The BC Backcountry with Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing

Jacqui Davis |

I spent the past week snowboarding in the Kootenays. No mountain is created equal and every experience in the mountains is a gift, but it is fair to say that while I am once more planted on the east coast, my thoughts are still very much out west. This is one of the most majestic regions of the Great White North. Every year, snow sports enthusiasts from around the globe travel here to experience the Canadian wild, vertically.

But what about heli-skiing, the ultimate backcountry experience? Dubbed by The New York Times as the “heli-skiing capital of the world,” Revelstoke, British Columbia has earned this title due to the amazingly consistent snowfall of dry powder. The average temperature at the tree line is -7C (20F), delivering light, dry snow. The geographic location means the snowpack that develops is a balance of dense coastal snow and lighter continental snow, contributing to a supportive, and stable snowpack, and a wide variety of terrain throughout the winter season. In addition to perfect snow conditions, you can encounter all kinds of wildlife in the Kootenays – elk, caribou, wild cats, and grizzlies. This is the Canada you read about and see in movies, one of the most desirable backcountry regions in the world to access by helicopter.

Founded by 4th generation Swiss Mountain guide Peter Schlunegger in 1978, Revelstoke Mountain Resort has owned and operated local Heli Skiing operation Selkirk Tangiers Heli-Skiing Inc. since 2007. STHS takes skiers and riders to the next level where they can explore the over 500,000 acres of the STHS tenure, on terrain that includes deep turns, open bowls, incredible glades, and powder. In this ideal environment, heli-skiing becomes accessible to us regular folk, not only the elite athletes who we watch in awe and hold in high esteem. While this is the same terrain that this year hosted stage two of Travis Rice’s 2023 Yeti Natural Selection Tour, the terrain accessed by STHS tours is ideal for the intermediate skier and rider. As long as your fitness, ability, and powder experience are dialed in you’ve got this!

A team of highly qualified experts work hard to study weather patterns and snowpack to ensure that safety is at the forefront of every trip; each group is accompanied by two experienced guides. Selkirk Tangier staff are from diverse backgrounds, recognized for creating a relaxed, supportive vibe, and brought together through a mutual passion for snow and the mountains. They are dedicated to making the stuff of fantasy become reality and giving skiers and riders the experience of a lifetime. Additionally, STHS now offers a variety of affordable day trip options, opening up the backcountry experience to even more skiers and riders.

What are you waiting for?

The Snow

The snowfall in Revelstoke, British Columbia is legendary. Downtown Revelstoke receives – on average – 12 ft of snow annually, and snowfall triples at altitude, regularly dumping 40 to 60 feet of powder within the STHS tenure nestled in the Selkirk and Monashee Mountains. Snow starts falling in September, serving up early season turns in December, and pillows of powder throughout the season.

The Terrain

Bordering two national parks, STHS’s heli-skiing tenure is 500,000+ acres of unspoiled wilderness with over 400 established runs from high peaks to sheltered valley floors. and a diversity of terrain from alpine cols, wide-open glaciers, rolling meadows, and down into old-growth cedar rainforests, past centuries-old trees. Runs vary from 500 vertical meters in length to over 2.2 vertical kilometers – Canada’s powder playground.

Choose Your Adventure

STHS offers a range of day trip tour options, depending on the size of your group, and the size of your stoke. Recommended for skiers and riders with previous heli experience, the 1-day, 5-run adventure (4 runs guaranteed) takes up to 10 guests in a Bell 205 helicopter, with 2 guides. A multi-day experience at an exceptional value, the 10-run (8 guaranteed) expedition is 2 days in a Bell 205 helicopter and again accommodates up to 10 guests, with two guides. STHS also offers trips for private groups, up to 4 guests and one guide, and 7 to 8 runs guaranteed depending on the calendar, in a smaller A-Star helicopter. Every booking includes full breakfast, gourmet lunch, and apres snacks, high-performance powder ski or snowboard rental, Barryvox Pulse transceiver and related safety equipment, extensive backcountry safety briefing, ACMG / IFMGA guiding services, and $5 per day tax-free donation to the HeliCat Canada Wildlife & Environmental Research Fund. Every effort is made to give back to the environment.

Natural Selection – 6 March 2023

As I write this the 2nd stage of Travis Rice’s Yeti Natural Selection Tour, an innovative competition of freestyle and freeriding on natural terrain that brings in the world’s best to showcase the sport of snowboarding is taking place in the Selkirk Tangier tenure. When asked what made him choose Revelstoke as a stop for 2023 Rice responded “The first time we saw this venue it was like ‘Gorillas in the Mist,’ … one of those things that sticks in your memory.” The high-quality, light snow and consistent, reliable snowfall make this place a natural fit for Natural Selection, with STHS helicopters transporting most equipment and all 12  professional competitors to the event site.  While the contest venue is nestled in the Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing tenure, Revelstoke mountain resort, which offers North America’s most vertical at 1,713m (5,620ft), was the home base to the Natural Selection Tour throughout the event window.

The word from competing riders is that Revelstoke is the most complicated, most challenging, most natural terrain on the tour, unlike any competition zone the innovative showcase for the best in snowboarding has ever encountered. Let that inspire you. The mountains are calling.

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