heli-skiing questions

Powderbird FAQ

Are snowboarders allowed?
Yes! We typically have 35% Snowboarders booked each day.
Why Powderbird?
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?
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?
Do I have the fitness level to helicopter ski or snowboard?
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?
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?
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  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.
When is the best time to heli-ski?
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.