Pre-Trip - Snowwater Heliskiing
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Thank you for booking with Snowwater Heli Skiing

This pre-trip information package is intended to answer any questions you may have about your upcoming trip and get you ready for some of the most unforgettable skiing and riding experiences of your life!


Snowwater operates in a region known as the West Kootenays of British Columbia. We chose this area as the quality of snow is like few other places on earth. The unsurpassed consistency, quantity, and lightness of this ‘white gold’ is widely sought after by powder connoisseurs the world over.

The lodge and Spa are located on 21 private acres in the beautiful Bonnington Range of the Selkirk Mountains, roughly 24km southwest of Nelson. Nestled in the trees below Snowwater Peak, the lodge sits at a mile high - (5400ft/1640m) and is approximately a one-hour drive from our base office via snowcat and truck.

We aim to provide a unique mountain adventure at Snowwater, offering an exclusive wilderness experience unlike anywhere else on the planet. We know you’ve come a long way to have a ski or snowboard vacation and our goal is to keep you turning all day long. Unlike other heli operations, we have a snowcat back-up program that keeps you skiing even if the weather prevents flying. The snowcat leaves right from our doorstep and offers incredible steep, gladed tree skiing close to home.

Catering to only twelve guests at a time, we offer a highly customized service unlike anywhere else. We combine authentic hospitality and laid-back Kootenay attitude with professional service and a personalized atmosphere. Guests have private access to the entire lodge and SPA facilities with an option to upgrade to a luxury king suite.

Some say the food alone is worth the trip. As recipients of the renowned Wine Spectator Award, we offer an expansive list of wine and spirits, as well as hand-crafted cocktails.

Get ready to lift off, relax, and enjoy!


Please be sure you are familiar with our terms and conditions before booking your trip. By making a reservation
at Snowwater you agree to our TERMS AND CONDITIONS.

The booking process requires you to fill out the following forms:


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. treatments in advance to ensure your preferred times.
The cost is $140 per 50-minute massage. Spots are highly coveted!

Appointment times are:

  • 3:45
  • 4:50
  • 6:00
  • After dinner (8:30 - 9:00)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. upgrades are now available at Snowwater!


Arrival time: 4:30pm

Guests should meet at our Snowwater Clubhouse before making the trip to the lodge. The shuttle trucks leave at 5:00 pm sharp. Feel free to arrive early!

Guests meet at our Snowwater Clubhouse 997 Dogwood Dr., South Slocan, BC, V0G 2GO before making
the trip up the mountain. Our office is located at the junction of HWY 3A and HWY 6, between Castlegar and

997 Dogwood Dr.
South Slocan, BC, V0G 2G0
T: 250-359-7669


  • Arrive by 4:30 pm, park vehicle and turn in your keys to our staff at the Clubhouse.
  • Get your bags tagged for your room.
  • Dress warmly; you will be in a truck and a snowcat for at least an hour to the lodge.
  • Pick your roommate unless you have upgraded to a private king suite. We have 4 king suites, sold on a first come first served basis - usually months ahead.
  • 5:00pm transfer to the lodge via truck and snowcat. We leave on time!
  • Arrive and settle into your room with your luggage.
  • Welcome orientation in the main lodge at 6:30pm. Let the fun begin!
  • Gourmet dinner at 7:00pm.


It is the responsibility of the guest to be on time. Please let us know if you are running late: 250-359-7665. Guests who miss the scheduled departure will need an additionally organized private shuttle to the lodge and will be subject to a late fee of $250 per person, without exception. We do not transport guests past 6:00 pm to the lodge. If you arrive too late for the private shuttle, you will have to spend the night in Nelson and incur additional accommodation and food expenses. If the entire group of twelve guests is late, a group late fee will be applied, depending on how late extra staff need to work to get the group to the lodge the same night. A full dinner may not be provided in this case.


We recommend you take an extra day and come early to avoid feeling pressured by the constraints of winter
weather traveling. It can be tricky to get here - but it’s worth it!

There are two main ways to get here:

  • DRIVE (often from Spokane WA, and having to cross the Canadian border)
  • FLY directly to Castlegar or Trail Regional airports, either in private aircraft or commercially from Vancouver.

We recommend that you always fly into Canada if you have ‘a prior’ (DUI) conviction of any type.

