Frequently asked questions.

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Q: How much does it cost?

Please see our Rates Page for current prices.

Q: Do I need to be an expert to heli ski?
A: 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.

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: Three-day guests are guaranteed 18 runs during their trip. Four-day guests are guaranteed 24 runs during their trip. Each run ranges from about 1,000 to 3,500 feet.

Q: What does the day look like in terms of timing?
A: Please visit our Smoky Mountain Lodge Page

Q: How many people are in the helicopter?
A: We operate an A-Star helicopter which holds 4 guest + a guide and pilot. This is small group heli skiing. 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 750,000 acres of terrain in its permit area. We ski in 4 main mountain ranges: the Smoky’s, Boulders, Soldiers and Pioneers. We choose where we are going to ski on a 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. 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 SVHSG 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: If we have not yet departed for the Lodge, you will be fortunate to be able to ski and ride the world-class Bald Mountain as our “weather backup”. Your reservation will be rolled to the next day. If we are at the Lodge and we are unable to fly, it will be considered a "down day" and our Guraanteed Run and Refund Policy will be in effect.

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: While there is not an official photographer, guides are always willing and available to assist and facilitate with photos and videos. Guests can bring a photographer, however, 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 a run, the guide directs guest to take off their skis/boards and place them in a designated area. The guide then directs guest where to gather and take a knee. 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 guest 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. 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.