Guide to Heliskiing




Have you ever wondered what is it like to live life as a heli skier and mountain guide? Meet Flory Kern, founder of Flory Kern Ski Berge Abenteuer, a German-based ski operator that can take you to the world’s most unusual and spectacular skiing destinations. Trusted by high profile skiing enthusiasts from all over the world, the experienced mountain guide is an expert on the slopes and has been heli-skiing for over 20 years.

Q How did you start a career as a heli-skiing guide?

A Skiing has been an important part of my life since childhood and I grew up dreaming of skiing remote exclusive terrain with only a small group of people. To become a guide, you should already possess excellent skiing and climbing skills, then you can get a recognized qualification. It takes about four years of studying to become a UIAGM internationally qualified mountain and ski guide. You get to learn how to guide groups or individual clients in all kinds of terrain, with all the safety measurements required. I went to International Mountain Guide School in 1995. After three years of rigorous studies, I became a proud UIAGM Mountain Guide (The Union Internationale des Associations de Guides de Montagnes is the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations). After guiding several daily heli-skiing trips in the Alps, I got in contact with people in Russia and in 2001 my first group departed for Kamchatka – a then little-known destination.

Q What is a day on a heli-skiing expedition like with you?

A The guide, the crew and the pilot get up long before breakfast to plan the day. Be ready to take off at around 9am and complete about eight runs by noon. Then lunch is served outdoors with warm tea or coffee. This will give you a boost of energy to manage another five or six more runs until the late afternoon when you start feeling your legs get very tired. Afterwards, head back to the base and get ready for apres-ski. That’s the perfect time to have a beer!

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Q Out of hundreds of trips that you’ve organised, name a couple of the most memorable ones?

A During the twenty years in the business of heli-skiing, I have personally guided more than 450 expeditions. But if I had to mention only one or two, it would be my trip from Helsinki to the north east coast of Greenland, where we got a chance to ski spectacular runs of the Schweizerland Alps and live in a remote fishing village of Kumiut. Another memorable trip was skiing and sailing in Antarctica, which included sailing through rough waters – it was a new experience for me.

Q Is it dangerous to be a heli-skiing guide?

A Clients are our first priority – all trips must be smooth and safe. Remember that nature is the source of both beauty and danger. Our number one enemy are avalanches, so a huge part of my job is constant risk evaluation that determines where we lead our groups.

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Q What’s the best way of choosing a good heli-skiing trip and tour operator?

A The number one rule for a successful heli-skiing trip is finding an experienced guide. You can only get better at it by skiing a lot. As a guide, you don’t have time to contemplate because decisions must be made in seconds; very often the first time you see a run is from above and just moments before skiing it.

Q What’s the best way of choosing a good heli-skiing trip and tour operator?

A Canada is a must – it is known as the birthplace of heli-skiing for a reason. For more adventurous skiing, try Svanetia in Georgia that offers many steep runs. The Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan have incredible possibilities for heli-skiing. If you want to go far, check out the peninsula of Kamchatka in Russia – it has huge runs with very high vertical drops.

To find out more about heli-skiing trips, check out TOP DESTINATIONS – WHERE TO GO HELI-SKIING

How to Heli Ski Like a Pro
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