The obvious advantage is that you ski and snowboard every day, regardless of the weather. The is less drama surrounding the weather report in the morning. You will be heliskiing or catskiing (or heliboarding or catboarding). Without catskiing backup, bad weather can mean a bad day. This especially true for shorter trips. One down day on a three day heliskiing trip is a disaster.
Why is it a short list. If you are an optimist, it is short because most heliski operators do not have very many ‘down days.’ We represent quite a few operators who claim as few as two down days per season! It also requires permitting, which can be a challenge.
If you are a pessimist, it is because catskiing backup is expensive, and it is a logistical and regulatory challenge.
Northern Escape Heliskiing began offering catskiing backup in 2010-11. Many of their guests were on three or four day trips, so it made sense. I was there a few years ago when Northern Escape Heliskiing got 10 meters in 10 days! It would not stop snowing heavily, and the cat saved the week.
Since that time, it has become a big competitive advantage, especially vis-a-vis the other Coast Range heliskiing operators (Last Frontier Heliskiing, Skeena Heliskiing, Bella Coola Heli Skiing and TLH Heliskiing).
Snowwater Heliskiing evolved from the sister catskiing company - Valhalla Powdercats. Patric and Maria added terrain, lodges, heliskiing and more cats to create Snowwater Heliskiing. Having had the pleasure of skiing with them, I can say that Snowwater integrates catskiing backup with their heliskiing as well as any heliskiing operator. We went seamlessly between the cat and the chopper as cloud cover came and went. It was amazing.
Snowwater also offers a Kootenay Sampler (the mountain range, not the beer..). The Sampler includes resort, catskiing and heliskiing in one week.
Mica Heliskiing claims that they almost never use their catskiing backup. Their location on the Western slope of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, North of Revelstoke BC, is famous for continuous light powder. Mica Heliskiing is slightly further North than most, so it may be so.
Powder Mountain Heliskiing is the only one of the three Whistler helicopter skiing operators to offer catskiing backup. Like Snowwater, Coast Range Heliskiing began as a catskiing operation. The tenure is suitable for both. However, the weather in Whistler can be challenging, so catski backup makes perfect sense.
* And the heliskiing customers are able to reserve cat spaces on down days, based on space availability.
Black Ops Valdez offers the largest snowcat ski area permit in North America. They have it totally dialed in, including sled skiing and great terrain around Thompson Pass. And if you have been to Alaska, you know this is a great feature!
If you are ready to consider the best options for your 2015 heliskiing, call or email. 866-HELISKI (866-435-4754)