Heliskiing in the Aosta Valley: What are the Best Spots?

Daniel DawsonFebruary 16, 2019

Located in the northwestern corner of Italy, the Aosta Valley boasts some of the Alps’ most iconic peaks and a landscape defined by its variety and natural beauty.

The valley is also consistently rated as one of the top 10 heliskiing destinations in Europe. Booking a heliskiing holiday in the Aosta Valley is ideal for advanced off-piste skiers looking for a challenge as well as intermediate off-piste skiers looking for an introduction to heliskiing.

Regardless of what you are looking for, the Aosta Valley is bound to have it. From 6.000 meter descents down the sides of Mont Blanc or Monte Rosa, to more relaxed powder bowl skiing in the valley’s southwest, there are nearly endless opportunities.

Use heliskiing as a way to get well off the beaten path before careening back down toward civilization or spend a few days exploring huge tracts of this 3.200 square kilometer valley.

Most guides choose to focus their trips in a certain area, so you can get a good feel for the region, while discovering different parts of the valley. However, some guides leave the itinerary open, allowing you to decide where in you’d like to go each day!

There’s a lot of decision making that does into any heliskiing trip to the Aosta Valley. In order to make this process a bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top spots as well as other useful information.

Top 3 Reasons for Heliskiing in the Aosta Valley

 

Enjoy plentiful powder all season long. At higher elevation, you’ll even find some snow covering into May. Photo courtesy of Stéphane Monari.

1| Stunning scenery

The Aosta Valley is widely considered one of the most scenic spots in all of the Alps, which is why it is such a popular heliskiing destination.

From the slopes of Mont Blanc or Monte Rosa, enjoy immaculate views into the winding valleys and over the snow-capped peaks of this part of the Alps. Going out in the helicopter gives you a birds eye view of all these interconnected valleys and the quaint towns in between. From below, there is nothing like waking up to a mountain views to get you in the mood for some skiing!

2| Plenty of variety

One of the best parts about heliskiing is all of the variety and freedom that it gives you. Traditionally, you stay in Courmayeur and ski around the little resort town. But heliskiing allows you to pop over to Monterosa and enjoy the afternoon sun on its southern facing slopes. It also gives you the chance to head all over the Mont Blanc massif.

Take advantage of the freedom and visit a different part of the valley each day of your trip!

3| Perfect powder

Due to its positioning in between the rest of the continent and Ligurian Sea, the Aosta Valley receives plenty of snowfall, especially in the winter. Powder begins to fall in November and thoroughly blankets the region well into April.

Much of this powder is ideal for skiing and by using a helicopter, you can head way out off the well-worn pistes of the popular resorts and out into the area’s sublime wilderness.

Where to Go?

 

1| Courmayeur & Mont Blanc

 

Situated in the very northwestern-most corner of the Aosta Valley, Courmayeur and Mont Blanc are widely considered to be world-class heliskiing destinations.

Mont Blanc is generally the main attraction, offering varied terrains from glaciers to deep powder bowls and ice fields, all of which are usually in pristine condition when you ski them via helicopter.

Many guides offer weekend trips, which take you all around the massif and allow you to sample many different runs, something that would would not be possible in such a small window without the assistance of the helicopter.

 

The Mont Blanc massif boasts plentiful powder and long, steep descents. Photo courtesy of Guide Monterosa.

While Mont Blanc is easily the most popular location in Courmayeur, the commune itself is full of other options. Head to Val Veny to explore this lateral valley to the massif and enjoy some less technically difficult terrain with unspoiled views below.

Another popular spot around Courmayeur is Col Checrouit, which is perfect for first time heliskiers without a whole lot of off-piste experience.

For more information about ski touring in Courmayeur, check out our ski touring post about the commune and our freeride skiing guide as well. We also have a more in-depth post about heliskiing on the Mont Blanc massif, if you want to read more about that too.


IN BRIEF:

Duration: Mostly 2 to 3 days. Some guides offer week-long trips.
Difficulty: Intermediate to advanced. All Mont Blanc trips are rated as advanced.


2| Monterosa & Gressoney

 

With more than 20 landing spots and 60 different trail systems, there’s no end to what you could do on Monte Rosa. Photo courtesy of Guide Monterosa.

Tucked into the northernmost reaches of the Aosta Valley, straddling the Swiss border, Monterosa and the Monte Rosa massif are the ideal spot for any heliskiing adventure!

With more than 20 landing spots on and around the massif, which lead to at least 60 different systems of trails, this is the perfect spot for exploration and excitement.

Heading up farther on to the massif yields some of the region’s most challenging runs, with some that include 6.000 meter descents! This is a lot of fun, but only if you’re up for the challenge. Part of the beauty of heliskiing on the massif is the expansive views you get toward the top. There’s nothing better!

