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En-route to the landing point for a day of heli skiing, and passengers and crew alike are talking in raised tones, straining over the ‘thwack, thwack, thwack’ of the rotor blades above. Meanwhile, down below, the terrain stretches as far as the eye can see. Seemingly intent on stealing your breath with some captivating new vista tucked away behind every mountain top. There’s just no denying it: those moments before the heli touches down are a sensory overload. And then silence. The fleeting moments spent atop your mountainous destination - helicopter fading into the distance - are, in contrast, crystal clear. Standing there as your eyes take in the sheer vastness of the snow-drenched terrain around you. Terrain that in a matter of minutes will be speeding by as you descend your slope of choice. And what a descent it is! Solitary and utterly laser-focussed: just you, your skis, and the untracked powder snow that they caress on the way down. This is heli skiing in all its exhilarating glory: an unmissable experience for any ski enthusiast. And with a choice of locations across the globe as vast as the very terrain itself? Grab your ski gear and take your pick! There’s more than enough snow to go around. To aid you in this decision, today we’re bringing you the top 4 heli ski locations from across the globe. Locations where the views are scenic, the slopes are snow-drenched, and the descents are exhilarating all the way down.

1. Japan | Niseko

hokkaido-backcountry-clubImage courtesy hokkaidobackcountryclub.com Japan’s heliskiing scene isn’t as big as one might expect for a country bursting at the seems with stellar slopes and powder snow. The major reason for this? Japan’s strict flight laws and red tape, which sees your choice of heliskiing operators to a select few dedicated enough to work through this. And aren’t we glad they did! The Hokkaido Backcountry Club is one such operator, offering heli skiing in Niseko: the Tokkaido region’s powder playground. Including the likes of the Shiribetsu-Dake volcano. Yes, you read that correctly: a volcano! And Hokkaido? They have exclusive access to it. All 1,107 meters of it, in fact, world-renowned for its fresh snow, steep ridges and snow-dusted birch trees.
As well as private tours and charters, Hokkaido offer a range of 10, 6 and 3 run packages. Including introductory and Big Run packs. That, as the name suggests, includes the steepest runs Shiribetsu-Dake has to offer.
  • Who: Hokkaido Backcountry Club
  • When: Mid-December through to late March.
  • Where: The Tokkaido region’s Niseko, including exclusive access to the Shiribetsu-Dake volcano.

2. India | Nepal’s Himalayas

heliskinepalImage courtesy heliskinepal.com You’d be hard pressed to find a more iconic snow-capped locale than the imposing grandeur of Mt Everest itself. Conquered by some. Conqueror of many. And what better way to experience it and its surrounding terrain than dropping down upon it from the skies? We can’t deny that there isn’t some small sense of irony here: that so many devote their lives to climbing up it, while us heli skiers devote our time to working our way down it. But we wouldn’t have it any other way! Himalayan Heli Ski Guides are your sole provider if you, too, want to lay claim to your own slice of Everest’s slopes. Operating for close to 15 years, they offer an array of heliskiing packages that let you do just this. Their terrain actually spans the length and breadth of 3 of Nepal’s major regions, including The Annapurna, Humla and Everest regions. Regions that include terrain as high as a staggering 5,000 metres, offering runs from 700M through to 1,500M vertical. Even HHSG themselves admit that you’ll need to be up early if you want to catch the best these slopes have to offer, but a little lost sleep feels like a small price to pay for this exhilarating heliskiing experience centred around one of the world’s most iconic - and infamous - natural wonders.
  • Who: Himalayan Heli Ski Guides
  • When: Mid-February through to mid-April.
  • Where: Nepal’s 3 major regions including The Annapurna (North & South), Humla and the Everest region.

3. Europe | Iceland & Greenland

arctic-heli-skiingImage courtesy arcticheliskiing.com There are few locations in the world that can lay claim to the kinds of vistas Iceland and Greenland have on offer: pristine snow stretching as far as the eye can see. Descending mountain slopes that rise directly out of the sea, as you ski your way to the Arctic Ocean’s edge. Though would you expect anything less from a place with ‘ice’ in its very name? We didn’t think so! Operating out of the Raven Hill Lodge in Ski Valley - located on the Troll Peninsula - Arctic Heli Skiing offer an exploratory heli skiing experience like few others. Available in four, six and single day packages for those looking to experience the unique joys of the Iceland and Greenland heli skiing scene themselves. With some of the best terrain just 3 minutes away? You’ll be into the thick of things in no time! And the terrain doesn’t end there, either. In all, Arctic Heli Skiing offers access to some 4,000 square kilometers of terrain, with vertical descents up to 1,500M on offer, stretching all the way to the Arctic ocean itself.
  • Who: Arctic Heli Skiing
  • When: End of February through to late June.
  • Where: Iceland and Greenland, including the Troll Peninsula.

4. New Zealand | Queenstown & Wanaka Lakes Region

southern-lakes-heliski Image courtesy heliskinz.com While Australia is yet to open its ski slopes to heli skiing, New Zealand remains the closest source of heli skiing for many. The fresh snow of New Zealand’s slopes? It’s just a stone’s throw - and an airfare - away. Giving budget-conscious Aussies the chance to take to the skies with their skis on. Unsurprisingly, it’s New Zealand’s South Island where your skis will be hitting the slopes. Smack bang in the middle of New Zealand’s adventure capital of Queenstown and the Wanaka Lakes region. Southern Lakes Heliski are the local heli ski provider of choice, with some 30 years experience in the industry. And it shows! Operating out of their bases in Queenstown and Wanaka lakes, they provide access to more terrain than any other New Zealand provider. And what stunning terrain it is! With their daily or weekly heliski packages panning some 8,500 square kilometers, 11 unique mountain ranges and with over 600 runs on offer. Talk about choice! Combine this with New Zealand’s trademark hospitality? And you’ll be heading home with special memories and more than a few pictures of that white snow that will make friends turn green with envy.
  • Who: Southern Lakes Heliski
  • When: Early July through to early October
  • Where: The best of the Queenstown and Wanaka Lakes region, including access to the Clarke Glacier located in the Forbes mountain range.
For tips on your Snow Sport equipment stay in touch with us: facebook/rhythmsnowsports instagram: @rhythmsnowsports twitter: @rhythmsnowsport

Posted by Emily Dorahy on

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