Maximize your experience in the North Cascades

North Cascade Heli operates in a rugged backcountry environment where weather and snow conditions change rapidly. Maximize your experience by arriving prepared with the necessary gear and clothing. Modern and well-functioning ski and riding gear is crucial for creating a safer and much more enjoyable experience. If you have questions or need recommendations regarding gear or attire email us at


Photo Credit
Josh Cooley
Fat skis for heli-skiing
Skis & Snowboards

Due to the nature and type of snow conditions that we encounter, we strongly recommend that you use fat powder skis or longer, wider snowboards that are better suited for backcountry riding. More flotation equals more fun!

We encourage our guests to use our complimentary K2 powder skis mounted with Marker Bindings or K2 Snowboards. Our line of skis includes K2 Coombas, Darksides, Hellbents and Pontoons with various widths and lengths. However, please feel free to bring your own skis or board. Generally, shorter and wider powder skis and wider boards with rocker are better suited for our terrain and snow. If you're using our skis please note that they are all mounted with alpine bindings.

We prefer that you use alpine bindings and boots for our heli-skiing program, but you may use AT or Telemark equipment.

Bring your own boots as we don’t provide boots. Ski and snowboard boots should provide plenty of warmth and be flexible enough to allow easy bending at the knees and ankles. Finally, ski poles with larger baskets make traveling in deep snow easier, and snowboarders are encouraged to carry a pair of collapsible poles.

Photo Credit
Josh Cooley
Guide Michelle Smallman

We encounter highly variable weather conditions while heli-skiing in the North Cascades. The goal is to stay warm and dry, block wind, and prevent excessive sweating and overheating. Layering is key so that you may add/remove layers since conditions can change rapidly in the backcountry (no cotton).

Key layers include:

  • Waterproof/windproof/breathable hard-shell jacket and pants
  • Warm synthetic mid-layer under jacket
  • Synthetic base layers
  • Ski/snowboard socks

Additional items to bring include:

  • Compressible puffy jacket/vest
  • Warm ski hat/beanie
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Goggles
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Balaclava/neck gaiter (thin)
  • Reusable 1 liter water bottle (avoid plastic bottles) with a secure lid
  • Helmet (optional)
  • Backpack (20 liters is optimum)

Avoid packing extra items to minimize weight and space.

Avalanche Safety Gear

Avalanche safety gear is mandatory for all of our heli-skiing programs. We require you to use our BCA transceivers plus shovels and probes. The use of our BCA Float 22 Avalanche Airbags is required. You may use your own avalanche airbag depending on size (smaller is better to facilitate loading in the heli basket). All of our guests will be instructed on the proper use of avalanche airbags. The BCA Float 22 Avalanche Airbag is medium size yet has enough room to pack your shovel, probe, extra clothing, food, and water.