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  • Northern Escape Heli Skiing – The #1 Thing to do in Canada

    May 01, 2023 9 min read

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    Northern Escape Heli Skiing – The #1 Thing to do in Canada

    Northern Escape Heli Skiing – The #1 Thing to do in Canada

    Nothing irks a powder hound more than reaching the summit of a slope to discover that someone else has been there, and marked their powder! Avid skiers may rest easy knowing that at Northern Escape Heli Skiing, this will never happen! There are endless lines of pristine snow that are yours to take plus verticals up to 36,500m!

    Go heli skiing with Northern Escape to indulge yourself and get away from the ordinary. The snow is a clear benefit of heli skiing with Northern Escape; you'll appreciate the abundance of powder snow and the consistency of the snowpack. Since 2004, Northern Escape Heli Skiing has run small-group heli skiing trips in the Skeena Mountains of northern British Columbia, close to Terrace. Riders from all over the world travel to BC to experience the award-winning boutique heli experience, new Mountain Lodge, snowcat skiing support, and big mountain, deep powder skiing. Through Terrace Airport, the lodges are conveniently accessible from Vancouver.

    Additionally, you'll be able to take full use of the vast terrain and the deep snow (think 5,500 sq kms of Big Mountains and Deep Powder) thanks to the small group structure. After a long day of sightseeing, you can relax and relive all your memories while savouring a delectable meal of three to five courses. Now that you’re convinced, here’s more info while you get ready to book your next trip!

    What is Heli Skiing?

    Heli skiing today is very different from heli skiing of the past. The usual is luxurious lodging, fine dining, and equipment made specifically for skiing in thick powder. But since BC is where heli skiing originated, it is still the centre of the sport today. Perhaps you've been fortunate enough to ride the chairlift at a ski resort first on a powder day or have gone cross-country skiing or snowmobiling in deep snowfall with a ski buddy. Heli skiing is popular because of the excitement of gliding weightlessly down a mountain and the whoosh of light, airy snow past your goggles. Some compare it to a surfer riding a flawless wave. The sport is all about being able to do that all day long, with a helicopter instead of a packed gondola, plus the adventure, and the companionship. You can see why for many people, heli skiing is a true bucket list experience when you consider that best-day-ever experience, secluded, luxurious housing, 5-star cuisine, and the beauty and quiet of the mountains. All Heli-skiing guests need to be advanced or expert skiers/boarders with the ability to ski in powder snow and steeper ungroomed terrain. You don't need to be a super expert or pro...but be able to handle deep powder, tree terrain, natural obstacles...and be good enough to ski at a reasonable pace to keep up with the other guests.

    Heli Ski in Canada
    Heli Ski in British Columbia

    Why BC Is the Best Place to Try Heli Skiing

    Since those early years, the sector has expanded to more than 20 heli ski operations in British Columbia, more than any other country. Skiers can explore the mountains here alone because of the province's extensive wildness and low population density. You won't ever encounter another cat or heli ski outfitter while out riding in the mountains because BC's heli ski tenure system grants each business exclusive access to the terrain they ski. The mountains here are consistently covered with heavy powder thanks to the northern latitudes and Pacific storms. In British Columbia, there are several different mountain ranges, each offering a special kind of skiing. With an average height of between 2000 and 2500 metres, the mountains are typically lower than those in the Alps, but they nonetheless provide a distinctive combination of alpine bowls, glaciers, and lower elevation tree skiing. The outstanding range of terrain, from easy to difficult, makes it possible to enjoy fantastic skiing in circumstances that are not feasible elsewhere.

    Best Time to Go Heli Skiing in Canada

    Heli skiing, also known as heliskiing or helicopter skiing, was invented in British Columbia, and there are more heli ski operators there than anywhere else in the world. It has become a magnet for skiers looking for the best powder skiing experience because to its untamed, gorgeous mountains, deep snowpack, and world-class lodges.

    Heli skiing is achievable from December to April, but the middle of the season is often regarded as the best time to go heli-skiing by many, yet an insider’s tip is to try it in December. While there aren't many drawbacks to skiing or riding in the middle of the season thanks to consistent snowfalls, a substantial snowpack, lower temperatures, and more daylight, December often provides deeper snow.

    Where is Northern Escape Heli Skiing Located?

    North-western British Columbia, Canada is home to Northern Escape Heli-Skiing, which is tucked away in the renowned Skeena Mountains of the Northern Coast Range. Yellow Cedar lodge- our lodge for the Classic package. 18 guests max. A 25 minute shuttle bus ride from Terrace airport

    Mountain lodge- our recently built Boutique lodge for the Elite Package. 10 guests max. A 8 minute heli transfer from Terrace airport

    Private lodge- our fully catered Private chalet for a max 5 guests. Full private program with heli + guides + lodge staff. A 12 minute heli transfer from Terrace airport

    Getting There

    Everyone mainly flies to Terrace via Vancouver. You can use Air Canada or WestJet. All guests are met by staff at Terrace airport when the AC flight lands and then are transferred to the lodge they booked by shuttle bus or heli as indicated above.

    Northern Escape Heli Ski Mountain Lodge


    Terrace Ski Area

    Shames Mountain, 37kms to the west of Terrace, British Columbia, is the closest ski resort. Shames Mountain can be a good place for you to spend a few warm-up days or to recover from your amazing heli-skiing adventure. The lone chair lift and T-bar at the ski resort are fairly basic, but the side country and backcountry terrain that is accessible from the ski area is the main draw. Although occasionally it is accessible on Thursdays or extra days during holidays, Shames Mountain is normally only open from Friday to Monday.


