Heliskiing in Austria on the Cheap
31st January 2020 | James Cove , Nassfeld
Last modified on May 22nd, 2020
The resort of Nassfeld sits on the Italian border and is one of the few Austrian resorts offering heliskiing. PlanetSKI jumps aboard.
Heliskiing is on many people’s bucket list.
It does though come at a price, usually a large one.
From Nassfeld it is less so.
A single drop that gives a very respectable vertical descent of 880m is €190, that’s £160.
Further drops are €100 each.
That includes the mountain guide and all the necessary safety equipment.
Now I am not going to pretend it is cheap, but it is certainly more affordable than elsewhere, plus the resort is a good value destination too.
And a new personal favourite of mine.
But is heliskiing all it is cracked up to be, and what about the environmental costs?
I’ll be looking at those further on in this article – but first the Nassfeld experience.
Heliskiing is banned in most of Austria.
The reason you can go heliskiing from Nassfeld is simple: part of the resort is in Italy and so the helicopter is able to take off in Italy and access 8 different mountains with 15 designated landing sites.
Heliski Alpe Adria was set up 4 years ago and now takes 300 people per season.
For me the helicopter ride itself is a highlight.
And crouching down as the machine heads takes off after drop off, with rotor blades whizzing and snow being whipped up, is a thrill in itself.
And once it has disappeared there is the high-mountain tranquillity.
Peace after all the hectic getting in and out, with some fabulous views
The snow wasn’t the soft fluffy powder you see in the videos, but no matter.
The company always lets clients know about the snow conditions and gives them an accurate assessment before taking your money.
You make a reservation, but do not have to pay until conditions are known.
“We do not just take their money without telling the clients about the snow conditions, this is not Canada,” the owner of Heliski Alpe Adria, Alex Huber, said to me.
“Of course, the snow varies and sadly it can’t be beautiful powder all the time, but we are honest and straight.”
And what about the environmental responsibilities?
“We only do one or two flights a week, so we are small-scale, and we never fly over areas where we know animals live or are hibernating,” said Alex.
“I talk to the hunters and they tell me where the animals live so we avoid all those areas for flying.”
“In addition I come from a farming family and we plant up to 1,500 trees per year which helps to offset some of the environmental costs”.
So, is heliskiing all it’s cracked up to be?
Yes and No.
I have had some fabulous days and some questionable ones.
The good ones include Zermatt and Verbier in Switzerland and La Thuile in Italy.
The poor ones include Revelstoke in Canada.
The weather and low cloud meant the helicopters could not go high.
I actually had better skiing that day when skiing off the lifts and heading into the trees.
But without flying they can’t take your money, so they find somewhere.
I have also been heliskiing in Livigno in Italy, and with no fresh snow and wind-blown crust for much of the terrain I questioned the point on several occasions when coming down.
Now they say videos should be short on the internet – well a helicopter ride in the Alps is worth the full length in my opinion.
And what I didn’t know at the time is that this was no ordinary helicopter.
It is the only one that has actually touched down on the summit of Mount Everest.
On May 14, 2005 the French pilot, Didier Delsalle set the world record for highest altitude landing of a helicopter.
He used this Eurocopter AS350 Squirrel to touched down on the 8,848m summit of Mount Everest.
He remained grounded for 3 minutes and 50 seconds and then took off.
And the most dangerous part of our heliskiing experience?
Dodging avalanches, skiing no fall zones and abseiling into tight couloirs?
A very narrow snow bridge over a mountain stream right at the end.
One mistake and you’re in.
So, if heliskiing is on your bucket list and you want to do it at a more affordable price than elsewhere then Heliski Alpe Adria in Nassfeld could be the place to look to.
I’m coming back.
For more details see the Heliski Alpe Adria web site.
Special offer: Free direct transfers ALL season worth over €200 return if you book selected hotels in Nassfeld or Schladming.
See Klagenfurt Airport for more information.
- Easyjet flies from Gatwick to Klagenfurt from £28 return.
- Falkensteiner Hotel & Spa Carinzia: prices from €90 pppd with half board, two sharing; https://www.falkensteiner.com/en/hotel-spa-carinzia/