Utah to Greenland & Beyond
Powderbird is built on the idea of sharing our passion for the mountains.
For 45 years, we have been traveling in Utah’s backcountry with skiers and snowboarders from around the world. Back in 1973, operating as Wasatch Powderbird Guides, we started our heli-skiing operations in the dirt parking lot of Alta Ski Resort. We had a single aircraft and a small group of individuals with big passions for adventure. Today, the adventure still continues. Powderbird has expanded its operations to offer our guests two convenient facilities located at the base of Snowbird Resort and in Park City, Utah. Powderbird also has multiple high-performance aircraft, a team of world-class guides and heli-skiing operations around the world.
Whether you are interested in our world famous Utah operation, exploring the arctic mountains of Greenland or joining us on one of our discover destinations abroad; Powderbird has the team and the experience to make your powder dreams a reality.
Are you interested in heli-skiing with Powderbird?
If you have a question about heli-skiing with Powderbird, we welcome you to read our FAQ.
Safety & Community Focused
Powderbird makes safety a priority.
Our goal is to minimize your risk while maximizing your day in the backcountry. We strive to safely combine all the elements of heli-skiing while providing you with the best skiing or snowboarding experience possible.
All of our guests are provided safety equipment issued by Backcountry Access which includes: an airbag pack, beacon, shovel, and probe. Each morning our guests are trained in the basics of avalanche safety and how to use their safety equipment. After orientation, our guides prepare for the day by picking appropriate runs based off of each group’s ability level and current snow conditions.
Prior to the arrival of our guests, our guides and forecasters arrive early in the morning to discuss the current snowpack, avalanche conditions, and aviation considerations for each day’s adventure. When you climb aboard and head into the backcountry, rest assured that our team is there for you and will make every effort to ensure the best possible experience
Stewardship and avalanche mitigation assistance.
Our passion for the mountains goes beyond providing remarkable heli-skiing experiences for our guests. As a company, it is our goal to promote stewardship and conservation among all backcountry users that share our public lands. The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is our home, and it is our hope that through responsible operations, persistent education and skilled backcountry instruction, our guests will adopt these methods and foster safe practices throughout their backcountry careers.
In addition to guest and student education, our team provides avalanche mitigation assistance for our local ski resorts, highways, and backcountry rescue response teams. When not assisting with control work, our team can be found searching out Utah’s best snow with guests from around the world. In case of an emergency, our team is one of the leading avalanche response teams for locals in need of help outside the resort boundaries. So the next time you see us fly over, give us a wave or say hello before you drop. We are here as a friend and a resource in these lands that we love.
Get Ready to Ride
You don’t have to be an expert skier or snowboarder to ride with us, but you do need an adequate skill set and fitness level to enjoy heli-skiing. Our approach is to ensure that your experience is personal – we will answer your questions while discussing every aspect of the day in order to pick the appropriate terrain for you. Here are a few helpful links to learn more about heli-skiing with Powderbird.
If you would like to discuss a specific aspect of heli-skiing, we welcome you to call our sales team at 801-742-2800.
Helicopters & Pilots
One of the most exciting aspects of heli-skiing will be your time riding in the helicopter. You’ll feel a visceral rush when the helicopter lifts off, accelerates and descends. Unmatched bird’s-eye views of mountain crags and upcoming runs will be yours right from your seat. Best of all, the helicopter is fast, enabling you to ski thousands of vertical feet in a single day.
Offering you a truly unique flying experience.
Powderbird’s Astar helicopters are equipped with a guide and a pilot seat upfront and 4 forward facing guest seats directly behind. A configuration that provides you with spectacular panoramic views. Our helicopters are specifically suited for winter mountain flying and when paired with an experienced mountain pilot, these machines offer a truly unique flying experience.
Meet our world-class guide team.
Our guides are extensively trained to lead small-group heli-skiing expeditions to the world’s most remote areas. With years of ski guiding and backcountry experience, they’re certified in Outdoor Emergency Care and skilled in avalanche safety, helicopter safety and the science of reading snowpacks. Best of all: Our guides are all interesting and grea people to hang out with.
