British Columbia's Silver Star Mountain Resort caters to family travel in the Monashee Mountains. But for many families, at least one skier or rider may drool at the skiable slopes on the neighboring peaks. This year, Eagle Pass Heli-Skiing offers a way for Silver Star skiers and snowboarders to spend a day plummeting powder on the flanks of the nearby range.
Eagle Pass Heli-Skiing, a Revelstoke-based company, manages a monstrous Monashee Mountain tenure that stretches 102 kilometers in length and 270,000 acres. Revelstoke sits in the middle while the southern section surrounds Silver Star.
"What we like about Silver Star is that it's a nice resort for people to be at with their families," Eagle Pass Heli-Skiing Owner Matt Pinto said. "People there look at those mountains and wish they could ski them. Now they can."
Photo by Sean Hannah.
A 10-minute helicopter ride will deliver Silver Star skiers and riders to the Monashees.
"They are well known for beautiful long runs with jagged peaks and really famous for great tree skiing, where the trees are open and well-spaced," Pinto said. "A lot of runs start in the alpine and ski to the valley floor. Some total up to 5,000- or 6,000-foot runs."
Skiers can make reservations through Eagle Pass Heli-Skiing or while at Silver Star. With a heli base at the resort, guides escort guests from the village to the helicopter about a five-minute walk away. At the end of the day, the helicopter returns skiers either to the village or the top of the mountain to ski down before meeting for après ski in The Den, a favorite Silver Star watering hole.
Eagle Pass' Bell 212 helicopter seats 10 guests and two guides. Once in the Monashees, the group can split in two for a more intimate feel, skiing different runs.
"If the weather does change or the snow is better on another mountain, we can pick up everyone and move," Pinto said.
The addition of Eagle Pass Heli trips to Silver Star ups the skiing options for strong intermediate to advanced resort visitors. Pinto also points out that the new heli operation will offer one of the closest heli-ski bases to an international airport in North America. Kelowna International Airport sits one hour by car from Silver Star.
"There's zero chance of road closures in Vernon compared to Revestoke," Pinto said. "Geographically everything is easy to negotiate. Travel time is cut down, and the difference of saving an extra day of travel is important."
Heli-skiing at Silver Star starts at $1,175 CDN for six to eight runs or 11,000 to 17,000 vertical feet. Powder skis are available, and the guides run guests through safety training with beacons before heading out. Each skier carries an avalanche flotation backpack, radio and beacon.
"We take safety seriously," Pinto said. "That image of a skier jumping out of a helicopter as it flies off is for the movies; we take our time and pick terrain suitable for the group and day."
Eagle Pass Heli-Skiing is beginning its sixth winter of operation. The company also offers packages for Echo Bay Lodge and Sparkling Hill, a luxury private resort.
Click here for more info or call 877-WAY-DEEP.
The Monashees outside Silver Star offer alpine and open tree skiing. Photo by Sean Hannah.