Photo Credit: Whistler.com
As the weather cools down and northern parts of the country see some snowfall, adventure lovers begin to get excited about winter sports! After a long, exhilarating summer season, adrenaline junkies are soon to switch gears and trade their surfboards for skis! For extreme sports lovers, normal seasonal sports are never enough.
Just like during the warmer months when water skis are ditched in lieu of barefoot water skiing and a lake day is incomplete without a huge inflatable blob for catapulting, winter sports often have extreme variations. Skiing is absolutely no exception! In fact, some daredevil skiers will take the sports to new heights- literally! Heliskiing is exactly the variation on the classic snow sport that thrills extreme athletes.
Heliskiing refers to the variation of skiing in which a helicopter, instead of a ski lift, is used to carry skiers to otherwise inaccessible peaks. Expertly trained pilots carry passengers to backcountry mountains and gently set them atop precarious peaks. From there, skiers unload backpacks holding all of the ski equipment that they’d usually already be wearing if they were using a traditional ski lift (poles, skis, etc.). Pilots then head back down the mountain to base camp, leaving the skiers completely isolated and alone, ready to discover the new run completely on their own.
This form of skiing is extremely exciting for ski enthusiasts for obvious reasons. This extreme form of the beloved sport allows skilled riders to be the first to discover new mountains and fresh powder. Ski runs become more and more crowded as the season continues, and this form of skiing ensures that riders really are the first to hit the slopes.
Albeit exciting, heliskiing is also a very dangerous sport. Regular skiing comes with a number of risks, but at least you’re always rather close to help and to other skiers that can assist in an emergency. At ski resorts, runs are also regularly tested for safety and the condition of the snowfall is analyzed before riders are allowed to ascend. With heliskiing, however, you are quite literally the trailblazer. As such, heliskiing carries with it a higher risk of avalanches, getting lost from poor navigation, and incurring an injury that become fatal if not attended to quickly.
If you’re planning on amping up your regular snow activities by including some helicopters, make sure to take additional precaution. Avalanche airbags and transceivers as well as long range radios help to mitigate the obvious additional risks associated with this extreme version of skiing. That being said, it sure does sound like an incredible way to take in the views and shred the slopes!