Heli Skiing in Kamchatka – Renee
Heli skiing in Kamchatka, May 2018
After a long journey of more than 18 hours (including a 10 hour time difference, that’s 28 hours) we arrive at our hotel. We are received very friendly and immediately have to sit down for lunch. Very sweet, but I’m so tired… After lunch an extensive briefing about helicopter and snow safety follows. Very educational, but I’m so tired… After the briefing, we all head out for training with avalanche transceivers, probes and shovels. Soon we are running through the snow, digging holes and trying to find the buried squeakers as quickly as possible. The necessary concentration in combination with the fresh air works: I’m actually starting to get less tired and already get some ski jitters! After the introductory drink (there are 14 guests, 7 nationalities, divided over 2 helicopters) and dinner, everyone goes to bed early.
The next day it’s time. For me it is the first time in a helicopter, but you get used to it quickly. We are dropped off by the skilled flight crew on one of the many volcanic slopes of Kamchatka. The guides check the snow conditions and then we can go. The snow is buttery soft, the descent is long and there is nothing or nobody to see except our group. Or is it? A bear! He’s far enough away not to be “scary,” but we can see him clearly. Magnificent.
Over the next few days we ski from the top to the sea (the helicopter is waiting for us on the pebble beach), past working geysers in an active volcano (yes, sulfur really smells like rotten eggs), through an abandoned former army base (a secret village without a name, only a number) and above all long, often and wonderfully on soft spring snow.
Because the conditions are so good and we fly so much, after day 3 we are almost through our flying hours. After mutual consultation we decide to have a rest day and to use up the remaining flight time on day 5. That coincides nicely with the all-you-can-eat kingcrab/vodka night that the hotel has planned: no one has to work out the next day and for some that is enough reason to turn it into a liquid party. It’s vacation after all!
We use the rest day to discover the town of Petropavlovsk. Although it cannot be called a bustling metropolis, we have a great time. There are wild sea lions in the harbor and the hunt is on for good souvenirs.
Even on the last day, the guides manage to find beautiful descents again, despite the rising temperatures. And since we end up at the Bering Sea anyway, we can take a dip, right? The water is quite cold, but that makes a better story for home.
After the last flight we are met at the hotel with music, snacks and drinks. We talk, laugh and reminisce about the beautiful days we had. Heli-skiing in Kamchatka is impressive. The rugged nature, the silence, the infinite nothing… and of course A LOT OF SKIING!
Until next time!