When is the best time of year to go heliskiing?
There’s an obvious answer to the question of when is the best time of year to go heliskiing: whenever you can. If you’ve only got one shot, however, timing is everything and, in the absence of a crystal ball, choosing a week for your trip of a lifetime can feel like a pretty big gamble. While we can’t predict the future any more than the next heliski company, we do have a few tips and suggestions to help define the best window of opportunity.
The first thing to decide upon are your goals for the trip, as different months of the year come with their own advantages. If saving money is high on your priority list, consider booking something in the early or late season when many operations offer specials. Typically, the high season runs from Christmas and New Year’s Eve to the end of March, so this is when prices are higher with empty seats fewer and father between. You’ll almost always find deals on heli ski packages in early December or mid-late April.
Of course, the high season is popular for a reason. Over half of the 25+ metres (80 feet) of average annual snowfall in Northern BC flies between December and February, so this is obviously when you can expect to find the deepest, freshest tracks. While no season comes with a guarantee, chances are good that you’ll be skiing nothing but powder if you book during the high season. It’s no secret, however. Seats sell out very quickly during this 8-10 week block, so if you want a piece of the action it’s best to get in on it ASAP.
The downside to booking a heliski vacation during the height of winter storm season is that you can also expect to have a down day or two when the helicopters can’t fly due to weather. Avalanche danger is typically higher during the months of January-March as well, which can further limit choices in terms of safe, accessible terrain. This isn’t an issue if you’re into world-class tree skiing, but high alpine cruises tend to be fairly elusive this time of year.
The best time of year to go heliskiing if you want the picture postcard views and endless runs from tippy-top to valley bottom is actually in the spring. Late March to early April is my personal favourite slice of the ski season as snow stability is generally a bit less spicy and the days are good and long, allowing for up to two more hours of skiing steep slopes in the late afternoon sun before hitting the hot tub and raising a glass to incredible life choices. Waiting until later in the season also means that you’ve had months to prepare for the physical challenge of crushing it from dawn to dusk for an entire week. Early season heliski trips can be a rude awakening for your quads and glutes and liver, and nobody likes starting the winter off with the worst combined injury and hangover in modern history. Honestly. Set yourself up for success.
While some weeks or months are better than others for heliskiing depending upon your goals and personal preference, any vacation spent flying around the mountain tops and surfing to the bottom is one heck of a very good time. With the exception of summer, you really can’t go wrong.