Heli skiing is high-up on the bucket list of most ski enthusiasts and adventure travellers. It’s an exhilarating, adventure-packed activity that allows you access to beautiful, remote areas with acres of pristine untouched powder to explore – without any resort queues standing in your way. Heli skiing is safe, but like most adrenaline-filled skiing adventures, this sport comes with a degree of risk and requires proper guidance and comprehensive safety measures to ensure a safe, fun-filled experience for all.


If you are eager for the heli skiing adventure of a lifetime, make sure to read on and find out more about the safety measures, protocols, and practices that operators implement to guarantee your well-being out on the slopes. Your expert guides and those working behind the scenes have the necessary know-how and experience to take effective precautions to mitigate most risks involved in our beloved sport.


There are also a few things you can do from your side to further ensure safety, like investing in good-quality gear, ensuring adequate fitness levels, taking out insurance, and booking your heli skiing trip with an operator that puts your safety first – like Pure Powder.


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Safety Is Everything


At Pure Powder our number one priority for all off-piste and helicopter skiing trips is the well-being of our clients. We have been in the industry since 1978 and are the largest heli skiing specialists in the UK, so there is certainly no shortage of experience to draw from. With four decades worth of exceptional trips across the world’s best ski destinations under our belt, we have perfected the art of matching guests with the ideal heli skiing adventure. Ensuring each client feels confident and safe under the guidance of our expert team and trusted operators, who possess the necessary skills and knowledge to ensure your safety and facilitate an unforgettable experience.


Expert Guides And Risk Management


At Pure Powder, we have a long-standing partnership with CMH Heli Skiing, who have a reputation for impeccable safety practices and avalanche risk management. Their team is comprised of around 150 skilled guides who have undergone an average of five years of study in emergency first aid, weather analysis, and avalanche evaluation and avoidance. Each guide is extremely passionate about the backcountry and excited to share it with guests in a safe, approachable manner.


Risks And Hazards


Heli skiing involves landing a helicopter on normally unreachable snowy peaks in the wilderness, where there are no marked or maintained trails. With that, comes potential hazards that you are less likely to experience on a typical groomed slope. The backcountry is powerful and skiing out in the wilderness requires a level of awareness, respect for the elements, and the ability to always adhere to the directions of your guides and helicopter crew.


Avalanches: Avalanches are classified in grades of one to five. Class one is a small release with a low hazard to the skier, whereas class five is a large destructive avalanche that has the potential to destroy almost anything in its way.


While you don’t need any avalanche training to embark on one of these adventures, your guides will have a comprehensive understanding of what they need to do in the unlikely event of an avalanche. You are in the capable hands of a well-educated team who have the right equipment and know how to detect poor snow stability – selecting less exposed and safer runs.


Weather Changes: Effective weather monitoring is crucial when skiing in the wilderness, specifically when heli skiing. Issues like poor visibility can make it difficult for skiers to see terrain obstacles like hidden crevasses, or even other skiers. Heavy snowfall can cause slopes to become unstable, conversely, icy conditions or cold temperatures can make it uncomfortable and difficult to ski safely.


It is also important that your heli skiing tour operators have weather forecast monitoring systems in place, allowing them to make on-the-fly decisions to protect skiers. They are also aware of how various weather conditions impact the terrain and using this knowledge, can make informed decisions about trip safety and suitability for the group.


Risk Of Injury: Just like any skiing involving speed, challenging terrain, and steep descents, there is a risk of injury. That being said, the risks are about as prevalent as they are when skiing groomed resort slopes. However, in the backcountry, the chance of colliding with another skier is incredibly low, which happens to be one of the most common skiing accidents.


At Pure Powder, our experienced operators can guide you through any possible difficulties you may encounter. We will match you with a group of similar skiing abilities so that you never feel out of your depth and can explore the wilderness safely, under the supervision of your guides.


Beyond the points listed above, it is critical to ensure you have adequate gear, and a good fitness level so that you can get in as much exhilarating skiing as possible. The fitter you are, the more runs you will be able to do.




