What makes the visceral and gut-clenching experience of hurdling down a mountain with two long flat pieces of material stuck to your feet and a couple of poles in your hand even more tremendously exciting? How about if you jump out of a helicopter first? Heli-skiing is one of those simultaneously brilliant and mind-numbing extreme-extreme sports, and here are some of the craziest videos we could find.
Heli-skiing And Freeride Ski
Aside from the sheer spectacle of jumping out of a helicopter onto a mountain of fresh snow, heli-skiing has some very attractive practical advantages as well. The helicopter allows skiers to reach high-altitude, more or less untouched climes that are bountiful in fresh snow and high cliffs. This allows a degree of creativity and exploration that you certainly can’t get on typical runs, or anywhere where you need the assistance of a lift to reach the mountain. When there’s a lift, there are other people, but most people do not have a helicopter available to airlift them to their skiing destination. Plus, the helicopter makes it so that you probably won’t get stranded anywhere, making the less attractive part of exploration disappear.
Heli-skiing With GoPro
Of course, you really need to see it for yourself to understand the true virtue of this kind of thing. Let’s cut to skiers dismounting from their helicopter, getting set up with their gear and then taking off down the mountain, and let’s do it in first-person. As you can see, the side of the mountain is basically unblemished and completely wide open, allowing a huge variability in how the skiers want to take it down and where they want to go. The incline is crazy to consider from the perspective of the skier; he has to be very cautious going down at first to avoid picking up too much speed too early and ending up with his only way to stop being nosediving into the snow. Nobody wants to nosedive into the snow if they can help it. If our Best Heli-Ski GoPro Videos feature as shown us anything, it’s that the combination of heli-skiing and GoPro is a match made in heaven.
Not only does the helicopter allow skiers to get to low-traffic slopes for skiing sans rivals and amateurs: it also enables them to get to locations that have possibly, or probably, never been skied before. Part of the excitement of winter sports is the idea that it’s one of the few ways we have left of exploring a mostly settled and established world, but heli-skiing enables a genuine feeling of discovery: you may not be the first person to set foot on that peak, but you’re the first person to carve up the side of it with skis, and even if you’re not, there weren’t very many before you and there isn’t anybody else around right now. Just looked at how untouched climbs the snow is here; in beauty alone, it’s a pretty much unrivaled sight.
Red Bull Heli-skiing
The other thing that can be overlooked about videos like these is that they actually have to be filmed, and the helicopter makes that part drastically more exciting. What’s better, having someone film a guy skiing away from him down a mountain or trying to keep up with a guy as he skis next to you while both filming him and trying to keep yourself alive? Maybe it’s flying above him and the dazzling landscape, being able to train your camera on whatever you like, and generally surveying the scene from the perfect vantage point. Helicopters are luxury items, and in the case of skiing, they make the filmmaking a luxurious process too.
North America has two primo heli-skiing destinations: Alaska and Canada. Because it’s not only the fact that there aren’t any lifts or infrastructure on the mountains that you would heli-ski: it’s also that there might not be towns nearby for miles and miles, meaning that the only practical way to get out there – unless you want to try and hike for days, risking life and limb – is to jump in a helicopter. Heli-skiing isn’t cheap, for obvious reasons, but how else are you possibly going to see the farthest reaches of the continent, getting out there and back to some semblance of civilization in only a day? Plus, you get to do it on skis, which makes any type of exploration all that much better.