The Himalayas, with their lofty statures and terrific terrains, continue to challenge the high-spirited daredevils from across the world. While skiing is among the most sought-after adventure voyages at numerous Himalayan resorts in India, heli-skiing adds a new twist to the story. Imagine the sheer thrill of being taken in a helicopter to the invigorating altitudes from where you descend skiing on the hoary slopes, unveiling the overwhelming natural vistas all around. Whether you heli-skied at the world-class slopes of British Columbia and Alaska or not, heli skiing in India is something you will cherish for long.
Best Places for Heli Skiing in India
The picturesque town in the splendid valley of Kashmir, Gulmarg is the premier winter sports destination in India. With the perfect power and corn snow-laden slopes, Mount Apharwat (about 4,270 m. high) welcomes flocks of adventurers during the skiing season. The marvellous beauty of silvery peaks glistening under the sun and snow-laden pines and firs extend the fun of heli-skiing at Gulmarg. Consider it as an opportunity to enjoy other adventures like snowboarding and gondola rides and also to explore the nearby tourists places like Srinagar and Sonmarg.All this makes Gulmarg one of the best places for heli skiing in India.
Magnificent pine-fringed trails, snow-covered peaks, eye-pleasing orchards and ancient temples define the tourism worth of Manali. But that’s not all as this strikingly beautiful hill station in Himachal Pradesh hosts year-round adventures. The brilliant terrains at Deo Tibba, Chandrakhani Pass, Hanuman Tibba and Rohtang Pass perfectly cater to the skiing and heli-skiing adventures. Feel the adrenaline intensify as you are flown to the heights above 6,000 m. and left to ski down through the snowy powder curry.
Amidst the unspoiled grandeur of nature and heart-warming spirituality of numerous pilgrimage sites, Uttaranchal’s claim to fame for skiing is at Auli. With slopes still considered as virgin, this fairy-tale town is fast registering its presence among the world’s most renowned skiing destinations. Irrespective of your experience with the adventure sport, you are bound to extract unlimited pleasure heli-skiing at attitudes nearly 3,000 m. in Auli.
Home to numerous Himalayan peaks, passes and glaciers, Pithoragarh in the Kumaon region of Uttaranchal has exquisite natural beauty to its credit. Tourists visiting the district are left speechless by the flawless magnificence of nature and some exhilarating opportunities that are full of adventure. When it comes to skiing and heli-skiing, the region has some ideal slopes amidst stunning alpine meadows at Khalia Top, Chhiplakot and Betuli Dhar, each nearly 3,000 m. high.
Top Heli-skiing India Preparations
Best Time: Winter months (usually January and February) when the Himalayas receive plenty of snowfall mark the beginning of skiing and heli-skiing season in India. It is the time when the above-mentioned destinations boast of the perfect crisp powder curry snow for outstanding skiing adventure.
Spring month of March is also suitable for skiing as this is the time when the slopes boast of corn snow and the days too become longer and warmer.
Weather: Skiing destinations may experience rough weather due to snowfall and storms. As mentioned earlier, the month of March witnesses warm and comfy weather conditions adding to the heli-skiing experience. Weather forecast is an important factor before planning the schedule. However, it is important to spare few extra days in case you fail to ski as per the schedule due to unfriendly weather.
Health: Common health issues associated with heli-skiing in Himalayas include acute mountain sickness, headaches, fatigues and other altitude-related issues. Gastrointestinal infections and few endemic diseases can’t be totally ruled out and one should make right preparations in this direction. In addition, consult a medical expert before planning the trip if you have the history of cardiac issues, asthma and other similar problems.
Things to Pack
Your heli-skiing tour operator will take care of the ski-related equipments and gear. In addition, you are advised to pack:
- Waterproof ski trousers, jackets, thermal tops and bottoms and other clothes (consult your ski guide)
- Comfortable jeans, trousers, t-shirts, tops, jumpers and other clothes
- Hats, gloves, scarves and neck warmers
- Sunglasses and goggles
- Shoes or boots with excellent grip
- Sunscreens, lip balms, moisturizers and other skin protection accessories
- Necessary or prescribed medications
Preferably some energy-boosting foods like chocolates, nuts and energy bars
Each of the popular India heli-skiing destinations enjoys good connectivity by road with the national capital Delhi and other popular cities of North India. Most of them have railway stations and airports in their close proximities. Local transportation is possible in all sorts of four-wheelers including SUVs.
Choosing a Heli-skiing Package
Many tour operators and adventure groups in India offer heli-skiing packages of different durations for adventure tourists having different levels of skiing expertise (from beginners to seasoned adventurers). Consider the following important aspects to choose the best package:
Helicopters and Equipments: Collect some useful information from the skiing experts to know what kind of helicopters and skiing equipments are ideas for the adventure and discuss the same with the adventure company.
Pilots: Find out whether the adventure organizer offers experienced and trained alpine helicopter pilots.
Guides: Skiing guides must be the certified professionals with skills no just in skiing, but also for mountain travelling and safety and rescue procedures.
Guide to Guest Ratio: Assess how many adventurers are allotted per skiing guide.
Safety: The adventure company should have the procedures and arrangements in place in the situations like rough weather, avalanche and anything else which requires immediate rescue or evacuation. There should be medical help available in case of any skiing accidents.
Lodging: Do take care of evaluating the kind of lodging facilities included in the package. Comfortable accommodation and clean and healthy food should be among the top concerns.
Heli-skiing is among the latest additions to the growing adventure tourism in India. Definitely a path less explored, it should motivate you for one of the most unforgettable adventure trips of your life.