Frequently Asked Questions
Isn’t heliskiing banned in France?
Yes it is. But our heliski take-off zone is positioned on the French-Italian boarder as heliskiing is perfectly legal in Italy. It’s a mere 10-minutes helicopter ride from your French resort or a 40-minute journey in our chauffeur driven action van where we get you in the mood by playing heliski videos along the way!
What is reverse heliskiing?
Reverse heliskiing – or the reverse heli – means getting “picked up” somewhere remote, instead of getting “dropped off” in a remote location (the ‘normal’ way of heliskiing). Typically, we use ski lifts to get to the top of some incredible terrain (we’re surrounded by six of the best resorts in the world, so there’s plenty of high-altitude lifts to choose from), then we ski or snowboard off away from the resort, and have the heli pick us up in a remote location, that otherwise would require some serious hiking or skinning to get back to civilization.
How many people are in each helicopter?
Val Heliski operates at a maximum ratio of four guests + one guide + one pilot in each helicopter.
How long on average does each descent last?
45 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on route choice, ability and fitness of the group, and snow conditions. Between 1000-2000 vertical meters per descent. Unlike many North American heliski operations our vertical descents are huge. Just imagine: two kilometres of vertical in perfect powder?
How many descents can I do in one day?
Our record is 8 but this group is a repeat client group that trains hard and skis even harder!
Will the guides offer instruction on off piste technique?
Our guides are trained instructors and are expert in off piste and powder technique so can give you incredibly useful one-to-one instruction.
What if the weather isn’t good enough?
Over the weekend before / at the start of your trip we will assess weather, conditions and avalanche risk, our availability and your preferences where possible. and pin point a date in the dairy that fits, communicated by joining you to a what’s app group with our ground team.
If this date does not work for you or the weather on this day end up being too bad for a helicopter to fly then you do not pay for any heli you have not had. However you will use and pay for your guide or instructor for the day (as they have been booked in advance) for a great day of on and off piste where conditions allow.
If we can move the heliski day around the weather we will of course try our best to do this too. However in the rare event there are no nice weather fly days during your trip, again you will use and pay for the guide/ instructor and any extras you have used but never pay for any heli you have not had.
See your Flybook reservation email and / our terms and conditions for the exact wording to his effect
What if the snow isn’t good. Do I really want to invest the money if the conditions are not perfect?
It is exactly at these times heliskiing is best value. Just like you book your ski holiday in advance and make the best of resort conditions, when heliskiing we are guaranteed to find the best possible snow conditions available to you. Our guides are often able to find untouched powder up to a month after the last snowfall, as we have the benefit of being able to choose from miles of untouched routes across an enormous area, with differing weather patterns throughout.
What happens if I am ill?
Our guides are trained in first aid and are equipped with a wide range of medical treatments. If you are so ill you can’t ski on we will call for a rescue helicopter to pick you up and take you to the nearest hospital.
What areas do you ski?
Valgrisenche, Cervinia, Sestriere, Courmayeur, Col du Petit St Bernard, Val Formazza, Val Veni, Mont Blanc. On many descents we ski back over the border and into France.
Safety and Ability
What kind of terrain will I encounter, and will it be very steep?
We guarantee fresh tracks and the guides try to select terrain suitable for each group’s abilities. Because our vertical drop is so large, we encounter most mountain environments, from perfect, high-alpine conditions, down through the weather and temperature bands to the tree runs. Depending on the weather and the snow conditions, and your own personal preference, our guides will find the perfect run for you. You won’t be taken down anything you’re not comfortable with. And of course, if you want steep terrain, our guides will be happy to take you there.
Do I have to be an expert skier or snowboarder?
Not at all. We cater for all skier and snowboarder abilities and offer all types of terrain, from off-piste blue run heliskiing to extreme freeriding and cliff jumps. And our guides are great at listening to what you want, so please talk to them about what runs you love and they’ll be able to find your dream spot.
Is heliskiing dangerous?
There are of course calculated risks when going off-piste, whether that is in a helicopter or not. However our experienced mountain guides, coupled with the best safety equipment and prior training, mean you can rest assured you are in the safest of hands.
What about the risk of avalanche?
There is always some level of avalanche danger in the mountains in winter. This danger level changes constantly with changing snow and weather conditions. The guides monitor snow and weather conditions on a daily basis. The current risk of avalanche is always considered by the guides when choosing the runs to ski.
As a single joining a shared heliski / board group will we all be catered for equally?
Paying for a seat (s) in a shared helicopter rather than all 4 seats in a private helicopter allows you to enjoy a heli experience without needing to find a complete group or paying for the spare seats. This of course comes with a level of flexibility required by all members of the group. There may we’ll be a mix of skiers and snowboarders, novice off pisters to more advanced. We guarantee a minimum of one descent and if everyone in your helicopter on the day is happy to pay for a second then we can of course go ahead. Shared helicopters need also to give us as many days as hey possibly can to get the helicopter up around the shared groups differing availability so the more flexible you are the more likely we have a group for you. Don’t worry we have several shared groups each week going up so it’s very likely if you are prepared to be accommodating that we will get you heliskiing. If we don’t manage it you will get a full refund if cancelled before the proposed heliski day. If however the group is prepared ready and skiing to the helipad in La Rosiere when the weather turns bad, then just like the private helis the group will use and pay for the guide or instructor for a day of off piste around La Rosiere / La thuile and any thing they use but never for the heliskiing they have not had.
Do I have to jump out of the helicopter?
Absolutely not. The helicopter will land on a safe and flat patch of snow so you can disembark easily. During your safety training we will review proper helicopter entry and exit procedures, and your guide will be responsible for loading and unloading all of the ski gear for each lift. It’s just like getting out of a car, you open the door, step out and that’s it: you’re at the top of the mountain.