Rusty began working at Powderbird back when people believed the powder ski of choice was a pair of Haute Routes (that would be in 1984). During the 30+ years Rusty has worked as a guide for Powderbird, he has shared his deep passion and extensive knowledge of the backcountry with thousands of skiers and snowboarders. Going beyond Utah's Wasatch Mountains, Rusty he has escorted clients on Powderbird excursions to many exciting heli-ski destinations including Turkey, Argentina, British Columbia, and Greenland.
Rusty is our company CEO, an Executive Board Member of Heli Ski U.S. and a Level III Heli-Ski Guide. He holds an American Avalanche Institute Level III Certification. When off the slopes, Rusty stays active as a helicopter pilot, white water kayaker, and mountain biker. While he and his wife enjoy Utah's mountain lifestyle, they take every opportunity they can to travel the world together.
Kevin developed his passion for skiing as a young child, spending nearly every free day during the winter months on the slopes with his father and 4 siblings. After graduating from Siena College with a degree in economics, Kevin moved west in 1991. There he settled in Alta and began his career at Powderbird. Kevin developed his skill set as an apprentice at Powderbird and as a member of the Alta Ski Patrol. He now has over twenty years experience in the helicopter ski industry, mountain search and rescue operations, and avalanche mitigation.
Kevin is our Chief Operating Officer and director of our Greenland ski operations. Kevin is a pioneer of helicopter skiing in Greenland and each year helps train pilots there on heli-skiing protocols. He has guided and skied in Greenland, Alaska, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Turkey, Chile, Nepal, Iceland and Switzerland.
Michael “Ole” Olson
Ole is a Senior Guide for Powderbird and has 30 years of experience heli-skiing and a member of the Alta Ski Patrol. You'd think that would make him one of the old men of the operation, but Ole has more spark and fire than even the youngest guides on the crew. Guiding in Utah isn't Ole's only job. He's been on descents in Alaska, Canada, Nepal, New Zealand, Greenland, Chile, Argentina and the volcanoes of the Pacific Northwest. He was a member of Expedition Inspiration, a climb for breast cancer on Aconcagua and a member of the 2002 American Expedition of Dhauligiri. He's been on three expeditions to Denali and numerous ascents of Rainier and other northwest volcanoes.
Ole has also worked on film projects like The River Wild, Species, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic along with numerous ski and snowboard films and commercials. When he's not guiding, Ole enjoys spending time with his two daughters.
With one semester left to complete his college degree, Scott faced a very difficult life decision: He was offered a patrol job at Sun Valley. That's the ski patrolling equivalent of getting a seat on the Supreme Court. After an evening of deep contemplation at Whiskey Jacques, Scott drove south out of Ketchum, got his degree, and landed on Wall Street. Scott did pretty well, but still had a love for the mountains and deep snow. So while he did his years in the financial services business, Scott also did years of heli and expedition skiing as a guest all over the world.
In 2001, Scott joined up with Powderbird and progressed from guest to investor to guide. Scott has been spending winters in Utah for more than a decade. He continues to ski and guide with passion and love for industry.
Sure there's the 'New School'. But let's not forget that many of the pioneers in extreme and big-mountain skiing came out of the great ski racing programs around the west. Spencer rose from that tradition. He raced for the Ogden Valley Ski Foundation as a kid. Then it was the University of Utah, where he studied, worked at Alta, and skied his way to a degree in Commercial Recreation & Tourism. Once graduating, it was off to Alaska where he became a helicopter ski guide and while there, won the 1999 World Extreme Skiing Championship.
Not only does Spencer have serious big-mountain street cred, but he is also our Senior Guide and in charge of daily operations. Spencer came home from his extreme years, and has guided, taught, and shared his love of the mountain with Powderbird for more than a decade.
A native to the area, Steve grew up in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Since he was a young boy, he watched our helicopters take off from the base. Steve knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up and he has worked to make it happen. When Steve came to Powderbird, his resume, confidence, and natural way with guests made him a great fit for our crew. He patrolled six seasons on the Alta Ski Patrol and during that time, he worked on the avalanche control team in the wicked early mornings. Through this and his years of experience in EMS, Steve gained firm knowledge in the medical field.
