Heli Skiing Arkhyz Russia
Heliskiing in Arkhyz Russia Photo: Mike Weyerhaeuser

Heli-Skiing in Arkhyz

Russia's Caucasus Mountains

When we first visited Krasnaya Polyana in February 2002 for an article in Ski and Board Magazine there wasn’t much there – a few chickens and cows running around the unpaved streets, a couple of old beaten up chairlifts, a heli-pad and one or two hotels. It was rough around the edges to put it mildly but what we found up the mountain blew us away – a never ending succession of superb, wind sheltered slopes, magnificent forests of perfectly spaced silver birch trees and industrial quantities of Black Sea powder.

With the announcement that Sochi had the 2014 Olympic Games and that Krasnaya Polyana would host the ski events, things changed immeasurably in a very short space of time. A new road opened, hotels and restaurants sprung up overnight, new ski lifts were built and before long the once inaccessible heli-ski terrain became very accessible. And when the authorities pulled the plug on the only reliable helicopter operator, that was that was that. No more heli-skiing in Krasnaya Polyana.

Since then we are excited to have discovered a new powder kingdom further to the east in a small village called Arkhyz. Situated mid-way between Krasnaya Polyana to the west and the impressive 5,642 metre Mount Elbrus to the east, this zone offers some of the most impressive heliski terrain found anywhere. With higher peaks the skiing is more focussed on skiing above treeline and being only 65 km from the northern shores of the Black Sea the mountains are a magnate to some of the deepest powder conditions found anywhere.

What can I say, the most amazing trip ever....

John Van Marle


The Lowdown

World Class Heliski Terrain

The terrain around Arkhyz was made for heli-skiing. With runs starting at over 3,000 metres and finishing in the treed valleys far below there are some monster-long descents.

Abundance of Powder

When moist air coming from the Balck Sea to the south hits the cold dry air of the Caucasus, the perfect conditions are formed that result in epic quantities of the finest powder snow imaginable.

Unique Lodge

The lodge is a former mountain residence of Mikhail Gorbachev, the first president of USSR. The Lodge and the rooms are spacious and show traditional standards of the Soviet political elite. The huge garden surrounded by old pine trees makes the perfect place for a “shashlyk” BBQ after a long day of skiing.

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