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Old 11-14-2012, 03:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Heli-boarding - Snowwater

Hello all!

I'm in the early stage of planning a monumental "bucket list" type trip for the 2013/14 season - I want to do a 5 or 7 day heli-boarding trip. Based upon a recommendation of a coworker, I'm looking at Snowwater.

About me - 43 and a bit overweight. I've been snowboarding for 24 years now but almost exclusively in the mid-west region of the U.S. (Ohio, Pennsylvania). I have done a few trips to Colorado over the last few years to Breckenridge. I really do not know how to categorize my skill level as the majority of my experience has been on non-challenging mid-west resort terrain. Obviously on the terrain I have access to here in Ohio, I'd consider my skill level to be advanced but that is not exactly challenging terrain and there is no such thing as backcountry, chutes, bowls, or powder runs. The few trips out west I have not had any trouble at all with black diamond runs. That being said, I also did not hit any of the double-black summit terrain at Breckenridge.

I'd appreciate anyones suggestions or feedback on a variety of subjects:
  • Skill Level - Would I be getting in over my head with a guided heli-boarding trip in BC? Yes, I realize this is a horribly subjective question and almost impossible to answer from the internet but I'd be curious for those who have done this type of thing - what was your experience level before hand? Is logging resort-based powder days or having backcountry riding experience more or less important?
  • Recommendations - Anyone with experience with the snow water group? Alternative suggestions?
  • Board(s) - I do not have a powder specific board. My quiver includes a NS Proto CT 157, a old NS Premier 168 (circa 2002ish?), and a NS SL 155. For a heli-boarding trip of powder riding, I'm assuming the SL or the Premier so the question is would the big-mountain long/stiff Premier be the board to choose or the smaller and more agile NS SL. Or do I just buy a new powder deck?
  • Softgoods - I've never rode deep powder so the idea of a powder skirt or a jacket/pants interface has never fit into my buying considerations for coats/pants. How "air-tight" do you need to be in deep powder? Any other softgoods considerations? As a result, my jacket is one manufacturer, my pants another, and the two do not interface. Naturally the jacket has an internal powder skirt although I've never really used it.
  • Pics/Video - As this trip may be a once in a lifetime trip for me, I'd like to get some photos and video. Is a GoPro with a helmet mount the best option? Anyone know if the heli-boarding companies offer video/photo packages (didn't see it on any websites I looked at). For example when I went sky-diving I paid the extra for photos and video. Just wondering if this is customary or should I just self-video with a GoPro?
  • Conditioning - So how much harder/easier is powder riding all day for 5-7 days vs. resort riding? Anytime I've been out west, I usually would hit days 1-2 and sometimes make it to day 3 very hard (by my standards and fitness level) and need a day to recoup before finishing out the remaining day or two riding. Either way, if I do book this trip I will start a big fitness routine well in advance to make sure I'm in as best as possible shape.
  • Avalanche Training - From my coworker I understand snowwater provides ASB packs, probes, shovels, transponder, etc., along with guides for guests and at least some level of training. Any good resources to dig into before the trip like books on avalanche safety? Needless to say in Ohio we don't have avalanche safety courses.

Any comments or suggestions are welcome and thanks again!

MeanJoe
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Old 11-14-2012, 04:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Keep in mind I have only been heli skiing for one day but I am used to skiing in pow and in western Canada.

1 - If you can ride pow on a blue run you will be fine. There will be options to go steeper but you will pick it up quick. IMO it hard to ride ICE than deep pow.
2 - Don't know about the company sorry.
3 - When I went I rode my NS titan 160. It was fine. Just set your bindings one back from where you would normally have them. I have ridden plenty of deep pow on my 155 Evo with my bindings centred. You will be fine. Most companies usually have a Burton Fish or something powdery that you can rent if you are worried.
4 - I would not worry about the pants thing. You might get a bit of snow up your back but it will keep you cool!
5 - I have loads of stuff with my gopro. IMO the stuff that works best if the one on the end of a collapsible ski pole. You will have a back pack on as your avi shovel will be in there. So get one of these and a helmet mount and mix it up. Just don't do it on every run otherwise you will focus on that and not on the awesomeness!
6 -You will be doing less runs than normal but you will be working harder. I knew a guy who worked for a heli company and he said this is the most important factor. You want to make sure your legs can handle it. As I said above you will get the pow part in no time but if you are unfit your body will end your trip before you ability does. Start hitting the gym!
7 - Your mate is correct. They will give you the training you need. It doesn't hurt to do a bit before you go out there. I think snowolf has some sticky threads in the Back country section about web based avi training.

Do you realize that you will be ruined for all resort riding after this!
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Old 11-16-2012, 01:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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roremc - Thanks for the information! Trust me, here in Ohio my local "resort" is 400-ish vertical feet and and 144 skiable acres. Yes, sit back and reflect on those awesome statistics for a moment. Needless to say, after trips to places like Breckenridge I get all-kinds of depressed taking laps locally. If I can pull this trip off, I might have to just quit to avoid growing despondent!
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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If you do go make sure you do trip report. Reports on Heli are few and far between!
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Old 11-26-2012, 10:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Heli-Boarding Advice

Hey Joe,
We give free heliboard and heliski advice and recommendations.

We have been to Snowwater, as well as many other heli operators - we represent about 50 locations, essentially all of them.

We have a free article on the Top 10 Things to Consider in a Heliski/board Trip, which may help you.

Snowwater excels at the following:
Snow amounts - surprisingly, they get coastal influence
Tree riding
Small groups (3 groups of 4)
Small Lodge - 12 guests max
Night life (not kidding, they like to party)
Catski/board backup - So no dreaded 'down days'. They are very good at seamlessly switching from chopper to cat and back, too!
Vertical - many packages include unlimited vertical, and they are psyched to rack it up!

Room for Improvement:
Travel is not as easy as some (3.5 hr. drive from Spokane, WA)
Not the least expensive
Snow can be heavier than some at times

You can see our summary on Heliboard.com
And read my recent interview with co-owner Maria here

Regarding the board, most operators carry Burton Fish or Malolo. Call or email them to find out what they have for use.

I am happy to answer questions and/or research the best trips for you, or anyone else.
Best,
tj

Tom Jackson
Chief Powder Officer (CPO)
HELISKI.com
HELIBOARD.com
866-HELISKI
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