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Heliski News 2008

Welcome to our spring '08
newsletter. . . Thank you to everyone who skied with us this year. We hope you have a great summer and of course that you will be back for your fix of the white stuff next season.

James Morland
Managing Director, Chamonix, May 2008

East Coast Greenland - Ice bergs, Whale blubber. . . and mind blowing skiing.

greenland heliskiingThings were looking a little shaky to start when I discovered that the group's skis, which we had sent three weeks earlier, were not safely in Greenland as TNT had promised, but were sitting in some Danish port gathering dust. Sixteen people were about to arrive in Greenland to go heli skiing with no skis and a trip that had been over a year in the planning, and cost the price of a small house, was crumbling around us.

Five flights and a hefty excess baggage bill later, I found myself (with 16 pairs of skis) in a small Inuit village at the end of a frozen fiord on the east coast of Greenland, surrounded by apartment block-size icebergs, dogsleds and gun wielding Inuit seal hunters. Surreal would be an understatement.

At least we had skis but things were still looking pretty bleak. To start with, one of our helicopters was stuck in bad weather on the south coast. It was also unseasonably warm, had just rained, and the forecast was poor. Indeed, the faces coming in from the first afternoon told it all - survival skiing in flat light and glue-like snow.

A few of the guys headed out that evening to drown their sorrows in the local bar and came back with the looks of changed men on their faces. None of us can be quite sure as to the entirety of what they witnessed but we did hear stories about one of their number nearly having his face bitten off by a (fortunately) toothless local, looking to add to the gene pool.

The next day looked like it was shaping up to be even worse but the clouds broke that afternoon and the guys got out after lunch. Incredibly, the combination of a subtle overnight temperature drop and access to some of the higher landings was all it took to make the difference and there were nothing but ear to ear grins and free flowing champagne that night. From there things went from good to better to extraordinary and culminated with perfect weather, great snow, champagne drinking ceremonies on icebergs and skiing to the beach. I think it's fair to say that this was a trip that will stand out as something very special for those who took part.

Greenland is an amazing place to heliski but it cannot be over-stated that this is expedition-style heli skiing in a seriously remote environment and there are many more uncontrollable variables to take into account than you would find at established heliski bases.

View slide show.

For more details contact James Morland +33 620 43 65 88.

Krasnaya Polyana - Times Have Changed

In our last newsletter I reported on the possible effects of the 2014 Olympic Games on Krasnaya Polyana and predicted that it would be several years before any of this adversely affected the quality of the heli skiing.

It seems that times have changed more quickly than I thought. The western Caucasus still have exceptional terrain and vast quantities of powder but what has changed is the pressure on the skiing.

Due to its location on the border with Georgia and the lack of remote fuel caches, there has always been a limit to how much skiing you can access from Krasnaya Polyana. This has been compounded by the fact there are more people heliskiing, and the local ski hill is encroaching on the nearby terrain. So in classic Russian, 'highly regulated but not really regulated at all' style, things seem to be getting a little out of hand.

Most good things don't tend to stay a secret for long and we think the area is now becoming too populated for our clients so regrettably be taking a little step back from Krasnaya Poyiana and focussing our efforts more on neighbouring Arkiss. There is no ski resort here but this could turn out to be a low-key skiing Mecca tucked away in the Caucasus - much like Krasnaya Polyana was 15 years ago.

Family Packages at TLH & Last Frontier Heliskiing

TLH Heliskiing with EA Heliskiing - the heliski specialist

Why not take the whole family heliskiing for Christmas, New Years, or Easter - and have the kids go HALF PRICE? With two adults at regular price you can bring an unlimited number of children/young adults (12 - 25 years old) of the same family for half price.

Available dates:
Christmas: Dec. 19 - 26, 2008
New Years: Dec. 26 - Jan 02, 2009
Easter: Apr. 10 - 17, 2009

Spirit Bear - New platinum chalet at TLH

Spirit Bear at TLH Heliskiing

A long time the benchmark for private luxury heli skiing, The Platinum Experience at TLH Heliskiing have just entered a new dimension of decadence. In January 2009 the recently renovated, nine bedroom Spirit Bear will open the doors to her first guests.

The Platinum Experience at TLH is about total indulgence - your own luxury chalet complete with private chef and massage therapist, a private helicopter parked outside and 830,000 acres of private playground for you and your friends. Perfect powder in the trees, wide open bowls and glaciers that stretch forever . . . the possibilities are endless.

View slide show.

Only a few weeks remain for the 2009 season. Please click here for details or contact us.

Kamchatka - See it at its best.