I am concerned that I will hold up the group. What should I do?
Don’t worry many people feel like this either in a shared off piste, Touring or heliski/ board group. The fact is the Guide or Instructor will try to accommodate all levels in the group by findings slightly different route choices to keep all levels interested and keep the weaker members close to him/ her giving technique tips as you go along. However being in a shared group required patience and flexibility by all parties advanced and novice despite us trying to manage groups to be as similar as possible if you are paying for a seat rather than a private helicopter you must be prepared to share your experience with people of varying ability.
What level of fitness do I need?
Just like any active mountain holiday experience you will enjoy the activity with us more if you are fitter. It’s all about getting enough sleep and not drinking alcohol the night before your activity with us and having a positive mental attitude. See our Ability Level Calculator (james can you put a link here and link to any of the other FAQs it’s relèvent for?) for off piste level and fitness requirements. As a novice we would expect you to need less fitness than someone tackling more advanced terrain. We do understand that some of our clients work hard to pay for their fun and spend less time doing sport or in the gym than they would wish for
What is the minimum age to do heliskiing?
We take skiers and snowboarders from 14 years old. However, in some circumstances we allow for younger riders and skiers if agreed by the guides. We are more concerned with younger mountain users to be able to stay in the group and to take instruction from the guides, as well as their skiing or snowboarding ability. Get in touch if you’d like to know more.
Do women go heliskiing?
Yes. We host women of all ages throughout our ski season – some in large groups, some with their partners, some single women looking for fresh powder, and many families. Most women underestimate their skills but once they heliski, they realize they can enjoy the backcountry. For those looking for some instruction and a confidence boost before heading out in the helicopter, we recommend booking yourself onto our 1 day heli ski preparation course.
Do I need to have my own specialist powder equipment?
A selection of backcountry Salomon and Liberty skis are included in your package price. The knowledgeable and experienced Sport Shop staff will advise you when it comes time to making your selection and the equipment will be adjusted to accommodate your body size and ability. Equipment is tuned and waxed each day so you can get the most out of your days heliskiing. The Ski Republic shop also offers a selection of ski boots and snowboard boots; however, most guests prefer to bring their own.
Can I bring a snowboard and ski and switch through the day?
Unfortunately, there is not enough room in the helicopter ski basket to carry any extra skis or snowboards, so we have to insist that each skier or snowboarder has one set per person.
Can I use my own gear?
You are welcome to bring your own skis, snowboard, helipack, transceiver, shovel etc. And if there’s anything you don’t have, we’d be happy to supply you with all the necessary equipment to make your powder day as perfect as possible.
What should I wear? Is there any special gear I should take?
– Technical outerwear with room for several layers underneath is best for powder skiing and variable weather. We suggest you take a backpack, with a suitable layering top (fleece, or insulating mid layer) to change in or out of.
– Most guests wear helmets, and we encourage you to do so, but they are not mandatory. Helmets and ski wear are available in the Sport Shop where are Val Heliski desks are located.
– We supply shovel packs with a shovel, rope and probe but you may use your own small backpack to hold personal items.
– Please note that personal items cannot be left in the helicopter while skiing.
– Ski Republic Sport Shops are stocked with great ski gear – everything you would need for your trip, including skiing-specific socks, merino wool breathable base layers, down-filled outer layers, GoreTex shells, hats, mitts, goggles and more.
Shall I bring food, drink and snacks?
You are of course welcome to bring some snacks. Please note that we provide a Savoyarde-style picnic with gourmet, locally-s0urced cheeses and an assortment of cured meats (and a bottle of wine!) which our guides fashion in a suitable spot somewhere in your remote valley. In addition we recommend bringing lots of water, with a camelbak or similar water insertion into your backpack being a strong recommendation.
Do I need insurance?
Yes. This is necessary and you will need to show us on arrival of resort at our Val Heliski desks before being allowed to heliski.
How do I make a reservation?
It’s simple, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 1329 339 621 (UK) / +33 757 43 74 18 (France), or make contact on what’s app using the button at the bottom right of the webpage. To make a reservation you need to pay the deposit and fill in your client details on our booking platform and you will be emailed.
Why should I book with Val Heliski?
We are a specialist off piste & heliski operator with years of experience dedicated to providing our clients with the most memorable experience of their life.
How do I find other people to share my helicopter?
We have over 100 heliski groups a week including many shared groups that we can add you to. It’s important to note however that sharing a group may require you to compromise on ability level or number of descents; the total group agrees to pay and could well be a mix of skiers and boarders. Whilst we try to match groups as best as we can please allow for a worst case scenario.
Keeping a group private will ultimately allow total freedom on speed of the descent, ability level and number of descents taken on the day.
Can I hire the helicopter for myself?
For private groups we can organise a 4 passenger heli transfer from your resort helipad to the heliski area direct and back again. For heli airport or inter resort transfers we can organise a heli for private groups of between 4-6 people from your local resort helipad to your chosen destination for a lunch stop and return back or for an onward journey.
What is the max number of people you can take heliskiing?
There is no limit. If you let us know your required amount of people in advance we can organsise it.
Can I get a heli transfer from my chalet?
Yes. If you want to have the ultimate door to door experience, we’re happy to pick you up at the airport and take you to your chalet, or vice versa. Here’s a recent article in the Telegraph about our heli transfer services.
Can we nominate a chosen day?
Yes you can and we will accommodate you wherever possible. The earlier you book this day in the more likely we are able to confirm availability. If it’s a non heli related activity we will lock you in regardless of weather. However,
if it’s a heli related activity we may need to shift to another of your available days around the weather but we will keep
you informed on our joint Whatsapp group the weekend of / before your trip with a weather forecast and activity plan.
Have any other questions?
Feel free to drop us a line anytime.