5 Smart Ways to Make Your Heli-Ski Trip Even Better
There’s a habit of conversation that’s become a running joke between Jeff and me.
I noticed it many years ago when I was still getting to know Golden and its people.
Nearly everyone, nearly all the time, seemed to be talking about what “the move” was.
How to take off and store a wetsuit without getting sand in it;
How to dry your ice climbing gear by morning in the back of a camper;
Or how to pack the perfect snacks that last all day but won’t freeze solid on cold touring days.
“See, what the move is…” followed inevitably by sage nodding or fiery debate.
They were on a mission to optimize. To never again shrug into an itchy suit, pull out wet gear or nearly crack your teeth on a frozen Clif bar.
What I came to appreciate is that this maximizing, perfecting spirit is always ready to learn, in an environment – the mountains – that can be unforgiving to those that don’t adapt quickly.
And I have to say, I’ve joined them.
There’s doing it, and then there’s doing it WELL.
If you’re planning a heli-ski trip, here’s what we agree are the five key moves to get the most out of it.
(Oh, and never fear – these photos will make sense by the end.)
Do your research
Not all heli-ski operations are created equal. Location, operating area size, group size, format, helicopter, lodging, vertical – all the factors can be different from place to place.
Understanding how they affect your experience, and what offering matches what you’re looking for, is the first focus.
I made handbooks that break down the crucial qualitative and quantitative factors that will make a difference to your day. You can also browse the Q&A section of our blog, or hit reply and I’ll clear up anything you want to know.
Knowing your options, and what you’re signing up for, is the first step toward high-fiving at the bottom of the run.
Respect the send
Whether you’re a seasoned pow skier ready to chase some vert, or counting down to your first day of heli-accessed backcountry, you don’t want your legs to be shocked by the ask.
I’m sorry, what are we doing? But we’ve just been here, minding our own business, relaxing under your desk!
Your body deserves some prep time.
Ski or ride as many days as you can before a heli-ski trip. Even if your home conditions are nothing similar, building and keeping your endurance up is key.
In novel conditions, your body may be challenged in new ways, and those in better shape do better, simple as that.
And when you can’t ski, train the physical capacities the sport requires. Lucky we made a fitness guide tailored to exactly that.
Give yourself some space
Once you board the heli, there’ll be nothing but space. Thousands of square kilometres of white gold for you and five friends.
But before that day, it’s smart to put some space between leaving home and loading up.
Arrive at least a day ahead of time – a few days is better – so you have time to acclimatize to the area, the elevation, the local conditions. Warm up the stiff travel legs with some laps at Kicking Horse.
Beyond that, being town-based like we are means your trip can include whatever exploration and variety you’re into. Whether that’s seeing other nearby resorts, or just enjoying the different dining Golden has to offer, from sushi to the steakhouse.
Heli-skiing is the peak, but give yourself time to enjoy the slopes on either side.
Right tool for the job
You don’t need to get deep in the gear talk weeds, but having the appropriate skis or board for deep powder is crucial.
If your skis are too skinny or stiff, or your board is too small, you’ll likely be working harder than you’re playing.
Powder skis/poles or a board is included in every package, or you’re welcome to ride your own.
Leaving the hardpack carvers behind is 100% the right move.
Mind the company you keep
If you can, fill the group with your friends for the ultimate private experience. Chartering a helicopter with your buddies will definitely be high on the list of experiences to remember, and hand-selecting that group means you can control for ability, goals and flow.
And if you’re coming with just a couple friends, or even joining solo, the point is, the people are as much part of the experience as the powder.
New ski friends await.
We’re a group of people so driven by the love of skiing that we find ways to do it even at the start of August, like we did last weekend.
As Jeff said about the trip, “It wasn’t steep or deep but it was skiing and skiing is more fun than not skiing!”
We see you.
Your obsession has a home here.
See, what the move is…. is taking your dreams seriously.
As you can likely guess, skiing in August is QUITE different from what we do here all winter. To get a refresh of what that looks like, click here.
Or anytime you want to discuss what “the move” is on any variety of topics, reach out and say hi.
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