Dark Side of the Mont – Heli Boarding in Italy

Get to il chopper! Heli boarding on the Italian side of Mt Blanc. Photo: Ahriel Povich

As the ultimate backcountry experience, heli-boarding remains at the top of most riders’ to-do lists. Often it’s either prohibitively expensive or just plain illegal, but if you’re looking in the right places it might be easier than you think. On a late-season mission to Courmayeur, Stephan Maurer and David Bertschinger Karg found that good things come to those who wait.

Words and photos by Ahriel Povich, from WL issue 111.

When most people think of Western Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc, they usually associate it with Chamonix. However, the famous French town that hosted the very first Winter Olympics is really only half of the story. The massive mountain range stretches right into Italy’s Aosta Valley, where the people are more laid back and heli-boarding is legal. Yes, some of the locals have a strange attraction to rhinestones and a bad habit of rocking Speedos, but don’t think for a second that the riding is for pussies. With an average of around a hundred deaths per year, Mont Blanc has the dubious honor of being one of the deadliest mountains on the planet.

The possibility of adding a couple of snowboarders to that statistic was pretty much the furthest thing from my mind when I called Stephan Maurer and David Bertschinger Karg (aka DBK) and proposed a heli trip to northern Italy.  They were busy filming for German über-production company Isenseven’s twelfth movie, A Way We Go and were already sitting on a lot of backcountry freestyle footage.  Still, the Swiss duo was stoked on the possibility of finishing off the season with a few heavy lines in an exotic location.

Read more here about what Heli Boarding is and where to go. 

DBK and Stephan Maurer in ‘A Way We Go’