Frequently Asked Questions
Are you new to heliskiing? Or are you an experienced heli-skier but have never been with us? Hopefully the following will answer your questions. If you would like more information or had other questions, we would love the opportunity to chat with you! Give us a call on 1.866.424.4354 from North America, +1.250.344.2326 international or email us.
The Heli-skiing Experience
Do I have to be an expert skier/boarder to go heliskiing? Are you ready to immerse yourself in the ultimate heli ski experience by escaping the lift lines and shredding some POW? Your decision to come heli-skiing with us will be one of the best decisions you will ever make. Advanced skiers will love our variety of terrain. Even with little powder experience, strong intermediates will find powder success in our “hero snow”. In order to fully enjoy your heli-skiing holiday you must be a strong intermediate skier/boarder. This means you have skied regularly over the last several years and are capable of controlling yourself on treed ski runs, traverse slopes and can manoeuvre over variable mountain conditions. For example, at your local ski resort, if you are able to descend a black diamond run and maintain control you will likely be prepared for our terrain. Any experience that you have had in skiing powder would be an additional asset. We suggest regular skiing and fitness conditioning before your heli-ski vacation.
What is your average snowfall? At what altitude do you ski? See the heliskiing Terrain page.
How fit should I be? Can I ski for a Week? Fitness is often more important than ability. The more fit you are, the more fun you will have and the less likely you are going to encounter an injury. One guest told us that his conditioning made a huge difference in how much fun he had. If you are joining us for a week you might find it reassuring to know that it is common to feel slightly tired at the end of your third day of heli-skiing. As you take off for the second half of the week, your technique excels, your muscles acclimatize and your heli-skiing typically is lifted to the level which can only be acquired by committing to a week’s dedication to powder turns.
What Does an Unlimited Vertical day look like? Can I ski as late as I want? See Unlimited Vertical page.
How many runs do you do? Our guiding team LOVES to ski! With our small groups and unlimited vertical, our program runs very smoothly, enabling us to do 12-16 runs a day. This number depends on the ability of the group, the weather and snow conditions and the time of year (i.e. shorter days early season, longer days in spring).
Do I have to ski all day? No. The helicopter refuels mid-day. This is your opportunity to go back to the Lodge. Please advise your guide in advance if you wish to ski a partial day. If you do not ski any portion of your holiday, starting late, coming in early, taking a day off, or arriving late or departing early, the seat is forfeited, and GCH can use at its own discretion, for guiding purposes, for its employees benefits, or for other cost saving or revenue generating purposes, without any compensation to you.
What activities are there for ‘down-days’? Actually, we are not very good at this because we don’t have to be. On average we have 2 days a year that we do not ski. (In 2012 we experienced 2 down days and in 2013 we had only 1) . Our onsite heli-pads, powerful helicopters, small groups, and fantastic treed lodge runs offer the magic formula for accessibility. We do have snow shoeing trails and we are half-way between Kicking Horse and Revelstoke Mountain Resorts, yet we almost never ski them or offer cat-skiing as the potential to go heli-skiing is high. Why jump on a chairlift or into a snowcat when you can go heli-skiing?
Can I Bring my iPod or personal music player? While you are more than welcome to have your music in your room, we cannot allow it out in the field. For your safety and the safety of others in your group, you must be able to hear the guide at all times and react to external stimuli.
Choosing the Best Dates
When Should You Come Heli-Skiing?
When is the best time to come heli-skiing in British Columbia, Canada? That’s easy: ANYTIME!
Over the course of winter we experience all types of weather and snow conditions. We are lucky to have vast tenure in both the Selkirk Mountains and Purcell Mountains which gives us the ability to find the best conditions for you.
Everybody has their own idea of what the best conditions are, and everyone is different. A hardcore ripper might think the best conditions for him are when it’s steep and deep. On the other end of the spectrum, someone may prefer a more leisurely pace and want to take in the beautiful surroundings. At Great Canadian Heli-Skiing, we can cater for all desires.
The table below highlights when to come heli-skiing if you prefer certain types of conditions. These guidelines can help maximize your chance of getting the conditions you want. Remember: these are guidelines and should be taken as such. If you are wanting blue skies every day and the best time to come is in April, there’s still a possibility that it can snow during the day, every day! The below are general guidelines. And remember, let us fit into your schedule. Tours can start on ANY day of the week, as long as minimum numbers are met.
|Month Most Likely to Have the Desired Conditions||This Month Can Also Have These Conditions|
December & January
|POWDER||December, January, February||March & April – Still snows a lot, though not as frequently as earlier in winter, but when it does snow, it’s often a big dump overnight!|
|Late February, March & April||February|
|SKIING THE ALPINE(above tree-line)||March & April||
POWDER + SUNNY
February & Early March
January & March
December, January, February
|December, January, February – longer, sustained pitches in beautiful glades.||
March & April – shorter, steep pitches in the alpine.
|Seasonal Rates – If your choice of dates depends on your budget, low season rates are available in December to early January and late March and April. For more on our rates, see the Price List.|
Can I connect with the outside world at Heather Mountain Lodge? Yes! Hi-tech communications enable you to slip in and out of the real world so you can enjoy the remoteness of the lodge. We have wireless Internet, cell phone and satellite TV in all guest rooms and in the lodge. If you need to be reached at the lodge, the number is +1.250.344.7490.
