We do not rent Alpine Touring (AT) skis, splitboards, climbing skins, or boots. We do offer complimentary use of our Alpine demo K2 Skis and Snowboards. Goat's Beard Mountain Supplies in Mazama has a solid selection of AT skis, climbing skins and boots with packages available but does not rent splitboards.
The logistics of our operation make it challenging to accommodate solo guests, since we operate in multiples of four guests to one guide. Therefore we require at least two guests to reserve our Heli-Skiing trips and Heli-Assisted Touring trips. Occasionally there will be an open seat where we can accommodate a solo guest, but we make no guarantees about a perfect match of abilities and fitness. For Yurt Trips we require that reservations are made in groups of 4 or 8, and all Yurt Trips are first come, first served.
The Heli Barn has WiFi as does the Freestone Inn. Cell phone service is spotty at the Heli Barn, so your best bet is to bring a calling card or use Skype. Guests with Verizon or AT&T phones will be able to get reception in Mazama proper near the Mazama Store.
Many of our guests choose to purchase trip insurance from one of the many companies offering this product. Trip insurance may cover some or all of your expenses such as trip cancellation, flight cancellation, lodging, guiding fees, illnesses, injuries and more in the event that you have to cancel a trip at the last minute or even during the trip. NCH highly recommends this for all our programs. NCH offers rainchecks when weather prevents us from heli-skiing during your trip: https://heli-ski.com/about/policies
Yes, in most cases. Please inform the NCH office of any dietary restrictions or food allergies. We are generally able to accommodate most dietary needs with advance notice except for Kosher.
Yes, with some stipulations. Guests under the age of 18 must have their Registration Form and Participant Agreement, Release and Assumption of Risk form signed by a parent or legal guardian before beginning their program with us. Guests under 18 must be at least advanced-intermediate skiers or snowboarders, able to quickly and accurately follow their guides' instructions, and able to handle a full day in the mountains under potentially challenging weather and/or snow conditions. If we deem a minor guest to be a risk to themselves or others, we reserve the right to return them to the Heli Barn with no refund. We do not recommend that guests under the age of 14 fly with us.
The Methow Valley has an abundance of recreational opportunities. It is home to the second largest groomed cross-country skiing trail system in the U.S., and also has snowshoeing, ice-skating, sledding and snowmobiling. The nearby town of Winthrop has plenty to do as well, including shopping, enjoying coffee in several coffee shops, visiting art galleries, dining, and wine-tasting.
Avalanches are an inherent risk in any heli-skiing operation. Our guides are trained in avalanche forecasting and avoidance, and some of our guides instruct avalanche courses to the public. We monitor weather and snow pack conditions throughout the snowfall season to assess avalanche risk in the regions where we operate. During our daily morning guide meetings we choose daily regions and terrain based on numerous available data from a variety of sources including our own observations in the field. We utilize practical backcountry travel techniques and assess conditions during operations with the focus on avoiding being caught in an avalanche. All of our guests start their programs with safety briefings including avalanche and helicopter safety, as well as search practice with an avalanche beacon, probe, shovel. Our guests are required to ski or snowboard with our BCA Float 22 Avalanche Airbags. The Float Airbag system does not guarantee survival in an avalanche incident - learn more about avalanche safety.
Thanks to our familiarity with the terrain and location on the eastern flank of the North Cascades, we are able to fly most days during our season. We do experience partial fly days and no-fly days every season as does every heli-skiing operation. Your runs from a partial or no-fly day and can be carried over to the next reserved day in your program, or rainchecks for heli-skiing are offered. Please see our policies page for more information: https://heli-ski.com/about/policies
Our 2020 season is Jan. 17 to March 22. Snow conditions are often good to spectacular throughout our entire season with the usual variability that's inherent in the backcountry. Plus the higher altitude where we operate increases the chances that you will ski fresher, drier powder during your trip. Earlier in the season we tend to experience colder weather with dry powder top to bottom. Later in the season, with longer days and more sunshine, spring conditions are more likely — awesome corn on the south-facing slopes and powder on the north-facing aspects. Thus we recommend that you reserve the dates that work best for your schedule.
We recommend that our guests include an extra day at the end of their program. This allows for a more relaxed pace, a safer drive home, and the opportunity to use remaining runs (based on availability) should a partial or full weather day occur during your program.
Yes, when weather, snow conditions, and logistics allow, and as long as all 4 guests in the group wish to buy extra runs and continue skiing. Extra runs are $100 per person, per run. Extra runs are also contingent on the approval of the guides.
We do not guarantee vertical - we guarantee seven runs per day. We will ride the longest runs that the weather and snow conditions allow with safety and the choicest powder being foremost in our minds. This typically translates to at least 12,000 vertical feet for those seven runs with the good probability the total will be higher.
We welcome both skiers and boarders at NCH! Mixed groups occasionally happen, most often with four guests who know each other, yet if there are problems with chemistry or ability, your guide may make changes with other groups.
Each group or "load" consists of four guests and one guide. Loads are primarily dependent on weight along with ability, experience, and fitness. Because of our smaller load sizes, we accommodate groups that desire to be in the same load (in most cases). In the interest of making the experience as enjoyable and safe as possible, our guides will use their discretion to make changes when necessary. Please be prepared for load changes and understand that we do this to maximize your enjoyment and safety.
Fitness is crucial no matter what your ability. The better your fitness the better your heli-skiing experience. We recommend that all our guests stay active — exercising and stretching — at least four weeks before their trip. Our guests need to be fit enough to take 7 heli-skiing descents at a moderate pace in all kinds of snow conditions. Skiing or snowboarding as much as possible before your trip is key — we ski thousands of vertical feet each run, so be ready.
Absolutely! Every skier and snowboarder deserves to experience heli-skiing. You should be able to confidently ski or ride "blue" to "black" runs at the resort in all conditions especially fresh powder. You must be able to side-step, traverse, kick-turn and control your speed at all times. Experience skiing in deep snow is highly recommended, as well as being fit enough to ski multiple runs each day and multiple days in a row if you are on a multi-day program.
Confident intermediate to expert ability is required to go heli-skiing. All types of mountain conditions can be expected during your trip. Ultimately snow and weather conditions are out of our control, however our guides will strive to find the best snow on each run. You should be comfortable skiing/riding in most snow conditions including deep powder, heavy powder, hard pack, ice, wind-crust, etc., and able to handle extreme and rapid changes in weather. You must be able to maintain control in a variety of backcountry conditions on a variety of slope angles and aspects and be fit enough to ski massive vertical feet and keep up with the pace of the groups. Please be honest with yourself and your guides about your ability and fitness level, as everyone's safety and enjoyment depend on it. We reserve the right to adjust groups to match ability levels or end a guest's program if they are unable to keep up or pose a danger to themselves or others.
North Cascade Heli, Washington State's ultimate stoke operation, has guided skiers and snowboarders in the spectacular North Cascades since 1989. We are a small company of certified and well-trained guides and staff living at the end of the road in Mazama in the Methow Valley. Our team is dedicated to offering the best service and experience possible. Guests often tell us that our combination of professionalism, "chill" attitudes and intimate size are the main reasons they ski or ride with NCH season after season - not to mention all of that fresh, deep powder covering 300,000 acres of terrain and a powerful A-Star B3 helicopter to get us to the goods! Our backyard is the rugged east side of the North Cascades — an amazing location for powder skiing and riding, touring, and adventure far away from crowded resorts. We fly in small groups of four guests with one guide which means more skiing and less waiting. Want to learn more about our program? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to shredding powder with you in the North Cascades!