There are few experiences out there quite as unique and breathtaking as Alaska Heli-Skiing. The name is fairly self-explanatory. A helicopter drops you off on top of a mountain in Alaska, and you ski down!
Don’t be fooled! This is no easy feat. With runs up to 4000 feet and extremely steep slopes, a lot can go wrong. Heli-Skiing is reserved only for the very best. The elite of the elite skiers. With that comes a hefty price tag, week-long trips costing upwards of $15,000.
Risks are high and accidents do happen. So be aware of your abilities, understand the risks (take avalanche training), but most importantly get out there and have fun. These are experiences you will never forget!
This will depend, every person has a different reason for seeking adventure. There is no doubt this is a thrill of a lifetime, far exceeding thrills like skydiving and bungee jumping. Anyone can do those things with no training. Alaska Heli Skiing requires a great deal of training, skill, and courage.
Interested in an adventure but Heli-Skiing out of your budget? Here are some other options for those thrill-seekers among us.
There are several things to expect when planning a trip – which we will get into after this. Here is a list of things to expect when going on an Alaska Heli Skiing adventure:
Alaska Heli Skiing takes you to the tops of some truly remarkable mountain ranges. In some cases, you will get epic views of Denali – North America’s highest peak. Don’t forget to take a minute and soak in the beauty of Alaska before descending on your runs.
You, and your group, will have the slopes to yourselves. No crowding, or waiting in line for the chair lift only to have a run last 5 minutes. You are descending down 3,000-foot slopes at angles you can’t dream off. If you are doing a full day, you may get 6-7 runs in… so keep that in mind and make the most out of each one.
Weather conditions can throw a wrench in your plans. Helicopters will not take off in bad weather or if there is a risk of bad weather. Bad weather could spell disaster. So keep this in mind when you are planning a trip. Try to target the best time of year and book with an operator who has years of experience. You are spending a lot so make sure you get the most out of it.
Mountains and high altitude is a recipe for disaster. Avalanches are common and can happen when least expected. These are risks you must be aware of and conscious of at all times. The slopes are incredibly steep, you will be descending very fast. Crashing and emergency medical evacuations are not uncommon. Proceed at your own risk.
You are planning the trip of a lifetime, and possibly spending a huge chunk of cash to do so. As mentioned earlier – the weather will play a major role in how many times you get out and how many runs you can make. It’s not unheard of for a 7-day trip to only get 1 day in. Please be aware of this as there is no controlling mother nature.
Make sure you plan far enough in advance to ensure you can take the 7-10 days off depending on how long you want to be away.
Alaska Heli Skiing is not cheap. Start saving up ahead of time. The old saying you get what you pay for applies here. Don’t go for the cheapest option. There are risks involved and you want to be with a group that knows what they are doing.
Do your research ahead of time. There are different operators for different needs. If you are looking for an all-inclusive option – some operators manage everything from flights, resorts, and drops. Or you can find your own accommodations and just take a day trip with a company. The Chugach Mountains always come highly recommended.
It’s been mostly recommended to go between Mid-March and Mid to Late April – that is not a long window. This is not a year-round activity. Plan ahead to get in the best time so conditions are optimal. Even then, the weather can still impact your trip.
This is not an activity for beginners or even intermediate skiers. Heli-skiing is the pinnacle of skiing. So train hard. Get in the best shape of your life so you can enjoy it the most.
If this is your first time going then make sure you know what to expect. Do some research, speak to people who have done it before, and pick the tour that works best for you.
If you are a highly experienced skier, you want to travel with a team that matches your skill level. If someone has an accident or gets hurt you will be there to help them. Or if they take a long time to descend you have to wait for the next run, this will mean fewer runs and less bang for your buck.
See our list of the best gear below. Make sure you have it all covered as the temperatures can be really frigid, compared to your regular slopes.
Finally, make sure you have fun. This is the trip of a lifetime and nothing will ever compare to the thrill and adventure you will experience when Heli-Skiing in Alaska. If you’re ever interested in another type of adventure you can always try biking across the USA.
The gear you take with you is very important to ensure your safety and comfort. Temperatures will be really low.. you will have to stay warm and minimize exposure. Here is a list of some essential gear to have ready to go
– Skis (obviously)
– Ski Helmet
– Avalanche safety gear
Remember that for many of these items it is wise to bring multiples in case you lose/break them such as goggles and gloves.
Alaska Heli Skiing is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Sure you can go every year but it isn’t a cheap experience. Heli-Skiing is the pinnacle of skiing. If you are getting bored of the black diamonds at your local ski hills then this might be the right trip for you. Make sure you plan ahead, get the right gear, go with the right people and understand the risks. If you do it right and get the right weather, you will surely have an experience unlike any other in your life. Have fun!!