Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers.
Why should I choose Purcell?
Great question. We’ve got several reasons for you here, or please feel free to call and speak to one of our friendly reservation agents to find out what makes Purcell unique.
How good do I have to be to go heli-skiing/boarding?
In order to enjoy our 3 run package, you should be able to ski blue runs at a resort with confidence in all conditions, ski black runs in good conditions, be able to stay in control in all kinds of terrain, and be moderately physically fit. You do not need to have experience skiing or riding in deep powder.
The 5 run day is best suited for skiers and riders with advanced to expert ability with some powder-skiing/riding experience. You should be able to ski all runs at a resort with confidence in a variety of conditions, and be able to keep pace with other advanced skiers. Still not sure? Check out our ability page for more details.
How many people are in each group? How many fit in the helicopter?
Our Classic program runs as a group of 10 guests and 2 guides. All 12 can ride in the helicopter together, so you fly and ski as a group of 12. The Exclusive program leaves the size of the group up to you.
Will I be grouped with people of the same ability level?
To the best of our ability, yes. For all reservations, we will ask you to describe your previous experience and ability level in order to best match you with other guests. There is always some variability within a group, but we are veterans at managing the mix and match aspect. We have two guides with one group so that in the event someone needs some extra time, we can separate to ensure the least amount of disruption to the group’s flow.
Looking for a guarantee that your fellow heli-skiers will be at your level? The only way to guarantee the ability of others in your group is to choose the Exclusive program.
What kind of terrain do you ski and how steep is it?
We have over 2,000 square kilometres of terrain to choose from. Fresh tracks are not a problem! Depending on the weather, visibility and avalanche stability, we ski alpine glaciers and open slopes, cleared cutblocks, in the trees, and in gladed areas of the subalpine forest. Most runs are a mix of open and treed slopes.
The difficulty level of our heli-ski runs, in terms of how steep they are, is comparable to blue (intermediate) and some black (advanced) ski resort terrain. However, unlike the experience at a resort, our runs offer beautiful, trackless powder, a variety of natural terrain features with optional airs, steeper sections and treed glades, plus the joy of sharing a vast area of wilderness with only a few skiers.
Exclusive groups, provided the avalanche conditions allow, are usually able to access steeper and more challenging terrain.
When is the best time to go?
The answer depends on what factors are most important to you. Generally speaking, December and January offer the lightest, deepest conditions, but also the coldest temperatures. February and March are our most popular months, and offer a good balance between fluffy snow and warmer temps. April is still an excellent time to go, offering beautiful snow quality, with a higher likelihood of being able to ski steeper terrain.
How far in advance should I reserve?
That depends on when you want to go and how many seats you will need. For the high season of mid-February to mid-March, we recommend reserving your seats 3-4 weeks in advance. Add 2 weeks to that if you are booking more than 5 seats. At other times of our season, you may wait until 1-2 weeks before your preferred date. This is only a general guideline, so if you only have one day available, contact us early to avoid missing out!
I want to go on a bluebird powder day. Can I book last minute when the weather looks perfect?
We are happy to accept reservations up until 7pm the evening prior, as long as availability exists. While this may give you the best chance of knowing the weather, be prepared to be surprised. No forecast is a guarantee, and the weather can change rapidly in the mountains. See our weather page for more details and the latest forecast.
I only want to ski in the high alpine on open slopes. When should I book to guarantee this?
In order to ski in the high alpine, we need good visibility. Since terrain choice is dictated partly by weather, and the weather is beyond anyone’s control, there is no way to guarantee the type of terrain you prefer. Even if the forecast the day before is calling for clear skies, the weather in the mountains is prone to extreme and rapid changes. We will keep you in safe terrain with the best snow we can find, but it is necessary to be prepared for variety and a change in plans.
What happens if you cannot fly?
If we are unable to run your tour due to unsafe flying conditions, we will first try to accommodate you on another day within your holiday. If this is not possible, there is no charge and we will provide a full refund of all deposits paid.
How many vertical metres/feet do we ski in a day?
The average vertical of our runs (distance from drop-off to pick-up) is about 750 metres, or 2500 feet. So, on a 3 run day, you could expect to ski about 2250 metres / 7500 feet; on 5 runs, about 3750 metres / 12500 feet.
How long does it take to ski a run?
It depends on where you go and how fast you ski. On average, a single descent takes about 30-45 minutes. Often the first run of the day takes a little longer as we have more information to give you, and as people get comfortable in the snow and on any rented gear.
What time does the day start/end?
All guests, regardless of the type of package booked, are asked to meet at our day lodge by 8:30am. We conduct a safety orientation and set up any rental skis prior to taking off. Depending on where you go and how fast you ski, guests are usually back at our day lodge between 3:00 – 4:30pm. You are then invited to relax in front of the fire and enjoy our après-ski meat and cheese platter. Guests are on their way shortly after.
Where are you located and do you provide a shuttle service?
Our day lodge and heli-pad are located just outside of the town of Golden, off the Trans-Canada highway #1. For directions and driving distances, please visit our location page. We provide a shuttle service from any hotel in Banff or Lake Louise. The cost is $80.00 per person for the return trip, and requires three people minimum to operate.
Do you mix skiers and boarders?
We sure do. We believe whatever equipment you’re using, we’re all in it for the same reason – great snow! Because all our guides can snowboard and ski, we’re always sensitive to the needs of both skiers and riders, so everyone feels welcome.
What type of skis/snowboard do I need for heli-skiing?
For information on the best gear to enjoy your day, plus links to rentals, please visit our equipment page.
How old do you have to be to go heli-skiing?
We have no set age minimum for young heli-skiers and riders. Their ability is more important than their age. Any participant under 19 years of age needs to have a parent or legal guardian present at the beginning of the day to sign their waiver form. We also require any participant under the age of 16 be accompanied on the tour by a parent. For parents deciding to book a heli seat for their child, it is important to be aware that there is no opportunity for a child to come in due to cold or fatigue, so choosing 3 runs and packing an extra layer can be smart choices. Also, heli-skiing takes place in an uncontrolled, wilderness environment, and all participants need to act accordingly. The guide’s instructions must be followed strictly. Finally, depending on the size of the child, you may want to choose to book later in the season, when the conditions are less likely to be over-the-head deep (a real consideration for young children!).
After these recommendations are considered, we are more than happy to welcome young heli-skiers and riders to Purcell. They are always a joy to spend the day with!
What is required to make a reservation?
Are meals provided?
Upon arriving in the morning, guests may help themselves to fresh-baked muffins and hot tea. A hearty packed lunch is provided out in the heli-ski area, and includes home-made sandwiches on hearty bread, baked treats, fruit, granola bars, juice, tea and water. Finally, you’ll arrive back to our day lodge to a delicious meat, cheese and veggie platter, a well-deserved snack.
Do you offer accommodation?
No. Our guests usually choose to stay in Banff, Lake Louise, or in Golden. Besides the many fine hotels in Banff and Lake Louise, Golden boasts a wide variety of accommodation options, all within a short drive to our day lodge. Learn more about hotels in Golden here.