So you’re looking to head to Alaska. The first thing you’ll need to understand is the weather and the trip duration. Unlike most places in British Columbia which run 3, 4, and 5-day trips, most heliski operators in Alaska opt for the week-long experience.
There is a good reason for this. With coastal weather patterns, storms that dump massive amounts of snow, and cloud cover that can hang over these massive peaks, you might have to contend with “down” days. These are days when it’s just not possible to fly a helicopter.
But never fear, those same storms that might cause you to miss a ski day are the same ones that dump massive amounts of snow. Alaska is 100% worth the trip. But staying for a week isn’t the only way to do Alaska. There are a couple great options to choose from when it comes to your Alaska ski vacation. Here they are in a nutshell, and we’ll go into more detail on them below.
- Book a standard week-long Alaska Ski vacation
- Look for unlimited vertical options
- Book a shorter trip option (there are a few)
- Look into down-day backup activities
Plan for a week long trip
If you can, planning for a week long trip to Alaska will give you the best chances to get some incredible ski days. It is a good time commitment, but will mean you can ski even if you have some down days. Typically, you will ski about 4-5 days out of the 7.
If you are planning to ski for the week, you will have lots of options to choose from. That is the most common package available. Choosing between operators can be challenging, so contact our team for more info. You can also read more about Alaska on our destination page about Heliskiing in Alaska via the button below.
Look for unlimited vertical options
With a standard week long ski package in Alaska, since you will be skiing most days but not all, they will use Hobbs Hours or vertical policies to make sure you get a good amount of skiing during your time there. With these policies, you essentially pay for the flight time or the amount of skiing you do. In most cases, if the weather is good, you can buy more time in the helicopter at a fixed rate.
If you want to get as much skiing as possible, look for unlimited vertical packages or an easy ability to add on more fly time. Alaska Backcountry Guides has an incredible deal for their early season where you can get unlimited vertical for your week long stay. This means if the weather is a go, then you are skiing. No additional charge.
Book a shorter trip
If you don’t have the time to commit to a week long package, that definitely does not mean that you have to miss out on Alaska. Many operators offer shorter length trips. Some offer single day, but we definitely don’t recommend going to Alaska for just one day and gambling with that amount of travel time. If you plan to book a single day Alaska heliski day, the best idea is to plan to be in Alaska for 3-4 days so you have ability to heliski one of those days or reschedule if the weather is bad.
We typically recommend the 3 or 4 day options for those that want to get up to Alaska for a shorter trip. This means if all the days are good, you will fly all of those days, making the travel time to Alaska worth your while. WIth these shorter trips, you might have to deal with a down day, but the price point is more approachable. Just double check the booking policy and make sure you understand what happens in the event of a down day.
Look into down-day backup activities
With week long packages, and even the shorter trips, down days can happen. With a good backup plan, you can still ski on those days when you can’t fly. One option is to be in close proximity to ski touring locations or a resort like Aleyeska.
The better option is to look for operators who offer backups like cat skiing or sled skiing. Black Ops Valdez offers these activities as a backup plan for no fly days, and helps you make sure you are skiing every day of your vacation. You’ve taken the time to get up to Alaska, so you might as well try to ski it as much as possible.