Heli Skiing & Off Piste
Heli-Skiing & Boarding in Zermatt, Switzerland
Possibly the best Heli-Skiing destination in the alps
Zermatt has the biggest heli-ski operation in Switzerland - and the best, according to the snow awards web site which ranked it number 1 in the world last year.
The helicopters are run by Air Zermatt, but all bookings need to be made via the Alpine Centre and/or your alpine guide. A guide will typically charge CHF 500 for a group of 4 AND there is an additional charge per helicopter of circa CHF 600.
The helicopters used are the 4-5 seater Eurocopter SA-315 B 'LAMA' und AS-350B2 'Ecureuil'. The most popular descent is the Monte-Rosa from 4,250 metres altitude, giving a run of 2,500 vertical meters - more than anywhere in Canada we believe. This is a most spectacular run, starting not far from the summit of Europe's second highest mountain, in extreme Alpine glaciated surroundings. In fact, the entire run is on glaciers, ending in Furi, and takes about a day, including breakfast at the Monte Rosa mountain hut half-way down at 2,800 metres. The exit from the glacier is quite steep and exposed: your guide will rope you up if necessary, and you need a good head for heights!
A second favourite drop is the Alphubel at 3,800 metres, with 2,300 metres of vertical.
Note that the Zermatt's heli-skiing is complemented by Cervinia, since Italian helicopters can land on peaks which are not cleared for Swiss choppers, and vice-versa. Your guide can arrange an Italian helicopter pick-up from Testa Grigia, which is the skiing border point between Switzerland and Italy, lift-served, at 3,500 metres altitude. From there you will have a number of additional drop points, among the best are Valpelline, Lysjoch, and Chateau des Dames.
Our favourite heli-ski adventure is to start from the Klein Matterhorn and take a very long off-piste run down to St Jacques in the Champoluc valley. From there we use the Monterosa ski area's lift systems to reach Alagna Valsesia three valleys away, where there is a very chic designer hotel to contrast with the raw mountains around. Or the mother of all high mountain huts: the Guglielmina. The next morning, a helicopter drops us on either the Grenz- or Zwillingsgletscher, between the Monte Rosa and the Breithorn massifs, depending on conditions. From there, it's a half-day off-piste run back down to Furi and Zermatt.
At the risk of stating the obvious, you need to be an experienced off-piste skier to go heli-skiing! We would be glad to assist you with booking a guide and any further information, including first-hand experience - all of us at Mountain Exposure jump on and off choppers whenever we can. Which alas is not as often as we would like!