    The Heli Skiing Regions of British Columbia

    You can find numerous sub-ranges and seven main mountain ranges in British Columbia by looking at a topographical map. The Monashees, Selkirks, and Purcells are well-known, especially to many powder hunters. To make it simpler, though, we'll concentrate on just two of these regions: the Interior region, which is in south-central British Columbia, and the Northwest region, which is about 700 km north of Vancouver. The Selkirks and Monashees mountain ranges, as well as a few smaller subranges famed for heli skiing, are all located in the Interior region, which also includes numerous well-known mountain communities including Revelstoke, Golden, and Nelson. Unknown communities like Terrace, Bella Coola, and Smithers, as well as mountain ranges such the Skeena Mountains, a northern extension of the Coast Mountains, can be found in the Northwest area, which borders the Alaskan Panhandle.

    British Columbia Skiing Terrain

    Northern Escape Heli Skiing Terrain

    The heli ski terrain is enormous, but that may be a slight understatement given that Northern Escape has one of the largest heli ski playgrounds in Canada with a total area of 5,500 square kilometres. The ski and snowboard terrain ranges in altitude from 450 to 2,350 metres, making the routes lengthy and perhaps combining alpine bowls, glaciers, and naturally gladed trees. Or, if the weather is nice, most skiing and snowboarding may just take place in the mountains, with the trees being the best option on days with poor visibility.


    Snow & Weather

    As it's deeper up here, one of Northern Escape Heliskiing's catchphrases, captures the extent of the snowfall, which averages 20 to 30 metres per season. Additionally, there's excellent news for skiers who enjoy relatively steep terrain because the coastal snowpack makes it safe to ski reasonably steep terrain.

    Northern Escape’s Snowcat Backup Enables Riding on Stormy Days
    Another item to think about is how to get to and from the lodges themselves. When combined with flights to tiny airports, some heli ski lodges require lengthy shuttle bus rides on icy roads to access, which might add an additional full day of travel time to your trip. Last but not least, there has been a significant industry drive to reduce the negative effects on the environment, so if that's essential to you, search for operators who are certified carbon-neutral and have environmental strategies in place.

    Why Deep Powder Heli Skiing Benefits from Early Season Snow

    Late April, after the snow has been accumulating all season, is usually always when the snow's "base" is deepest. But December is frequently when the "ski depth" is at its deepest.

    There may be 2 metres (6 feet) of snow on the ground at your local ski area, but it is completely groomed and has no snow on top, therefore the ski depth is zero. Now, the "ski depth"—not the "base" or snow depth—is what gives us all the thrill heli skiers seek. The ski depth determines how far you "sink in," hence "chest deep" refers to plunging into your chest, which is the pinnacle of backcountry skiing. Because the base gradually grows, ski depth in December typically exceeds that of virtually any other month. The reason is that due to the position in Northern British Columbia, the major Pacific storms arrive by mid-October and don't fully subside until February or later creating ski waist-deep powder in December since the early season snowfalls take some time to "bind" or settle.

    About 75% of our skiing during this period is done in the trees. This area has more stability and is a skier's natural playground with all the features, jumps, and pillows.

    Deep powder skiing in British Columbia, Canada

    Trip Planning for Heli Skiing

    When arranging a heli-ski holiday, there are several factors to take into account. At the very least, you should be a reasonably skilled intermediate to advanced resort skier. While some resorts exclusively accept skilled and expert travellers, others cater to the lower end of this range.

    If skiing is a priority for your trip, search for a lodge with snowcat skiing as a backup option because down days do occur when it snows too heavily for helicopters to fly in the mountains. For stormy days, snowcats can be a fantastic option.

    Technique and Gear for Deep Powder Skiing

    When skiing or boarding in deep powder, it’s all about flotation. You want as fat a ski or snowboard as you can get your hands on. And when it comes to technique you want to make a nice platform with those big planks, and use some hops between turns. Finding terrain that’s a little steeper and getting some speed up and keeping your weight slightly back can help keep you on top.

    If you’ve never skied in deep powder, it’s quite unlike anything you’ll ever have at a ski resort, and can take some getting used to. But after a few waist-deep runs, you’ll quickly discover why December may be the ultimate month for deep powder skiing.

    Trust the Best - Northern Escape Awarded World’s Best Heli Ski Operator

    If you haven’t realised this article is about heli skiing with Northern Escape, well it should be pretty clear, also combined with the fact that they were awarded the best heli-ski operator in the world!

    Since their inception in 2004, Northern Escape have expanded and enhanced every facet of the company while continuously inventing and expanding the potential of the heli-skiing experience. Northern Escape introduced snowcat skiing support as one of the original heli ski operators, and are still one of the few places in the world to offer it. Therefore, they take visitors skiing on stormy days when you might be lounging around the lodge (like those other heli operators). Additionally, they were one of the first companies to deploy the Agusta Koala helicopter with visitors returning every year for this reason alone because this is the industry's highest-performing equipment.

    Northern Escape are among the few heli-ski companies in the world to be certified as carbon neutral, and we have made further minimising their environmental impact a crucial aspect of their operations.

    And new for this ski season, with their new ultra-luxe Private Package that includes lodging at their brand-new Skeena River Ranch, they have raised the bar on what a luxury ski holiday should be. This top-of-the-line programme is pushing the limits of what is possible with heli skiing.

    Want a 360 Virtual Tour? Check it out! https://www.neheliskiing.com/360-tour/      


    Booked your Heli Ski Trip yet?

    Information on trip preparation, forecasts, and travel suggestions for the next heli-ski season can all be found on Northern Escape’s website where you can view packages, dates, availability and more.

    Heli skiing continues to be a highly sought-after luxury adventure activity for both first-timers and seasoned shredders. Few experiences can match the rush of gliding virtually weightlessly over deep, unexplored powder slopes in British Columbia's backcountry – and we can’t wait to join the team on an adventure once more!

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