Avid skiers and snowboarders live for a chance to fly to unpopulated mountaintops in a helicopter and have abundant downhills all to themselves. Deep powder, unparalleled views, and a dearth of people make this a sport hard to resist. All this privilege and privacy doesn’t come cheap, though. Be prepared to shell out for heli-skiing adventures. Contact individual outfitters for exact pricing.
Canadian Rockies in British Columbia, Canada: The Bugaboo, Moonashee, Purcell, and Selkirk ranges are excellent areas for first-rate heli-skiing. Canadian Mountain Holidays ( 800/661-0252; www.canadianmountainholidays) flies skiers on a variety of trips, ranging from Powder Intro, for first-time heli-skiers, to Powder Max, for fit, strong, experienced skiers. Mike Wiegele Heli-Resort ( 800/661-9170; www.wiegele.com), in Blue River, on the shore of Eleanor Lake, flies snowcats skiers and snowboarders daily to extraordinary ski sites. First-timers and women’s trips are available. Both outfitters have lodge accommodations with first-class dining and international clientele.
Ruby Mountains, Nevada, U.S.A.: The rugged mountains and grand landscapes here make the Ruby Mountains a heli-skiing haven. The powdery peak conditions for heli-skiing in this narrow, 60-mile-long (97km) range are usually in February and March. Our choice for outfitters is the Ruby Mountain Heli-Experience ( 775/773-6857; www.helicopterskiing.com), which offers packages that include 3 nights lodging and daily heli-skiing with snowcat skiing back-up, if weather prevents the helicopters from taking off on a particular day. Four heli-skiers or snowboarders venture out with a guide to explore a mix of open bowls and glades.
New Zealand: Heli-skiing in New Zealand is growing in popularity, especially in the Liebig and Malte Brun ranges as well as on the Tasman Glacier (see ). To ski the mountains, contact Wilderness Heliskiing ( 64/3/435-1834; www.wildernessheli.co.nz) or Ski the Tasman ( 64/3/435-1834; www.skithetasman.co.nz). Their packages offer an array of accommodations, ranging from an upscale hotel to a youth hostel in Cook Mountain Village. If you prefer to ski the Arrowsmith and Ragged ranges, contact Methven Heliskiing ( 64/3/302 8108; www.methvenheli.co.nz). Methven lands its operations at the highest elevations of all the South Island heli-skiing outfitters, ensuring long runs.
Himalayas, Nepal: You may not have the desire or wherewithal to climb Mt. Everest, but why should that mean you can’t take on the Himalayas in another fantastic fashion—heli-skiing? A trip with Himalayan Heliski Guides ( 33/97/39-0359; www.heliskinepal.com) starts in Kathmandu, then flies you to the world’s highest mountains—in the Everest and Annapurna regions of Nepal. There, you’ll ride and ski for several days with experienced and licensed Russian and Nepalese pilots and guides.
Chugach Mountains, Alaska, U.S.A.: The southern Alaskan mountains see more snowfall than almost anywhere else in the world, ensuring pristine powder for heli-skiing expeditions for all stripes. Chugach Powder Guides ( 907/783-HELI ; www.chugachpowderguides.com) is a popular choice for skiers who want a single day of heli-skiing followed by a stay at a luxury lodge. Valdez Heli-Camps ( 907/783-3243; www.valdezhelicamps.com) hosts skiers who want a more intense experience. Valdez Heli-Ski Guides ( 907/835-4528; www.valdezheliskiguides.com) caters exclusively to advanced and expert skiers and offers an array of packages.
Telluride, Colorado, U.S.A.: Helitrax ( 970/728-8377; www.helitrax.com) is the company to go with for heli-skiing in Colorado. The operation ferries skiers to slopes in the stunning San Juan Mountains, with altitudes up to 13,000 feet (3,900m). Pickup is in the Mountain Village, in the heart of Telluride’s lift-served slopes, and the runs range from 1,000 to 2,500 feet (300–750m). Day and multi-day trips are available for adventurous intermediate, advanced, and expert skiers. Snowboarders are welcome but must be comfortable with long traverses.
Wasatch Range, Utah, U.S.A.: Be whisked away to the Wasatch and heli-ski to your heart’s delight. With the help of a chopper, among these peaks found just outside of Salt Lake City, skiers will find hidden wide-open powder bowls and some of the best chutes in the country. Wasatch Powderbird ( 800/974-4354; www.powderbird.com) has scheduled and charter heli-skiing adventures available. With a guide-to-guest ratio of 1:4, you’re sure to get all the attention you desire and require.
Greenland: And you thought all there was to do in Greenland was go dog-sledding (see )? Why not take your exploration of this population-sparse, snow-heavy land to a different elevation? West Greenland provides an abundance of unspoiled terrain on which to drop and go, with Maniitsoq being one of the most inviting destinations. Powderbird ( 800/974-4354; www.powderbird.com), the same operation who flies in the Wasatch Range in Utah (see ), also runs game here.
Sweden: Because of its chilling temperatures and near 24-hour daylight in the months of March through June, heli-skiing in the Scandinavian country is ideal for those who want to hit the powder almost year-round. Though the peaks in the region aren’t particularly high (around 1,800m/5,900 ft.), you can get a surprising amount of distance on the way down (1,000 vertical meters/nearly 3,300 ft.). A number of reputable companies run heli-skiing adventures here. Among them are Elemental Adventures ( 44/207-836-3547; www.eaheliskiing.com) and Arctic Elements ( 46/70-341-50-35; www.arcticelements.com).
Yellowstone National Park, U.S.A.: Yellowstone National Park takes on an entirely new dimension when you approach it from the sky. On your way to undisturbed slopes of powder, you’ll pass jagged peaks, lakes, and geysers as well as wildlife. You’ll have the opportunity to ski in three states: Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, depending on which heli-skiing adventure you choose. Trips usually depart from either Bozeman, Montana, or Jackson Hole, Wyoming. For local operators, check out www.yellowstonewinterguide.com/skiing/heli_skiing.php.
When to Go: Winter.
Sun Valley or Hailey, Idaho.
$$–$$$ Sun Valley Resort, 1 Sun Valley Rd. ( 800/786-8259 or 208/622-2001; www.sunvalley.com).