Heli-Skiing and Heli-Hiking – British Columbia, Canada
High-Altitude Heaven Just a Hover Away
British Columbia’s remote southeast corner is the largest contiguous wilderness area in the Americas and a year-round wonderland just begging to be explored – but how, as the area is almost completely devoid of roads? Canadian Mountain Holidays solved that problem beginning in 1965, ferrying in outdoor enthusiasts aboard its fleet of helicopters.
Today, it remains one of the most reputable heli-adventure outfitters in the world, and in southeastern BC also operates twelve lodges perched at about 4,000 feet in the Cariboo, Bugaboo, Monashee, and Purcells mountain ranges. In the winter months, each lodge promises its forty-some heli-skiing guests exclusive access to 14,000 square miles of virgin snow – about 300 times more than even the largest of North America’s ski resorts can offer, and without a chairlift (or chairlift line) in sight.
Only strong, intermediate to advanced skiers need apply: In the course of one mind-boggling week, helicopters set them down for eight to fifteen different runs per day, all on snow uncrossed by any other human’s tracks.
The preferences and skills of the individual – and the expert guides and pilots’ consideration of weather and snow conditions – will determine the day’s adventure, all bookended by mountain-man breakfasts and epicurean dinners, with a massage to round things out.
As soon as the snows melt, expectations turn to hiking and trekking through a primordial world full of wildflowers, massive glaciers, rivulets, and monumental views of dozens of snow-capped, mile-high peaks. Some heli-hiking ambles are gentle enough to accommodate four-generation-family groups; others require a degree of technical skill and even some mountaineering experience – the possibilities are endless.