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Heliskiing

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Heliskiing is the ultimate goal for most serious skiers. The idea of being able to arrange a trip to some perfect, untouched peak full of powder and to be dropped there on a helicopter is the ideal. Heliskiing emerged in Canada but has taken hold in the US, Russia, Europe and even South America. Without lift lines, parking lots, hauling gear from the car to the slope, Heliskiing is the antidote for all that ails normal ski trips. Of course, this solution comes at quite a price and with some risks of its own.

The are a number of key advantages that heliskiing offers over traditional skiing via. An awesome benefit of heliskiing is the opportunity for a skier to operate in a totally unmanipulated wilderness, where the mountains have naturally shaped the slope and no other tractor or ski patrol member has installed detours or unnatural features to slow or corral you. Of course, the untouched condition of the snow is a huge advantage--this is the white, fluffy untracked powder that skiers dream about, not the salted, bulldozed slush you are often stuck with on traditional runs.

Since the peaks are handpicked by the helicopter company, they also pick them based on the vertical terrain covered. This length may be as long as 10,000 feet or more--almost three times the longest slopes at a ski resort. Finally, the skill level and challenge of the natural mountain is extremely high from top to bottom: huge drops, soft snow, rocks and trees (when you get down far enough) are all part of the fun.

Heliskiing trips are offered exclusively with guides for a reason. These are experts who have been to the same or similar peaks before, are expert skiers, know first aid and are fit enough to help you if something goes wrong. They are also in radio contact with the helicopter to arrange for pick ups at the bottom or in case of emergency. There are two main things that can go wrong out there in the back country. The first is weather. Being at high altitudes on exposed peaks can leave the party or the helicopter very vulnerable to rain and high winds in the afternoons. Special care has to be taken to launch down the hill away from the winds. The other major danger with heliskiing is one that cannot be totally avoided: the avalanche. This maelstrom of snow mass can swallow groups whole with only a slight shift of the top shelf of snow. To protect from this it is imperative that your guides are expert in the field of snow analysis and also have explosives in case it is necessary to shake a shelf of snow loose before you ski on top of it.

 
 
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