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 us in the Heli Lounge in Winston 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 immediately, until we allow some time for it to change.

If heavy fog, high winds, or other poor weather prohibits safe flight, you will either roll your vertical for that day into the subsequent day(s), or we will attempt to reschedule your reservation for another day within your holiday. If this is not possible, full refunds apply to complete cancellations, or partial refunds apply for not completing your vertical allotted.

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 on multi-day packages 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.

Are you ready?

To get the most out of your experience, you want to make sure you’re ready for it. Heli-skiers and riders should be very strong intermediates or better, and your experience beyond the groomed slope, and your skiing fitness, can help you decide which package is right for you.

Although heli-skiing in uncontrolled backcountry terrain isn’t always overly steep in pitch, the deep snow, the trees, and the variation in natural terrain can prove to be a challenge. Being in good physical shape helps a LOT in being able to adjust if the conditions are unfamiliar to you. Make sure your heli-ski day isn’t your first day of the season!

Want a faster pace and the opportunity for more challenging terrain? Go for more than one day. Multi-day packages include more vertical and will build into terrain over the time allotted. Want to make sure everyone in your group is the same ability as you? Easy – just bring five friends and lock down the group for the most private and seamless experience.

1 DAY EXPERIENCE
Guests should ski/ride with confidence on black diamond (or advanced) terrain at a ski resort and be in good physical shape. Some off-piste (off the groomers) skiing or riding experience is strongly recommended. Deep powder experience is an asset but not required.

2 DAY IMMERSION
Guests should ski/ride with confidence all over the ski resort in reasonable conditions and be in good physical shape. Some off-piste (off the groomers) skiing or riding experience is strongly recommended. Some deep powder OR tree skiing experience is recommended.

3 DAY ULTIMATE
Guests should ski/ride with confidence all over the ski resort in reasonable conditions and be in strong physical shape. Off-piste, deep powder and some tree skiing experience is strongly recommended.

Still unsure where your ability falls? First, TAKE OUR QUIZ to find out if you’re Heli-Ski Ready. Or, please reach out and talk to us. We’re always happy to discuss your particular situation and give you our honest advice.

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. Check out our Gear Guide for Deep Powder to see if your skis will be right for flight.

We offer two premium deep-specific options for those in need of powder sticks. They are available for free and are completely optional. We offer Blizzard’s all-new Rustler, or the Blizzard Zero G. These skis offer traditional camber under foot, early-rise tips, springy feel, mid-fat or fat width, straight tail or twin tip.

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 (check out our Gear Guide for more info), 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, January offers the lightest, deepest conditions, but also the coldest temperatures with more of a focus on tree skiing. February and March are our most popular months, and offer a good balance between perfect powder, varied terrain and warmer temps. Early 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 NOW. All days will book out well in advance. Sometimes you can get lucky with less notice for 1 Day packages. 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 your package is cancelled in full due to poor weather, avalanche stability or mechanical breakdown, you’ll receive a 100% refund, or the option to reschedule to another day in the future. If you do not reach your guaranteed vertical due to poor weather, avalanche stability or mechanical breakdown, Experience guests will receive a refund of C$300/1000 metres not achieved. Immersion and Ultimate guests receive a refund of C$150/1000 metres not achieved.

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 much vertical is included?

The 1 Day Experience includes 4000 metres (~13,000 feet). The 2 Day Immersion includes 9000 metres (~30,000 feet). The 3 Day Ultimate includes 15,000 metres (~50,000 feet). How many runs that translates to depends on the terrain we visit on any given day and the length of runs in that area. Extra vertical is available for C$150/person/1000 metres.

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

If you do not bring your own group, you’ll be matched with others who meet the minimum ability level for that package. With two guides in the group, we have the ability to manage if someone proves to be much slower than the others. We’ll do whatever we can to maintain good flow. The only way to guarantee the ability level of your group is to bring your friends!

How many people are in each group?

Each group is made up of six guests and two guides. You fly in a roomy Bell 205 helicopter. If you have a larger group of friends wanting to ski together (max of 10), please talk to us about package options for larger groups.

We’re a group larger than 6 people. What are our options?

If you’re a self-contained group of more than six people, to a max of ten, please reach out to us about package rates for larger groups.

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 6pm the evening prior, as long as availability exists. For February and first two weeks of March, last-minute availability is hard to come by! Check with us about existing availability, and it will be up to you to take your chances. Booking short-notice may give you the best chance of knowing the weather, but prepare 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 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, and have some off-piste experience
  • 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)

Check out each package for specific ability recommendations for each. And Take our Quiz to find out if you’re Heli-Ski Ready.

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

All heli-skiers and riders need to be a minimum age of 16 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 who is 16, 17 or 18 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!

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. You can also check out our Gear Guide for Deep Powder to see if your equipment will measure up.

What time does the day start/end?

All guests, regardless of the type of package booked, are asked to meet us at 8:00am in the Heli Lounge (top floor) of the Winston Lodge in Kicking Horse village. 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 the heli-pad between 3:00 – 4:30pm. You’re then free to enjoy some apres-ski in the village with your guides or head back to your hotel. Multi-day guests will rest up and be ready to meet in the same place the next morning.

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

We meet at the Winston Lodge at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, right within or nearby to many great accommodation options. Our private heli-pad is located just around the corner. For directions and driving distances, please visit our location page. All guests are responsible for their own transportation to and from our operation.

Can we still meet and fly from Purcell’s day lodge?

If you’re a self-contained group of six (or up to ten), and aren’t interested in staying or skiing at Kicking Horse, we can still arrange to meet and fly from our day lodge, yes. Please talk to us about your group and desired date(s).

Are meals provided?

All packages include a hearty mountainside lunch, eaten picnic-style between runs in the great outdoors. It includes home-made sandwiches, soup, bars, hot tea, baked goodies and more. If you book a multi-day package with accommodation at Copper Horse Lodge, your breakfasts will be included as well. Evening drinks and meals are up to you, so you have the freedom to enjoy your favourites at Kicking Horse or in the valley in Golden.

Do you offer accommodation?

Yes. We’ve partnered with the Copper Horse Lodge to include beautiful boutique accommodations with our 2 Day and 3 Day packages. Accommodation is optional, or you can ask us about adding additional nights for your warm-up inbounds at Kicking Horse before your heli-ski day. Please see our Packages page for all details.

What is required to make a reservation?

A non-refundable deposit of C$500/person/day confirms your booking. Balance is due four weeks prior (for 1 Day packages) or eight weeks prior (for 2 and 3 Day packages). We’ll also take down some info about you to seal the deal. Please reach out by email or phone anytime for more 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.