Let it snow.

We can safely operate in a variety of weather conditions, from cloudless blue sky to variable and under freshly falling snow. Different conditions will often mean different terrain choice, and we will do our best to find the best snow quality whatever the weather. We have plenty of skiing in gladed and treed areas of the subalpine forest that provide excellent visibility reference for those grey and snowy days. Although for many people, a blue-sky day is how they picture perfection, the snow is just as good (and sometimes better!) on those stormy and overcast days too.

An important note on forecasts: they’re unreliable! We’re not kidding. Weather conditions in the mountains are prone to rapid and extreme changes, and often unfold very differently than the forecast predicted. It is not uncommon to see different weather conditions than what was predicted only the night before! For those seeking the perfect day to secure their booking, it is important to be prepared for the unexpected. Mother Nature will always keep us guessing.

Because weather can improve (or worsen) dramatically in the course of an hour or two, we ask all guests to meet at our day lodge at the appropriate start time regardless of how things look first thing in the morning. The decision to go or postpone the day will not be made until later in the morning.

If heavy fog, high winds, or other poor weather prohibits safe flight, we will attempt to reschedule your reservation for another day within your holiday. If this is not possible, you will receive a full refund in the same method as original payment, no questions asked.

Where to?

With over 2,000 square kilometres of mountainous terrain for our exclusive use, finding fresh tracks is not a problem. A 10-15 minute flight will transport you to an empty and pristine winter landscape. We have over 250 named runs offering every conceivable type of terrain and exposure. Wide-open glaciers, high alpine bowls, gladed subalpine forest, open cutblocks, and trees – that’s some of the variety that you can experience, sometimes all in the same run!

And the snow, oh the snow. We are lucky enough to operate in the famous Interior ranges of British Columbia, which have earned their reputation for reliable amounts of fresh snow and exceptionally light, dry powder. Our guests come from all over the world to experience the joy of carving effortless turns in smooth, fast, champagne powder.

What kind of terrain you may ski is decided by the guiding team on the morning of your day. Many factors are considered, foremost the safety of all participants. In addition to safety, the guides always strive to find the best snow conditions possible. Fresh tracks in great snow – that’s what we deliver.

The difficulty level of the terrain is comparable to black (advanced) runs at a ski resort. However, unlike the experience in-bounds, our heli-ski runs offer beautiful, trackless powder, a variety of natural terrain features with optional airs, steeper sections, and treed glades, plus the joy of sharing a vast area of wilderness with only a few other people.

CLICK IMAGE TO SEE ALL TERRAIN

Depending on the avalanche conditions, guests booking the Exclusive program may have the opportunity to ski more advanced terrain.

Your safety is our highest priority. Period.

Our primary role as heli-ski guides is to use our extensive experience to ensure the safety of the group so that every guest has an enjoyable ski adventure. Heli-skiing presents natural risks and hazards, and we engage with the highest professional standards to minimize those risks for all participants.

All our guides hold a professional certification from the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) or the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA/UIAGM). Training and certification with these organizations guarantee a high degree of competence in ski guiding, avalanche forecasting, weather interpretation, emergency response, as well as ski instruction.

We believe every client has the right to be informed about all aspects of their heli-ski experience, and we endeavour to promote awareness, education and confidence, so everyone can feel comfortable in their surroundings. Each guest will receive a thorough safety orientation upon arrival, outlining best practice, awareness of risk, and emergency procedures in case of avalanche or helicopter malfunction. All guests will receive an avalanche transceiver and a tutorial on its use.

Along with ongoing observations and field tests within our heli-ski area, we also participate in a daily information exchange within the community of backcountry operators in B.C., operated by the Canadian Avalanche Association, to inform and stay informed on weather and snowpack issues in our neighbourhood and beyond.

Our helicopter pilots are highly experienced in mountain flying conditions. They have been specially trained for heli-skiing, and are very familiar with our operation. All flight operations comply with the Transport Canada approved Standard Operating Procedures.

Acknowledgment of Risk

Safety is our prime concern. Our guides and pilots do their best to keep their guests from exposure to potential hazards. However, risks associated with heli-skiing cannot be entirely eliminated.

Guests must acknowledge this fact and are required to sign a release of liability / acceptance of risks agreement. Copies of this agreement are available from our office or by clicking here.

For more information

Please visit the sites below for more information on the agencies that provide training and safety regulation for avalanche and guiding professionals in British Columbia.

Ability matching. No luck required.

Although heli-skiing isn’t appropriate for beginners, there is a range of abilities that can enjoy the thrill and backcountry adventure safely and enjoyably. The trouble is, having a range of abilities in one group doesn’t always make everyone happy.

