POST

4May 2021

Q&A: Seriously, what’s better? Cat-skiing or heli-skiing?

Okay, first thing: you’re here. So I think I’m justified in assuming that you’re interested in heli-skiing.

But I also know that folks are often considering more than one kind of trip that gets them mechanized access to lots of mind-blowing deep powder skiing.

And if you’re the sort of person that can do or wants to do both, yes yes YES. Do it. We would never convince you to choose one rad time over another if there’s no real need to choose.

What follows is for all the times people have asked us how to compare heli-skiing and cat-skiing, which we hope arms you with the info to move forward with confidence and clarity.

small group heli skiing

Are we biased toward heli-skiing? Ummm, yes. No way around it. But we also pride ourselves on being a transparent and straightforward and honest company, and like all our takes, this one is straight-up real.

Second thing: if you’re like, wait, what’s cat-skiing? It’s a kind of mechanized backcountry tour where you ride with your group and guides in a snowcat (a sort-of tank for snow with a passenger cab) and drive up roads that have been built in the snow to get to the top of runs, instead of using a helicopter.

It gets more concise from here on out. Here’s the pros and cons of each, and how we would sum that up if you’re on the fence.

Heli-skiing

THE PROS

[They’re all related to one another. The bold text is the bullet point version.]

The reach of a helicopter means you go far, fast, which means you can access a wide variety of terrain in a short amount of time, and you can get to the next run with tremendous speed. That reach means climbing to high altitude is easy, so we can ski big, alpine terrain, the kind of terrain that’s less affected by warm-ups, which means a longer, colder, reliable season to work with, since you can skip right over low elevations.

Heli-skiing is definitely more wild. No roads, no tracks.

Riding in a helicopter is really cool. Oh yeah. And deep powder. (!!!)

THE CONS

More expensive, poor weather can delay or cancel a day.

Cat-skiing

THE PROS

Happens in all kinds of weather, so there’s no down days, it’s less expensive, great if you love deep trees, and you get time to socialize with the group on the ride up.

And yes, oh yes. Deep powder (!!!)

THE CONS

Driving up the mountain takes time, so most cat-skiing balances keeping the ride time reasonable with shorter runs. There’s not as much time to get to higher altitudes, and if it hasn’t snowed much recently, it can take longer and longer to get to fresh snow. Higher chance of encountering tracks.

heli ski guide stands in front of helicopter

The summary

Just like at the ski resort, finding and getting fresh tracks is an expression of how well an operation can spread people out.

Lifts can do that only so well, for so long. Cats do it much better, adding in that you’ve cut down on a LOT of people. A helicopter does it best. Especially when the chopper only takes six people at a time.

We definitely understand the no-gambling-on-weather appeal of cat-skiing, and that kind of storm skiing can be super-fun. But to have that certainty, you have to trade off all the advantages that the heli brings.

 

And multi-day heli-skiing has more advantages still. Check out the difference between single and multi-day heli-skiing here.

 

 

 

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Link to The Heli-Ski Pricing Guide