Whistler Heli-Skiing launched its 30th year of operation in early December at Whistler Blackcomb. The program, which has grown in its three decades, is adding two new upscale features this winter.

The heli-ski business has changed over the decades especially due to an increase in the lease and the addition of smaller helicopters that can fly farther. "We got a parcel of land and over time acquired more," Mike Sadan, general manager of Whistler Heli-Skiing, told OnTheSnow. "In the early years, we used bigger helicopters, but we've expanded now to smaller helicopters that have a bigger range and can access more remote places. The increase in terrain and smaller helicopters work in combo with each other."

Whistler Heli-Skiing's terrain comprises 432,000 acres that include 173 glaciers. Its 475 runs span high open bowls and glaciers to gladed tree runs with choices available for intermediates to experts. Most of their acreage flanks drainages in the Coast Range on the west side of the valley opposite Whistler Blackcomb Ski Area. "All of the terrain to the west gets about 30 percent ore precipitation and snow than the ski area," said Sadan. The Spearhead Glacier in the provincial park behind the ski resort is also in the lease.

The company has grown over the years due to the flexibility it provides. Heli-skiing is traditionally based out of lodges, where skiers are committed for a pricey week regardless of the weather. "We're finding there's people who can't afford a whole week of heli-skiing, don't necessarily have the legs to ski for seven days, or can't abandon the family to go do their own thing for a week," said Sadan. "With us, they can go one day or more and still ski with the family on the hill." Whistler Heli-Skiing also provides a full refund when canceling within 24 hours, or full refund if weather precludes flying with the lift-accessed skiing available as back up.

The company has added two new upscale features to its heli-ski program this winter. Lunch is now provided from The Bearfoot Bistro, one of Whistler's most elegant avant-garde restaurants. After skiing, guests can join the guides, photographer, and pilot for après at the posh Cinnamon Bear Bar in the Hilton Whistler Resort and Spa to watch video of the day.

Packages for Whistler Heli-Skiing start at $815 CAN per person for three runs. The company flies two large 10-passenger helicopters and two smaller birds for five passengers. Each helicopter shuttles up to three groups per day. The heliport is located 15 minutes from Whistler Village, where the company office sits in the Carleton Lodge. Trips run until April 25.

More information. Or call 888-HELISKI.