Most of our American guests fly to Spokane and drive up from there. Canadians or Europeans tend to fly to Kelowna or Cranbrook and drive from there. Car rentals can be limited so be sure to pre-book a 4WD and request winter tires!

24-hour road information for the Kootenays: 1-800-550-4997


  • Spokane Car Rentals
    Information on rental agencies based near Spokane International Airport. Alamo Enterprise, AVIS, Hertz, Budget, National, Dollar, Thrifty available
  • Kelowna airport car rentals
    Car rentals at Kelowna International airport (YLW). Enterprise, AVIS, Hertz, Budget, National, Thrifty available

If you are coming with a larger group, or you don’t want to rent your own vehicle, you might want to consider one of the following charter/shuttle companies:

  • West Kootenay Charters
    A shuttle van or rental cars are available from Castlegar regional airport but call ahead to reserve.
  • Kootenay Charters
    Daily Shuttle Service between Nelson/Rossland and Spokane (6 days a week, no service Tuesdays).
    Service from International Airports to Nelson BC. *Bookings must be made 48hrs in advance.
  • Ambassador Limousine Service
    Service from Spokane International Airport to Nelson BC.
    Ambassador Limousine Service is a long-time established service in Spokane and is accustomed to this
  • Spokane Airport Express Shuttle
    Private driving service for smaller groups (up to 6 passengers)


If you are driving from Spokane International Airport, you will need to cross the Canadian border. This is no joke. Please note: Snowwater does not issue refunds or provide trip credits to registered guests who are unable gain entry to Canada.

There are 2 local border crossings to choose from when driving from Spokane:

  • Patterson/Northport crossing is open 24 hours/day. We advise taking this one!
  • Nelway (Between Metaline Falls, WA and Salmo, BC) is open from 8am to 8pm. We do not recommend this border crossing (mean border guards!)

Be prepared:

  • A current passport is always required to cross the Canadian border. CHECK THE DATE well before the trip date as it can take months to get renewed.
  • Immigration officers may inquire about your personal history, the purpose of your visit, and what you are bringing across the border.
  • DO NOT BRING DRUGS across the border!
  • Among other things, alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs and large amounts of cash are all subject to import limitations — excess quantities may be taxed. You are not allowed to import fresh fruits and meats, firearms, or mace.
  • They may search your vehicle, so please pack carefully. Border officials may deny you entry to Canada based on previous convictions. If you have been convicted of Driving Under the Influence, (DUI) it is considered a criminal offence, and you could be denied entry. Please contact the border you will be crossing before your arrival if you are unsure. We recommend that you should always FLY into Canada if you have ‘a prior’ conviction of any type.

Border Information Service:
Within Canada: 1-800-461-9999
Outside Canada: 1-204-983-3500


  • Castlegar Regional Airport (YCG)
    CASTLEGAR, located 15 minutes from our base office, is our local regional airport. You can fly via Air Canada into Castlegar, only a 15-minute drive to our base office. Canadians or International guests generally drive or fly directly from Calgary or Vancouver. Please be warned, flights are often cancelled due to stormy weather, so we recommend coming at least one day early.
    • Private Aircraft
      Castlegar is the only local airport to accept international private aircraft. You can then arrange a heli transfer directly to the lodge for an extra fee with us or arrange your own shuttle to our base office and join the regular transfer at 5:00pm. All heli transfers to the lodge from the airport are dependent upon weather the day of travel.
  • Cranbrook International Airport (YXC)
    This is another option with international landing capacity and is a 3-hour drive to our base. We recommend pre-booking a luxury shuttle van with resort tours.
  • Trail Airport (YZZ)
    This airport is 1hour drive from our base office but the success rate for arrival in the winter is about 15% more than Castlegar. Trail is serviced by Pacific Coastal Airlines, which flies direct from the South Terminal of Vancouver International Airport. You can prebook a rental car and pick it up right at the Trail airport.
  • Kelowna International Airport (YLW)
    Many Canadians choose to fly Kelowna when coming to the Kootenays if they can’t make it to Trail or Castlegar by air. It is roughly a 4-hour drive from here to our base.


Purchasing insurance for your trip is a crucial piece of the heli-ski puzzle. You have invested in an expensive adventure, and we HIGHLY recommend getting the appropriate coverage so that you are completely reimbursed should something go awry either before or during your trip.