Steve is our Senior Medical Director here at Powderbird. As a resident of Salt Lake City, you can also find Steve traveling the mountain west, hunting, biking and spending time with his family.
If you've ever explored any of the 6.1 million acres of the Adirondack Park then you'll understand how Tom was first inspired by the outdoors. In 1979, Tom went straight from Lake George, NY to Little Cottonwood Canyon where he found work at the Alta Ski Lift company. His early mountain career began when he started skinning up mountains on his tele boards. Encouraged by the surrounding peaks, Tom began rock climbing during the off-season. He spent 10 summers going straight up mountains attached to a rope. He has logged numerous Utah first ascents as a climber.
Since 1989, when Tom joined Powderbird, he focused a bit more on sharing the joy of going downhill. Today, he lives with his wife in Cottonwood Heights and is passing along his Lake George-honed water-skiing skills to his daughter.
Matt is a Grand Canyon raft guide in the summer and a Powderbird guide in the winter. That's the guiding equivalent of playing Major League Baseball and Football in the same year. Matt loves guiding because he believes that showing people amazing places, that they may otherwise not access on their own, is an honorable way to make a living. And the lifestyle is a hell of a lot of fun.
Born and raised in Virginia, Matt sought bigger mountains in Colorado. He went to the University of Colorado, then to Telluride and eventually found his way to Utah where he joined the Alta Ski Patrol. Matt is now at his current winter home here at Powderbird. Guests who ski with Matt always feel comfortable as soon as they meet him because he exudes guide ethos and confidence. Matt has figured out how to have the best of both worlds and is passionate about sharing his experience with others.
Logan began skiing as soon as he could walk. His parents both worked at Eldora Mountain Resort just outside of Nederland, Colorado. His father was a ski patroller and snow safety director and his mother taught skiing. Logan literally grew up at the daycare of the resort with lifelong friends from his high school ski team. Ski guiding is in Logan's blood and it has taken him around the world. His career includes patrolling, guiding and avalanche forecasting at Solitude, Mt Shasta, Rainier, and Denali.
Logan holds a Level 3 Avalanche Certification from the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE), is a certified Outdoor Emergency Care Provider (OEC) and Wilderness First Responder. In addition to his detailed knowledge in snow science and outdoor medicine, he is also an Aspirant American Avalanche Guide. Logan lives in Big Cottonwood Canyon with his wife and son. In the off-season, he can be found hunting, fly-fishing, motorcycling, and planning his next surfing adventure.
Do you think that the Midwest doesn't produce great skiers? Olympian Lindsey Vonn, big mountain skier Seth Morrison, and our very own Justin Lozier are all from the Midwest. There must be something about learning to ski on a 450 foot ice bump that builds serious skiing character. Justin's character took shape in the Midwest, but was fully formed in the Intermountain west. He spent his formative years exploring the back and side country around Vail before he pulled up stakes and headed for Utah.
Justin is the youngest guide on our roster. He joined us in 2009 and is a graduate of our guide apprentice program. Justin is also an entrepreneur. Following the so called "endless winter" by heading to South America during our summer months and running Patagonia Ski Tours, a ski tour operation based in Argentina.
If you want to run a great heli-skiing operation, you need great weather information. Every. Single. Day. Mike is a local meteorologist and our in-house weather expert. He has been helping us gather and analyze important weather data since 1990 when he joined Powderbird as a part-time guide. In 1995, Mike founded the Alta Weather Program to augment weather information and forecasting to support both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. The program has become a critical information source for the Utah Department of Transportation, the avalanche control crews for Snowbird and Alta, and of course, Powderbird. In the summer, Mike lives on the shores of Flathead Lake, Montana.
Jenna's curriculum vitae reads like the backcountry guiding equivalent of an Ivy League education. Originally from the banks of the Mohawk River in upstate New York, her outdoor resume began as a Jackson Hole Pro Patrol member. She has also trained and taught at the prestigious National Outdoor Leadership School and led trips for the bike tour operator Backroads traveling through the the U.S., Mexico and Europe. In addition, Jenna is a University of Utah-trained Physician Assistant and works in the neurosurgery and trauma centers at Intermountain Medical Center.
Jenna leads the Outdoor Emergency Care instruction and medical training coordination for Powderbird. Last spring she spent 31 days on the West Buttress of Denali on the rescue patrol and she has made three humanitarian trips to Haiti with a volunteer surgical team. Being the super-prepared-bad-ass that she is, Jenna typically shows up early in the morning at our headquarters so she can review the early data, forecasts, and guest lists to prep for the day.
Wes talks about mountains. Wes talks about his favorite days in the mountains, his family, and his friends. Wes doesn't say much about Wes, so we we're going to do that for him. Over his incredible career, Wes has gathered an impressive guiding and climbing resume that includes first descents in several Alaskan ranges dating back to the late 80s, numerous certificates and affiliations (CSGA, NSP Level III, Avalanche I and II) and is a Guide Member of the Heli-Ski U.S. Association.
During the summer months, Wes is an Advanced Trauma and Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Life Support and OEC private practice physician. Saying Wes is a zen-master is an understatement. This lucky guide lives in Park City where he moonlights as a Ski Patroller at Deer Valley and spends time with his smart and beautiful wife and their three handsome sons.
No Powderbird guide has been higher on any mountain than our Mr. Morris. How high is that, you ask? In May 2002, Mike stood at 29,029 feet on the summit of Everest. He'll tell you the view of Lhotse is sublime, but that he would have rather skipped the Khumbu Icefall. Born in the coastal town of Newport Beach, Mike moved to the Wasatch Front at the age of three, and proceeded to quickly become familiar with his surrounding. Mike disappeared into the hills skiing and climbing everything he could find, and when he hit legal age, he headed out of town.
Mike guided 17 years in the Grand Canyon and spent 12 seasons as a mountain guide in the aforementioned Himalaya. He's spent 23 patrolling at Snowbird, with 10 of those years as an Assistant Director. Today, Mike loves to show people his childhood backyard while heli-skiing and chasing his kids around Alta when they're not in school.
Nate's ski career began at the ripe age of 5 years old while growing up in the mountains of Steamboat Springs, CO. Before landing in Utah with Powderbird, he worked as a mountain guide in the Andes of Argentina guiding trips on Aconcagua. He also worked part time in snow safety at Snowbird where he assisted with avalanche control.
In the summers, Nate works as a mountain bike and river guide. When he's not working, Nate enjoys rock climbing. Nate also carries credentials as a Wilderness First Responder and holds a Level 2 Avalanche Certification from American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE). He is also looking forward to teaching his son how to ski.
Patrick started with Powderbird Helicopter Skiing at the beginning of the 2015/16 season. He moved to Utah from Wyoming after spending 15 years skiing throughout the greater Teton area. During his time in Jackson, Patrick worked as a backcountry guide for the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, as well as a winter guide for Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. Patrick is originally from New England where he received a B.S. in Recreation Resource & Ski Resort Management from Lyndon State College, worked as a ski patroller at Burke Mt ski area in Vt. and long ago, as a ski instructor at Mt Southington in Ct.
Patrick guides for Powderbird and in the early season is an instructor for the American Avalanche Institute. He's a professional member of the American Avalanche Association, has taken the AAI Level 3 Avalanche Course, the AMGA Ski Guide Course, has an OEC medical certification, is a guide member of Heli-Ski U.S.. Patrick also has a private pilots license and has commercial helicopter pilot training. In his down time, Patrick enjoys spending time with his family and as much time as he can in the mountains.
Patrick started skiing at the age of 3 years old in Alta, UT. Patrick has his Level 3 training with AAI and is also an OEC wilderness first responder. In addition to being a guide for Powderbird, Reddish guides for a snowcat operation in the Western Unitas and is a member of the snow safety team at Snowbird. In his free time, Reddish guides in South America, Nepal, and Africa between film jobs. He works as a cameraman for action sports shoots with RedBull Media House, Freeride Entertainment and others. He is currently enjoying watching his teenage son cut his teeth as a big mountain freeskier.