Heli-ski - a kind of freeride. Skiers and snowboarders are thrown to the top of the mountain by helicopter (hence the name, he73co18ter in English - “helicopter”, ski - "skiing"). From there they descend the pristine slopes. Heli-ski is considered the most advanced freeride level.
The helicopter allows you to climb to places where it is impossible to reach on foot and on the ski lifts.
Since the descent most often occurs from the peak, the angle of inclination here reaches 45 degrees - steeper than on prepared black tracks.
Photo: Nick Piotrovsky's archive
Heli-ski is suitable for advanced riders. If you confidently ride off-piste, have downhill skills in a group, understand weather conditions and know how to “read” forecasts, know the basics of avalanche safety, you have avalanche equipment in your backpack (and you know how to use it) - welcome to the world heli-skiing.
Photo: Kirill Umrikhin
Italy is one of the most picturesque regions for heli-skiing.
is the north, where the country borders on Switzerland, Austria and France.
The most famous European resorts and peaks are located there.
We talk about the best Italian ski areas, where a helicopter will lift you to the top for the most dizzying descent. There are four main regions:
Courmayeur is one of the most famous Italian resorts. It is located at an altitude of 1200 meters at the foot of the legendary Mont Blanc (4810 m) in the Aosta Valley and is surrounded by fourteen four-thousandths.
The mountains around Courmayeur have a variety of surfaces. The maximum height that helicopters lift is 3800 meters. For one descent here you can thoroughly “scrape” the glaciers, feel soft air powders under skis or a board, and even drive into the forest on one of the many slopes.
The Mont Blanc massif is located on the border of two states - Italy and France. On the French side, at the foot of Mont Blanc, is the resort of Chamonix - the famous freeride location.
in Courmayeur, and is prohibited in Chamonix.
Heli-ski in Courmayeur in the vicinity of Mont Blanc:
Alpine Italian resort with a vertical drop of 2500 meters. The season lasts for six months - from November to May. Cervinia is located on the southern slopes of the four-thousander Matterhorn (the northern slopes belong to the Swiss resort of Zermatt). The ski area in Cervinia is one of the highest in Europe.
Using a helicopter, you can climb to a height of more than 3,500 meters. The resort has
The Monterosa massif is located in the Italian regions of Valle d'Aosta, Piedmont and the Swiss canton of Valais. Monterosa is in the same mountain range as the Matterhorn. In the Italian part of the massif there are several ski areas and a huge
Eighteen points for landing
at different heights, at the peaks and slopes. The highest location at the beginning of the heli-ski descent is 4226 meters.
The twelve ski resorts of the Dolomites are united into a single region
The length of the routes here is more than 1220 km, and the possibilities for freeriding are completely unlimited. Dolomites are narrow corridors, wide glaciers on steep slopes and breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks from inaccessible peaks.
Heli-ski in the Dolomites:
Typical day heli ski program in the Dolomites looks like this: departure from Cortina d'Ampezzo, ascent to the summit of Sorapis (3205 m), descent along untouched virgin soil to the helicopter, flight to the summit of Punta Nera (3047 m), descent 1000 meters and a flight to the top of the Marmolada glacier (3343 m) with a descent of 1500 meters. For a day, riders experience a height difference of several thousand meters - for this you need to have good health, especially the cardiovascular system.
Livigno is called "Italian Tibet." The region is located near the border with Switzerland at an altitude of more than 1800 meters away from civilization (the nearest airport is 180 km in Innsbruck, Austria). At a distance of 35 km there is the town of Bormio, in your free time you can swim there in the natural thermal springs.
Livigno is surrounded on all sides by rocky mountains, which in winter during heavy snowfalls are covered with several meters of snow. The ski season is from December to May (as in the Russian Krasnaya Polyana). In Livigno, there are more than 200 sunny days a year and almost no wind, unlike the northern slopes of the Alps, which makes the region very comfortable for freeriding.
officially authorized. A freeride center works here, where every day during the season you can get up-to-date information about the weather and snow conditions, chat with guides, get to know other riders.
In the vicinity of Livigno there are many complex and interesting reliefs that are accessible only thanks to helicopters. They raise skiers and snowboarders to a height of 3000 meters.
The region of Livigno has the status of a duty free zone , so most goods and services are not taxed. Due to this, here you can profitably upgrade equipment.
Heli-ski in Livigno:
Italy's southernmost heli-ski location is located on the border with France, 112 km from Turin.
This is the central resort of the Milky Way ski area (Via Lattea). Sestriere lies in a wide saddle between two mountain ranges at an altitude of more than two thousand meters, so in winter there are no problems with snow. About 400 km of soft-powder slopes are available for heli-skiing in Sestriere. Great snow falls here due to its southern location. Some slopes pass through the forest zone, which makes skiing more diverse.
The equipment for heliski needs the same as for freeride. Special skis or a snowboard (plus sticks for skiers), a helmet and mask, waterproof warm clothing for active sports with a membrane, a backpack (ideally equipped with an ABS system - this is an air bag that opens when it hits an avalanche and pushes you to the surface) , avalanche equipment (beeper, probe, shovel), first-aid kit with medicines for first aid, water and snacks for the whole day. Each member of the group must have a walkie-talkie for communication.
Photo: Kirill Umrikhin
Heli-ski departures are always accompanied by experienced freeride guides. But it is very important that each participant possesses the necessary skills of riding and rescue, as well as knowledge that can be useful in an emergency.
Photo: Kirill Umrikhin
Photo: from the archive of Nick Piotrovsky