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Charles Buxton, British Author

Travel Insurance

Off the beaten track – An introduction to Heli-skiing in the Canadian Rockies

A penchant for powder
There is nothing more appealing to the experienced skier or snowboarder than the prospect of access to pristine powder snow. Even if you are lucky enough to visit a resort that benefits from regular fresh snowfall overnight during your stay, the nature of busy modern resorts means that fresh powder will be well carved up by lunchtime should you stay en-piste. In many modern, well planned resorts it is not possible to reach safe, off-piste areas via the cable cars and lifts provided, as most of the viable runs have been made into well defined pistes.

Heli-skiing
The facilities for heli-skiing in the Canadian Rockies are at the forefront of world heli-skiing. Heli-skiing is the only guaranteed way to reach fresh powder snow daily on your skiing holiday, and involves hitching a lift by helicopter high up on to untouched slopes beyond the reach of resorts, from heli pads in locations such as Canmore and Golden. With this kind of endeavour it is essential to have the experience of seasoned heli ski operators, for obvious safety reasons. The guides will be experts, and have the in depth experience of the local mountains to be able to identify safe conditions on the slopes, thus greatly reducing the risk of avalanche.

Safety Essentials
Good reliable operators will guide groups of a maximum of 4, and be well equipped to deal with emergency situations. Check on the credentials of your operator by ensuring that they are registered and licensed by organisations like the Association of British Columbia Heliski, the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, or Snowcat Operators. On a personal level, good travel insurance, such as provided by AA, is a must so that you are covered for all eventualities. With an experienced guide, accidents are rare, but it is essential to have adequate medical cover when embarking on this kind of adventure.

Heli-skiing is certainly not the cheapest option for skiing, but can without doubt provide one of the most breathtaking experiences to be had on snow. Just remember that far away from the crowds, safety preparation is a must, so check the provisions of your travel insurance, taking out a thorough policy from the likes of Go.

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