Heliski kamchatka

With the situation in Krasnaya Poliana a little uncertain we have an increased demand for next season's Kamchatka trips. With an area the size of Germany, Austria & Switzerland combined and nothing much but bears and massive volcanoes, it will be a while before things are spoilt here. However, more skiers and riders are heading there and it is changing. Our message is simple: go soon if you want to see it at its best. This is a unique place that cannot fail to leave a deep impression on all who go there - let alone ski there . . . View 2009 prices and packages.

Chamonix Based Heli skiing.

chamonix heliskiing

This season saw the launch of our Chamonix based operation. Yes, heliskiing is still illegal in France but with its location right on the border with Italy and Switzerland, Chamonix is within 20 minutes drive of several pickups. And on poor weather days you have a good choice of resorts on your doorstep.

Our Chamonix heliski trips are aimed primarily at groups of strong skiers and snowboarders who have done some ski touring, are in good shape and confident in all conditions.

Unlike most of our other destinations, untracked powder from top to bottom of every run is not the norm, but with half good conditions it's the kind of experience that the French would describe as 'impressionnant' - loosely translated as 'bloody impressive'. Huge alpine descents of 2000+ vertical metres, the highest mountains in the European Alps and only five hours door to door from London.

Next season we will be offering more experienced skiers and riders the chance to ski from the summit of Mt Blanc and also to experience the famous Haute Route with a little helicopter assistance. Cheating? Maybe. Please contact us for more information.

Pantheon Heli Sports

Heliskiing in British Columbia, Canada

We had our first guests (Petter Von Heidenstam and Carl Mustad) heliski the mighty Waddington range this March and I think it's fair to say that they were suitably impressed!

This is definitely a unique operation in BC - if for no other reason than that the mountains are almost Himalayan in proportion. It is no coincidence that this is where they filmed Hollywood films such as Franc Roddams' K2 and Jean-Jacques Annaud's Seven Years in Tibet.

With only eight guests and half a million acres of largely unexplored mountains on your doorstep, it's pretty wild too. If you are a group of four to eight skiers who aren't fazed by sacrificing a few fancy extras for some genuine adventure and who value independence from other groups, this could be the trip for you. Trips start at CA $11,610 per person and at the time of writing we have a prime week available from the 8th to 15th March 2009.

07-April-2008 - Farewell to a Dude

Whilst out with his Dad and long time ski buddy, Valdez local, Jesse Tol was tragically caught and killed by an avalanche in the mountains he grew up in. I look back with fond memories at my time hanging out with the Tols in Valdez and my deepest sympathy goes out to Jesse's parents John and Herme.

Jesse you're a dude and will be sorely missed - Read Anchorage Daily News coverage

Client Ski Order

If you have skied with us in the past and would like to order a pair of next years K2 skis at our special discounted rate, please let us know as soon as possible. For a sneak preview of K2's 2009 range of equipment you can download the brochure by clicking here (may take a few minutes to download).

Himachal Update

Air Zermatt have still not obtained the necessary permits to operate heli skiing in India so it looks like we will have to wait at least another year for things to kick off again there. . . Let's hope they do.

Availability - Next Season Filling Up Fast.

As a general rule, if you want to heliski mid-season (February / March) or with a larger group, then you should book the spring before your trip. It's always possible to find space nearer to the time, BUT you will not have the same choice of dates and destinations. If you are considering Canada, Turkey, Russia or Greenland for next season you should contact us as soon as possible and we can still offer you some good weeks.

Different Length Skis - No problem!

different length skis

We would like to offer a special award to Emma Rose who, whilst on a recent heliski trip to Alaska, managed to ski for a whole day with a 179 ski on one foot and a 189 on the other - without realising! To be fair, she wasn't really as convinced as most with the performance of the 'pair' of K2 Pontoons she was trying out and it was bottomless Alaskan powder so she rarely saw them . . . Nice one Emma!!

Mark the Mountain Guide

". . . it has been found that environmentally responsible behavior results from direct contact with the environment and that people must be exposed to natural areas as children if they are to care about them as adults. Extended periods spent in natural areas, as well as creating a role model, seem to create the most environmentally responsible behavior and increased involvement in biodiversity conservation." (Evidence for a fundamental and pervasive shift away from nature-based recreation. Oliver R. W. Pergams and Patricia A. Zaradic, PNAS, February 19, 2008 vol.105 no.7 2295-2300).

So, how to get children to care about wild places so they don't exploit them as adults? Expose kids to nature as often and in as many exciting ways as possible to replace time spend with electronic media. Here's a little book that can help spark a child's interest in getting out into the mountains: "Mark the Mountain Guide: Avalanche!" from Boxer Books.

The author Mark Seaton is a British Mountain Guide who we work with in Chamonix. He lives here with his wife and three adventurous girls and their Bernese Mountain Dog.

To order a copy please click here.

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