Storm Skiing During Your Heliski Vacation

January 16, 2017 Vince Shuley

In a perfect world, every winter ski vacation would have snow falling from the sky between the hours of 4pm and 6am, then clear to bluebird skies for that picturesque moment captured in all those ski resort marketing photos. But the reality is, Nature rarely works that way. Snow storms come rolling through mountain ranges, dropping the white stuff but sometimes lingering for a tad longer than needed. This can play havoc on heliski holidays, limiting flight time and restricting terrain. The good news is that at Last Frontier Heliskiing,  storm skiing is a regular occurrence and one that our guests enjoy.

Storm Skiing
No sunshine? No problem. | Photo – Dave Silver

Dressing for the Occasion

Making the most out of storm skiing starts with the right clothing. Waterproof outerwear is a must, so if those old ski pants left you with a wet crotch last winter, it’s time to upgrade to some Gore-Tex or a similar weather proof garment. Under that outerwear you should have a quality base layers next to skin and some fleece or puffy layer depending on the outdoor temperature. If in doubt, bring the kitchen sink on your heliski holiday.

Storm Skiing
When the fog rolls in, retreat to the trees | Photo – Cedric Bernardini

Embrace the Trees

One of the biggest surprises for our European guests is the quality of tree skiing here in British Columbia. When visibility is poor and winds are high, helicopters need to fly at low altitude up and down valleys. On the storm skiing days, that means staying close to the trees. It requires a slightly different technique and looking three to four turns ahead to make sure you have room to turn. Tree skiing is also some of the deepest powder you can experience, so you definitely won’t be short on snow.

Storm Skiing
Try getting this on a sunny day in the alpine | Photo – Randy Lincks

Choose a Reliable Heliski Operator

Not all heliski operators are created equal. The ability to still fly and provide an excellent ski experience during a snow storm comes down to terrain variety, economical access (ie proximity to the flight hangar or fuel caches) and a strict operational procedure to ensure guest safety. Here at Last Frontier Heliskiing, our coastal locations at Bell 2 and Ripley Creek mean that snow storms are a regular occurrence, but with 2.2 million acres of terrain to choose from, there’s always somewhere to ski whatever the weather.

You may just get lucky and be blessed with fresh snow and seven straight days of sunshine. But if you don’t, rest assured that some storm skiing will be good for the soul.