Heliskiing – Rest of the World
The world is your oyster if you’re a keen heliskier. Why stop at Canada, North America or the Alps. See how it’s done elsewhere! There are major operations in the Himalayas, Russia and Georgia. And If you can’t wait for winter in the northern hemisphere, try New Zealand or the Andes. There’s plenty of choice.
Outside North America and Europe, there’s exotic heliskiing to be had in the Indian Himalayas at Manali, Himachal Pradesh and at Gudauri in the Georgian Caucasus. You can also do lodge or hotel-based heliskiing at Gulmarg in Kashmir, in Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula and If you really want adventure, there’s even heliskiing in Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. South of the equator, there’s heliskiing in New Zealand’s Southern Alps as well as the Chilean and Argentinean Andes. Other Heliski Features cover heliskiing in Canada & USA, and heliskiing in Europe, so to complete the picture here’s Ultimate-Ski.com’s pick of five of the best heliskiing operations in the Rest of the World:
Best Heliskiing Operations in the Rest of the World
India – Manali, Himachal Pradesh
High in the “Valley of the Gods” this is arguably the best heliskiing in the Himalayas, with spectacular terrain as high as 16,400 ft (5,000 metres) and a sophisticated and safe culture inherited from the team that pioneered the operation almost 20 years ago. Its Australian founder, Roddy Mackenzie is still very much a hands-on shareholder. The nine-ten week season is typically based around February and March. Almost all of the guides and pilots are “old hands” – be it European, North American or Antipodean. Swiss pilots and engineers operate the Bell 407 and B3 Squirrel Eurocopters.
Georgia – Gudauri, Caucasus
The Kazbegi heli-ski region is 73 miles north of the capital, Tbilisi, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea on the southern slopes of The Greater Caucasus (where 10 peaks are higher than Mont Blanc). Heliksir, which fly with Ecureuil B3 Eagle helicopters and Swiss pilots, is based at the hotel Marco Polo at Gudauri’s lift-served ski resort (so you can ski locally on no-fly days). And Gudauri Heliskiing is based at the four-star Rooms Hotel at the base of Mount Kazbek. Here, five heliskiers in Ecureuil “Eurocopters” can take advantage of 2000 square kilometres of above-the-treeline peaks and glaciers at altitudes up to 4,200 metres.
Russia – Kamchatka Heliskiing and Heliboarding
Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula (“land of fire and ice ”) is arguably the most dramatic heliskiing location on the planet. There are some 300 volcanoes in a region the size of Switzerland – many of them active. You can even ski on them if you’re so inclined (or your guide is) or near them. But as the helicopter operator Vertikalny Mir stresses, Kamchatka is in reality “no land of fire” because of its generous snowfall. Surrounded by the Pacific and the Okhotskoye Sea, Kamchatka, like its not so distant neighbours Japan and Alaska, is “one of the snowiest places on the planet”. Skiers need a visa and special Russian insurance.
New Zealand – Methven Heliski, South Island
Methven Heliski is based in the Arrowsmith Range and the ‘Main Divide’ mountains of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. The company operates from a high-country sheep station, approximately an hour’s drive from the ski town of Methven. The terrain is remote and spectacular, with many glaciated runs. From many peaks skiers can enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean to the East, and the Tasman Sea to the West before skiing runs exceeding 1000 vertical metres. Most of the guides work for CMH in Canada during the Northern winters. Methven Heliski offers a basic daily package that includes five runs (3000- 4000 vertical metres) with extra vertical available for a surcharge. In good conditions some groups ski up to 15 runs a day. You can also book a weekly package. The Aerospatiale Squirrel B2 helicopter seats four or five guests plus a guide.
Chile – Puma Lodge
Chilean Heliski’s Puma Lodge, at around 4,350 feet and some 90 minutes south of the capital, Santiago, Chilean Heli Ski has exclusive operational rights for approximately 5000 sq km of privately owned terrain in the magnificent central Andes. The area includes three mountain ranges and the largest permanent glacier ice fields (with 50 individual glaciers) north of Patagonia. The average vertical descent per run is close to 4,000 feet, and one run is more than 10 miles long.
Text by Arnie Wilson
Arnie Wilson has heliskied a million vertical feet in 27 locations in 11 countries.