The ability of those in your group can have the biggest impact on how much value you get from your experience.

So we should screen people ahead of time to match them together, right? Much tougher than it sounds. Trust us, after forty years of experience, we know that screening by a phone conversation produces inconsistent results.

People can only reference their experience in their home environment, which can stack up quite differently in pow conditions and natural terrain. We all do our best, but what it comes down to is that the word ‘advanced’ can just have too many interpretations to get a real match.

So what’s the solution? If you have the resources to adapt in the field, pre-screening becomes a non-issue!

With three guides to one group of nine guests, once we land and get going, the group can be split into whatever numbers allow for everyone to move at the pace they’re ready for.

Want to ski fast and keep the pace challenging? Your lead guide will be ready to show you the way.

Want to take your time, or are you unsure how strong you’ll be in powder? You’ll have your own guide so you don’t get left behind, plus a tail guide to sweep for safety.

Group splitting can be re-arranged throughout the day as people either shake off the butterflies or need a break with a slower lap.

We still want to make sure you have the minimum ability level to be safe and get the most out of your investment.

To come onboard, you should be:
  • Confident on black diamond (advanced) runs at a ski resort
  • Fit enough to ski/ride a full day at your local mountain
  • Able to stay in control on your equipment in a variety of terrain
  • Able to traverse on an edge without side-slipping (for snowboarders)

Experience in the deep stuff is an asset, but not required. We love creating new powder junkies!

The right gear will make your day.

Skiers

We recommend the use of powder-specific skis that are wider and softer than hard-pack or carving skis. It’s best to go for less sidecut, less camber, wider under foot with a larger front shovel that will help you float through the deeper snow.

We offer several varieties of skis for those in need of powder sticks. They are available for free and are completely optional. Our feature fleet is Blizzard’s all-new Rustler, plus the Blizzard Zero G. We also have some Salomon Rocker 2’s, Faction Agent, Three Zero and Royale, and Atomic Heli-Daddys. Our ski selection covers hybrid-traditional, flat and reverse camber models, from fat to super-fat widths.

WE DO NOT RENT SKI BOOTS, so make sure you arrive prepared with the first element in your setup.

Snowboarders

We carry a small selection of Never Summer powder boards with bindings that are available complimentary on a first come, first serve basis. In general, snowboards should be at the large end for your height and weight, to ensure adequate flotation in the deeper snow. If you think your board is not powder-appropriate, let us know and we’ll put you down for a rental. WE DO NOT RENT SNOWBOARD BOOTS.

If you have your own, our guides can help adjust your bindings, if needed, for the best powder-riding stance.

For additional rental resources, check out Wilson’s Mountain Sports in Lake Louise or Selkirk Sports at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

Purcell is proud to be partnered with Helly Hansen and Blizzard/Tecnica, who are our chosen source for professional-grade apparel and gear for our guides. 

HH_block_red_white_HellyHansenLogo_BLIZZARD_oriz_nero

Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers.

When is the best time to go?

The answer depends on what factors are most important to you. Generally speaking, December and January offer the lightest, deepest conditions, but also the coldest temperatures. February and March are our most popular months, and offer a good balance between fluffy snow and warmer temps. April is still an excellent time to go, offering beautiful snow quality, with a higher likelihood of being able to ski steeper terrain.

How far in advance should I reserve?

That depends on when you want to go and how many seats you will need. For the high season of February to mid-March, we recommend reserving your seats 2-3 months in advance. Add 2 weeks to that if you are booking more than 5 seats. At other times of our season, you may wait until 4-6 weeks before your preferred date. This is only a general guideline, so if you only have one day available, contact us early to avoid missing out!

What kind of terrain do you ski and how steep is it?

We have over 2,000 square kilometres of terrain to choose from. Fresh tracks are not a problem! Depending on the weather, visibility and avalanche stability, we ski alpine glaciers and open slopes, cleared cutblocks, in the trees, and in gladed areas of the subalpine forest. Most runs are a mix of open and treed slopes.

The difficulty level of our heli-ski runs, in terms of how steep they are, is comparable to black (advanced) ski resort terrain. However, unlike the experience at a resort, our runs offer beautiful, trackless powder, a variety of natural terrain features with optional airs, steeper sections and treed glades, plus the joy of sharing a vast area of wilderness with only a few skiers.

What happens if you cannot fly?

If we are unable to run your tour due to unsafe flying conditions, you may re-book your tour to another date. If this is not possible, there is no charge and we will provide a full refund of all deposits paid.

 

How long does it take to ski a run?

It depends on where you go and how fast you ski. On average, a single descent takes about 30-45 minutes. Often the first run of the day takes a little longer as we have more information to give you, and as people get comfortable in the snow and on any rented gear.

