Heli-Skiing & Cat-Skiing in British Columbia

Heli-Skiing & Cat-Skiing in British Columbia

Cat & Heli-Skiing in British Columbia, Canada

Photo by: Keoki Flagg

British Columbia, Canada is becoming heralded as the world's number one skiing destination. Consistent heavy snowfalls and variety of mountain ranges provide the province with the best attributes for any skier. In addition to the numerous ski resorts throughout BC, you can also find the ultimate skiing experiences - Snow Cat and Heli-Skiing.

Even within this niche category, there are differences. Daily Cat and Heli-Skiing operations offer the 'first timer' an introduction to the thrill of skiing virgin powder. Remote destination lodges offer multiple day packages and are considered to be the creme de la creme by powder hounds from around the planet.

  From the Pacific coast of Canada, 800 miles across to the Rockies you will find a number of ranges each offering their individual climate.

In general, the Coast Mountains in the west provide a moist and milder climate, conducive to very heavy snowfalls and sometimes rain in winter. As the warm air mass passes over the glaciated areas to the north east into the South Chilcotin range, the air is cooled and the snow becomes light and fluffy. Moving east, temperatures drop and the Monashees, Purcells and Selkirks offer probably the best tree skiing in the world.

One Heli-operator has recently started skiing just east of the Southern tip of the Alaskan Panhandle in the Skeena Mountains. Here terrain is probably the wildest of all, with temperatures remaining ideal.

Safety has traditionally been a hot topic with the potential dangers involved in backcountry skiing. The word 'Avalanche' tends to be places in the same class as Flood, Fire and Famine. However, when treated with its deserved respect, it can be tamed. Most, if not all operators are members of the BC Helicopter and Snowcat Skiing Operators Association (BCHSSOA). The aim, to make safety the number one priority.

In conjunction with the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) snow conditions and stability information is collated and distributed using the Internet. Stability can change not only from mountain range to mountain range but from slope to slope. This stability assessment will dictate your day's skiing. The guides' decisions are paramount and should be respected always.

The second element to safety is the flying. Helicopter skiing pilots are seasoned professionals who have had many 1000's of hours in mountainous winter flying conditions. They are alert to the onset of sudden weather changes and work together with your guide to ensure maximum safety. All said, you should be aware that you are dealing with Mother Nature when venturing into the mountains and accidents can happen. These find their way onto your television screens and unfortunately do not represent the great efforts made to ensure your well being.

Are you thinking of trying Snow Cat or Heli-Skiing for the first time? Perhaps you are simply returning for your annual pilgrimage to BC's awesome peaks? We suggest that you contact the operators directly and find out what they have on offer. They are there to help you make the right choice. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • How many groups per helicopter
  • Type of lodging
  • How much vertical footage guaranteed
  • Extra vertical charges
  • Availability


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    Heli-Skiing & Cat-Skiing in British Columbia