What do you carry in your Store? Arc’teryx, Powder PipeLine and Smith are just some of the quality brands of technical and outdoor clothing and gear that we carry in our store. We have selected a group of technical Arc’teryx pieces that are perfectly designed for heli-skiing. We also carry custom boot and board bags, Kicking Horse Coffee, and many souvenirs.
What additional charges might there be? With Unlimited Vertical you will certainly not have to pay any extra for skiing. A typical end of trip bill will include, liquor, retail, massage, gratuities and your deposit for next year.
Heli-ski and Heli-boarding Equipment
What do I need to pack? We strongly recommend that you bring your well-fitting ski boots as carry-on during your flight. For skiing it’s all about layers. A Gore-Tex non-insulated shell plus several synthetic shirts and pants with varying thickness will allow you to adapt. You will not need to dress as warmly as you do when you resort ski as being in the heli is a lot warmer than being on a chairlift for 10-15 minutes. Remember – no cotton, it gets wet and stays cold. There is no need to bring an extensive wardrobe, as the lodge is very casual.
What type of skis and snowboards does GCH provide? We supply the skis and poles, you just need to bring your boots! Our main fleet ski is the Armada JJ. Other skis available are the K2 Pon2oons, Atomic Heli-Daddy and Snoop Daddies. All the skis were designed with powder skiing in mind. For snowboarders, we carry Burton Snowboards and have several Fish, Malolo and Supermodel decks for your shredding pleasure. We also supply you with transceivers and rescue equipment.
What about boots? You need to bring your own boots. Comfort and a smooth forward flex are the most important attributes. New boots are most often not comfortable. Tight racing boots are miserable. Preferably, what you want is a boot that does not have abnormal pressure in the toes, ankle or lower part of the calf. Please remember that we supply skis and poles but we do not supply boots; so take your boots on the plane as carry-on luggage!
How about Helmets? Some guests wear helmets and we would encourage you to do so, but they are not mandatory. Helmets that offer a low profile or ¾ coverage shell and a removable neoprene ear cover are the way to go for heli-skiing, as the ear covers can be removed easily depending on the temperature. Helmets that fully cover the ear (e.g. race helmets) are a safety hazard if they prevent you from hearing the guide’s instructions.
Can I use my own transceiver, probe, and shovel? Transceivers: Yes, however you are required to be trained with and wear a GCH transceiver since we and your ski companions are assured that they are properly maintained and easy to use. You may use your own transceiver in the event of a search if you are most comfortable with it, but it must remain in your pocket and turned off until such time. Probe and shovel: Yes, providing you have a low-profile backpack that you can comfortably wear while sitting in the helicopter. Removing or leaving your pack in the helicopter is not an option.
Can I bring my own Air Bag? Yes, the use of Air Bags is permitted. The pack should be a low profile pack and have a removable trigger. According to transport regulations the pack (the cartridge) cannot be allowed in the main compartment of the helicopter under any circumstances and therefore will be removed and transported in the ski basket on the outside of the helicopter.
Can I Rent An Air Bag? In over 2 decades of operation, we have never had any serious incidents or fatalities. If you feel you would like to use an Air Bag, Mountain Sports Distribution will have several Snowpulse ProRider 10L packs available to rent at our lodge. Please inform us before you join us that you would like a bag.
You’ll be glad to know Great Canadian Heli-Skiing is the most accessible Canadian destination heli-skiing operation from an international airport. Located between Golden and Revelstoke British Columbia, just off of the Trans Canada Highway, our lodge is an easy 4 hour drive from Calgary International Airport right to the front door.This means the vast majority of our clients can arrive in Calgary, be eating dinner in our lodge that night and then go heli-skiing the very next day! Most other heli operations are harder to get to, requiring more travel days.
Clearing Customs – We strongly recommend that all international guests check with Canadian Border Services Agency to ensure that travel documentation is up-to-date and that you will have no surprises, which would inhibit your entry into Canada. All travelers including US citizens must carry a valid passport to enter the country.
Canada Customs has been reviewing minor misdemeanors, so it has been suggested that anyone traveling internationally go through the steps to have their record cleared.
Saturday Shuttle – Those joining us for a Private or 6-day package may choose to let GCH do the driving. Our shuttle departs the Calgary International Airport on Saturdays at 2:00pm. The Calgary Delta Airport Hotel lounge is the starting point for your adventure. It is located just outside the airport doors. Please check-in by 1:30pm as departure time is 2:00pm and the “latest wait-to time” is 3:00pm. If everyone is on board before 2:00pm, the shuttle will depart earlier.
