Featured Adventure

Steep Heli-Skiing

James Morland •

Like it a Little Steeper?

Bored of big commercial heli-ski operations with over-sized groups and flat runs? Ready to step it up a notch and challenge some genuinely steep terrain? You are in the right place - almost.

There are a whole host of companies offering so called ‘steep camps’ or ‘experts only’ weeks but in reality few if any really do what they say on the label. Even in Alaska – famed for its steep skiing – it is rare to find genuinely steep heliskiing offered to regular guests. To be fair it is not what most people want to do...but for the few who do this is refreshingly different.

Time To Step It Up

For strong expert skiers, the Steep Skiing Challenge based out of Bella Coola, British Columbia is an unparalleled experience. The alpine terrain in and around Bella Coola, is on steroids and can match (or better) anything found in Alaska. Add to this the fact that there is a significantly lower chance of being shut down by bad weather and you have all the ingredients needed to get the adrenaline pumping.

Situated some 500 km north or Vancouver at the culmination of the Burke Channel - a 100 km long inlet that pushes inland from the Pacific Ocean - the Bella Coola valley benefits from a stable maritime snowpack and an infinite number of awe-inspiring, snow-plastered peaks that were just made for skiing and snowboarding. This deep, coastal snowpack typical of the Pacific North West allows steeper terrain to be skied much more safely than in the interior ranges which are often plagued by high avalanche risk.

​Steep Powder Run
Steep Powder Run • Photo: Paul Morrison

Nothing is guaranteed but if you want to stack the odds in your favour of skiing or riding steep terrain, few places present better opportunities.

After a short flight north from Vancouver you will find yourself in the heart of some of the most mind-blowing ski terrain you have ever seen. Your flight lands in Bella Coola around 11 am and when you look out the window you will find the guides and helicopter on the side of the runway ready to get you out skiing as soon as possible. As well assessing the abilities and the desires of the group the aim of the first afternoon is to get everyone feeling comfortable amongst the big peaks of the Coast Mountains.

In the days that follow the schedule generally involves a few warm up runs in the morning followed by one bigger objective in the afternoon. This could be a long couloir or perhaps a wide open steep face or ramp. Often these bigger objectives will involve elements of ski mountaineering such as skinning, climbing moderate snow slopes with crampons or rappelling. With a client to guide ratio of just three or four to one you will be guided and coached throughout by seasoned mountain guides – all certified by the UIAGM or ACMG –international and Canadian Association of Mountain Guides.

Please note that accessing steeper terrain on a regular basis requires an element of luck with weather and snow conditions. Every effort will be made to provide challenging skiing or snowboarding at a level that yo are comfortable with whilst maintaining the highest level of safety.

Skier with jagged mountains in background
Solo skier enjoys some spring powder • Photo: Todd Lawson

Highlights of the Steep Skiing Challenge

  • The best chance of skiing genuinely steep terrain
  • Instruction and coaching in basic ski mountaineering skills including rope work and glacier travel.
  • Small groups and high client to guide ratio (3 or 4 to one).
  • Less chance of being shut down by weather than in Alaska.

Prices

  • 5 Days CA$10,080
  • 7 Days CA$12,480

What's Included

  • Return flights from Vancouver to Bella Coola and ground transfer to the lodge.
  • Seven or five possible day’s heli-skiing including 75,000 or 56,000 vertical feet.
  • Seven or five nights’ accommodation at the Eagle Lodge (twin occupancy).
  • All meals.
  • Guide Service.
  • Use of powder skis.
  • Ground transport in the Bella Coola valley.
  • Use of all lodge facilities.
  • Use of safety equipment including: avalanche transceiver and avalanche airbag.

Available Dates:

  • Mar 25 - Apr 1
  • Apr 1 - Apr 8
  • Apr 8 - Apr 15
  • Apr 15 - Apr 22

Key: Low Season High Season

picnic nect to helicoter with glacier behind
A well earned lunch break

Into The Mind - Bella Coola

Sit back, relax and enjoy Sherpas Cinema's "Into The Mind" segment from Bella Coola.

Like it Steep?

We have lots of choice for those who want to step it up a notch.

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