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3November 2017

The DO’s and DON’Ts of Heli-Skiing

Is this winter going to be your first time heli-skiing? Or your 100th?

Helicopter parked at the base of the run and ready for lift off

Either way, here’s a few DO’s and DON’Ts to help you jump in with flow and make sure you look like a seasoned pro:

The meet-up in the morning is usually a buzz of excitement, anticipation and nerves.

DO. Take a moment to meet the guides, the other guests, and get to know who you’re going to spend the day with. Share the stoke, and love the stoke.

DO. Enjoy some of Rudi’s world famous tea, but, make sure you use the rest room BEFORE getting completely suited up. All that nervous excitement, plus a cup (or two) of tea will do it. There’s certainly no men’s or ladies rooms once you get out there (heated or otherwise), so use amenities wisely while you can!

DO. Get to the choppa (yes, Arnold voice required). Stay alert to guide instructions for when you need to be ready for first load up, so you don’t keep that heli, or your group, waiting. With mountain weather, sometimes it’s a hurry up and wait game, so you gotta stay on your toes.

DO. Bring a spare pair of gloves, and an extra layer. Being too cold is less than fun. You’ll have a small pack for safety equipment, and it’s a great place to stash the spares.

But on that note,

DO. Be extremely vigilant of any loose items (like spares) when you’re near the helicopter. Don’t get out of the heli until your goggles are in place, jacket is zipped, gloves are on, and everything else is tucked away securely. The wind from the heli can make things disappear, or worse, suck them up into the blades. Heli-ski pros know to be a tight package – no fiddling around with stuff near the machine.

DON’T. WIPE THE INSIDE OF YOUR GOGGLES! Have you done this before then instantly regretted it? Yup. Resist the temptation.

Your goggles have a film inside the lens that stops fogging and moisture sticking to them. Wiping your goggles will remove this film. Your goggles will often fog up when you load into the chopper, but, as soon as you step outside, back into the cold, they will clear right up. As much as you can, leave them be.

Group of heli-skiers and boarders getting ready to ride down the mountain

DON’T. Be first every single pitch. There’s SO much pow to go around. Share the love.

DO. Listen to your guide. Should go without saying, but, listening when your guide is speaking will make sure you know the parameters of the run. Being that guy who goes on his own little adventure “to find the secret stash” doesn’t create trust – it freaks your guide out, seriously.

Heli-skiing is a team sport, and building trust is what encourages your guide to keep showing you more interesting terrain. Don’t put yourself and everyone else’s safety at risk. Your guide is going to make sure you get good skiing, whether you drop first, or last. Go team.

DO. Take your tree buddy assignment seriously. It takes a little effort, but it’s a crucial safety tool in the glades. If your buddy isn’t waiting or can’t follow your pace, speak up and ask for help or a switch. We really want you to play together, stay together.

Skier getting very deep powder turns near the trees

DO. Keep your boots clear. Snow or ice on your boot means your bindings won’t bind properly. Use the toe piece, or better yet, the tip of your ski pole, if you bend that way, to scrape it off. If you didn’t hear the satisfying ‘click’ there might be ice or snow partially jamming the whole scene, which could mean you’re in for a surprising release.

If you haven’t been doing yoga lately, ask your friend or guide to check your boot. A moment double-checking at the top is nothing compared to many minutes wallowing in search of an ejected ski halfway down.

DO. Keep those fingers warm. If you’re prone to frosty digits, strap a couple hotpacks on the backs of your wrists. When your wrists get cold, your arterial vessels constrict, limiting the flow of blood and creating cold fingers. Keeping the arteries warm, and open, will help pump warm blood out to the tips of your fingers.

Heli-skiing pros and soon-to-be-pros unite. Can’t wait to see you out there!

Want some more inside info? Check out these 5 ski tips to prep for the best pow of your life.

 

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Kyle Hamilton main image