For those arriving the night before and staying at the Calgary Delta Airport Hotel, our escort will meet you on Saturday at 1:30pm in the Delta lounge.
The Great Canadian Heli-Skiing private shuttle will depart no later than 3:00pm for Heather Mountain Lodge. It will be a 4 hour drive through beautiful Banff National Park, Lake Louise and Golden.
We recommend that overseas travelers arrive Friday evening to avoid jet lag. When booking your return flight, keep in mind that the shuttle will return you to Calgary the following Saturday by 12:30 pm. Please do not book your departing flight for any earlier than 1:30 pm.
Staying in Calgary – We recommend that guests stay at the Delta Calgary Airport Hotel (phone: 403.291.2600). Ask for ‘Great Canadian Heli-Skiing’ rates when making a reservation in order to secure our corporate rate.
Self-Drive – The base of our operations, Heather Mountain Lodge, is the most accessible heli-skiing lodge by car. Most of our guests choose to drive themselves by rental car and enjoy the magnificent scenery from Calgary. It is a 4 hour drive on the Trans Canada Highway. You will pass through beautiful Banff, Lake Louise and Golden with plenty of opportunities for pre and post-resort skiing.
If you would like the flexibility of renting a car, please feel free to use our discount code with Budget Rent A Car. When filling in your details, add our “BCD Number” which is U175757.
Check-in time is 6 pm and dinner is served at 7 pm, so book your flights accordingly.
Private Car/Shuttle– Should you choose to hire a car and driver, we recommend “Discover Banff Tours”. Please contact them for rates and availability on 1.403.760.7629.
Driving Directions to Heather Mountain Lodge – From the Calgary International Airport, head south on “Barlow Trail” to the Trans Canada Highway (#1 HWY-16th Avenue). Head West on the #1 out of Calgary. You will pass through Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise. Just before reaching Golden you will travel through 15 km of the Kicking Horse Canyon. Use caution in this area.
Once you reach Golden, Heather Mountain Lodge is 55 km or 45 minutes further west, remaining on Highway 1. You will find the Lodge on the right (north) side of the highway and marked by a lighted sign at the turn and a few small signs noting ‘Great Canadian Heli-Skiing’ and ‘Heather Mountain Lodge’ prior. Once you turn off the highway, the Lodge is to your left and 100 m up the road. The entire trip should take approximately 3.5 to 4 hours.
*Please note that dinner is served at 7:00 pm daily so please try to arrive prior to 6:00 pm for check-in.
Enjoy your trip and drive carefully. If you have any problems, the phone number at Heather Mountain Lodge is 1.250.344.7490.
Private Planes – We have had guests that want to fly their planes right into Golden. If that is an option you are interested in, please call the Golden Airport on 1.250.344.2534.
Check out – Guests Staying for 2-5 days:
Guests who are departing after skiing on their final day, please ensure that you have all your things packed and set aside near the door of your room before skiing so that housekeeping can prepare for those guests arriving. We kindly ask that all guests are checked out of their rooms between 4:30 – 5:00 pm at the latest.
Guests Staying for a WEEK and Arriving/Departing On Our Saturday Shuttle:
Breakfast will be at 7:00 am for those departing at 8:00 am on our Saturday shuttle to Calgary. Check out and settling bills occurs between 7:00 – 8:00 am.
Suggested Packing List
We strongly recommend that you bring your well-fitting ski boots as carry-on during your flight. For skiing it’s all about layers. A Gore-Tex non-insulated shell plus several synthetic shirts and pants with varying thickness will allow you to adapt. You will not need to dress as warmly as you do when you resort ski as being in the heli is a lot warmer than being on a chairlift for 10-15 minutes. Remember – no cotton, it gets wet and stays cold. There is no need to bring an extensive wardrobe, as the lodge is very casual.
-8º Celsius or warmer
Gore-Tex shell (non-insulated), light micro-fleece pull over, silk weight long underwear. Thin hat and cuffed powder gloves.
-8º Celsius to -16º Celsius
Gore-Tex shell (non-insulated), light micro-fleece pull over, medium weight long underwear. Thin hat, thin neck warmer and cuffed powder gloves. A vest for lunch time is ideal.
-16º Celsius or colder
Gore-Tex shell, medium weight fleece or soft shell jacket, medium weight long underwear. Thicker hat, neck warmer/gator and cuffed powder mitts and glove liners. Down vest for lunch time stop for layering over jacket if cooling down.
Does GCH offer any discounts for organizing a group? Yes. If you are to organize a group of 12 or more skiers you will receive a 10% discount or one free space.
An individual discount is offered when you rebook the following season before your departure. Also ask for information on Great Canadian Heli-Skiing Season Passes for individuals and groups.
Can non-skiers join us? Yes, as long as we have availability.