Helicopter skiers ride high without the hassle. They hop a chopper to the top of a mountain, then ski down the unmarked powder. No lift lines, no crowded slopes. But the lack of resort amenities—a nearby lodge and ski patrol-makes the right clothing essential. Skiwear must also be mountainwear: tough, lightweight and worn in layers for quick weather changes. And one needs lots of pockets for goggles, tools, even a Pieps, an electronic device for locating lost skiers. These chopper hoppers were photographed in the Sierra Nevadas at Toiyabe Heli-Ski, the first helicopter resort in the U.S.
Viki Fleckenstein wears a cotton shell over a down-filled suit ($750) for deep-freeze conditions; a zip-out down lining makes Paul Derflinger's parka ($320) a coat for most seasons. Both by Goldwin-America.
Toiyabe guide Kim Marx (left) checks the view from Crater Crest in a Gore-Tex suit from Marmot ($340). A Sport-Obermeyer parka ($90) with wind pants ($34) keeps the chill off Apollonia Van Ravenstein.
Drew Merklinghaus and Joe Flick (top, left) take a breather in Bodie, a ghost town near the Toiyabe resort. Drew's poplin vest and leather parka ($385) and Joe's leather jacket with zip-off sleeves ($275) are by Robert Comstock. A down parka ($310) from Head Sports Wear warms Nancy Thoreson for the 'copter ride up, but she sheds it to ski down in a suit ($210) with a pocket for a Pieps. Serac's reversible vest ($110) and wind pants ($62) keep Nancy's powder dry, while Apollonia stays warm in a mesh-lined Serac jumpsuit ($195). Her hat and fanny pack are from Panhandle Knits by Serac. Joe (far right) jumps for joy in a suit with five pockets ($225) by Head Sports Wear.
The snow won't bother Joe (above) in his Demetre pullover ($130), made of boiled wool to shed water, and stretch pants ($135) by Roffe. Erik Giese takes a gate in Roffe's flashy nylon pullover with stretch inserts ($120) and padded, wool-nylon pants ($180), while Paul gets set to schuss in his Sport-Obermeyer vest and wind shirt with insulated sleeves ($98).
Drew (above) does a backscratcher in an insulated pullover with stretch inserts ($110) and bib pants ($120) by Breezin' Performance. It's back-to-back powder suits from Roffe for Toiyabe Heli-Ski owner Jack Scantlin and Viki; his ($130), hers ($110). Apollonia's fitted parka ($50) by Monika Tilley for Levi Strauss has an elasticized waist to keep the powder out.