Extreme: British Columbia, Canada
Sunday 27 January 2008
Carving first tracks in waist-deep powder is skiing nirvana but such transcendental conditions will be increasingly hard to find in the Alps as global warming pushes European pistes ever higher up the mountainsides. In the future, in order to find the best snow, skiers will have to head west – and the exchange rates make the trip even more appealing at the moment.
With winter storms lumbering in from the Pacific, the mountains of British Columbia's Coastal Range have guaranteed snow – to a depth of 10ft this month – and some severely testing terrain of chutes, steeps and bowls. Bella Coola Helisports uses its fleet of A-Star helicopters to search for untracked powder over 2,000,000 acres of the Bella Coola range north of Vancouver. Parties of no more than five skiers or boarders are graded according to ability and are always accompanied by a expert guide familiar with the avalanche risks of the area.
During the peak February season you can expect to ski 100,000 vertical feet during a seven-day trip. Of course, it's not just the skiing that's steep; the price is too – but if the snows in the traditional resorts continue to retreat due to global warming, the cost of skiing is expected to rise anyway. Robin Barton
Seven days skiing in the peak season costs around £4,500 (excluding international flights, but including transfers from Vancouver, full-board accommodation and equipment rental), www.bellacoolahelisports.com
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