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Georgia – Heliskiing Svanetia Caucasus

Dive into the winter world of the Caucasus and experience an exquisite skiing adventure. The finest powder, untouched slopes, and amazing runs await.

Price: 7000 EUR

Welcome to One of the World’s Best Heliskiing Locations!

Simply thinking about skiing there is enough to get our hearts going. If you ever listen to stories about skiing trips to Svaneti, it’s hard not to feel inspired. The highest mountains in Europe, heli-ski friendly terrain, and very high safety and quality standards make any trip to this remote region an absolutely unique experience. Svaneti offers heliskiing in its finest form, surrounded by the towering 5000m peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. Over 1800 km² of magnificent skiing terrain awaits you. In my touring log of the last seven years, you will find more than 140 different runs here. Exquisite powder can be found on the northern slopes of the 30 km long Layla Range and the southern side offers the best spring corn below the stunning landmark peak, the Ushba, from mid-May.

It’s not surprising that this breath-taking place has been the chosen setting for some great skiing movies. It is here that we also chose to produce the movie ‘Ushba’ with some of the world’s best freeriders. There is nowhere quite like Svaneti. If you’re looking for an unforgettable heliskiing experience in 2020, this is without doubt the destination for you.

10 10 Good Reasons to Heliski / Heliboard with us in Svanetia

  • Only a four hour flight from central Europe 
  • One of the biggest heliskiing areas in the world 
  • We offer the highest possible safety standards 
  • Austrian helicopter company and experienced piolets 
  • Amazing terrain and short approach times 
  • Ski in powder on the highest peaks in Europe
  • Guaranteed snow cover 
  • Four guests per mountain guide and max. three groups a week 
  • Skiing resort with four new lifts for non-flying days
  • A team of mountain guides with extensive experience of heliskiing

Arrival in Svanetia

On Saturday, we will take a three hour flight form central Europe to Istanbul. There is a daily flight from Istanbul with Turkish Airlines (approximately 1.5 hours) to Batumi, which is in Georgia, by the Black Sea. Our shuttle service will take you from Batumi to the highland townlet of Mestia in approximately six hours. On the way you will travel along the shores of the Black Sea to Zugdidi and then follow the Enguri river until you reach your destination. You will be welcomed with a drink and snack at the Hotel Mountain Mestia, where you can also enjoy the magnificent view of over 50 illuminated tower houses. You will be given a briefing of the heliskiing program and protocol to ensure that you are all set for the next day in the magnificent Svanetian mountains.

6 Unforgettable Days of Skiing

The next six days will be all yours to discover some of the finest runs in Svanetia.  As with all of our heliskiing trips, our aim is to give you the best possible skiing experience as opposed to counting vertical metres. We want to show you the vast skiing terrains and introduce you to the country and its people along the way. After a great day of skiing, we may also ski down to one of the quaint Svanetian villages, where we will meet the locals and enjoy a glass or two of chacha, a Georgian grappa. After an unforgettable week of skiing it will be time for us to commence on the journey home.

Our base

Our base will be in Mestia, the capital of Svanetia, which is at an altitude of 1300 metres and home to around 2000 people. The picturesque town centre has a few shops, inns, a bank, and all that is needed for daily life. Things here move a little slower and the roads are quiet – not every household has a car. Bars and restaurants are not large in number but there is still the opportunity to enjoy a well-deserved coffee and cake at the town plaza after a day of skiing. While in Mestia, a visit to one of the towers is an absolute must and a visit to the mountain museum is more than worthwhile. Most attractions are well within a ten minute walking distance from our hotel.

Safety and Quality

Safety and quality are our absolute priority. Although we always aim to provide the best experience for our guests, we will never do so by compromising their safety. Any risks that can be influenced are kept thoroughly within our control. As with any activity in high alpine regions, including heliskiing, there are also risks that are beyond our control. You should be aware that we are not exempt from these risks when skiing in the remote places of our planet. Given that we are far away from any rescue services, we have developed our own rescue protocol. A group consists of a maximum of four guests and one guide. We will generally be out with three groups at a time. The groups will follow a rotating system, meaning that the other groups with their guides are never far off in an emergency. We additionally equip ourselves with first-aid material and rescue equipment, and possess the necessary expertise and practice for its use. We also always keep a satellite phone by our side.

Runs and Terrain

There’s a lot of variety when it comes to runs and terrain in Svanetia. It has everything from high alpine glaciers to runs below the treeline. Our landing sports are usually between 2600 and 4100 metres, and, weather permitting, we can ski runs with a total of 1800 vertical metres. We have choice of varying steepnesses; if the conditions are safe, we can make tracks in steep terrain, but we also have plenty of choices up to 30°. Around 95% of heliskiing takes place above the treeline in Svanetia. Safe and sensible skiing is only made possible when there is enough visibility. 

Helicopter & Pilots

In Svanetia we usually use a Eurocopter B3 plus AS 350 from the renowned Austrian company Wucher Helicopter. This has become the helicopter of choice for small groups for heliskiing operations worldwide. Its powerful engine will propel us smoothly and quickly to heights of over 4000 metres. It offers space for four guests, one guide, and one piolet per flight. The helicopter is on standby in the garden of our hotel. Our piolets are from alpine countries and have years of experience with heliskiing. We offer a large and exclusive heli-ski area to only 12 guests a week and therefore only have one helicopter on site. Despite having the best maintenance and a local mechanic, unforeseen defects can ground the helicopter for short periods. Any faults can usually be resolved within 24 hours.

Requirements for Guests

In order to get the most out of this week of heliskiing/heliboarding, you should have a very good skiing technique in all terrains and snow conditions. Good physical condition and endurance are especially required for long runs through the forests. This destination is for advanced skiers and snowboarders. Flory Kern – Ski Berge Abenteuer – can refuse individuals the right to participate if they hold up the group, pose a danger, or show conditional weaknesses. In such cases, these individuals may be flown back to the base during the day.

Skiing Equipment

Freeride skiing equipment (min. 95mm under the binding) and safety equipment (shovel, probe, avalanche beacon, and airbag backpack) are compulsory. Safety equipment, including a Scott Alpride avalanche backpack, can be hired from us free of charge. A helmet is recommended. A detailed packing list will be provided approximately 30 days prior to departure. Each participant is responsible for his gear being in good and working order. Replacing or renting material in the local area will not be possible. However, we do carry a few extra pairs of ski in case of loss or damage. 

Weather

We, of course, also love to cruise through the deepest powder with the sun shining – but this requires regular dumps of fresh snow and favourable weather conditions. As in all mountainous regions, both snowy and sunny days are part and parcel of winter in Svanetia. On average there are 3 days of snowfall each week. 

Conditions

February, March and April normally offer perfect powder conditions. Both spectacular days out and down days make up two sides of the dice. In spite of generally favourable factors, heliskiing in Svanetia is dependent on weather, snow, and avalanche conditions. Uncontrollable and sometimes unpredictable forces of nature exist in the mountains. Therefore, our sport is not always perfect, which is something that we should all be accordingly prepared for. It is not possible to perfectly predict the weather and conditions in advance. The week may offer the most fulfilling skiing experience of your life, but it may also be a disappointment if the weather and snow conditions do not meet your every expectation. 

Bad Weather Days / Down Days

As with all heliski destinations, there are also days that can have very heavy snowfall or thick cloud coverage. In some cases, this could lead to unsafe flying conditions and the risk of flying would disproportionately outweigh any benefits. However, our location in Mestia has the advantage of being in close proximity to the skiing resorts Tednuldi (30 minutes’ drive from our hotel) and Hatsvali. There are four brand new chair lifts that can bring us to an altitude of 3100 metres and give us access to fantastic skiing terrain. 

Our Hotel

We will be staying at Hotel Mountain Mestia, which is a welcoming family-owned hotel. Its build was completed in 2018 and offers 20 elegant rooms. On the ground floor you will find a spacious lobby and a dining hall, and a bar. We have been completely won over by this hotel’s fantastic food, service, and cleanliness. Our helicopter will be right in front of our door. The centre of Mestia can be reached within roughly five minutes on foot.

Flying Time and Vertical Meters

We want to provide ‘a destination for riders, from riders’. That’s why we’ve even adapted our whole philosophy of flying time and vertical metres to match this line of thinking. We aim to offer you the best possible skiing experience that our package can provide. Our package includes 14 hours of flying per week (with 12 guests), which is approximately 35,000 to 40,000 vertical metres. If we exceed this limit, we can continue flying at the price of 2300 EUR per hour, which will be divided by the number of clients flying. In our package we are able to guarantee nine hours of flying per week. If we fly fewer than nine hours due to poor weather conditions, each client will be reimbursed 175 EUR per hour for the unused hours. If a guest is unable to fly due to a lack of physical fitness, sickness, late arrival, or early departure, we will unfortunately not be able to reimburse any costs.

Number of Guests and Exclusivity

We want to offer an exclusive heliskiing experience, away from mass tourism, in the spectacular mountains of Svanetia. Our trips are therefore ‘semi-private’ and only open to 12 guests a week. The clients are divided into three groups, which follow a rotating system. This means that waiting times and delays rarely occur. Each group of four guests will be accompanied by one guide, who knows the terrain very well.

The Mountain Guiding Team 2020

Most heliski trips are lead by Flory personally. Two more moutain guides from our team, that are highly experienced in heliskiing, will assist him.

The Most Important Details at a Glance

Prices in Svanetia / Georgia

The prices in Georgia are relatively low for the daily necessities. Beer in restaurants costs around 1.50 EUR and a good bottle of Georgian wine roughly 12 EUR. However, hotel prices and other tourist services are comparable in price to those in central Europe.

Tipping

It is no must, but tipping is a great way to say thank you to all the people – pilot, mechanic, guides, and hospitality staff - who helped to make a spectacular week happen.

Included in the price of 7000 EUR

  • 7 nights at Hotel Mountain Mestia with half board (breakfast buffet, packed lunch on heliskiing days, a generous dinner)
  • 7 days accompanied by a UIAGM certified mountain guide
  • 6 days of skiing accompanied by a UIAGM certified mountain guide
  • 14 hours of flight time or approximately 35,000 vertical metres (with 9 hours of guaranteed flight time)
  • A lift pass for the ski resort on down days
  • The hire of safety equipment (Avalanche beacon, shovel, probe, Scott Alpride avalanche airbag system)
  • All necessary flight and border permits for the heliski operation
  • All local transfers, such as from and to Batumi airport

Not Included

  • Travel from central Europe to Batumi with Turkish Airlines – from 450 EUR
  • Activities not listed in the program 
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages 
  • Additional flight hours (2300 EUR per hour, divided by the number of those flying)
  • Travel and cancellation insurance

Travel Preparations

Meeting Requirements and Fitness Level

A realistic self-assessment and an appropriate fitness level is required to join our trips. In order to enjoy a long day of skiing and to reduce the risk of injury, it is important to get in shape and possess a good level of fitness.

Travel Requirements

EU citizens, as well as Swiss nationals, do not require a visa. A valid passport is sufficient.

Current Country-Specific Information, Vaccines and Health

Please contact your own ministry of foreign affairs for current information about your destination.

 

Travel Insurance

Please note that there is a potential risk of injury on skiing trips. In addition to travel cancellation insurance, comprehensive medical and accident insurance that cover the costs of search and rescue, as well as transport costs, are imperative. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are insured before departure.

Comprehensive medical and accident insurance that covers potential costs of search and rescue operations as well as any medical costs is mandatory for all of our trips abroad.

It is required that you state this information during registration in our registration form in order to ensure 24h emergency assistance. 

Links to Insurance Companies:

Please also check your credit card policies as it is possible that these already include insurance.