Powderbird FAQ: When is the best time of year to heli-ski?

When a first-time Powderbird guest calls our heliport, we typically go over the basics:

  • What is the day’s itinerary
  • How many runs can we expect to ski
  • How many vertical feet in a day of heli-skiing
  • What areas do we ski in from each base of operation
  • Do we need to provide our own safety equipment
  • What is the cost for a day of heli-skiing
  • Can we rent powder skis, and what are the benefits

The list goes on—as I’m sure you can imagine, first-time heli-skiers understandably have a lot of questions about the experience. Despite the multitude of questions our staff fields on a daily basis, one of the most common questions is:

When is the best time of the season to come heli-skiing in Utah?

This can be a difficult question to answer, due to the fact that next season’s weather is completely out of our control in July, or even in the midst of Powderbird’s season. Utah weather is notoriously unpredictable and changes drastically on a daily and weekly basis. However, based on our previous experience and historical snowfall averages, we can give you a pretty good picture of the winter in Utah.

Sidenote: Even during a “bad” or “dry” winter season, you can expect 500″ of the “greatest snow on Earth”. Not too shabby. During an amazing season, you’re looking at over 700″ of that dry fluffy stuff! For your reference, 2006-2007 was a historically weak ski season. Many locals will recall it as the worst in recent memory. Alta reported 390″ that winter.

Here’s a run down of Alta’s average monthly snowfall (the most accurate representation of our backcountry snowfall):

As you can hopefully see from this chart, we are blessed with a ton of snow each winter month Utah, and it also tends to vary which month is the most snow heavy. According to Alta’s calculations, over the course of 31 seasons, Utah’s snowfall averages a water density of 8.55%, with the driest snow falling in February (7.55% on average). Likewise, the largest quantity of ‘snow on ground’ can be found in February and March, with 104″ and 122″ respectively. Early season we may not be able to access every ski route in our arsenal due to insufficient snow coverage and other potentially dangerous obstacles.

Alta’s chart also depicts Utah’s Wasatch front receiving high early and late season snow totals. Budget conscious travelers can often save some money by visiting Utah in early January or throughout March, by securing “low-season” rates.

A beautiful April powder day at Alta Ski Resort (4.14.2011)

As a heads up, Sundance Film Festival skyrockets the cost of lodging in Park City (and beyond) during the last two weeks in January. The 2012 Sundance Film Festival will take place January 19-29, 2012.

If you have any questions about booking, please don’t hesitate to call (801.742.2800) or e-mail (info@powderbird.com) us. We are also available to answer any questions on Facebook and Twitter.

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