What are the unique aspects of a SwisSKIsafari trip?
Using the best local contacts and knowledge, SwisSKIsafari takes clients away from the commercial pistes, to terrain generally inaccessible to a resort skier. The unique routes take skiers of all reasonable levels on a high mountain safari from resort to resort through some of the world’s most exhilarating mountain terrain. With a high level of safety and the finest hotels in the Alps, we bring a heli-skiing mountain adventure within reach of the normal skier.
People might think the safari is only a heli-skiing trip and it's not. It's more of a backcountry trip to move through this incredible terrain coupled with fun resort skiing. It's a great mix, a fantastic way to sample a rather unique alpine culture. - Quote from a guest in 2005.
- How safe are the trips?
- How good a skier/boarder do I need to be?
- How fit do I need to be?
- What type of snow is it: powder, hard packed, will we be making fresh tracks every day?
- What equipment do I need?
- Weather and snow conditions
- The helicopters
- How long are our trips?
- What is the accommodation like?
- Where do we fly in and out of to connect to the "Safari"?
- How do you deal with differing ski levels within the group?
- Can I bring my partner who does not ski?
- Special extras
- We can also arrange
How safe are the trips ?
Helicopter skiing can involve certain hazards including avalanches, crevasses and sudden weather changes. Professional mountain guides manage these hazards very effectively. SwisSKIsafari groups are led by UIAGM (l’Union Internationale des Associations de Guides de Montagnes) certified mountain guides, which is the highest internationally recognized qualification for mountain and ski guiding. All guests are given a safety briefing before being flown into the mountains. The mountain guide will choose the best suited terrain according to the snow, weather, ability and ambitions of the participants.
We operate during March and April, which are the optimum months to heli-ski in the European Alps, enjoying long hours of sunlight, stable snow conditions, mild temperatures and reliable flying conditions. Our experience of the local region and qualified snow and weather forecaster Robert Bolognesi, who has a PhD in weather forecasting, provides SwisSKIsafari with expert analysis to find the best descents, and most importantly, to do them in complete safety. We are also proud of the fact that SwisSkisafari pilots are the region's most experienced and knowledgeable.
Our trip package includes personal helicopter transportation insurance, allowing us to airlift you off the mountain if the situation requires. We recommend, however, that you review your personal insurance and your health insurance to ensure you have coverage appropriate to meet your needs and the needs of your family and dependents.
How good a skier/boarder do I need to be?
The European Alps are among the most dramatic in the world, but you do not have to be an expert to ski in the midst of them. Long glaciers offer ideal terrain for intermediate skiers, while expert skiers and boarders can choose steeper and more challenging runs. If you are a strong and experienced skier or border, able to ski in control on all types of terrain and snow conditions (not necessarily powder), then you are ready for heli-skiing. Generally, you should have been skiing actively for a few consecutive years.
How fit do I need to be?
While our trips do not demand exceptionally high levels of fitness, they do involve some long days of ski descents at high altitude, with varying weather conditions. We suggest a basic level of fitness preparation, including a few days of skiing to recondition ski muscles, which will also allow maximum enjoyment during the trip.
I have heli-skied with many people in their 60s and even 70s. All experienced as their age suggests. You don't have to be an expert skier, but you have to be experienced and reasonably fit! – Arnie Wilson, a guest on the Ultimate Journey 2005.
What type of snow is it: powder, hard packed, will we be making fresh tracks every day?
Our trips include remote mountain skiing on untracked snow. The snow is good 70 percent of the time, but can vary due to the amount of vertical descent offered in the European Alps. The terrain can varies from wide-open alpine bowls and glaciers with moderate pitches to steeper and more challenging runs. Snow conditions can range from boot-top powder to wind-pressed crust, heavy crud and anything in between.
Our mountain guides and ski instructors do their best to find good snow and can provide help and instruction for all conditions. If you are a first time heli-skier, we will introduce you to the fundamentals of helicopter skiing in a safe and comfortable manner.
What equipment do I need?
Conditions and temperatures in the Alps can be extremely variable. Equipment suitable for this activity (gloves, sunglasses, windproof jacket) should be brought along. We recommend that you bring your own boots, and hire your skis in Switzerland. At the beginning of the trip, we can provide a selection of skis that provide you with new generation ski fittings to help you access remote ski terrain.
