Heli-skiing might sound like something out of a Bond movie, but on the west coast of Canada it’s possible to touch down at Vancouver airport and then take off again in a helicopter that will whisk you straight onto the slopes for some of the finest backcountry skiing in the world. Here's our round up of heli-skiing Vancouver on an action packed trip.
It’s possible to ski or board on three mountains surrounding the city of Vancouver in British Columbia: Grouse Mountain is a popular tourist attraction thanks to the easy-access gondola (only 15 minutes drive from downtown), and its beginner-friendly snowshoe trails and ski runs.
Within 30 minutes of the city you’ll find Mount Seymour and Cypress Mountain on the North Shore, opposite the downtown peninsula - both offer skiing, snowboarding and snowshoe trails, with shuttle buses taking winter sports fans up the mountains.
If you want to ski on pristine backcountry snow and you have a budget bigger than a shuttle bus ticket, heli-skiing could be the ultimate thrill.
Many heli-skiing tours operate out of Whistler, which is only a two-hour drive from Vancouver and is famous for its village ski resort and the part it played in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Powder Mountain offers heli-skiing day tours from Vancouver - any city hotel that has a helipad can act as a pick up point. A four-seater private helicopter costs $7,200 (plus tax) and they’ll fly you one and a half hours from Vancouver to find untouched skiing opportunities amongst a variety of terrain, from alpine glaciers to glades and chutes to couloirs. Powder Mountain also offers a ‘Stockbroker Package’ - a heli-ski trip that starts at 1.30pm after the New York and Toronto Stock Markets have closed for the day.
The mountains that heli-skiers typically visit receive up to three times the amount of dry powder dumps that Whistler Blackcomb does – around 10m of snow each winter.
Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing’s Heli Village is located in Blue River, BC and offers multi-day heli-skiing tours from their lodge. Heli-skiers first fly from Vancouver to Kamloops to join the helicopter tours, and can then choose from three-, five- and seven-day packages for the ultimate heli-ski escape. Starting from $4,000 per person for a three-day trip, the package includes helicopter transportation, ski/board rental, three meals a day and accommodation in a luxury log cabin.
A cheaper option is to combine a holiday in the ski resort of Whistler with a day’s heli-skiing. Whistler Heli-Skiing has been running for 33 years and their terrain includes 173 glaciers and 475 runs, which covers an area 50 times the size of Whistler Blackcomb ski area. Their Classic Experience, which is suitable for skiers with no previous powder experience, includes three runs and starts from $899 per person.
Want to ski and enjoy a helicopter ride without the price tag of heli-skiing? Take the gondola up Grouse Mountain, the closest ski slope to the city, and catch a helicopter ride around the peak of the mountain for a taste of the high life.
Have you been heli-skiing Vancouver? What’s your top backcountry ski spot? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Written by Amy Watkins
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About the author: AmyWatkinsAmy Watkins
Amy Watkins (www.amywatkins.com) is an award-winning British travel journalist who has lived in Vancouver since May 2012. Whilst on assignment for UK newspapers and magazines she has eaten thousand-year-old eggs in Hong Kong, swam with crocodiles in Australia and braved a week in the Caribbean with a celebrity chef.