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Why Heli-Ski in BC?

November 22, 2011 Last Frontier Heliskiing

British Columbia is the birth place of helicopter skiing. For over forty years, skiers from around the planet have flocked to the western most province in Canada to heli-ski in BC. Initially offered in the Kootenay Rockies region of southwest BC, heli-skiing and heli-boarding is now offered throughout the entire province. The other regions include; Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, Vancouver Coast and Mountains, Thompson Okanagan and Northern BC. Helicopter skiing continues to remain a vital part of the BC tourism industry with over twenty spirited heli-ski operators in BC. 

Heli-ski in BC
Last Frontier Heliskiing Tree Skiing, Photo by: Dave Silver

Skiers and snowboarders ‘in the know’ have several reasons why they heli-ski in BC. Quality and consistency of snow, vast geographical area, internationally certified heli-ski guides and recognized safety standards all come together to ensure the best possible heli-ski experience. Northern BC, with it’s history of the Gold Rush, frontier aspects of living and absolute-sheer expanse of mountainous terrain has continued to draw more powder skiers and powder snowboard riders year after year. Oh – and of course the reliability of a consistent snowpack and documented history of deep, dry powder snow pretty much answers the question as to why heli-ski in BC.

Northern BC includes the Skeena, Northern Coastal Range and Northern Rocky Mountains. Most of our heli-ski runs begin in the high alpine, with the highest drop-off point at 8,500 feet (2,600m) and end well below tree line. Historically, the average annual snowfall at 5,200 feet (1,600 meters) is approximately 65 to 100 feet (20 to 30 meters). This translates to an average base of 15 feet (4 meters). It’s not unusual to find over 20 feet (6+ meters) of snow at higher elevations and on the glaciers.

Temperatures are excellent for skiing and range from -5°C to -20°C (23°F to -4°F). At worst, there can be a short spell of rain or periods when the temperature can drop to -30ºC (-22ºF). Historical records show that during 75% of our season the snow conditions in northern BC are excellent to good. Remember though, when a heli-ski guide rates the skiing as ‘good’, it is generally super-good to amazing compared to most resort ski experiences.

For those new to non-resort skiing, be aware that the skiing can vary from the best you have ever experienced to marginal and demanding. Our guides always strive to seek the best possible snow and runs for our guests. With such an enormous area at our disposal, the choices are numerous and good conditions can almost always be found.

Words by: Jordan Grasby

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