is the best place for heli-skiing in the world. We're biased, but the proof is here. Alta and the surrounding Wasatch mountains receive over 500+ inches of powder snow each winter. Large snowstorms delivering 12+ inches of snow paired with numerous sunny bluebird days provide optimal ski conditions and fly ability. The Wasatch mountains of Utah include a wide-variety of heli-ski terrain that can accommodate skiers of many different levels. Salt Lake City International Airport is the best-served ski destination airport globally and allows access to both of our locations within a 40-minute drive. Additionally, Park City, Snowbird & Salt Lake City offer robust options for lodging, dining, nightlife, other ski and mountain activities, ski-lifestyle amenities such as spas, shopping, and events.
IS HELI-SKIING SAFE?
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Protocols and safety measures are put in place to manage and mitigate the risks of heli-skiing in the backcountry. Still, like any outdoor activity, the risk cannot be completely eliminated, and participants can cause harm to themselves while skiing or riding in the mountains. Avalanches can occur in the backcountry, and backcountry safety equipment such as a beacon and airbag backpack is proven to keep heli-skiers safe. Additionally, safety experts say that helicopter transportation has a good safety record, better than small private planes.
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.

common heli-skiing questions

Heli-skiing cost

how good do you have to be to heli-ski?

If you can comfortably ski most blues and blacks in any resort, you are typically good enough to enjoy heli-skiing. The truth is helicopter skiing can accommodate a mix of many skier abilities. Many skiers/snowboarders will tell you powder skiing is easier and more effortless than skiing the variable hardpack conditions commonly found in-bounds of ski resorts. The advantage of helicopter skiing is using the helicopter to access large amounts of mixed terrain. In many places like Utah, Canada, and Alaska, the slopes that are accessed will resemble the black, blue, and even green slopes of a ski resort. Helicopter skiing in the backcountry requires a higher level of awareness due to natural objects and obstacles not being removed or marked as they are at a ski resort.

What equipment should you pack heli-skiing?

Equipment to pack for heli-skiing includes:
- Powder-skis or snowboard
- Normal downhill skiing outerwear,
- Ski goggles or sunglasses
- A ski helmet or hat for safety and warmth
- Backcountry safety equipment which is often supplied by the heli-ski operator.

If you don't have your own powder-skis or snowboard, you can use demo ski gear that is supplied by the heli-ski company or a local ski shop.

Where is the best heli-skiing in the world?

Helicopter skiing is offered worldwide, and each geographic location and heli-ski operator provides unique advantages.
However, we believe Utah is the best place for heli-skiing in the world. We're biased, but the proof is here. Alta and the surrounding Wasatch mountains receive over 500+ inches of powder snow each winter. Large snowstorms delivering 12+ inches of snow paired with numerous sunny bluebird days provide optimal ski conditions and fly ability. The Wasatch mountains of Utah include a wide-variety of heli-ski terrain that can accommodate skiers of many different levels. Salt Lake City International Airport is the best-served ski destination airport globally and allows access to both of our locations within a 40-minute drive. Additionally, Park City, Snowbird & Salt Lake City offer robust options for lodging, dining, nightlife, other ski and mountain activities, ski-lifestyle amenities such as spas, shopping, and events.

Is Heli-skiing safe?

Protocols and safety measures are put in place to manage and mitigate the risks of heli-skiing in the backcountry. Still, like any outdoor activity, the risk cannot be completely eliminated, and participants can cause harm to themselves while skiing or riding in the mountains. Avalanches can occur in the backcountry, and backcountry safety equipment such as a beacon and airbag backpack is proven to keep heli-skiers safe. Additionally, safety experts say that helicopter transportation has a good safety record, better than small private planes.

Utah's best helicopter skiing

Founded in 1973 as one of the world’s first helicopter ski operators, Powderbird has grown into a premier, year-round, international guide service.

Today our professional guide team is dedicated to providing our clients with the pinnacle experiences in guided helicopter skiing and mountain adventures.

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