Heli-Skiing In Alaska
Why you should heliski Bella Coola instead!
ARE YOU CONSIDERING HELI-SKIING IN ALASKA?
Heli-skiing in Alaska is pretty darn cool. Many of us at Bella Coola Heli Sports have skied up there and if you have plenty of time on your hands, and are a strong enough skier/rider, you should go at some stage. Having said that, there are numerous reasons which you should consider shredding with us instead!
Accessibility - Stay the night in Vancouver and then be heli-skiing in Bella Coola the very next day! A trip to AK will usually involve a stop somewhere like Seattle and Anchorage and incur an extra day of travel. While people are in transit to Valdez, Haines or Cordova, or guests are already ripping lines.
Number of Ski Days - on a seasonal average, we experience only 1 "down day” a week. While Alaska suffers from many down days (a "good" week there is about 3 or 4 fly days).
A 7 night trip with us will give you 8 possible ski days (comprised of 6 full days, and the possibility of several runs on both Arrival Day AND Departure Day). So even if we have 1 or even 2 down days, we do a LOT more skiing.
Number of groups - In Alaska it seems most operations run as many as four groups per helicopter (and most likely 4-5 people per group). We don’t do that on our Classic XL, where we only run 2 groups of 4 using the machine during the day! Sweet, eh? On our Vertical programs at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge it's usually 2 groups per machine in high season and 3 in shoulder season. At Eagle Lodge, where we host 16 guests, we usually have 2 helicopters servicing just 2 groups per machine! Note: if the lodge isn't full, we may use a single helicopter.
Number of runs - Most Alaskan operations state on their websites that they do 6-10 runs per day. Guess what? We usually do 7 runs before lunch on our Vertical programs! A good average is 12-14 runs per day….and with good weather and strong skiers, 16 or more runs is not unheard off! And we offer some of the longest runs not only in Canada, but the world. On the Steep Skiing program the focus is on skiing gnarly lines safely as opposed to raking up lots of vertical. On this program guests do 4-5 runs in the morning, then ski a couple of runs on a wicked line/face (so, about 7 or so epic runs per day).
Terrain - You may hear people say the terrain in Canada is not as steep/challenging as AK. And they do have a point! Most operations ski fairly mellow alpine terrain, but not here! We definitely have terrain on par with Alaska. The reason for that is we have very similar mountains and snowpack. Like Alaska, we have a maritime snowpack, which is what we want to ski big lines! Don't worry, the snow is still 'powder'. We would not be able to ski the steep runs that we do if we had the same type of snow as the interior of British Columbia, or Utah or Japan.
Standard of Accommodation - Our standard of accommodation is much better than RVs and dingy motels. Sure, you probably only care about the skiing, but if you are already spending the money, why not top off the experience with amazing accommodation and meals?
Pricing - It's tricky to compare apples with apples. With the Canadian/US exchange rate at the moment, Americans get a huge discount. Don't forget to factor in the extra flights to Alaska, hotels, skis & safety equipment if not included. Our standard of accommodation and hot tubs are amazing! And most importantly, we just ski so much more! It’s the cost to run the helicopter that adds to the price and since we have the huge advantage of just 2-3 groups per machine and smaller groups, our guests end up doing more skiing. So basically people can choose to pay less and ski less, or pay a bit more and ski more! When investing in a big ticket item like heli-skiing, you want to make sure to get your value from it!
Alaskan Operation Recommendations - If you are unable to join us, or just absolutely want to ski up there (and you should sometime in your life!), drop us a line as we have some great connections in AK and can steer you to the ideal operation.