Heli- and snowcat skiing in Canada

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of January 2-8, 1997
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Heli- and snowcat skiing in Canada
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Heli- and snowcat skiing in Canada
Question: I'm wondering about helicopter skiing in Western Canada. What are the best services, the cost, and the best snow conditions in Alberta or British Columbia?

Maryellen Toensing
Lyme, NH
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Your first call should be to Canadian Mountain Holiday (800-661-0252), the biggest and oldest heli-skiing operation in the world. They run seven- to 10-day trips out of nine remote wilderness lodges from mid-December through late April. Snow-wise, when to go isn't really an issue, since they have incredible amounts of it ("powder up to your armpits," says one CMH insider) pretty much all winter. Price-wise, however, the "low" season--mid-December through late January, and late March through late April--is definitely more affordable, with costs of a seven-day trip averaging about $3,295 U.S. per person, not including round-trip airfare to Calgary.

If the $400-plus per day cost makes you wince, consider the alternative: snowcat skiing. Sure, you'll have to endure some bumpy rides and you won't log as much vertical per day, but the beauty is that you will be able to access high terrain and deep, fresh powder even when it's dumping snow. All for less than half the cost of heli-skiing. In British Columbia, sign on with Selkirk Wilderness Skiing's all-inclusive six-day package for about $1,900 per person. A half-hour snowcat ride from Meadow Creek in southeastern B.C., the lodge is set against the towering Selkirk Range and surrounded by miles of untracked terrain. Annual snowfall usually hits the 500-inch mark, so there'll be no shortage of deep powder: Each day you'll waft through 12,000-18,000 vertical feet of it. Call 800-799-3499 for more details.

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