Take Your Skiing to the Next Level ... Via Helicopter
Colorado heli-skiing adventures await
By Natasha Lovato
Just when you think the altitude couldn’t get any higher and the shredding couldn’t get any better, it’s time for the ultimate outdoor experience. Lock in for the zenith of winter sports: heli-skiing. The powder is deep and the mountainside is empty. If you have the experience and a few extra bucks, buckle up for a guaranteed wild ride.
The opportunity to jump from a chopper onto the Colorado slopes first arose in the mid-1960s. That’s when Austrian-born mountaineer Hans Gmoser helped pioneer the sport with the help of a little-known adventure company named Canadian Mountain Holidays. CMH is now owned by Denver-based hospitality giant Alterra Mountain Co., which operates Steamboat, Winter Park and several other North American resorts.
Currently, Colorado offers a limited number of heli-skiing options. Depending on the time of year and location, the ride to skiing nirvana will generally cost between $179 (for a limited experience) and $10,000 (for a deluxe package).
Following are a few jumping-off points:
Heli-skiing or boarding with Silverton Mountain ski area offers the adrenaline rush of a single drop, or the luxury of a full, private experience for you and friends. Thrill-seekers can explore nearly 30,000 acres of terrain.
“It’s fun to come to Silverton because there’s no chain anything here,” said Jen Brill of Silverton Mountain. “Right away it’s a place you’ll find an adventure. Then you come out to Silverton Mountain, sign waivers, gear up and head out for the best day of your life.”
For more than 35 years, Telluride Helitrax has specialized in heli-skiing and boarding trips for expert skiers and riders. The family-owned company of dedicated mountain connoisseurs excels in their devotion to mountain culture, safety and one-of-a-kind experiences. Whether you prefer a private or custom experience, you are guaranteed to discover the epitome of what Colorado has to offer. Heidi Lauterbach, marketing specialist for Telluride Helitrax, highlighted the ways they’ve perfected the experience.
“The helicopter landing pad is directly outside of the office,” Lauterbach said. “There is over 200 square miles of terrain and everyone gets about six runs totaling 10,000 to 14,000 vertical feet. At the end of the day, you become a tight-knit group, so we always celebrate the experience with cocktails and appetizers.”
Telluride Helitrax offers connections to Telluride via Aspen, Vail or Steamboat so the whole party can jump aboard a private, fixed-wing plane that delivers you to and from the Helitrax front door.
The Nomad Inc. adventure travel company based in Aspen invites you to hop on a private plane and fly into Telluride, where Helitrax will take over the transportation needed to access the backcountry. Fly into 200-square miles of pristine powder within minutes. After spending the day skiing the alpine basins of the beautiful San Juan Mountains, return to your own private cabin in the restored ghost town of Dunton for a vacation experience in its own league. Soak in the hot springs before your group meets at the saloon for a 5-star dinner made with locally sourced food. Kick back and enjoy the evening while sharing the day’s stories and sampling the extensive wine list. If that’s not enough, indulge in a complete spa treatment, massage and a yoga or Pilates class.
Colorado native Natasha Lovato will soon graduate from MSU Denver with a degree in Integrative Written Communication in the Arts.