Helicopters are without any doubt, the world's best chairlift, and using them is a highly intimate and personal experience that allows us to move with freedom to access and find the best possible snow conditions throughout your trip. Put simply, there is no other means of accessing expansive, extraordinary terrain with such mobility.
These aircraft are capable of providing up to five skiers with guided transportation into the remote terrain we access for backcountry skiing and riding. However, all guests should be aware that it may be necessary to split groups based on ability levels and weight factors.
Weight is an important factor while flying any aircraft at high elevations and we carefully review the weight of each skier to stay within the limits of each helicopter. As we consider safety first, our pilots and guides use their discretion, which may involve splitting a group. Remaining seats on the helicopter may be filled with people outside of your group. On the positive side, be prepared to get to know and enjoy some very interesting people who will share the thrill of backcountry skiing with you and your friends.
Helicopter skiing is expensive due to the cost of the helicopters, their maintenance, the skill and experience of pilots, the guides, and the expanse of terrain that we cover. The helicopters that fly us into the Ruby Mountains are leased from the most experienced companies throughout the west. That said, the opportunity of skiing the Ruby Mountains and enjoying this backcountry experience simply would not be possible without the aircraft.
It should be noted that there are times when the helicopter cannot fly due to storms, high winds and other weather conditions beyond our control. In such conditions we usually can access our snowcat terrain, which is done via helicopters to the snowcat base area at a 7,500 foot elevation.
The Ruby Mountains provide us with some of the most spectacular corn and powder skiing conditions available anywhere in the world. But, there will be times when storms and weather conditions make flying difficult or even impossible. This is the nature of backcountry skiing & snowboarding, and you must accept the hand you're dealt any time you access the mountains. On a day when conditions may appear perfect, the winds aloft may prevent us from flying.
One great advantage of The Ruby Experience is the availability of snowcats and cat-specific terrain. When we are unable to fly to our normal helicopter terrain because of storms or high winds, we have a spectacular area that has been specifically developed for snowcat access. The snowcat option is available to our guests as a replacement for the skiing/riding they would otherwise miss when the helicopters are grounded due of weather and cannot fly us to our heli skiing and riding terrain.
The snowcats are based at an elevation of 7,400 feet, which is about 1,500 feet above the valley floor. In most cases, this elevation is below the cloud level even during a storm. When this is the case, skiers are lifted by helicopter into this special reserve. Allowing the opportunity for a great day of skiing when conditions are sometimes at their best - during the heart of the storm as snow accumulates throughout the day.
Although we strongly believe that the option of skiing snowcats is a great alternative, it is the prerogative of each skier to decide to take advantage of this option. If so, the ski runs while snowcat skiing is deducted from the total guarantee of 20 total runs for the three-day tour. On the very rare occasion when any skier should ski only with the snowcats for the entire three days, we will refund the skier an amount equal to $80.00 per run to cover the 20 run guarantee, and Ruby Mountain Helicopter Experience will automatically apply a $1000 deposit towards a future trip to the Rubies later that season or the following season.