Every desert has on oasis.
Nevada’s desert oasis is called the Ruby Mountains.
The crown jewel of this oasis is Ruby Mountain Heli.
The Ruby Mountains are an unrivaled mountain oasis in the middle of a vast, cold, high desert that gives rise to ten jagged 11,000-foot peaks that rake down over 300″ of average annual snowfall. The snow they get it is cold, dry, and made for powder skiing and riding.
When I visited the Ruby Mountains last year in January, they were sitting on a 200% of average snowpack.
The power of this remote desert oasis was difficult to comprehend. I’d just crossed one of the largest deserts in North America and suddenly I was stepping out of a helicopter above 10,000-feet into boot deep powder where I could see nothing but snow, rock, and forest. The juxtaposition of snow covered, rich, green forest against dry, brown desert ignited my imagination.
The snow was absolutely dreamy. It hadn’t snowed in a week, but the Rubies unique cold, dry climate kept the snow in a magical way. Recrystallized Ruby Mountain velvet that was incredibly responsive, consistent, and light. It sprayed like crazy on big turns and had us all hooting, hollering, laughing, and clambering for more.
We skied two very different zones the day I visited the Rubies. Both sparked curiosity and wonder. One was forested, long, protected, rolling. The other steep, exposed, cliffy, alpine. These zones both held perfect recrystallized powder and mind-bending views.
The views in the Rubies are like no where else. Large, looming, snow and forest cover peaks contrast against seemingly endless stretches of dry, scorched, empty desert landscapes. Once up high, you quickly appreciate this unique location for exactly what it is: an unparalleled desert oasis.
It’s impossible for me to say that I felt like I was ‘roughing it’ in the ‘old west’ in any way shape or form on this trip. The brand new 10,000-square-foot Ruby 360 Lodge is overwhelmingly luxurious. 10 gorgeous rooms, vast cozy living space, impressive kitchen, sleek bar. The whole space is immaculately designed following a clean, simple, and comfortable logic. I was very impressed when I discovered that the lodge was designed by co-owner Francie Royer. Kudos, Francie.
The Guides at Ruby Mountain Heli are solid, certified, knowledgable, fun, and humble. Our guide was John “Spitz” Spitzer. Spitz knows the Rubies inside and out, is a fully IFMGA certified mountain guide, has been in the Rubies for years, and was one of the most humble, down to earth, easy to relate to guides I’ve ever met. Another guide at Ruby Mountain Heli is Tim “Duff” Duffy. Tim is a friend of mine from guiding in Alaska way back in 2006. Tim is too much fun to be around, a horribly positive person, as well as a helluva skier and guide.
The Ruby Mountains are famous of their cold, dry, powder snow. The snow falls dry and cold and the extremely unique climate in the Rubies keeps the snow dry and cold. New snow is great in the Rubies. Old snow might be even better…
Desert oasis recrystalized powder might be my all time favorite type of snow and when I was in the Rubies, I was delivered exactly that.
The snow I skied in the Rubies was incredibly responsive, consistent, light, and it sprayed like crazy.
The terrain in the Rubies is made for heli skiing.
They hold the keys to an enormous variety of high quality ski/snowboard terrain across an impressive array of 11,000-foot peaks that unlike any you’ve seen before.
Big wide open runs, long chutes, tree runs, gullys, ridges, and runs that have a little bit of all of these qualities.
HOW IT WORKS:
- Stay in the Ruby 360 Lodge
- Put your ski/snowboard boots on in the lodge
- Walk outside
- Get in helicopter
- Ski/ride powder within minutes
Ruby Mountain Heli is located in Lamoille, Nevada just south of the town of Elko. You can drive to the lodge, or take a plane or train (Amtrak) to Elko and the RMH crew will gladly pick you up and drop you off.
About Ruby Mountain Heli:
- 41 years of operation (oldest heli operation in USA)
- Family owned & operated
- 400+ Runs and counting
- Runs are 2,000-3,000 vertical feet
- Highest drop off = 11,200′
- Most heli drops are located between 11,200 and 10,200 feet, while the pickups are generally around an elevation of 7,800- 8,000 feet.
- RMH has backpacks and skis for rent
- The lodge is 10,000 square feet, offers a spacious and comfortable Great Room, immaculate kitchen, full-service bar open nightly, a large ski room, and 10-large-comfortable bedrooms, each with their own bathroom
- RMH also operates in 2 yurts for backcountry skiing and more
About The Ruby Mountains:
- The Ruby Mountains are the wettest region in Nevada outside of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Deep snow, ancient trees, etched rock faces, 11,000-foot peaks, rivers, lakes, mule deer, big horn sheep, mountain goats, Humboldt cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, brook troutaspen trees, and alpine meadows litter the region.
- The Ruby Mountains exist within the largest endoheric watershed in North America: The Great Basin. The Great Basin is a true desert that covers 210,000-square miles where not a drop of water that enters it ever escapes – except as evaporation.
- Highest Peak = 11,387′ Ruby Dome.
- 10 Peaks above 11,000′.
- Over 24 alpine lakes.