Let’s break it down to cost? These numbers are assuming we already have our backcountry gear (beacon, probe & shovel) and we feed ourselves each day.
Snowmobile and Accessories:
New: sled=$15,000 Truck = 15,000 Maintenance gas insurance based on 30 days of use = $3,000
Total = $33,000 ($1,100 per day)
Used: sled=$10,000 Truck = 3,000 Maintenance gas insurance based on 30 days of use = $3,000
Total = $16,000 ($533 per day)
Beat-Ass: sled=$1,000 Truck = 2,000 Maintenance gas insurance based on 30 days of use = $3,000
Total = $7,600 ($254 per day)
30 Days of Commercial Heli-skiing:
Total = $30,000 ($1,000 per day)
30 Days of Heli-touring:
Car = $3,000 Maintenance, gas, and insurance = $450 Touring gear = $1,600 Heli (based on 30 days of use) = $3,000
Total = $8,050 ($269 per day)
Car = $3,000 Maintenance, gas, and insurance = $450 Touring gear = $1,600
Total = $5,050 ($169 per day)
So commercial heli skiing and sledding are not really that far off from each other, heli-touring costing just above buying a beat ass sled and of course touring costs the least. These numbers above demonstrate the initial cost of each method of backcountry travel, but do not show beyond the first year of owning your sled or touring gear. After a few years mandatory upgrades are inevitable and costs start to re-appear.
No matter what the weather does, touring or snowmobiling is always available to certain terrain; helis on the other hand can only fly when they can see the mountains. In relation to avalanches snowmobiles get slides to react more often with the added weight to the snowpack than an individual skiers weight. Touring parties can travel in trees, on ridges and spread out to eliminate most avalanche danger for specific routes. Helis are able to skip certain aspects entirely to drop off at the best snow and stay off easily triggered slopes.
The terrain ridden is also very different from each other as well as when heli drops it tends to go for peaks that are not friendly to snowmobiles. Touring crowds say they can get anywhere; snowmobiles seem to go after lines that are easily tandem or that they tour from. Heli skiing companies here in Canada ski mostly blue runs. heli- drops go after steep terrain that you can tour after your first drop.
These mountains are here for some of us to explore and for others to look at from planes or the peak to peak. So we should see each other’s pros and cons continue to move onto a better backcountry community. If you are a touring only fan, stick to the parks where sleds and helis are not allowed. If you don’t like touring parties then you are out of luck you never know where you will find them but they tend to stay far away from the sledding noise. If you are heli-skiing or dropping be aware of your touring and sledding friends and don’t land on a mountain that they are going up. Putting others in danger is not the goal of easier access. All I know is that after a day in the backcountry a smile and hugging friends is the only goal I’m after and all of these methods have brought me to this goal.
All in all, the discussion goes along the same basis of which is better Whistler or Blackcomb, apples or oranges,missionary or reverse cow girl, skiing or snowboarding, Jesus or Oprah, the truth we all share the same goal of having epic days with friends… Your method of backcountry travel should only come down to one thing. That you love it. So try them all find what fits your adventure goals. The numbers do speak for themselves, get a touring set up even with your pass what the “slack”country offers is gold.