Heli Skiing Tips: Getting Ready for Your First Trip

Are you new to heli skiing? It may be hard to determine whether or not you are ready to take the next step in your skiing career. Our website has some resources to help you determine if your skiing abilities are a good match for heli skiing.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. “My 16-year-old wants to go heli skiing. Is there an age limit?”

This is a very common concern. Many families travel to Utah for skiing vacations and want to experience heli skiing with the entire group. In short, there is no age limit for heli skiing at Powderbird. Skiing ability, fitness level, and previous powder experience are far more important than age. As long as your teenager (or your grandfather) meets the ability requirements, you’re good to go!

Heli skiing with the kids

2. “I’m from the East Coast and I’ve never been skiing in Utah. Can I still try heli skiing?”

Although we recommend skiing at a Utah resort, or a similar resort in the Western United States, it is not necessarily a dealbreaker. We encourage skiers and boarders to visit a resort out West because everyone who has been to Utah (or many Colorado resorts) can attest that not all ski resorts are created equal. A black diamond at your home resort may be very different than a black diamond at Snowbird or Alta. Our terrain is based off of the best the Wasatch Range has to offer, and we want to make sure that you’re not getting in over your head. If you’re on the fence, try a day or two at the resort before making the final call on heli skiing.

Early Season Skiing

3. “I don’t have a lot of powder experience, but I’ve been skiing for 20+ years. Do you think I’ll be OK?”

This is a tough question to answer. Everyone’s experience level is different, depending on the skiing conditions they are most frequently exposed to. The key is be honest when assessing your own experience. If you live in a place that receives little to no powder, you are in for a surprise the first time you find yourself in 15″ of blower Utah powder. Powder is extremely different than hard-packed snow. It can be very tiring, and more aggressive physical conditioning is required to sustain a full day of powder skiing. If you have skied powder a few times, didn’t struggle too much, and were able to ski nearly an entire run without stopping or falling, then you should remember those skills the next time you are in Utah.

Skiing in Utah's light and dry powder

4. “This trip is for my husband’s 60th birthday. We’re not as extreme or aggressive as we used to be. Do you think the terrain will be too challenging?”

Our terrain can range from steep chutes to wide open bowls and gullies. We group skiers together based on their previous experience, their overall skiing ability, and also their expectations for their heli skiing day. Some Powderbirds are only interested in the steepest and deepest conditions. Some prefer the more mellow open bowls. Some love trees. We have nearly 100,000 acres of skiable terrain, we are sure to have something that meets your needs. If you are looking for a very specific experience, a private group is a great option. This provides you and your group with your own private guides and gives you the ability to choose the exact type of terrain you wish to explore. Essentially, it’s a customized heli skiing experience.

Beautiful open bowl, typical Powderbird terrain

Some tips that will make the transition to heli skiing easier:

1. Get powder skis. Or at least rent them when you are on vacation in Utah during a snow storm and for your heli skiing day. They will help immensely; they are designed to make skiing in powder more effortless.

2. If you are at all worried about your powder skills, take a ski lesson before signing up with Powderbird. There are many talented instructors at our various resorts that will be happy to help fine tune your powder skills and prepare you for heli skiing.

3. Exercise regularly during the weeks and months leading up to your Utah heli skiing vacation. This will only enhance your experience. You’ll feel confident and strong, and won’t have to worry about your leg muscles burning out on you.

I realize that every case is unique. If you have any questions that weren’t covered here or on our website, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help steer you in the right direction.


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