Frequently asked questions.
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Q: How much does it cost?
A: Please see our Rates Page for current prices.
Q: Do I need to be an expert to heli ski and ride?
A: Our terrain accommodates intermediate to expert skiers and riders. In order to safely enjoy your heli experience, you should be at least an intermediate level skier/boarder. You should be capable of dealing with the challenges presented by deep snow and varied snow conditions, such as heavy powder and breakable crusts. If you are comfortable on the intermediate and advanced runs on Sun Valley’s Baldy in varying conditions, then you likely possess the skills needed to heli ski. If you’ve never skied powder snow, you may have the skills to participate, but you should call us to discuss in greater detail. You may want to consider our Half Day Heli program as an introduction to heli skiing and riding.
Q: Do I jump out of the helicopter
A: Absolutely not. We land the helicopter on the top a mountain ridge and our guests exit from there with the assistance of our guides.
Q: How many runs/vertical feet do I get in a day?
A: Our Half Day Heli Ski guests are guaranteed 3 runs in a day. Each run ranges from about 1,000 to 3,500 feet.
Q: Do I need to book a reservation?
A: Yes, reservations are required. We have capacity to take 16 skiers/day and so space is very limited. It is strongly recommended that you call well in advance of the day(s) you would like to heli ski in order to ensure that there is space available.
Q: What does the day look like in terms of timing?
A: We generally meet at the SVHS Headquarters at the Sun Valley Gun Club at 8:00 AM. However, this may vary based upon weather and other logistical matters. Upon arrival, we will ferry our guests to the heli staging destinations. After three amazing runs, we will bring them home at the end of the day.
Q: How do I know what to do in heli ski/riding morning?
A: We ask guests to call our status line 208.622.3108 OPT#2 at 7:30 every morning so that we can communicate any changes to the standard schedule.
Q: How many people are in the helicopter?
A: We operate an A-Star helicopter which holds 4 guests, a guide and a pilot, which provides an intimate 4 to 1 guest to guide experience. We can operate with up to 4 groups in a rotation on any given day.
Q: How much terrain do you have and where do you ski?
A: Sun Valley Heli Ski Guides has an amazing playground of 750,000 acres of terrain in its permit area, by far the largest terrain of any heli ski operator in the entire lower 48 states. We fly in the three majestic mountain ranges surrounding Sun Valley: the Smoky, Boulder and Pioneer Mountains. We choose where we are going to ski and ride on any given day by analyzing many different factors, which include weather, snow conditions and group ability.
Q: Do I need “Fat” skis?
A: Yes, we require guest to utilize skis that have a minimum width at the waist of 95mm. Wider skis make it easier to handle varied snow conditions, are more efficient for skiing deep powder, and are a lot of fun especially if you don’t have lots of experience skiing powder. If you don’t have skis of this dimension, we can assist you in locating demo skis from a local provider. We do not provide skis as part of the day.
Q: Do you take snowboarders?
A: Absolutely. We love Snowboarders. Snowboarders make up a significant portion of our guests.
Q: Do I have to worry about avalanches?
A: Like any backcountry activity, skiing off-piste in the mountains has inherent risk. Avalanches are just one hazard presented by skiing in the backcountry. Others include rocks, stumps, trees, and falling cornices. Even poor snow conditions can be hazardous. The primary responsibility of the SVHS staff is to manage these hazards. This process begins with a comprehensive analysis of the snowpack stability and continues on slope with the selection of appropriate terrain and the application of guiding tactics and travel techniques. Perhaps the most important thing a guest can do to assist in managing risk is to listen to the guide staff. Guides will be providing a constant stream of information regarding hazards and conditions. If you are not listening, you are not getting that information. Safety is our highest priority and our guides are specially trained to help mitigate these risks while delivering the best possible skiing experience. guests.
Q: What’s the weather like?
A: Sun Valley’s average temperature in winter is a pleasant 23 degrees with annual snowfall between 200 and 400 inches throughout our heli ski terrain. There's a reason it’s called Sun Valley. The region receives over 250 days of sunshine a year. Prepare for bluebird powder days.
Q: What happens if we are canceled due to weather?
A: We are fortunate to have a world-class ski resort as our “weather backup”. If conditions do not allow us to fly, it generally means the resort skiing will be incredible. Nordic skiing and other winter adventures are also available. Your reservation will be rolled to the next available day. In many cases, we are able to get you out the day after the storm clears. If we are unable to accomodate you, you will receive a full refund less a $25 administrative fee.
Q: What should I wear?
A: Layering is the most important aspect of being comfortable on your heli day. A good base layer, coupled with a mid and/or heavy weight layer followed by a waterproof/breathable outer layer is ideal. Layering gives you options to layer up or down depending on conditions. We strongly encourage the use of helmets, but it is not required. Good goggles and warm gloves/mittens are also a must.
Q: What about video and photos?
A: Subject to safety and other protocol, feel free to take as many pictures as you would like. Subject to their primary responsibilities, guides are able to assist and facilitate with photos and videos. Guests can bring a photographer, but they would be required to purchase a seat in addition to a day rate for the photographer.
Q: How do I get in and out of the helicopter?
A: At the end of each run, the guide will direct the guests to take off their skis and snowboards and place them in a designated area. The guide then directs the guests where to gather and drop down to take a knee to await the incoming helicopter. At that point, the helicopter is brought in and lands near the guests and equipment. Once the helicopter is settled, the guide will open the passenger door and direct the guests to load in to the helicopter and put on their seat belts. The guide loads the equipment. Once everyone is in the helicopter and the equipment is loaded, the guide closes the passenger door and loads in the front seat of the helicopter. The helicopter takes off and proceeds to the top of the next run. The helicopter lands and settles on the top. Once the guide gives the ok, guests can remove their seat belts and exit the helicopter. Guests gather next to the helicopter while the guide unloads the equipment. The guests secure the equipment so it does not blow away once the helicopter takes off. Once the equipment is unloaded and all the doors have been closed, the guide will signal to the helicopter that it is clear to take off. Once the helicopter takes off and is clear of the area, guests can stand up and start to put on their gear for their next decent.