With untouched peaks and posh mountain lodges, heli-skiing is a dream for many powder fiends. But a trip can easily run upwards of seven grand per week, so, for most folks, heli-skiing remains just a dream. But even in this pricey segment of an expensive sport deals can be found—it just takes a bit of strategic planning. This is all relative—riding in a chopper will never be as cheap as bumping lifts. But how else are you going to get to those big mountain lines?
Book a Trip During the Shoulder Season
This can net up to 25 percent off prime season rates. For outfits in Alaska, the shoulder season is usually February to early March. In the lower 48, it’s early December, some of January, late March, and April. For most Canadian operations, the shoulder months are December and April. To wit: a five-day trip to CMH’s Gothics lodge in December is $3,828, that’s 25 percent off its high-season rate.
Be Flexible and Fly Standby
Operators are often looking to fill up their lodges and birds last minute and will sometimes offer deals then. At Nevada’s Ruby Mountain Heli Experience, prospective clients can add their names to a standby list. When a spot opens up, they’ll be notified a couple of days before it’s time to ski. A day of standby heli-skiing at Ruby runs $750, compared to $1,475 for a reserved-in-advance day.
Book Day Packages or Single Heli Bumps
Located outside of Revelstoke, BC, Selkirk Tangiers offers a day of heli-skiing starting at $750 per person, which includes five runs, breakfast, and ski and avalanche gear rental. In the U.S., Colorado’s Telluride Helitrax and Utah’s Powderbirds deliver day packages that start at about $1,235 per person and deliver six runs, ski and avalanche gear, and chow. Silverton in southwest Colorado serves up what might be the best deal in ski country: a single heli bump for $179 per person per ride.
Consider Heli-Assisted Touring
These programs offer a helicopter lift into a hut or camp in spectacular backcountry terrain. After that, you’ll have to earn most of your turns, but you won’t have down days due to inclement weather preventing the choppers from flying. In Cordova, Alaska, Points North offers an all-inclusive, six-night heli-access package in which clients post up at a remote camp in the Chugach—think wood stove-heated tents and limitless first descents—for $2,525, more than half off its week-long heli-ski program. Some heli-assisted programs, like Ruby’s, offer the option of purchasing additional heli-bumps for competitive rates.
Go to Canada
Due to the strong American dollar, greenbacks net about a 25 percent discount in the Great White North. Book a heli-skiing trip to Bella Coola British Columbia through Outside GO, and you'll get an extra day of free accommodations and activities.
Book Far in Advance
Many operations offer an early bird rate if you book during the summer for the upcoming winter.
Look for Outfits That Have Heliports Close to Their Terrain
SEABA in Haines, Alaska, where it takes about three minutes to get to your first run. That way fuel, which can cost $50 a minute, isn’t wasted just accessing the skiing, which brings down the overall cost of a trip.
Speak to a Human
It’s always best to call an operation and discuss rates directly with someone—ideally, the owner—rather than rely on what’s published on a website. If there are free seats in the chopper, many times the owner will cut you a deal.