The Heli-Ski Blog

5 Tips for Heli-Assisted Ski Touring from a Ski Guide

Posted by Jane Carswell on Nov 30, 2009 10:22:00 AM
by Jorg Wilz, CMH Guide

Heli-Assisted Ski Touring is a dream come true: Combining the snow quality, mobility and luxury that heli-skiing offers with the beauty and serenity of backcountry ski touring. All in one trip!

Heli-Assisted Ski Touring with CMHAt CMH, we are seeing guests sign up for heli-ski touring with two different backgrounds: Long-time heli-skiers who used to ski tour ages ago and decide they want to try it again CMH-style. Or traditional ski tourers who love the idea of being based at a luxury lodge, being able to sample the optimal terrain on any given day and last, but not least, ski twice to three times as much downhill than ski touring conventionally.   

No matter what your background is, here are five things you need to remember!

1) Get fit or drag ass
Showing up without proper conditioning for heli-ski touring is far worse than for heli-skiing. When heli-sking, if the snow is good and if you are an efficient skier with countless years of skiing under your (stretched-out) belts, you might get away with not being fit. Not so when heli-ski touring. You are bound to suffer badly if you need a breather every 5 steps going uphill, not to mention the bar tab that could be coming your way if you end up making everyone wait on those uphill regroups. On the positive side, with two guides for our groups of 10 clients, we are well set up at CMH to address split group issues when ski touring. But it’s not all that much fun if you end up being the only member of the “slow group”.

2) Dress (not smell) like an onion
Again, this is true for heli-skiing but much more so for heli-ski touring. Wear many thinner layers rather than just a few thicker ones. Adjusting layers is key!  Strip down to avoid steaming while walking uphill below tree-line and add layers while pulling off the skins from your skis on a mountain top in the cold wind. For staying warm during breaks a light down vest can easily become your favourite piece of clothing!

3) Hydrate! And not on the Rocks
Well – that’s a no-brainer you may think. Crucial for staying hydrated on ski tours is the right temperature of your beverage. On a cold day, if your drink is as cold as the snow you ski, odds are you won’t drink much. The same is true for the contrary – nice to have a cool drink for those warmer days in spring (and remember that adding snow to your warm beverage decreases the concentration of minerals). Bring a thermos (or two) when it’s cold! And don’t hesitate to bring a thermos plus a non-insulated bottle on those “in-between days”.

4) Keep the noise down and the pack light
New to ski tourers are the daily helicopter rides. It’s pretty noisy, especially when huddling in a group underneath the blades during landings and takeoffs. Our “regulars” do what the guides do and wear various forms of ear protection. For Heli-Assisted ski touring, for the sake of keeping your packs light, a set of conventional ear plugs do a pretty good job.

5) Take it for what it is
If you are a heli-ski aficionado and you are drawn to heli-assisted ski touring by the lower price tag, you will quickly find that you only get what you pay for. In other words, if the uphill part of the heli-ski touring (i.e. about 80% of your day!) seems like work, don’t bother switching. But if you enjoy getting sweaty while skinning up in a serene winter-wilderness and the exhilaration of the 1500 to 3500 meters of daily descents, you are bound to have a blast heli-ski touring with CMH!    

To join Jorg on a Heli-Assisted Ski Touring trip at CMH Adamants, Bugaboos or Monashees, e-mail ( or call one of our Reservations Sales Agents at 1.800.661.0252.  

Topics: CMH Staff Profiles, First Timers, Guides