The short answer is a strong intermediate or above. We can tailor your trip whether you are new to skiing off-piste and powder skiing or a hardened veteran looking for the ultimate adventure. A Short Break in Europe or Powder Sampler trip to the USA, Canada or Japan can include instruction if you are first timer looking for a gentle introduction to powder; perhaps with a day or two of cat or heli-skiing included, to round off your adventure in style. For dedicated, lodge based, cat and heli ski trips some previous off-piste and powder skiing experience would be required.
When is the best time to go?
Generally speaking you are looking for the snowpack to develop and consolidate on the one hand but for temperatures still to be reasonably cool on the other so for most northern hemisphere destinations that is usually between the middle of January and March. Corn snow, typical of spring skiing in April has it’s own qualities and fan base and this time of year is also when most people go ski-touring. For more northerly destinations, like Alaska, Greenland and Scandinavia, March, April and May are the optimum months when the number of daylight hours start to increase.
How fit do I have to be?
The fitter you are the more you will enjoy your powder adventure. Equally, the stronger your technique the less energy you will use. When cat & heli-skiing, deep, light snow conditions usually prevail and with specialist powder skis and with reasonable technique, anyone who is moderately fit should not find the experience overly challenging. For back-country skiing with some hiking or skinning involved then fitness levels need to be greater. Flexibility is also important in helping prevent injury. Many cat and heli-ski lodges offer stretching classes in the morning to help prepare you for your day. A pre-trip fitness programme is always advisable.
Do you only take groups?
No, if you are travelling on your own or with one or two friends then a cat or heli-ski lodge is an ideal place to meet and ski with like minded people. Often enduring friendships are formed from these shared experiences. We also offer group trips, particularly in Europe and Japan, where you can join a group on a ready made itinerary. However, if you would like to ski with a group of friends we can suggest the best options for your group size, whether there are four or 40 of you! We can also cater for mixed ability groups and families who may have different skiing requirements.
Will I need specialist equipment?
There is certain safety equipment you should always carry when skiing off-piste or in the back-country. If you are cat or heli-skiing you will always be provided with an avalanche transceiver, shovel & probe and often an avalanche air-bag too. Cat and heli-operators also provide specialist powder skis and snowboards or you are welcome to bring you own. For off-piste trips to Europe and Japan, if you don’t have your own safety equipment it is always possible to hire what you need. You should never ski or snowboard off-piste without an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe.