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Georgia – Heliskiing Svanetia 1 Coucasus
February 17, 2018 - February 24, 2018
Dear Skiers and Snowboarders,
welcome to one of the best Heliski spots!
We are always in search for new and great Heliski destinations all around the globe. In 2008 we did a scout trip to an incredible place, which is not far away from central Europe. The place is called Svanetia, in the heart of the Caucasus Mountains on the Georgian territory. Unfortunately after our first trip to that region political instability made further trips almost impossible. Meanwhile the situation has gone back to normal, even several local projects are set up to increase tourism in the country. So the idea of heading back to the “pearl of Caucasus” and establish a Heliski destination here with highest standards in quality and safety came into our minds. Now in 2018 we will go into our fifth season in the incredible mountains of Svanetia. This is skiing at its best inbetween the highest peaks of Europe, rising more than 5000 meters into the sky. 1800 square kilometers of stunning skiing terrain is just ours. While we still ski dry and deep powder on the more than 30 kilometer long Layla Range, best spring corn can be skied on the almost endless runs below the looming peak of Ushba.
Svanetia is an unforgettable Heliski destination.
If you look for a very special Heliski experience in 2018, we are sure Heliski Svanetia will be your destination.
We are really looking forward to share with you some of the best skiing and an unforgettable time in beautiful Svanetia,
Yours Flory and the Heliski Guideteam
Some good reasons why to heliski with us in Svanetia:
• Only 4 flight hours away from central Europe
• Best skiing terrain reachable within a very short helicopter flight time
• One of the largest Heliski Spots
• Austrian Helicopter and pilots from Italy, Austria and Switzerland
• Very high snow guarantee
• Very nice hotel with famous Svan hospitality
• Small, exclusive Groups with 1 guide for 4 guests with a maximum of 12 clients and 3 guides per week
• Landscape and culture of Svanetia is just unique
• A very good price performance ratio
Information about the country
Svanetia is the most northern province of Georgia. It sets the boarderline in the central Caucasus to Russia towards the north and Avkhasia to the west. Already more than 3000 years ago people started to settle in this green and fruitful oasis in the heart of the CAucasus. The Svan people are very proud about their land and in many wars they had to defend themselves with no help from outside. Today we can still see more than 200 living towers, where they sheltered their families in various conflicts. The landscape is dominated by beautiful mountain villages in spectacular settings as well as the very thick glacier mountain range of the central Caucasus with the looming peaks of Ushba, Tetnuldi and Jangi Tau rising above the valley grounds. No wonder Svanetia has been anounced as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today the population of the 5000 square kilometer sized republic is roughly 7.000 inhabitants. Most of them are self-supportive, with small and very simple agricultures. Tourism in Svanetia is still in the very first steps, even though 7 years ago an investment program called “Svanetia revival” with governmental support has been set up. So far, the money has been invested into a new road of 120 kilometer length, reaching Mestia, the capital of Svanetia. The existing airport of Mestia has been completely renewed, the inner town has been renovated and two ski areas with brand new facilities have been installed nearby. Despite all that the number of visitors has not increased tremendously…
How a Heliskiweek / Heliboardweek in Svanetia will run for you
During our Heliski season in Svanetia, every Saturday there will be a flight from various cities in central Europe with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul to the Black Sea recreation town of Batumi / Georgia, total flight time is approx. 4 hours. From Batumi our shuttle service takes you in roughly 5-6 hours up to Mestia, the distance is 250 km. The ride will take you along the beautiful Black Sea coast to Zugdidi, from there you will enter the foothills of the Caucasus range and then following the Ingury River until you reach Mestia. With a nice welcome drink and snack at our Hotel Tednuldi we will enjoy the great views over Mestia and its enchained towers. With a nice glass of Georgian red wine we will prepare you for the week and give you all information about our daily program. Further, we will introduce you with all our safety standards and regulations. The next 6 days will be yours skiing and exploring some of the finest Heliski terrain in the highest mountain range of Europe. Like with all our Heliski trips, the focus will be on your experience and quality of your skiing rather than the sheer number of vertical meters. Our target is to show you as many different runs as possible and get to know Svanetia and its great people. Very often after a great day of skiing we ski down into one of the unique villages, where locals will welcome us to their tradition, that could be tasty bread and cheese followed by some strong Chacha, a Georgian type of Grappa.
After 6 unforgettable days of skiing the time will come to say good bye. Our shuttle bus will bring you back to Batumi, where you can relax for some days and enjoy the great climate with the first signs of spring or you fly back home to central Europe directly.
Our Base will be in Mestia, the capital of Svanetia, with its roughly 1800 inhabitants living at an altitude of 1300 meters. The very picturesque towncenter has a few shops, a bank and everything that is needed for daily life. Sure, things move a little bit slower here, traffic on the main road is not very frequent. The number of bars and restaurants is rather limited. Still after a great day of skiing we can enjoy a nice cup of coffee on the plaza of the town. Further, there is a lot to discover in Mestia, like a very nice mountain museum, also a visit of one of the towers is a must. From our hotel most of the attractions are reachable by foot in less than 10 minutes.
Your Guide Team for the season 2018
Flory is UIAGM Mountain and Skiguide, he is the founder of the company “Ski Berge Abenteuer” that is successfully running skiing and heliski trips all over the world since 1998. Sure it can be said that Flory did a lot of pioneering work when it comes to heliskiing, so he was the first taking European clients to Kamchatka, to the Khamar Davan Montains at Lake Baikal or to the remote himalayan valley of Pahalgam and in 2008 to Svanetia. Flory is always in search of new and interesting places to ski and to provide his clients very unique destinations with some of the finest skiing.
Bernd is also an UIAGM Mountain and Skiguide. Bernd has been a companion of Flory for many years. His charming humor together with his professional way of working makes Bernd a very outstanding mountain and ski guide. Bernd can´t wait to go back to Svanetia and ski again the greatest runs in one of his favorite places together with you. When Bernd is not working as a heliski guide he takes his family up into the mountains of Europe. His passion is to be outside as much has he can.
Remo is right from the heart of central Switzerland, from Engelberg. Funny enough, we are ski buddies already since 30 years. Remo is not only a very good skier and winter guide, he also works as a full time professional Mountain Guide in the summer and takes his clients through challenging alpine routes all over the Alps. Remo is also a good entertainer, especially when he pulls out an old guitar to play some great blues songs.
Matthias has a diploma in Geography and he is in love with nature and all kind of outdoorsports. He is a great Mountainbiker and rock climber, but his passion is skiing through deep powder snow! His spirit to discover new terrain and his accuracy in planning his activities are his keyskills. You can be sure he will be 100% prepared for his trip and that everything will work out smoothly.
Raphael´s father and grandfather have been mountainguides and therefore it was clear to him pretty early that he will be a mountainguide himself. With 23 years he was alread a UIAGM-mountainguide and can look back at a lot of experience already despite his rather young age. He was working as a Heliskiguide in Canada for 3 years and is an excellent skier. Besides his highly professional skills we really like his open and humorous character and we are happy to have him in our team.
Quality and safety
Quality and safety is always our top priority. Although we always try to get the best experience for our guests, we never do this by compromising your safety. Any risks, which we have an influence on, we will keep under control. But as with any activity in high alpine regions, also with heliskiing there are risks that are beyond our control. You should be aware that you have to share these risks with us, skiing in remote places on our planet. In our heliski destination in Svanetia we are far away from any rescue service, therefore we have developed our own rescue strategy. Our groups consist of a max. of 4 clients plus 1 guide. In our weeks we usually ski in 3 teams with the ratio 4 pax. plus 1 guide. In case of an incident with this strategy we always have at least 3 professional guides on spot. Beyond that we always carry extensive first aid and rescue material with us as well as satellite telephones.
Runs and terrain
The runs and the terrain in Svanetia are very rich in variety. We ski from high alpine glacier peaks down to gladed open forests. Our landing spots vary between 2600 meters and 4100 meters, depending on snow and weather conditions. If the conditions are with us runs of more than 2000 vertical meters are part of our daily skiing program. If weather and avalanche conditions do not allow to ski in the alpine regions above 2300 meters we find very nice runs below in open trees back to the lower valley floors.
In Svanetia we use a helicopter of the type B3 plus AS 350, Eurocopter. This helicopter is worldwide the most used one for heliski operations. A very strong engine will make sure that we will reach landings above 4000 meters in just a few flight minutes. This helicopter offers enough seats for 4 clients plus 1 guide per flight. In 2018 we will place the helicopter again directly in front of our hotel. Our ground staff with 1 engineer and 1 refuel person will take very good care of the helicopter and our daily operation. To keep the operation unique and exclusive, we will only operate with 1 helicopter on spot. Therefore you should also keep in mind that a technical problem of the helicopter could interrupt our skiing.
18Our Pilot team is from Sweden, Switzerland and Italy. Mats, Davide and Marco are highly professional pilots with extensive experience in flying. They have been involved in Heliskiing operations in Greenland, Sweden, Iceland and Italy, just to name some. All three of them have proved incredible flying skills over the last seasons in Svanetia. Now we are really looking forward to see them again in Mestia and to work with them during the winter 2018.
In order to be able to enjoy a heliski adventure in Svanetia to the fullest, you should have a very good skiing technique in every terrain. Good physical condition and endurance for up to 10,000 vertical meters of skiing per day are required. Heliskiing in Svanetia is reserved for the advanced freeride skiers and snowboarders, not just because of the very long runs in altitudes up to 4200 meters. Flory Kern – Ski Berge Abenteuer – has the right to not allow participants to ski if they hold up the group or show conditional weaknesses.
Material and skis
Freeride skiing equipment (min. 95 mm under the binding) and safety equipment, consisting of shovel, probe and LVS device are compulsory. All skiers will also be equipped with an avalanche safety system backpack, Scott Alpride. The safety equipment can be hired from us free of charge. It is recommended to wear a helmet. You will receive a detailed packing list from us about 30 days before the journey. Every participant is responsible that his gear is in reliable and good condition. Renting skis on spot will not be possible, although we always carry a few extra pairs of skis with us in case of loss or damage of a ski.
Weather and snow in Svanetia
Surely we also like to ski in best powder, preferably all the time. But to get good powder we also need regular dumps of fresh snow. Like in most places where Heliskiing is done, bad weather days can also be part of your trip. On average we find 2 – 3 days of snowfall within 7 days. Heliskiing highly depends on weather, snow and avalanche conditions. The situation in the mountains is characterized by forces of nature, which we mostly have no influence on. Therefore this sport is not always perfect and you should prepare for this accordingly. Heliskiing in Svanetia is skiing in high mountain regions which are not controllable. Nobody can say what you will experience during your week. It might be the most fulfilling skiing experience in your life, but it might also become a disappointment if the weather and snow conditions do not meet with your expectations. On overcast days with light snowfall we always have the possibilty to ski below 2300 meters near the treeline. But also on those days the decision about flying or not will only be taken by the pilot and the guiding team. And as I always say “no ski run on earth is worth taking a huge risk in approaching by helicopter”.
Bad weatherdays / downdays
Like in all other Heliski destinations on earth, in Svanetia there will be also days with strong snowfalls and poor visibility, where safe flying with a helicopter is not guaranteed anymore. For sure on those days our helicopter will stay on ground. Your advantage of Svanetia will come up then. Just 30 minutes away from Mestia we can ski in the newly built ski area of Tetnuldi Resort. 5 brand new chair lifts will bring us to an altitude of 3200 Meters. Perfect skiing terrain all the way down into the tree zone. Challenging and fun terrain is guaranteed. The best thing is that we do share this great place with only a few other skiers, so fresh lines straight from the lift are still to be skied in the afternoon.
Hotel Tetnuldi for sure is the best choice in Mestia. The hotel is newly built and just opened 6 years ago. All rooms meet with international hotel standards, with nice bathroom facilities and large and welcoming rooms. Further the hotel has a restaurant with delicious local food as well as international cuisine. We also have a very nice bar with a large selection of famous Georgian wines, in a spectacular setting. All information about the hotel you can find here.
Vertical meters / helitime
We would like to provide “a destination from riders for riders”. Therefore we developed our own philosophy when it comes to vertical meters or helicopter flying time. It is our target to offer you the best possible riding within our package. 14 hours of flying time are included per week with a number of 12 clients, flying in 3 rotations. This comes up to roughly 37.000 to 43.000 vertical skiing or riding meters.
If we exceed the 14 hours per week, sure we can continue to ride at the price of 2300 Euro per flying hour. When it comes to extra flying time it will be divided by the number of clients riding. In our package we are able to guarantee 11 heli hours per week, that means if we fly less than 11 hours due to bad weather etc., the unused hours will be reimbursed with 175 Euro per hour each client. If you cannot use up all your flying time due to sickness or lack of physical fitness, we are unfortunately not able to reimburse you.
Number of clients per week
We are very proud to offer you a great skiing experience in a spectacular landscape. We are not the type of company that is keen to run huge number of clients per week, for that Svanetia is too unique and unspoiled. A maximum of 12 clients per week will keep our operation nice and small and make your stay more comfortable. We are sure you will appreciate this fact.
Prices and costs in Svanetia/Georgia
Most items like food and things for daily life are relatively reasonably priced in Svanetia/Georgia. So just for example a beer can be bought at around 1,50 Euro or a nice bottle of Georgian wine can be around 12 Euro in a restaurant.
It is not a must, but a really appreciated way to say thank you for a great week to people that are involved in the operation like pilot, hotel staff, taxi driver. The amount is totally up to you.
In our package of 6700 Euro the following is included
• 7 overnights at Tetnuldi Hotel with full board (rich breakfast, packed lunch and delicious dinner)
• 7 days accompaniment by UIAGM guides of our Heli Guiding Team
• 6 skiing days guided by UIAGM guides of our Heli Guiding Team
• 14 hours of helicopter flight time, or min. around 35.000 vertical meters (11 hours of flight time are guaranteed)
• Packed lunch on heliski days
• Liftpass on downdays
• Safety equipment (avalanche device, shovel, probe, Scott Alpride avalanche airbag systems)
• All permits for the heliski operation
• All Transfers on place as well as from and back to Batumi airport on Saturday
• Premium insurance by Hanse Merkur (download PDF) containing travel medical insurance, travel trip interruption insurance, emergency insurance, accident insurance, baggage insurance. No travel cancellation insurance included! Package is only valid for the time of the trip, not extensions!
Not included in the package is
• Airfare from home port to Batumi (starts at 450 Euro)
• Activities besides our program
• Alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks in the restaurant and bar
• Additional helicopter flight hours at 2300 Euro per hour, divided by the number of guests flying (usually 12 people)
• Single room supplement 50 Euro per night
• Travel cancellation insurance approx. 239 Euro (can be obtained through us from Hanse Merkur, information here)
Regulations to visit Georgia
All citizens of the EU as well as Swiss and Norwegian citizens do not need any visa to visit Georgia. A Passport with a validation 6 months after travel is sufficient.
How to sign up for a trip to Svanetia
In 2018 we are only able to sell a limited number of seats, therefore it will be necessary to sign up as early as possible, also in order to get the spot in your requested week or together with your friends.
Please fill out the online sheet on our website carefully, press send and within the next few days we will hand you your travel documents over. Please also take notice of our general terms and conditions.