There are three main types of insurance you should have for a trip like this:

  • EMERGENCY MEDICAL INSURANCE – Your trip now covers you for acute, sudden, and unexpected sickness or injury during trip! This coverage includes ambulance evacuation to a hospital as well as hospital and physician charges. This coverage is only in place while you are our guest and in Canada. All claims require that you be seen by a physician at the time of injury. Hospitals in BC may require a credit card deposit upon admission. If you do not see a local doctor, coverage for heli flights out of the field will not be available and you will be responsible for any extra applicable fees.

  • TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE – NOT INCLUDED reimburses you for travel costs if the travel plans are cancelled prior to departure, or on the way to the destination. Airline tickets are excluded from this.

  • TRIP INTERRUPTION INSURANCE - NOT INCLUDED. This covers your trip and unexpected out of pocket expenses if your plans are disrupted after the trip has begun.


  • Passport/ID – make sure it is current!
  • ALWAYS bring your ski boots or snowboard boots as carry-on items on airplanes. Gripwalk combo touring/alpine boots are compatible with our bindings. TOURING boots are NOT compatible. You will need to bring your own skis if you bring these types of boots.
  • Personal medications, ibprofin, etc.
  • Outdoor gear – layering works best. No cotton! Base layer, mid layer, High-quality outerwear (Gore-TEX or similar). Our average temp is -8C or 25F.
  • Gloves, Ski Socks, Helmet /hat, Buff/face protection
  • Goggles (extra goggles can be a very good idea as well in case yours get fogged with tons of powder snow (common!)). We also sell some in our retail area if you’re in need!
  • Lodge clothing (comfy)
  • Slippers (or you can use our crocs)
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm
  • Basic toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste…
  • Laptop – Yes, we have high-speed wireless Internet.
  • Cell phone and charger. We have reception at the lodge for Telus, Verizon and Bell cell phones.
  • Do you snore? We have king suite upgrades available!


  • Airbag and associated rescue gear. TSA will confiscate your canister if you try to bring it on a plane.
  • Touring Boots. Rossignol rental bindings can only accommodate GRIPWALK soles. If you plan to bring touring boots to heli ski in, please bring your own skis.
  • Alcohol! We have a full bar at Snowwater and do not permit guests to bring their own alcohol. If you have any special requests, please let us know and we will be happy to make sure that your expectations are met. If you really need to bring some unique wine, we do allow 2 bottles max per person with a corkage fee of $75 each. We have over 2000 bottles of unique and wonderful wine to choose from.
  • Drugs over the border!


  • High Speed WIFI
  • Rossignol Powder skis and poles or snowboard. If you want to bring your own gear, please only bring one set.
  • House wine with dinner and Draft Beer on tap! Wines from the cellar, or cocktails are an add on.
  • BCA 22L Airbag. Each guest receives a BCA airbag backpack containing your personal shovel and probe.
  • Mammut avalanche beacon. You are responsible for its intact return to your guide.
  • Personal ICOM radio with external mic. You will be trained on its use and are responsible for its intact
    return to your guide.
  • Luxurious Bath robes – makes travel between hot tub and bedroom cozy and warm!
  • Rossignol slippers for lodge life – or bring your own slippers to feel really at home.
  • Natural and organic EO bath products.
  • Dryshod winter boots. The snow is deep up here! We have boots for you!
  • Boot and glove dryers in each guest lodge.
  • EMERGENCY MEDICAL INSURANCE is provided with your trip! If you get hurt on your trip and see a doctor locally to sign the paperwork, your associated medical costs are covered while in Canada. However, if you do not see a local doctor, the coverage doesn’t work.
  • Retail products including things you have forgotten, medical supplies and gifts!
  • Snowwater Water Bottle – for you to keep at the end of your vacation.


Your first day is a little different than a regular day due to the extra training, gear set up and group organization.

  • Fill out ski/snowboard waiver so we can set you up with your gear while you train. Please bring one boot to breakfast so that we set up your skis.
  • 8:00am: Lead guide talk and introduction to personal safety gear assigned to you.
  • Sign the paper waiver after hearing the lead guide talk. This is a new industry standard, even after having signed the on-line waiver before booking your trip.
  • Everyone is weighed for the helicopter, and daily groups list are selected.
  • 8:30: Avalanche training is given by our professional guides to ensure you are ready and equipped to enter the backcountry. Our pilot will also brief you on the helicopter. While this is happening, your skis will be set up for you, ready to go when you are.
  • Once you are fully trained, gather in your group of 4 on the heli pad and prepare to lift off!


