By Destination BC
More than half a century ago, winter adventure pioneers set their sights on BC’s wild landscapes — exploration that spawned a deep-powder industry in pursuit of untracked terrain. Heli- and cat-skiing rose from the Kootenay Rockies, and today, more than 40 heli- and cat-ski operators have proudly planted their flags on BC’s slopes.
Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) started it all for high-flying heli-skiing adventurers. Indeed, it was Hans Gmoser who, more than 50 years ago, made a historic helicopter trek, six skiers in tow, deep into the mountains of BC — a journey that would redefine the boundaries of the sport and open up exploration of largely untapped swaths of terrain. Today, CMH continues to push – or at least redefine – boundaries, thanks to some of the most diverse programming anywhere; it’s all here, from Powder Intro skiing and riding that turns newbies into devotees to pulse-thumping terrain worthy of Powder Masters. For a sense of sisterhood, Girl Powder brings like-minded ladies together to explore some of the province’s finest stashes. canadianmountainholidays.com
If a full seven days isn’t in the cards, single-day heli-ski adventures promise a tasty alternative. Indeed, day trippin’ in BC has never been easier: rk heliski lifts off from Panorama Mountain Resort, guiding groups through expansive glaciers and glade skiing in the Purcell Mountains; Selkirk Tangiers Helicopter Skiing delves into Selkirk and Monashee mountain terrain, accessed from the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort; and Eagle Pass Heliskiing, just south of Revelstoke, leads the way through the Monashee Mountains, a range revered for its spruce and alpine fir tree skiing. rkheliski.com; selkirk-tangiers.com; eaglepassheliskiing.com
For something fresh, White Wilderness Heliskiing is the latest crew to join BC’s family of whirlybird operators. Situated east of Terrace, White Wilderness explores a boundless chain of alpine bowls, glaciers, and treed runs with programs that include Heli-Assisted Ski Touring and Steep Skiing/Powder Intro Camps (remote tent-based steep skiing is also available). In addition, White Wilderness takes full advantage of its prime location along the mighty Skeena River with Heli Fly-Fishing excursions that angle for spring-run steelhead trout. www.heliski.com
These Cats Purr
If heli-skiing touts its pioneers, homage must be paid to Selkirk Wilderness Skiing cat-skiing pioneers Allan and Brenda Drury, a husband-and-wife team who first forged the path, tucking adventurers into the warmth of a snowcat to ply their way through powder to reach remote terrain near Kaslo. While the operation has since re-emerged as Selkirk Snowcat Skiing, the crew’s core elements of more than 40 years have remained the same: consistent accumulation of dry, deep snow, far beyond the boundary of a resort, blends temptingly with high alpine bowls and challenging steeps and chutes. selkirksnowcatskiing.com
Further northwest, Cariboo Snowcat Skiing revels in small-group adventures. Indeed, the operation, north of Valemount, takes full advantage of its remote Cariboo Mountain region, a slice of heaven celebrated for its generous snowfalls; Mica Mountain is also blessedly free of flat areas, which translates into run after run of fantastic fall-line skiing. As a bonus, this outdoor crew will customize the day’s excursions, ensuring that every skier and boarder makes the most of their powder play.