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A first-timer’s guide to heli-skiing in Revelstoke

It’s no longer a secret that the longest, deepest and powder-luscious skiing/boarding is accessed via helicopter — and Revelstoke is the heli-skiing shangri-la. Curious? Here’s what a day of heli-skiing looks like, but we’d encourage you to add it to your list of Revelstoke “musts” for your own experience! In Part 1 of our 4 part mini-series, we give you the heli skiing first timer primer:

By Abby Cooper

Matt of Portland, Oregon enjoying a more than fresh line. Photo: Abby Cooper
Matt of Portland, Oregon enjoying a more than fresh line. Photo: Abby Cooper

Revelstoke heli-skiing: A first timer primer

At 7:30 a.m. I walked into the Coast Hillcrest Hotel with snowboard in tow and a stoke level beyond measure. It didn’t take long to sign waivers, line up demos and ditch my gear for a tasty breakfast. 8:15 a.m. rolled around and it was time to boot up, grab a transceiver and get ready to meet our guides. We loaded the Selkirk-Tangiers Heli-Skiing vans for a quick ride to the helipad for transceiver training and a helicopter safety talk. Just as orientation had wrapped up we heard the helicopter coming in and crouched for its arrival. My group kept our ski gear low to the ground and approached our guide at the ski basket. Circling around to the front of the heli we climbed in, buckled up and didn’t even try to stop smiling. It didn’t matter our age, where we were from or our career choice; we were all here for powder and a good time.

Jumping out of a helicopter into untouched powder is something everyone should experience. It’s like the snow is screaming, “ski me.” Our guide led us through a variety of terrain in the alpine and subalpine including steeps, tree skiing and ridges. Each run had multiple regrouping spots and were always welcomed by our burning legs. The length of the runs and quality of the snow were incomparable to anything I’ve ever experienced before. The helicopters were so efficient, we didn’t miss a beat, just lap after lap of untouched snow. We stopped for lunch mid-day at a picturesque pick up location with bold mountains towering above us hosting glorious terrain aching to be skied, so we skied it – after lunch!

A sample of Selkirk-Tangiers Heli Skiing terrain. Photo: Abby Cooper
A sample of Selkirk-Tangiers Heli Skiing terrain. Photo: Abby Cooper

We arrived back at the Coast Hillcrest Hotel in Revelstoke as the sun was setting. A feeling of contentment and accomplishment greeted us as we took off our boots and placed them on the dryers. We had just skied 10 long powder-filled runs in the infamous Selkirk mountain range and it felt amazing. Après was a time for stories, laughs, photo viewing and contact exchanging. A day that is filled with powder and ends with smiles and new friends is a great day in my books, but don’t take my word for it. For a similar experience, check out Selkirk Tangiers Heli-Skiing on your next Revelstoke visit.

Matt finds his heli-skiing line on a subtle ridge. Photo: Abby Cooper
Matt finds his line on a subtle ridge. Photo: Abby Cooper

HELI-SKIING HOT TIPS

  • Go to bed early the night before, it’s going to be an early start and a big day. You’ll want your body to be as fresh as the powder that awaits you.
  • Stretch it out. Limber those legs!
  • Don’t bring your GoPro chest mount. Studies have shown that it interferes with transceivers so it won’t be allowed on your heli-skiing day.
  • Do bring a goggle wipe. You might need to wipe those goggles off after all your face shots.
  • When you hear the helicopter put your facemask and goggles on so you can watch it land. Not only is it jaw dropping to see the skilled pilots land right next to you, it’s also much safer to watch.
  • Don’t over-eat. Breakfast and lunch are delicious, but try not to overindulge, you don’t want a heavy stomach or to feel sleepy, there are lines to charge!
  • Do more than a one-day trip. On the first day you’ll do safety talks and transceiver training, while a crucial part of stepping foot in the backcountry, it only happens once per a trip, meaning an extra hour of skiing on any heli-skiing bookings that are more than one day.
  • Be flexible with timing. Book your heli-skiing for the start or middle of your trip in case there is a “no fly day” due to bad visibility or other harsh weather conditions. This happens and it’s out of everyone’s control, so having flexibility to reschedule is ideal. Worst case scenario, if you fly with Selkirk-Tangiers Heli-Skiing you’ll be chauffeured to Revelstoke Mountain Resort for a day of resort skiing and fingers crossing for better weather the following day.

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Abby Cooper is a B.C.-based photographer born and raised in the Canadian Rockies with a camera around her neck and a snowboard on her feet. Abby’s love for both photography and snowboarding has not changed over the years; she is always in search for a great picture and deep snow.
Abby Cooper is a B.C.-based photographer. She was born and raised in the Canadian Rockies, and grew up with a camera around her neck and a snowboard on her feet. Abby’s love for both photography and snowboarding has not changed over the years; she is always in search for a great picture and deep snow.

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