How many vertical metres/feet do we ski in a day?

The average vertical of our runs (distance from drop-off to pick-up) is about 700 metres, or 2300 feet. So, on your 5 run day, you could expect to ski about 3500 metres / 11,500 feet.

Will I be grouped with people of the same ability level?

Yes. Our innovative custom-group program is unique in the industry and is designed to manage groups better than ever by splitting up by ability once in the field to satisfy appropriate pace for all participants. We include enough guides in each group to ensure a high priority on safety while still meeting your fun and challenge expectations!

If you want to get your own group together, that’s all good too. We won’t need to split you if you’re all friends wanting to ski together.

How many people are in each group? How many fit in the helicopter?

Each group is made up of nine guests and three guides. All twelve fit in the heli at one time together. If you want to get your own group together and are at the same ability, you can max out at ten guests with two guides, and you’ll ski as a group of ten all day.

I only want to ski in the high alpine on open slopes. When should I book to guarantee this?

In order to ski in the high alpine, we need good visibility. Since terrain choice is dictated partly by weather, and the weather is beyond anyone’s control, there is no way to guarantee the type of terrain you prefer. Even if the forecast the day before is calling for clear skies, the weather in the mountains is prone to extreme and rapid changes. We will keep you in safe terrain with the best snow we can find, but it is necessary to be prepared for variety and a change in plans.

I want to go on a blue-sky day. Can I book last-minute when the weather looks perfect?

We are happy to accept reservations up until 7pm the evening prior, as long as availability exists. While this may give you the best chance of knowing the weather, be prepared to be surprised. No forecast is a guarantee, and the weather can change rapidly in the mountains. See our weather page for more details and the latest forecast.

How good do I have to be to go heli-skiing/boarding?

To have fun and get the most out of your day, at a minimum you should be:

  • Confident on black (advanced) runs at a ski resort
  • Fit enough to ski/ride a full day at your local mountain
  • Able to stay in control on your equipment in a variety of terrain
  • Able to traverse on an edge without side-slipping (for snowboarders)

Experience in the deep stuff is an asset, but not required. We love creating new powder junkies!

How old do you have to be to go heli-skiing?

All heli-skiers and riders need to be a minimum age of 14 years. They also need to meet the minimum ability level just like everyone else – i.e. be confident on black (advanced) runs at a resort.

CRUCIAL: Any participant under 19 years of age needs to be accompanied on the tour with a parent or legal guardian. It’s important that the parent be on board with the idea, and that means they should literally be on board, in the helicopter.

If these requirements are met, we are more than happy to welcome young heli-skiers and riders to Purcell. They are always a joy to spend the day with!

Do you mix skiers and boarders?

We sure do. We believe whatever equipment you’re using, we’re all in it for the same reason – great snow! Because all our guides can snowboard and ski, we’re always sensitive to the needs of both skiers and riders, so everyone feels welcome.

What type of skis/snowboard do I need for heli-skiing?

For information on the best gear to enjoy your day, and what gear is included complimentary for all guests to use, please visit our equipment page.

What time does the day start/end?

All guests, regardless of the type of package booked, are asked to meet at our day lodge by 8:15am. We conduct a safety orientation and set up any rental skis prior to taking off. Depending on where you go and how fast you ski, guests are usually back at our day lodge between 3:00 – 4:30pm. You are then invited to relax in front of the fire and enjoy our après-ski meat and cheese platter. Guests are on their way shortly after.

Where are you located and do you provide a shuttle service?

Our day lodge and heli-pad are located just outside of the town of Golden, off the Trans-Canada highway #1. For directions and driving distances, please visit our location page. All guests are responsible for their own transportation to and from our operation.

Are meals provided?

Upon arriving in the morning, guests may help themselves to fresh-baked muffins and hot tea. A hearty packed lunch is provided out in the heli-ski area, and includes home-made sandwiches on hearty bread, baked treats, fruit, granola bars, juice, tea and water. Finally, you’ll arrive back to our day lodge to a delicious meat, cheese and veggie platter, a well-deserved snack.

Do you offer accommodation?

No. Our guests usually choose to stay in Banff, Lake Louise, or in Golden. Besides the many fine hotels in Banff and Lake Louise, Golden boasts a wide variety of accommodation options, all within a short drive to our day lodge. Learn more about hotels in Golden here.

What is required to make a reservation?

Ready to make your dream a reality? Please visit our booking and cancellation policies on our packages page here for full details.

Why should I choose Purcell?

Great question. We’ve got several reasons for you here, or please feel free to call and speak to one of our friendly reservation agents to find out what makes Purcell unique.