Heli skiing is the ultimate ski experience. Sure, there are “heli-quality” mornings at big-vert resorts when the canyon’s closed. But if you’ve got a real powder problem, the only true fix comes with a whiff of aviation fuel. Our advice: Alaska has the rad terrain; B.C. is more reliable. Pray for gray skies if you like tree skiing; sun if you like the mellow high-alpine, where pilots can fly only with good visibility. Put together a strong group: The guides will show you only what your weakest link can handle. Ignore the blowhards in the lodge; there’ll be plenty of cool people to hang with. And be ready to ski—150,000 vert in a week is easy with a Bell 212 waiting at the bottom of every untracked run. You can’t do that in a cat.
Fischer has gone to great lengths to lighten up the 94-mm Watea, milling out parallel channels in the core, then filling them with reinforcing carbon-fiber I-beams. Then it gives the tip a unique shape—a 3D prow like the hull of a speedboat—the better to slice through soft snow. The result: The Watea 94 was No. 1 for Flotation and No. 2 in Crud Performance. As testers pointed out, there are quicker and more energetic skis in the category, but the Watea loves cruising in long, fast arcs on the groomed while waiting for the next powder day. “Fun at high speeds; awesome in crud; all-mountain versatile,” said Boller.
Think you’re not a very good powder skier? Don’t decide till you try the category-crushing S7. There’s nothing special about the construction: A sheet of Titanal gives it just enough power and dampness; 30-degree sidewalls take a beating. The secret’s in the shape. Traditional camber and sidecut underfoot provide a comfy home base. Tip and tail are rockered and reverse-sidecut. The tip is smeary, floaty, undemanding; the tail sinks readily when you need to dump speed. The S7—No. 1 in six criteria—forgives almost any mistake; and we tested the 195 cm. Ski as aggressively as you dare; it bails you out every time. “The ultimate powder tool,” said Preston.