Not quite up to the challenge of long uninterrupted descents on some technical glaciers and cols? Not to worry, heading to Gressoney, on the southern part of the massif, is the perfect spot to test yourself out and build a lifelong passion for this adrenaline-pumping sort of skiing.

In Gressoney, you will be able to experience the slopes of Colle Bettaforca, Bettolina, Val de Verra and/or Saint Jacques, taking advantage of all the variety that helicopter drops provide as well as staying in your off-piste comfort zone.

For more information about off-piste skiing in the various resorts around Monterosa and Gressoney, check out our freeride skiing guide for the region!


IN BRIEF:

Duration: 2 to 8 days, depending on your budget and availability.
Difficulty: Intermediate to difficult. Gressoney is best suited for intermediate skiers.


3| La Thuile & Valgrisenche

 

Complete with slightly gentler slopes, Valgrisenche is perfect for intermediate off-piste skiers. Photo courtesy of Hervé Pichoux

Sitting in the southwestern section of the Aosta Valley, La Thuille and Valgrisenche are great heliskiing spots for intermediate-level off-piste skiers.

La Thuille, which is the neighboring valley just northwest of Valgrisenche, provides easy helicopter access to Miravidi, Mont Ouille, Pointe Lechaud, Testa del Ruitor, Les Vedettes and Becca Bianca.

Each of these runs gives you some slightly different terrain to try out, but all of them boast spectacular views of the Mont Blanc massif and several other iconic Alpine peaks, including Grand Combin and Monte Rosa.

For those of you looking to make one drop per day and spend long hours out on the slopes exploring the backcountry, Espace San Bernardo and La Rosiere offer 160 kilometers of slopes as well as 6.000 meter descents. Perfect for unwinding and exploring all in one.

Valgrisenche, which is known for its wild and diverse terrains, makes for an excellent two-day or weekend heliskiing trip. Dropping onto Giasson glacier and Archeboc summit allows for long and fun runs back into the valley below.


IN BRIEF:

Duration: 1 day to 1 week, depending on your budget and availability.
Difficulty: Intermediate


What is the Best Time to Go Heliskiing in the Aosta Valley?

 

From December until April is the peak season for heliskiing in the Aosta Valley.

Due to its unique geography, this southwestern portion of the Alps is one of the wettest in the whole mountain range and you can usually expect snow for six months of the year. This means that come December, a solid first blanketing of snow will have preceded your trip and you will be able to count on plentiful powder all the way through until the end of April.

During this time of year, the temperatures are also perfect for heliskiing. Expect average daily temperatures of around -7°C to -3°C, but be sure to dress with layers because at the higher elevations these can drop below -10ºC.

How Much Does a Heliskiing Trip Cost?

 

Though it isn’t cheap, every serious ski tourer should budget for at least one heliskiing trip in the Aosta Valley. Photo courtesy of Guide Monterosa.

Prices for heliskiing trips vary greatly depending on the company with which you book, how many days you choose to go for and what is included in the price of the trip.

Generally, you can expect to pay about €350 for a single-day trip, about €1.000 for a half-week trip and roughly €3.000 or more for a week-long trip.

What’s included in the price varies widely as well from company to company. For the single-day outings, it generally includes the guide fee, helicopter drop(s) and group equipment. The longer trip prices may also include (but not always) accommodations and half-board meals.

However, every guide and company prices quite differently. Always be sure to get a quote and ask what is included prior to booking.

How to Get There?

 

Getting to the Aosta Valley is not very difficult, regardless of where you are going. However, there are a couple of different starting points for most of the trips.

If you are heliskiing in Courmayeur, Mont Blanc, La Thuile or Valgrisenche, flying into the international airport in Geneva, Switzerland (GVA) is the quickest way to get these spots.

From GVA, Courmayeur is only a 1.5 hour drive away in a rental car and may also be accessed fairly easily by airport shuttle or public transit.

La Thuile and Valgrisenche will take a bit longer in a rental car, about two to 2.5 hours, respectively. By public transport, getting to these villages will require a transfer in either Aosta or Courmayeur.

For trips to Monterosa, flying into the international airport in Turin, Italy (TRN) is the quickest way to get there. This airport has fewer direct flights from non-European destinations than GVA does, but is only 1.5 hours away from Monterosa by rental car and only slightly longer by bus.

Where to Stay in the Aosta Valley?

 

Prefer snowboarding to skiing? That’s not a problem, there are some great heliboarding options in the Aosta Valley too. Photo courtesy of Francis Kesley.

We asked local guides to recommend different accommodation options within the Aosta Valley. For Elis Martis (Peaks Hunter Mountain Guide Team) and  Andrea Benato, these are some of the best places to stay during your trip:

In Valtournenche:

In Courmayeur:

Other locations of the Aosta Valley:

 

So what are you waiting for? Book now and get ready for the heliskiing adventure of a lifetime in the sublimely scenic Aosta Valley!

 

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