January 2019 Heli Skiing Conditions Report

January 30, 2019 Steve Rosset

After a very snowy start to our 24th heli skiing season in December, classic La Niña snowstorms are continuing to deliver a fresh supply of powder and great heli skiing conditions. January month to date snowfall accumulation has just passed the 284 cm mark and the storms keep lining up. Around Bell 2 Lodge, the walls of snow are building up impressively. Our snow clearing crew has been kept busy maintaining access amongst our collection of chalets, lodge buildings and maintenance facilities.

Bell 2 Lodge Conditions

As you head into the higher elevations, the snowbase has built up nicely for this time of the year. In our Red Flat skiing area, not far from Bell 2 Lodge, we are currently sitting at a snowbase of around 200 cm [79 inches] at 1,000 m [3,300 ft] in elevation. Snow coverage is excellent and we are skiing right down into the valley bottoms on many of our runs in the nearby Owl Creek drainage.

Warmer than average temps this winter have resulted in slightly above average non-skiing days so far this season [1.1 per week on average]. This is primarily a result of occasional warming trends that have followed major storm systems. These warm spells can create inversions and low valley fog, making it difficult to fly on some days. Despite some downtime, our average vertical skied so far in January is averaging right around 30,000 vertical meters [98,500 vertical feet] per week. On those down days, our guests have been more than happy to rest their tired legs, or head out on our newly prepared multipurpose trail that can be used for fat biking, snowshoeing, or Nordic skiing.

In the Alpine, our average weekly snow quality ratings have ranged from Very Good to Excellent. Lower down in the trees, the quality of skiing has been consistently rated Good to Awesome, no doubt helped by constant snow refreshes. When the sun came out, it rewarded us with some absolutely spectacular bluebird heli skiing days. The sun sat low on the horizon, creating a mesmerizing field of diamonds effect in the snow. Blankets of valley fog made for some incredible views and flight experiences as we explored far and wide.

Ripley Creek Update

January 26th marked the first day of heliskiing at our Ripley Creek operation based out of Stewart. Our guides spent a week setting up for the season, which involves getting our remote fuel caches in order, installing radio repeaters on mountain tops and checking that all the gear is in order. The base crew was busy preparing the Bitter Creek Café, where we house our gift shop, restaurant and bar. Up in the mountains, we are reporting a snowbase of 234 cm [92 inches] at 1,000 m [3,300 ft] in elevation and good ski quality above treeline. It was a really weird and disappointing first day to the season with torrential rain to about 1,000 m. It was snowing up high so when the skies turned blue the following day, spirits were lifted. A couple of days of clearer weather provided some good alpine skiing but not the usual access to our tree runs that we have in January. As we write, it’s now cooler and snowing hard again down to sea level. So what can learn from all of this? The weather will always change 🙂

If you’re keen on tracking current conditions, make sure you bookmark our heliski conditions portal. It has everything you need to keep up to date including current weather, a 5 day forecast, weather map and daily heliski conditions feed. Photo updates are best enjoyed via our Facebook and Instagram feeds. Limited opportunities to ski or board remain for the 2019 season, head over to our handy trip builder for availability.