With many popular ski resorts closed or banned, it may be time to try something new when you are able to take that next trip over the next year or so. Experiential travel specialist Cookson Adventures suggests making your next trail trip a heli-skiing expedition.
“Refresh the annual slope getaway by stripping to a secluded peak or flying a helicopter to an unexplored peak, ready to descend to pristine slopes,” says Henry Cookson, founder of Cookson Adventures. “When the race is yours, the celebrations afterwards can begin anytime. Raise a glass of champagne while gazing at a carpet of clouds, knowing that you are sharing the mountain with friends and no one else.”
As you venture down these extraordinarily remote slopes, you are promised the ultimate in adrenaline-filled, social-distancing travel.
Cookson recommends this neglected heli-skiing site for its narrow mountain range offering perfect skiing conditions due to storms blowing moist Black Sea air over the mountains before dropping a surprising amount of fresh snow on them. Exclusive access can be arranged for small groups per week, so you can enjoy the mountains with just your friends or family.
When to go: January – March *
Karakorum range, Pakistan
Being transported by helicopter over Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountain Range (home to the second highest peak in the world) allows you to slide down barely touched slopes. Only opening up to heliskiing in recent years, this isolated region offers an adrenaline rush as dedicated military officials escort you down new powder trails. An itinerary can include scenic mountain dinners, a personal media crew, helicopter tours, and nights in a bespoke luxury camp with log fires and piers.
When to go: February *
Denali Range, Alaska
Alaska is a land of gargantuan proportions where 600 inches of fresh snow falls each season. A promising land of high octane adventure, it is a second home for many mountain skiing professionals. This means that the level of guidance and local knowledge is exceptional. With the dramatic Alaskan landscape as a backdrop, you can heli-ski, ice-fish, take a polar dive, fat-bike, and explore the valleys on snowshoes.
When to go: March – April *
Take part in untracked heliskiing descents across the maritime snowpack of the Icelandic Arctic, where volcanoes and glaciers dominate rugged coastlines and crashing waterfalls. Here you can ski a wide variety of terrain, from open boules and steep couloirs to long runs from mountain tops. You even descend into the heart of volcanoes, ice caves and glaciers. Coming here allows you to marvel at Iceland’s geographic wonders in the company of world-class guides with state-of-the-art equipment.
When to go: March – May *
Baffin Island, Canadian High Arctic
Discover slopes few have skied before as they venture into the northernmost ski areas of the arctic tundra of the Cordillera Mountain Range. Set off from a heli-skiing base located in the middle of the fjords of Baffin Island to reach unspoiled wilderness that allows you to be among the first to ski such trails. Cookson welcomes guests to a private collection of Pacific Domes, which includes dining and clubhouse tents, while offering slope exploration via a snow cat and helicopter. As well as challenging yourself with some of the world’s longest corridors and tallest vertical cliff faces, you are able to experience the culture of the Indigenous Inuit.
When to go: March – May *
Kamchatka, Eastern Russia
Wildlife enthusiasts as well as intrepid heliskiing are blown away by this volcanic archipelago in the Russian Far East, home to wild landscapes and endemic species. According to Cookson, when you don’t spot killer whales or arctic foxes, you can heli-ski at this UNESCO-listed site, with instructors by your side. The archipelago includes more than 200 volcanoes and has the ideal weather conditions for light powder slopes.
When to go: March – May *
The vast wilderness of Greenland’s glacial mountains offers some of the world’s finest first heli-skiing descents. Add to that the flexibility and luxury that an exploration yacht can offer, allowing you to dive among historic wrecks, observe marine life, and engage in a truly secluded culture. Here you can ski the first descents on extremely varied terrain, snorkel in cold water in crystal clear waters, and observe marine life ranging from beluga whales to narwhals and bowhead whales. Cookson is also able to fly you over the ice cap to kite ski, dog sled or snowmobile the ice cap.
When to go: April – May *
Chilean Andes, South America
The Chilean and Argentinian Andes are among the tallest mountains in the world outside of the Himalayas, with long trails, sunny days, and dry snow. With an experienced guide by your side, it’s possible to locate and ski pristine slopes here, and if you’re based in a mountain range in the Maipo Valley, you’re also just an hour’s drive from the capital of Chile, Santiago.
When to go: July – September *
* While these are the recommended months for heli-skiing in each region, travelers should be aware of the latest travel restrictions.