Ski trips are continuing to become an increasing popular way to enjoy an active holiday. Destination ski resorts have large amenities and lift systems to maximize the amount of skiing and snowboarding one can do during their vacation, however they also often come with large crowds, long line-ups, and competition for who can ski all the powder first. There is thankfully an alternative for the skier or snowboarder who values quality over quantity, remote over the familiar, and is looking for a truly unique experience. It comes in the form of a helicopter access ski vacation.
What exactly does “helicopter access” mean?
Helicopter access is very different from the more familiar, heli-skiing. On a helicopter accessed trip you are flown in and out of a destination where you will stay for a set period of time. Once you’re at your destination e.g. Mallard Mountain Lodge, you are then free to explore far and wide by human-powdered means, either ski touring or split-boarding in the winter, or hiking in the summer. The helicopter is only used for transfers of guests and supplies at the lodge, typically once a week.
Here’s 5 reasons you should consider this type of ski touring experience on your next winter trip:
1. Get A True Wilderness Experience
Chairlifts and gondolas are great for getting people into the mountains, but it’s in the backcountry – beyond the boundaries of resorts – where you really start to appreciate the grandness of places such as the Canadian Rockies. Getting to the top of the mountain either hiking or touring does takes more effort, but the reward of untouched powder turns on the descent cannot be matched anywhere else. Around you are dozens of peaks and glaciers rarely seen by other human beings. That’s something worth taking photos of to remember.
2. Helicopter Access = Private Access
The only helicopter (or any large engine of any kind for that matter) that you will hear or see, is on transfer days when food, supplies and guests are flown in and out of the lodge. For the rest of the week, every turn on snow is human powered, every moment private, and every run yours to savour. Being so remote, large portions of the area has never been skied before, so if you’re looking for a first descent, we’ve got some spots to show you. There is a unique awakening and energizing feeling that comes with taking a deep breath, looking over your shoulder, and taking in the untouched and pristine landscapes all around you.
3. Relative Luxury at an Ultra Remote Lodge
While you may be resting your head a hundred kilometres or so from the nearest point of civilization, a helicopter access ski vacation lets you enjoy the wilderness without having to rough it. A wooden stove burns to keep the entire lodge warm all night and your hosts are always on hand to prepare all meals and make you comfortable, giving you time to relax and unwind after a big day of ski touring. Comfortable bedding, heated washroom, backcountry shower, and wifi all go towards making your stay as enjoyable and relaxing as possible.
4. Full-Service Options for Catering and Guiding
Many backcountry lodges in BC have a fixed product when it comes to guiding and catering, but here at Canadian Adventure Company we like to give people options. Have the skills to ski the terrain but lack the will to cook in the morning and evenings? We can do all the meal preparation for you. Want to go self-catered but require a guide to safely get through the week? We can organize a guide or you can hire your own. We’re also happy to have groups handle all their own food and guiding or sign up for our all-inclusive package.
5. Small Groups, Big Days of Powder Skiing
One of the best parts of a helicopter access ski vacation is the intimacy. Backcountry lodges in BC have a relatively small capacity compared to those of Europe, offering a unique experience with friends and families. Mallard Mountain Lodge is one of the most private backcountry lodges in BC, hosting just 6 – 8 guests at a time. Smaller groups also tend to ski more, allowing you to make the most of your backcountry trip.
6. It’s a Fraction of the Cost of Heliskiing
Riding in a helicopter is an experience in itself, one that many people remember for the rest of their lives. It’s also an expensive endeavour, which is why heli-skiing lodges charge thousands of dollars for a few days of powder skiing. Remote lodges such as the Mallard Mountain Lodge in BC strike a balance between heli-skiing and human-powered ski touring by utilizing the helicopter solely for access at the start of the trip and exit at the end of the trip. All of this comes at a fraction of the price of cat and heli-ski lodges. True, you do have to work hard for your turns during your stay, but you’ll leave with satisfaction and rewards of a life changing experience.
Are you ready to experience your first helicopter access ski vacation in BC?