Heli-Skiing in Greenland

November 13, 2006 by  
Filed under features

Heli-skiing, or the use of helicopters to reach isolated tops of slopes, was first used in the American Rockies. It is in far-off Greenland, however, that heli-skiing has really come into its own. It’s arguable that there are few better places than Greenland when it comes to skiing, but the problem has always been the lack of infrastructure.

The use of a helicopter solves that problem in one fell swoop. Greenland isn’t totally barren, and several heli-skiing operators have established partnerships with private and public organizations in Greenland. Logistics aren’t the problem they used to be, as Greenland’s major (such as they are) towns act as supply depots. Have gas, have food, will travel!

There’s not much “green” in Greenland – the name was given to what is the world’s largest non-continental island by a canny Viking named Eric the Red, who resisted the urge to name the place “Redland” and decided it was best to pick a name that would lure in some settlers. Since most of the prospective colonists lived in nearby Iceland, Eric’s choice was a good one. But I digress – Eric’s misleading advertising aside, Greenland is a skier’s paradise. Where else in the world can you look down on vertical runs of up to 5,000 feet? And if you strive for virgin slopes away from the roar of the crowd, this is the place to be. Last and certainly not least, those who love to ski all day will appreciate Greenland’s location close to the North Pole in the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Skiers who have experienced the joys of heli-skiing in Greenland speak of the incredible clarity of the air; frosty and clean at the start of a run, then tinged with the ocean’s salt spray as a thousand-foot run ends on a pristine beach. Another thing is the silence. Most of us have never known the “sound of silence”, as we live surrounded by the noises of people and machines. What heli-skiers take back with them is a deep appreciation for the incredible natural beauty of Greenland’s wild scenery and the timeless beauty of the Arctic environment.