Skiing Operations Manager Clair Isrealson starts us off with the basics;
“If you’re a first time heli-skier or heli-boarder tell this to your guide, then relax. We love to help you do things right, and we’re good at it. By the end of your holiday you’ll be cruising like a pro.
Don’t over dress, and don’t over work yourself. Let gravity and technology do the work so you can enjoy the powder. Some people try and make too many turns, forcing their skis through a super tight radius and burning tons of energy. We’ll show you how our fabulous powder skis can do much of the work for you, so you can stay out and play for the full day’s program.”
His brother, Gerry Isrealson weighs in about choosing the right boots;
“Heli-skiing inherently demands that skiers spend an entire day in their ski boots. In my opinion a poorly fitting boot can literally make or break your day. Just ask Yvan who had to stuff his feet into a pair of boots a couple sizes too small due to a severe lack of caffeine in the AM. It hurt so bad it even affected his vision with all the crying that took place that day. Reduce or eliminate foot discomfort and cold toes by skiing in a boot that’s got a little more room than the high performance racers you may prefer to use on the piste.
If you are considering a second or new boot that’s better suited for softer snow, consider purchasing boots with a little softer forward flex. This will not only save your shins and quads but won’t kick you into that highly undesirable “outhouse crouch” position seen when skiers ride the tails of their skis. In general, softer flex will allow you to stay centered over the ski, save the legs and avoid the old ass plant crash scene scenario. “
Mikey Olsthoorn, Assistant Skiing Operations Manager tips to add to the ski boot discussion;
“Heliskiing really is where you will have the most fun with your boots on! The last thing you want is to be uncomfortable in your ski boots. Every year, I will go to the ski resort several times with rest days in between before my work season starts. This is the best way to get my feet and body ready so that my feet can ski 15 days in a row.
Also you’ll want to have a good look at your boots well before the season starts. The things you need to look for are loose rivets on buckles and worn out toe pieces where the front is thinner than normal. If the rivets are loose or wobbly, then bring them to a ski shop for fixing. If the toes are worn out, you probably have had a whole lot of fun with those boots and you deserve a new pair. If that is the case, and you do buy new boots, then please try and ski on then before your holiday.
Another tip about ski boots is to always try and bring them on the plane as carry-on. Then, if your luggage is delayed for whatever reason, at least your boots are with you. If there is one thing you don’t want to borrow it’s ski boots and underwear.”
Longtime NEH Guide Yvan Sabourin switches the focus to goggles & another essential piece of equipment;
“Your goggles are one of the most important pieces of gear in deep powder skiing; if you ask most guides if they’ve ever been injured they’ll probably have a story regarding a flat light situation. Choosing the right set of goggles can greatly improve your skiing experience.
I would recommend choosing a pair of goggles with easily interchangeable lenses. I keep at least four lenses around for my season; mostly low light mirrored lenses as they reflect brightness when the sun is out.
It is important to realize that goggles come in different sizes to fit different faces. Also remember to fit your new goggles to your helmet to avoid the classic “Gorbey Gap” (a space between your goggles and helmet). This gap creates issues with snow melting on your forehead and soaking the foam lens divider as well as makes you look very un-cool – especially when you get a band of frostbite across your forehead.
While on the topic of goggles I’d like to mention a few ideas on how to avoid fogging between the lenses. If you have stuck your head in the snow, take your helmet off and remove the snow that is jammed in the vents and clean your goggles thoroughly, including the upper foam panel. Removing the snow from this panel allows air to flow through your goggles as you ski, keeping the lenses from fogging. I also like to keep a tech cloth in my pocket at all times so that when I pause on a run I can wipe excess snow off.
The last tip I will suggest is to pay attention to your climate control; if you’re getting sweaty remove a layer to avoid overheating.
Remember to relax and breathe and get into the rhythm as you move down the mountain. Oh, and pray for face shots!”
Finally veteran guide Owen Day sums it all up;
“First things first, I hear a lot of guests say, ‘This is my first day on skis this season.’ Sure, you can do this but it’s not the best way to get the most out of heli trip. Head to your local ski hill for a few warm-up days before your heli ski holiday.
Vision is key. Buy some new goggles; way too many people with suffer with old crappy goggles that fog up.
If you are thinking about getting a new ski boot consider getting something that is comfortable and has a Vibram rubber sole; no more slipping in the driveway or on skid tubes in and out of the heli.
Stretching before and during your trip makes a huge difference; a simple 10-minute stretch session per day helps loads. Also try to sleep and eat well prior to your trip.
Hydration is very important while on the mountain; drink lots of water not beer! Also avoid sugar at lunch, loads of people will suffer from a sugar crash and bonk in the afternoon.
And last but not least, please, please, please know how to use your GoPro. I have seen way too many people trying to figure out how to use their GoPro as we are about to get picked up at the lodge to head out for our first run.”
Well there you have it folks, straight from the guides themselves, the best ways to prepare for your heli ski holiday in order to get the most out of your trip.