Weather and snow conditions
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when it comes to the weather. SwisSKIsafari trips are held towards the end of the ski season, when the weather is less variable, with more hours of sunshine, more stable snow conditions and mild temperatures.
In addition, the alpine topography creates localized weather. If we can’t fly in one area, we can ski in neighboring valleys or countries. In addition, SwisSKIsafari trips are more than just heli-skiing trips. We combine an element of backcountry skiing, allowing us in the case of bad weather to accesses the best descents with lifts and short walks. We can still ski even if we cannot fly.
Our fleet consists of Bell 407, Eurocopter 350B3 and Lama helicopters seating 4 to 6 passengers. They are very powerful, comfortable and ideally suited for mountain flying. The large windows will provide an exceptional view of the most famous European summits.
How long are our trips?
The SwisSKIsafari three-day policy - The length of your trip depends on you and the time that you have to dedicate to skiing. At SwisSKIsafari we understand the moods of the mountain, and we know they need respect. Heli-skiing can be one of the most exhilarating experiences you’ll ever have – with good weather, stable snow conditions, and a healthy dose of insider knowledge. So, for spectacular days on untouched descents, we recommend booking at least three days with us: a combination of backcountry and heli-skiing. If you’re patient with the mountain, it will be good to you. You wouldn’t book an average ski trip for just one day, and the same applies for heli-skiing. Be patient. When you’re floating down unmarked powder snow with no buildings, ski lifts, or people in sight, you’ll realise it’s worth it.
Your trips are not about the best skiers, they are about accessing the best skiing areas – Best for scenery and location as well as descent.
- Robert Dawson Scott, a guest on the Ultimate Journey 2005.
What is the accommodation like?
The selected hotels in each resort are chosen specially for quality and charm. We keep away from large package-tour hotels. Our clients can expect to be pampered at the end of the day in a perfect setting.
Where do we fly in and out of to connect to the "Safari"?
This depends on which trip you chose. SwisSKIsafari trips are designed so that you can fly in and out of the same airport. At the end of the trip, we will drop you either at the airport or the closest train station that has a direct line to the airport you flew into. Switzerland boasts one of the most efficient public transport systems in the world, and even the most remote villages can be reached quite easily using the excellent train and bus systems. Please let us know your travel plans in advance, so we can make arrangements that best suit your needs.
How do you deal with differing ski levels within the group?
As much as possible, we put skiers together of similar ability by determining their ski experience prior to the trip. Should there be a large difference in ski levels on a trip, we divide the group among the ski guides so that maximum enjoyment at the right pace is guaranteed. Every landing offers a variety of runs ranging from 1300 to 3000 meters of vertical descent and suitable for every skier. For groups who would like a personalized experience, we propose a customized itinerary specially designed to the needs of that group.
Can I bring my partner who does not ski?
We operate in and around famous European ski resorts, and there are always a variety of activities for a partner who would like to join us but does not necessarily ski. This includes ski lessons with a private instructor, flights or excursions to other areas for sightseeing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and local and cultural activities in the region.
For people arriving by private jet, we have facilities for the lodging of the plane, private customs clearance and luxury vehicle transfer to the start of the safari. This is ideal for groups or individuals who prefer to travel with a flexible timetable.
Every safari we create is unique. Because we tailor the date, length, ski level, and accommodation to you, no two trips are the same. We focus on you, and the mountain. One group might request a 5 star spa hotel with a full week heli-skiing, another might prefer a simple mountain refuge and the satisfaction of reaching a peak with skins strapped to their skis. That’s why we don’t show prices on our website: they wouldn’t be right. All the experiences you’ll see here are examples of what we have created for clients in the past*, and just an idea of what’s possible. Have a look at our safaris, get in touch for further inspiration, and we’ll create an exclusive mountain experience just for you. And before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the remote beauty of the European Alps. Simple as that.
* The only exception is the new Individuals trip, which has set dates and costs.
- Ski or snowboard/equipment hire
- Travel arrangement advice Private trips
- A la carte wines from extensive wine lists
- In hotel massage and beauty therapy
- Chauffeured cars to and from the airport