The definitive guide to heli-skiing in Canada

Canada is where heli-skiing was born. It was in central British Columbia in 1965 that Austrian ex-pat Hans Gmoser established the very first heli-ski business. And many say that BC, the birthplace of heli-skiing, is the best place for this extreme sport.

Today, over 90 percent of the world’s heli-skiing is done in this province alone. There are over 15 heli-ski operators in BC, accessing some of the planet’s best vertical terrain. If helicopters scare you, there are 20 cat-ski operators where skiers can access backcountry snow using an all-terrain vehicle called a snowcat.

Its little wonder it’s so popular, there’s over a million hectares of heli-ski-accessed terrain in the central interior of British Columbia alone spread across five mountain ranges west of the Rockies. And as much as 20 meters of perfect, dry, powder snow falls each ski season.

When you’re done heli-skiing, the beauty of British Columbia is the number of world-class ski resorts just nearby – such as Revelstoke, Fernie and Whistler. Although it’s not just central British Columbia which offers world’s best heli-skiing. There’s heli-ski operators spread all across British Columbia – at Whistler-Blackcomb and right up in the mountains of northern British Columbia for those seeking absolute adventure.

The Best Places To Heli-ski in Central BC

Central British Columbia has some of the world's best heli-skiing

Central British Columbia (BC) is the best place on Earth to heli-ski because there is over a million hectares of deep, dry powder spread out across the Columbia mountains. Here, moist Pacific air meets the cold dry of the Rocky Mountains resulting in over 12 meters of dry snow falling each season.

There are plenty of heli-ski operators to choose from – meaning visitors can choose from a tailored menu that best suits their ability and expectations. You can choose between single day operations and multiple day packages, including stays at remote mountain lodges.

Here’s the top four choices in central British Columbia.

Canadian Mountain Heli-skiing

Canadian Mountain Heli-skiing (CMH) invented heli-skiing and now 51 years later, they’re the biggest heli-ski operator in the world. They offer a range of trips across 11 skiable areas in BC, and offer 12 different lodges to stay at.

You can customize your heli-ski package and take a trip that best suits your ability. Canadian Mountain Heli-skiing have the largest exclusive heli-ski tenure on Earth. They can take you into exclusive areas within the Selkirk, Monashee, Purcell and Cariboo mountains, an area that’s a third the size of Switzerland (at 1.2 million hectares).

Heli-skiing started in BC

Selkirk Tangiers

Selkirk Tangiers pioneered heli-skiing in the Revelstoke area, and now fly to over half a million hectares of exclusive terrain in the Selkirk mountains. They offer everything from single day packages (starting at $905 CAD) to three-seven day packages and private ski packages.

You’ll stay in the luxurious Hillcrest Hotel in Revelstoke and the helicopter will pick you up from your front door. This convenient location also means it’s easy to access the mountain town of Revelstoke with its great bars and restaurants as well as the resort with North America’s highest vertical descent, Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Mike Wiegele Heli-skiing

A pioneer of the heli-skiing in BC, Mike Wiegele established his business in 1970 out of the tiny town of Blue River in central BC. Nowadays he can access over a million hectares of exclusive terrain in the heart of the Monashee and Cariboo mountain ranges.

Choose between three, five or seven day heli-ski packages – you’ll stay in Wiegele’s own heli-ski village near Blue River. He has over 1000 peaks to choose between – and there’s no better backcountry skiing options on the planet. Also, it’s pretty cool to say you skied glaciers.

Ski in small groups with Great Canadian Heli-skiing

Great Canadian Heli-skiing

Based near the old railway town of Golden near the border with Alberta, Great Canadian Heli-skiing is the closest heli-ski operator to an international airport (Calgary). It’s also the leader in boutique heli-skiing. When heli-skiing became big business they stuck to small groups, with just four skiers and a guide per group, they have the smallest groups in the industry.

Great Canadian Heli-skiing offer two to six day ski packages in the Purcell and Selkirk mountains – and they have the lowest no-fly day rates in the whole world – with just one day per season.

The Best Places To Heli-ski At Whistler

Find amazing heli-skiing all over British Columbia

While Whistler-Blackcomb offers up some of the world’s best ski terrain at the biggest ski resort in North America, there’s still far more just beyond its boundaries. Heli-ski businesses operate just outside Whistler-Blackcomb, offering pick-ups from your hotel or other accommodation and access to 400 000 hectares of heli-accessed terrain only, with over 12 meters of snow falling here each season.

The biggest and best of the operator is Whistler Heli-skiing.

Whistler Heli-skiing

Whistler Heli-skiing is the biggest operator in the region – with exclusive rights to 175 000 hectares of big mountain terrain – an area 50 times the size of Whistler-Blackcomb! They offer various day long packages which start at $989 CAD for three runs. You’ll have an area that’s 87 kilometers long by 53 kilometers wide that’s home to 173 glaciers and 475 possible runs.

The Best Places To Heli-ski In Northern BC

You’ll find some of the best backcountry terrain on the planet

There’s no better place in Canada to escape the crowds and venture into the Earth’s Last Frontier. While it requires more effort to get here (another flight from Vancouver or Calgary), the rewards are worth it. You’ll get as much as 25 meters of snow can fall in a year, and won’t have to share the slopes with many others. Heli-ski operators in northern BC operate with small groups, and when your done for the day, you’ll spend time in Canada’s greater wilderness areas.

Here’s the top two operators in northern British Columbia.

Ski and stay atop the mountains in a wilderness lodge

Last Frontier Heli-ski

As the name suggests, when you venture north past the remote town of Stewart in northern BC you’re heading into truly wild Canada. Last Frontier has the largest single area of terrain of any heli-ski operator in the world – with two wilderness lodges to choose from, high up in the mountains, offering luxury meals and rooms for skiers.

You’ll be in small groups of four skiers with a guide here, unlike some of the big market operators further south. Since it’s so remote, tours range from four to seven days.

Northern Escape Heli-skiing

While Northern Escape Heli-skiing is located in BC’s remote north-western corner, it’s still relatively easy to get to. Daily flights run from Vancouver to the nearby township of Terrace. But once you get here, you’ll feel as if you’re in the middle of nowhere. You’ll stay among old growth forest in a remote lodge with outdoor hot tubs and an outdoor bar.

There’s over 5500 square kilometers of exclusive terrain to choose from with just small groups of skiers. There’s also a back-up cat ski on site, if conditions are too wild for helicopters – meaning you’ll never miss a single day of skiing.

Love to ski? Check out our ski guide with the best destinations and tips to help you plan your ultimate ski holiday