The Great Ungroomed

Let's be honest: Heli-skiing means blowing a significant sum—you'll typically drop at least five grand per week. Like all the finer things in life, however, it's not about the cost. It's about what you get for your money. And with more than three dozen outfitters now operating in North America, you can practically handpick the accoutrements that will make up your dream ski odyssey. Just grab your gear and go.

A Bird's Eye View of the Heli-skier's Limitless Expanse     Photo: courtesy, Alaska Heliski

THE CLASSICS
Forty years ago, Hans Gmoser founded the world's first heli-skiing lodge, in British Columbia's Bugaboo Mountains. It still remains the crown jewel of Canadian Mountain Holidays' dozen outposts. Why? See the granite needles of Hound's Tooth and Marmolata Spire piercing Bugaboo Glacier, beyond the dining room window? You'll be making turns beneath them an hour after breakfast.
Info: $6,333 per week; 800-661-0252, www.cmhski.com.

At Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing's 35-year-old compound, in Blue River, B.C., captains of global industry conclude powder days with caviar-sprinkled dinners. But every last dirtbag would sell his mother to ski "Wiegele World"—3,000 square miles of the snow-smothered Cariboo and Monashee ranges. In December, Wiegele opens Albreda Lodge, an intimate 18-room inn about 25 miles north of Blue River.
Info:
Prices start at $5,042 per week at the Blue River compound, and $7,022 per week at Albreda Lodge; 800-661-9170, www.wiegele.com.

NEW FACES
Runs on the peaks of the Pantheon Range, on the inland side of B.C.'s Coast Mountains, average a thigh-frying 3,500 vertical feet. Brand-new Pantheon Heli continues the extreme-frontier theme into the evening, when skiers gather to eat at communal tables on a 1,300-acre working cattle ranch–cum–lodge that generates its own power.
Info: $8,500 per week; 520-465-2924.

The owners of Dream Catcher Heliskiing did their homework before choosing Bella Coola, in B.C.'s central Coast Mountains, to set up shop last winter. It shows: You'll touch down atop 70 feet of annual snowfall and point your skis toward the whales playing in the water of South Bentinck Arm, 4,000 feet below.
Info: $6,008 per week; 403-762-0435, www.dreamcatcherheliskiing.com.

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