Terrain For All Tastes: Steeps, Alpine Bowls, Trees, Mushrooms, Natural Halfpipes…
The interior ranges of British Columbia – the Selkirk (Rogers Pass) and Purcell mountains – are home to possibly the most famous heli-skiing terrain in the world. As the birthplace of helicopter skiing, this region is blanketed in phenomenal amounts of light, dry powder snow, and offers good flying conditions, tens of thousands of square kilometers of wilderness, and ideal skiing weather. Great Canadian Heli-Skiing is fortunate to have an exclusive licence for vast amounts of terrain across the Selkirks and Purcells. We operate along the northern and eastern borders of Glacier National Park and just west of Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies. The area is 14 times larger than Whistler-Blackcomb, or on a European scale, bigger than the whole of Les Trois Vallées ski domain!
Most of our runs average in length from 1,500-2,500 vertical feet (460 to 760m), and our longest run is 6,232ft (1,900m)! We usually ski at an altitude between 9,000 and 5,500ft (3,000 and 1,833m) with our highest peak reaching 10,100ft (3,078m). There are hundreds of heli-ski runs offering every type of terrain – glaciers, open bowls, gladed trees – and every slope angle and exposure. Among many other factors, Great Canadian stands out in the industry because of the quality and accessibility of our terrain above our base at Heather Mountain Lodge. With our heli-pads mere steps away and the closest heli runs just 60 seconds away, we are rarely unable to ski due to adverse flying conditions. In Fact, we average just 2 “down days” over a season!
Deep, light, fluffy powder, all untracked and waiting for you to make your mark. That’s why you want to go heli-skiing! Great Canadian is blessed with a whopping 46 feet (1,400cm) of “cold smoke” every winter. That’s a lot in anyone’s book. B.C.’s Coast Mountains can get buried, too, but the snow that falls there is much wetter and denser. (That’s why it’s known as the “Wet Coast.”) Because of this, down days are more frequent and you do not often get the floating-on-the-snow feeling you experience when you ski or ride in our super-light, fluffy snow.
We have some great challenging runs for aggressive, expert heli-skiers. The best time to experience our steeper terrain is in December to early February, when it is snowing heavily and we are skiing in our glades and beautiful burnt forests. This terrain is also perfect for those skiers and riders that like to jump off stuff, as here are plenty of covered logs, rocks and small cliffs..
Some of our favourite steeps: Bridge Too Far, Miller Time, Blonde Ambition, High Adventure, McTight
Most of the bowls we ski are in “the alpine,” meaning the area above the tree-line. The helicopters will usually land on a ridge at the top of a bowl. Then a nice, steeper pitch leads to a wide open run, often on a glacier (see below). We usually ski the bowls on sunny days, especially from February onwards.
Some of our favourite alpine bowls: Eat Your Wheaties, Cheap Scotch
Snow-covered glaciers often offer wide open runs, so if you are timid in the trees this is your kind of terrain! The slope angle is gentler and the skiing more “cruisy.” Guests can rack up huge vertical when we ski this type of terrain, which we target from late February to early April.
Some of our favourite glaciers lines: Nordic, Twilight, Cherub, Perfect Glacier (name says it all doesn’t it?)
Ahhh glades…one of our best terrain attributes! Glades are forested areas where the trees are more openly spaced, which makes it much easier to ski through them. Conditions are often the best in the trees, as the snow is protected from the wind and sun. We ski our wonderful gladed terrain from the start of the season until later in the season when it begins warming up and we move above the tree-line.
Some of our favourite glades lines: Burn, 40 Watts, Hunter, Short and Sweet etc…there’s lots!
Expert skiers LOVE our myriad mushrooms and pillow lines! These tall stacks of snow have accumulated on objects such as rocks or tree stumps.
Some of our favourite pillow lines: Malicious, Bodacious, Drop Zone, It’s All About Me
Snowboarders and aggressive skiers get a huge kick out of our natural halfpipes. Literally: This type of terrain feature lets them ride up one wall and catch serious good air. Or you can ride up a wall and then slash it, which makes for an awesome photo!
Some of our favourite natural halfpipes: JFA