Heli Skiing Safety Tips

Heli skiing and alpine skiing are some of the most exciting things you can do on a mountain. Preparing for these activities is relatively easy; turn up at a resort or book a few days heli ski vacation at your location of choice. Making sure you’re safe on the mountain is also a priority however, and there are a few things you can do to prevent injury.

One of the easiest and best safety tips is to wear a certified helmet. Considering the huge number of other sports and occupations that you find participates wearing helmets – bicyclers, horse riders, construction workers, football and baseball players, to list just a few, it seems sensible that skiers should follow suit. The National Ski Patrol (NSP) and the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) both encourage wearing a helmet, as do many other organizations, however it is not mandatory at most locations.

Here are some other great safety tips that you may want to consider before hitting up the mountains.

Get Proper Instruction

Whether you are heading out into the backcountry or just want to improve your technique on the piste, hiring an expert is a great way to gain some added and local knowledge. Even if you’re a confident skier there is always something to be learnt from the professionals.

Anticipate the Weather

In the mountains the weather can turn at the drop of a hat. Check forecasts for the destination you are headed to and prepare accordingly. If the weather looks like it will be particularly bad then try and rearrange your plans.

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Heli landing – makes a great photo!. Photo by Dave Silver

Use Good Gear

Many ski injuries result from ill fitted or outdated equipment. Try not to borrow gear that you’re not familiar with, and if in doubt look for ski shops that have a decent rental supply.

Get In Shape

Warming up and down, before and after you ski are important, but equally so is getting in shape before you set foot on the snow. When you’re in good shape you’ll have less chance of injuring yourself and also find you’ll have more fun once you get out there.

Take Regular Breaks

Tiredness is a large contributor to on snow injuries. Don’t be afraid to take regular breaks when you’re skiing. Take little ones in-between runs, or larger ones for lunchtimes or afternoon snack stops. This will also get you to slow down and appreciate the beautiful surroundings that you are in, instead of whizzing pass them, and taking them for granted.

Know Your Limits

There is nothing wrong or cowardly about knowing your limits. If you are not entirely confident about tackling something, be it a more difficult run, or a larger than normal cliff drop, then don’t be afraid to give it a miss. It’s always better to be able to ski for the whole of your vacation than injure yourself during and miss the rest of it.

Lastly, Respect the Rules

Whether you’re skiing in resort, or taking a once in a lifetime heli skiing holiday then listen to, and respect the rules, of the environment. If a run is closed off, it is for good reason. Similarly, if a guide tells you to do something, make sure you do it and don’t just ignore them.

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