Highly Skilled Guides


The expert guides are well-versed in avalanche management, with most undergoing an average of 5 years of mandatory safety training. Including avalanche safety techniques, decision-making in avalanche terrain, and how to recognise possible avalanche indicators and unstable snow conditions.


When it comes to heli skiing trips, experience matters. Like us, our many trusted operators have also been in the industry for many years, enabling an extensive knowledge of the local terrain and its avalanche history. This combined experience allows us to make informed decisions throughout the trip to guarantee that all safety protocols are adhered to.


Pre-Outing Preparation


Weather terrain and monitoring: The operators, guides, and pilots spend a great amount of time and energy planning each excursion so that our guests have the most incredible experience possible. This extensive planning involves weather and avalanche forecasting, using advanced technology and knowledge to help them meticulously plan the ski route and choose appropriate terrain to mitigate any risks.


Safety protocols: Depending on the location and operator, guests may be educated on avalanche safety management and procedures before their first heli skiing outing. This involves training on how to use safety equipment including avalanche beacons, shovels, probes, and helmets, which are crucial pieces of safety equipment that you may be provided with, again, depending on the operator.


Paying Attention And Following Instructions


It is the responsibility of each guest to follow the instructions of the guides, as they understand how to traverse the local backcountry. They are experts at what they do, and their job is to make sure you are safe at all times whilst having the best skiing experience possible. Pay close attention, remain aware, and follow advice, and you are guaranteed a safe and epic adventure.


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How To Prepare For Your Heli Skiing Trip


When you choose Pure Powder there is very little you need to plan, as the mission of our skilled team is to make organising your heli skiing adventure a breeze. We will help you find the perfect location and trip to match your skill level, desired experience, and budget. We make sure your accommodation is in order, and flights and other transport are booked, all you need to do is arrive and we will handle the rest.


With that said, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind before embarking on one of our exciting adventures. For example, a good level of fitness and the correct gear will go a long way in ensuring you get the best out of your trip.


Skill And Fitness Level: You don’t need to be an expert skier to try heli skiing, however, it is recommended to have intermediate skiing skills with some powder experience to ensure that the experience is an unforgettable one. If you are new to powder skiing, we recommend the Powder Introduction trip, as it is the perfect learning experience for first-time heli skiers. When booking your trip with us, it’s important to be aware and upfront about your skill level so that we can match you to a suitable trip with a group of skiers who are at a similar level.


Heli skiing can be quite physically demanding; a typical day involves many runs, usually between 8 and 12, and it certainly helps to do some ski fitness preparation before heading off. We recommend engaging in a fitness routine that includes cardio and leg strengthening, as this will bring down the chances of injury or fatigue and help you make the most of each day out on the slopes.


Insurance: As we have mentioned earlier, we do everything in our power to mitigate possible risks, but it always helps to prepare for any eventuality. Therefore, it is essential to have valid insurance coverage – there are many great options out there.


Investing In The Right Gear: When you are out in the elements, you will want to make sure you have gear that keeps you warm and is comfortable and protective. This includes items like helmets, breathable waterproof jackets, and sun protection – even for cloudy days. Our Pure Powder team will happily guide you through the essential items and direct you to our friends at Ellis Brigham and Surefoot. Head to our Ski Equipment page on our website for an essential guide to backcountry skiing equipment.


Why Choose Pure Powder For Your Heli Skiing Experience?


With Pure Powder, the UK’s leading heli skiing operator since 1978, you know that you are in safe, capable hands. Our specialised team offers a personalised approach to skiing trips, helping you choose the perfect ski destination from a range of locations, including Canada, Alaska, Chile, Iceland, Europe, Japan, Sweden, and Turkey. We factor in your skill level, desired terrain, budget, and travel preferences, to tailor the experience to you and your group.


Our team will also assist you with accommodations from a wide selection of remote lodges and assist you in deciding on preferred dates and trip duration. After finalising your trip details, we will handle the booking process and send you the necessary documentation and confirmation, from there, you are set to head off on the helicopter skiing adventure of a lifetime.


To start planning your next adventure or for further information feel free to get in touch with one of our friendly team members via email info@purepowder.com or contact number +44 (0)20 7736 8191. We look forward to helping you plan the trip of a lifetime!


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