Travel Tuesday: Heli-skiing in the French Alps

Heli-SkiingOf all the hobbies that only the super rich could’ve come up with, heli-skiing ranks fairly highly. Using a helicopter to access the most pristine snow on a mountain, enjoying the ski of your life and then jumping back into the helicopter for another run doesn’t exactly come cheap, so it’s no surprise that until now it’s been the preserve of ultra-HNWIs (High Net-Worth Individuals). It’s thought that the sport began in Canada, but luxurious heli-skiing lodges in France are now giving non-billionaires the chance to try out this exhilarating activity in the peaceful serenity of the Italian Alps.

As heli-skiing is banned in France itself, the owner of the Pook Lodge in France’s Tarentaise Valley has arranged a number of dropping off points just over the border in the Italian Alps for those angling to try their hand at skiing far away from busy resort runs. Should you wish to explore the remote slopes across the border, a helicopter can pick you and your companions up from the lodge in Les Laix and ferry you to one of three areas, including Mont Miravidi, which has more than 3,000 square metres of terrain and amazing views of Mont Blanc.

The idea of being so far away from resorts and skiing on untested snow may sound risky, but the industry is well regulated. At all times, your group will be accompanied by an experienced guide and pilot who will know how to evaluate snow conditions and stability. The guide will ski ahead, showing you the safest routes on difficult slopes, although where slopes are broad and even, you may get the opportunity to determine your own route. The unpredictability of nature means that you will inevitably face a wide variety of weather conditions and types of snow, some more difficult to manage than others. This means that although you don’t need to be a mountaineering expert to enjoy this sport, you must be able to consistently and confidently ski the red runs in any resort.

In return for your hard work, you’ll get an experience previously reserved for millionaires and those willing to hike for hours: fantastic, picture-perfect views and deserted slopes where you can ski at your own pace, taking in the surroundings without being hampered by hundreds of other skiers. You can choose between one and three heli-drops, with the rest of your day dedicated to guided off-piste skiing. In the evening, you’ll get to relax back at the chalet with a hot tub, a roaring fire and excellent food prepared for you on site.

The variety of packages now on offer has helped to make this thrilling sport more affordable than ever before – but if you’re truly bitten by the heli-skiing bug, then an Alpine property gives you a reliable retreat in which to practise your skills each season. Ski chalets are famously rewarding investments, with values in the best resorts climbing year after year. With several offices in the Alpine region, Engel & Völkers can help you find a chalet that meets your every requirement, whether you’re looking for an isolated idyll or thriving resort town – just visit our E&V website for more information.