Heli skiing is the ultimate dream of every avid skier. The helicopter ride, the powder snow, and the majestic scenery all combine to make it a one-of-a-kind experience. But is it worth the high cost that it demands? If heli skiing is one of your life goals and you’re wondering how much you’ll need to make it a reality, this guide is for you.
Here you’ll find out how much you need to heli ski, what factors affect the cost, and how much helicopter skiing pilots and guides make.
How Much Does It Cost to Go Heli Skiing?
Heli skiing is an expensive activity and it will cost you a few thousand dollars, depending on several factors and your appetite for adventure and luxury. And if you enjoy all the finer things in life and want the best heli skiing experience, then expect to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Aside from your preference, here are some of the other variables that go into heli skiing costs:
- Duration: The number of days you plan to stay in the resort and heli ski.
- Location/Country: The best locations and services in the world demand a high price.
- The number of runs: More runs will cost you more because the helicopter also serves as your private lift.
- Flight time: The higher or farther you need to go, the more fuel will be spent.
Other variables that will affect your total cost are the number of people in the group, the vertical ascent covered, and the transportation cost to and from your lodge.
Expect the cost to vary depending on the heli ski operator as well. Some will charge a higher premium than others if they offer first-class facilities like hot tubs, massage services, and more. Private bookings will also have a higher cost and will have to be negotiated with the operators.
To give you an idea, a typical heli ski run in British Columbia will cost CA$1,000 for a single day, 3 run package. A multi-day package that’s inclusive of food and accommodations will cost at least CA$ 1,400.
Meanwhile, one of Iceland’s first-class and modern resorts will cost you at least US $2,000 per person, per day. But with this price, you’ll get a semi-private heli skiing activity, chef-prepared meals, airport transfer, and more.
How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Helicopter for Skiing?
Helicopter rental costs more than US$1,000 per day per person but it’s still a cheaper option than booking a whole package. Rental only includes the helicopter service and the ski guide and won’t include meals and accommodations. But the total cost will still depend on how many you are in the group and the number of runs you want.
Typically, you’ll need to book your heli ski trip in advance to reserve your seat in the chopper. However, some operators have a standby list for those who want to take a chance on vacant seats. This costs much lower than the standard rate.
For example, a heli ski resort in Nevada has a standby list for US $750 per person, 50% less than the reserved seat’s price. Note that this is only for the helicopter ride and doesn’t include any additional services.
Meanwhile, another resort in Colorado offers a single heli bump, the only operator to offer such service for only a fee of US $184. If you want a private trip, they offer a private heli package, however, that will set you back at least US $11,000.
How Much Does a Heli Ski Pilot Make?
Helicopter pilots are highly trained professionals and their skills and experience demand an annual salary range of $39,000 to $134,000 with an average salary of $72,000. And given the hazards and the environment, expect a heli ski pilot’s salary to be on the higher end of the range.
One of the biggest challenges for a heli ski pilot is taking off and landing on high altitudes. There aren’t any airports that will provide a flat and solid landing ground with assistance from a control center. The unprepared landing spots require great skill and experience to be done safely.
The other challenge is the weather. Heli ski pilots sometimes have to fly in blowing snow, making it difficult to take off or land in the all-white environment. They also need to fly to safety in cases of sudden weather changes or during emergencies like an avalanche.
How Much Does a Heli Ski Guide Make?
Heli ski guides get paid a lot as well, with an average of $34,000 annually which doesn’t include tips. It’s widely regarded as one of the best jobs in the skiing industry, however, it comes with a lot of responsibilities.
A heli ski guide will need a lot of passion for the mountains and a great sense of the environment. They ensure the client’s safety through their expert navigation skills, ropework, shoveling techniques, rescue, snow science, and more. These are all essential skills that can save lives.
They also need to be excellent skiers and can easily get along with people. It’s the ski guide who’ll teach the nuances of skiing on powder snow and dealing with the environment to make it enjoyable for everyone. And because they’re responsible for the group’s safety, they’ll need to have good decision-making skills as well.
So while it’s an amazing job with high pay, it comes with serious responsibilities.
How Much Do You Tip a Heli Ski Guide?
Tipping is a great way to show appreciation to your guide. If it’s your first time to heli ski and you’re wondering about tipping rates, you should know that the usual rate is 10% to 20% of the tour cost for each person.
As an example, if the tour fee is $1,500 per person, the tip should range between $150 to $300 for each. You can give more than the norm depending on the guide’s service or how satisfied you were with their service.
Considering that heli ski guides give a lot of effort to ensure your safety and enjoyment, tipping would be greatly appreciated. This can go a long way especially if you plan to be a regular customer in their resort.
How Much Is a Heli Ski Trip in Total?
The total cost to heli ski greatly depends on the location and how ambitious you want to be. But typical heli-skiing packages that are inclusive of meals, five-star lodging, equipment and other add ons will cost US $1,000 to $2,000 per day per person.
If you want to experience the most luxurious lodging and services in the best locations in the world, then prepare to spend in the six digits.
However, there are ways to heli ski without having to spend a fortune. Here are a few tips if you’re just starting:
- Book during the shoulder season: On off-peak seasons, costs are usually lower by 25%.
- Take a chance on the standby list: As mentioned above, some resorts have a standby list that costs significantly less.
- Be an early bird: Some operators offer a more affordable early-bird rate for booking way in advance.
- Ask the resort: You can directly contact the resort or operator you’re interested in so they can offer you packages that fit your budget.
Heli skiing is an expensive sport but it’s a worthwhile adventure that you’ll remember for a long time. Luckily, you don’t have to be ultra-rich to experience it. There are ways to ski on powder snow and enjoy the backcountry mountains without breaking the bank. With patience and creativity, you’ll be able to go on your dream heli ski adventure.