Folks who love skiing on fresh, virgin power — a.k.a. powder junkies — should really put some thought into a pilgrimage to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. It’s an old and grand park, home to several outstanding ski resorts. If fear and budget concerns are of no consequence in your search for pristine snow, you can also indulge in some truly spectacular heli-skiing. For those of you who know how to shred through the white stuff (no snowplowing beginners here), but have yet to leap out of a helicopter onto a high peak and land on soft snow, Banff National Park just might be for you. Who knows, a trip here could turn out to be the highpoint of your existence.
Regardless if you opt for heli-skiing or not, this part of Western Canada offers up heaps of fresh snow. The traditional Banff ski resorts are located around Lake Louise, Revelstoke and Sunshine, just off the Trans-Canada Highway. You’ll find a hefty amount of backcountry skiing, as well as groomed runs here. It’s really a treat to race down these world-class slopes.
Depending on the green you’re willing to shell out, you can stay in some very lavish digs in the small town of Banff. You might even be able to book lodging in the renowned Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, which was fashioned in the likeness of a Scottish castle.
Of course, for the serious powder hounds, nothing can replace a full day of skiing. That’s when you’ll have to forget about your accommodations, and look into alternative modes of transportation besides the high-speed ski lifts.
Companies like Selkirk Tangiers Helicopter Skiing (STHS) and Purcell Heli-Skiing are well-regarded heli-skiing outfits staffed up with expert guides and pilots who live and breathe Canadian deep powder. This part of the Rockies is a Mecca for powder lovers worldwide. To truly experience awe-inspiring vistas and untouched fluffy white snow, you need to fly. Thankfully, the seasoned pros running these heli-skiing shops offer an assortment of packages that will get you up into the mountains in no time at all. Your main job is simply following the advice of your knowledgeable guide, and making your way back down mountain, while you cut tracks through the virgin powder for hours on end.
Heli-skiing does come with some risks past the damage it can do to your wallet. Snow is a big deal in this part of the world, and it’s big business, which means safety is extremely important for everyone involved in the search for amazing powder. So yes, getting into a helicopter can be a little more perilous than simply plopping your backside down on a chair lift — but the incredible scenery, excellent powder, and the fact that you’ll never have to wait on line could very well be worth the additional risk.