26 Oct 8 things you need to know about heli-skiing
Heli-skiing may be available in many corners of the world, but each location offers something different. Snow conditions, terrain, weather… even the local regulations all affect how heli-sking operates in each region. Get the lowdown on the differences between heli-skiing in Europe and elsewhere in our next blog “Heli-skiing in Europe”.
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- Where can you heli-ski in Europe?
SwisSkiSafari is based in the heli-ski heart of Europe. European heli-skiing is highly regulated. Right now you can only heli-ski in Switzerland and certain areas of Italy, mainly the Aosta Valley. Remember this: if you see heli-skiing advertised in France or the Dolomites it means that you may enter a helicopter at some stage during your skiing – but that is not heli-sking as we know it. With knowledge you can decipher the marketing from the reality. Heli-skiing should be an unforgettable, exhilarating and liberating experience, not a normal ski day with a scenic flight added on, unless that is what you are looking for.
Imagine this: the sky is bright blue, the last flake has just landed after a thick overnight snowfall… and you are told that you can’t heli-ski. Although disappointing, this happens often. Heli-skiing is a risky sport. Good visibility, a calm forecast and the stability of the existing snow are critical, as well as many other factors. Typically, right after a big snowfall the conditions are not always stable. Heli-skiing may be a spectacular sport, but the objective is to enjoy it more than once.
How do you keep heli-skiing safe?
Be realistic. Awareness of the conditions in your chosen area is crucial. We know that in Europe, a weather window is essential. This sport depends on nature and so requires time. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to heli-ski every day. However, when it’s not safe to fly due to snow conditions at altitude, it may be ok to ski at lower altitudes with less steep terrain so we offer other skiing alternative to access that fresh snow safely. A trip that offers all sorts of skiing, not only heli-sking is the best solution in Europe.
Why go heli-skiing in multiple countries, on one trip?
Where Switzerland, Italy and France touch each other we can plan trips across multiple countries to maximise your chances of incredible heli-skiing. In this area of Europe we are lucky to be able to ski across borders so you can soak up the unique character of each country and experience the different micro climates caused by the high mountains dividing each country. This increases your chances of jaw-dropping heli-skiing.
Who should you go heli-skiing with?
Put simply, go private. Heli-skiing is an expensive activity for most of us. With just one member of the group not skiing up to your level, you may not be able to enjoy the skiing you’re aiming for. Get a group together who have the same ski and fitness levels for the best chance of a life-changing heli-skiing experience.
Why should I avoid one-day heli-skiing trips?
Operations that promise one-day experiences obviously have a vested interested in flying on a set day, irrespective of whether the snow conditions are optimal or not. Heli-skiing like this can be an expensive and uncomfortable mistake. Would you trust a company more interested in profit than ensuring the quality of your experience? Add to this that it is better if your guide can ski with you before you heli-ski, it’s safer and more fun for everyone. After assessing the groups’ ability, your guide will choose the perfect heli-skiing area for you and he will suggest when to heli-skiing according to the conditions.
When is best for heli-skiing?
Each year is different, but generally the deeper into the season, greater the accumulation of snow at high altitude, which is needed for good heli-skiing. This means that Christmas time is not normally ideal for heli-skiing. In exceptional years we have heli-skied at Christmas, but it’s not reliable. Plan from mid to late January until early April in this area of Europe, with a nice 7-day window, and you’ll have the best chance of outstanding heli-skiing.
How do I assess safety for heli-skiing?
When it comes to safety, do not be intimidated about asking the difficult questions. Be direct, don’t let people talk you around this subject. Ask your operation if they have had any fatal accidents, and how long they have been in business. Find out about the qualifications in the team, access to reliable snow and weather information. Armed with the right information, you’re more likely to experience the magic of heli-skiing safely.
For a unique, private heli-skiing safari in the Alps, and a mountain experience where the world can’t find you, look no further. Swiss Ski Safari is your answer. Get in touch and we’ll take you on an unforgettable heli-ski adventure
Warm regards from the mountains,