So you’ve skied them all, you know your thrills and you think what else? Don’t take my word for it; heliskiing in Swedish Lapland need to be on your bucket list. Cold powder far into the season and even the option of trying it under the midnight sun. Here’s a taste of what you might expect.

Keen skiers might dream of the career that never came to be – that as a ski bum, or even better: life as a professional guide in the mountains. But life and seriousness came along and all of a sudden the career is out of reach. And to be frank: even though they get some absolute magnificent skiing at the best spots in the world – the life of a mountain guide is hard work and serious business. Imagine being responsible for other peoples lives in unexplored territory and being able to do it in such toned-down fashion that they still keep their focus on their main objective: awesome fresh tracks. Me, I’m happy to be along for the ride while someone else focuses on safety and finding the best current snow conditions.

Making sure are gear are in order before we hit the mountainside. Making sure are gear are in order before we hit the mountainside. Photo by Mikko Nikkinen.

Real mountains

As the heli starts picking up speed, I and the others in the group relaxes a bit and starts enjoying the view. Amazingly in a short flying time, the scenery becomes increasingly dramatic. We started off at the ski-resort Björkliden with plenty of skiing above the tree limit.

And real mountains.

But this is something else. You look around in different directions, and there are hardly any signs of civilisation. I know that we’re crossing reindeer grazing grounds – but during winter they’re never this far into the mountains. Our guide points our Sweden’s highest peak: Kebnekaise, and once again I can feel my adrenaline levels rising. Sure to say, right now I’m far more nervous about getting out of the helicopter on a peak than I am for the actual run that awaits.

Alright! Photo by Mikko Nikkinen.

The heli takes off

With an experienced touch, the pilot slightly hovers over a ridge, and we start to make our way out of the heli. My stomach is now literally trying to escape, and my pulse is rushing. We crouch once again to stay clear of the giant steel bird as the guide unloads our gear. The heli takes off, and as the silence is the only thing left behind I can feel my nerves settling.

There is one, and only one expectation you have when you go heli-skiing; fresh tracks in powder snow. Honestly, that’s never a guarantee. But rest assured that when skiing with a guide who knows the area, that person will do anything in his or her power to deliver just that. And if there is no fluffy white on offer that particular day, you’re still going to have a great day on the mountain with spectacular surroundings.

There is one, and only one expectation you have when you go heli-skiing; fresh tracks in powder snow. Photo courtesy of Arctic Guides.

Let go

After we get our gear in order, the guide points out the selected route and gives us instruction for how to ski. It might sound a bit restricting having someone telling you where you’re allowed to ski as you gaze down on a perfect field. But actually, it’s great since you can focus entirely on your performance knowing someone else has safety in mind. Our guide goes first laying a safety track on the far right, leaving a ridge and then some for us to explore.

Seeing the puffs of snow while the guide turns already puts a smile on my face. When I’m up, I just let go, and it’s a pure pleasure. Wide skies cutting the second layer of snow like melted butter, and the top layer flying around me. I can hear every turn, and I hang on each one finding a steady rhythm. During our descent, we stop a couple of times and get new instructions from our guide. And when we reach the last bit we can spot the heli in the valley waiting to take us on yet another adventure. I savour that moment of complete silence before the engines get fired up again.

And I feel my inner child yelling excitedly: again, again, again!

Photo courtesy of Arctic Guides.

Would you like to know more about heli-skiing in the Kiruna mountain area, Swedish Lapland, check out these professionals that offer great heliski experiences:
Heliski Guides Sweden
Abisko Mountain Lodge
Arctic Guides
Mountain Guide Travel

The rush

With heli-skiing being practically banned in the Alps, Canada has long been leading in this field. But I highly recommend you to make your way to Swedish Lapland, the northernmost destination in Sweden, and give this adventure a go on this side of the pond. Guides are in general highly knowledgeable about the area and where to find the best snow conditions. Your security is a high priority, and avalanche gear is usually provided by the guide, as well as for instructions on how to use them. For many of us, heli-skiing isn’t something you do every day. But I can assure you that the experience and the rush stay with you for a long time, and it will sure give you something to smile about at the après-ski!

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