  • Warm up your morning with yoga, a hot tub, a COLD PLUNGE, or a steam!
  • Enjoy a buffet breakfast at 7:30am every morning including freshly baked good, fresh fruit platter,
    oatmeal, eggs to order, or our daily breakfast special. We have a wide selection of tea or enjoy a
    cappuccino from JURA machine, our all made with locally roasted OSO coffee.
  • 8:30 All guests meet at the heli to get ready for lift off.
  • Lunch. Eventually our heli needs to refuel during the day. This is when we eat lunch in the field, or
    occasionally return to the lodge for hot lunch if conditions permit.
  • Shred pow, take pics, make memories. Repeat.
  • Massages begin at 3:45pm. We have two therapists on staff. There are 4 daily time slots unless you
    come home early and would like an earlier time. Pre-booking is recommended to ensure you get your
    favorite time slot. Please be sure to remember when your massage is booked! You are responsible for
    your time slot even if you don’t show up.
  • Après hour is 4:00-5:00pm! Don’t forget to check out our tasty snacks in the main lodge before you
    disappear into the SPA land of hot tubs and steam rooms.
  • You can pre-order cocktails or canned beverages, so they are ready to go for you when head off to the
    hot tub.
  • 7:00 pm. Dinner is 4-course gourmet affair in the main lodge. House wine or draft beer are included
    with your trip. You can also enhance your dining experience with a selection from one of our two wine
    Cellars or a post-desert pairing!
  • 9:00ish. The after-dinner massage. Or indulge in various other evening festivities.


The backcountry is exciting and exhilarating but can also be unpredictable. We strongly urge our guests to act responsibly and listen attentively to their guides and the pilot. Guests are expected to follow their guide’s
instructions and act appropriately around the helicopter.

Avalanches are part of skiing in the backcountry. They are a normal occurrence in the mountains as nature finds a way to stabilize the strong potential energy created during storms. Many western ski areas have avalanche control programs protecting their inbound terrain, but in an area as vast and untamed as ours, this task is virtually impossible. Our guides have years of experience in evaluating people, snow stability and assessing where it’s safe and where it is not. While it is our goal to take you to the best available snow and terrain each day, safety is our main priority, and it may dictate where and when we ski. Please listen to and follow your guide’s instructions.

**The use of drugs and alcohol are strictly prohibited before and during the ski day. Music listening devices are also not allowed during your ski day.

  • Please note that cell phones must be in airplane mode when carried in the backcountry as they
    interfere with your beacon signal when turned on. They must be carried at least 30cm away from your
    beacon and your radio.
  • Go-pros cannot be mounted to your chest.


All guests are back from skiing by 2:30, leaving time to shower in the spa, have one last frosty beer, sign the
guest book, and say goodbye.

Your luggage will be packed and ready to go when you return to the lodge, so please be sure to pull out your
boot bag, swimsuit, and street clothes to change into before heading back down. We supply a bag for your wet ski gear and will take you boots and helmets in a separate bag to the base.

You can expect to be at the Snowwater Base Office by 4:30pm where you can visit our retail shop and finalize
your bill.

If you are skiing the Valhallas on your last day, you will be driven directly to the office and your luggage will be
brought down for you. A post-ski shower will not be available in this case.

If you are flying via private aircraft, you will finalize your lodge bill at the lodge before being flown back to
Castlegar airport for your flight home.


A Gratuity has not been included in your trip. We are often asked how to tip appropriately? If you feel you received exceptional service and your trip made memorable by the efforts of those who work at the lodge, a 10% gratuity on your pre-tax booking cost is recommended at Snowwater. All staff members will be made aware of your contribution.


Thank you again for choosing to spend your holiday with us.

If there is anything we can do to make your trip more enjoyable, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Saying goodbye to everyone at the end of your trip is always a sad time – but we know you’ll be back soon!

We look forward to seeing you in the mountains and we sincerely hope that you enjoy your stay with us.

Patric, Maria and the entire Snowwater Team

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