Going up to Go Down: Helicopter Skiing is the Way to Go

Greg LimeberryYou can’t go down without going up first. I don’t mean that as a figure of speech, that has been a literal issue in the history of skiing. Since 1934, when the first motorized ski lift was invented using a Model T Ford engine to run a rope and pulley, skiing has been about finding more efficient ways to climb the mountain. It started with rope tows, then T-bars, then double chairs. Today, it isn’t unusual to find high-speed four and six passenger chairs in enclosed gondolas.

The coolest way to go up a mountain is probably with a helicopter. The helicopter has been a luxury, only the most advanced or rich skier could afford. It’s still pricey today; but in terms of cost, ability and location, it’s now more accessible.

Sno-cat skiing, resort-based backcountry, side-country skiing and hiking and climbing on skis have also become more accessible.

Their popularities are all growing because of one reason: powder. As ski resorts improve their ski lifts, they are getting more and more skiers. Even at the least-visited mountains, the density of skiers is still quite high. So the snow is neither deep nor dry, and it is always tracked up. Passionates skiers would rather have deep unbroken powder; so they pay for a helicopter to get an ideal skiing experience somewhere else.

Big storms usually would produce the kind of powder these skiers wants. But catching a storm like that on a vacation planned weeks in advance is difficult. And fresh tracks from storms rarely last a day, because locals wait all year for it, and they ski all day when it comes. With helicopter skiing, you’re more likely to find a fresh track, and are more likely to get what you pay for.