The moment you climb into a helicopter, you kiss your sense of detachment goodbye. It doesn’t matter if you once considered helicopters loud and excessive; doesn’t matter if you thought flying to a backcountry summit was somehow “cheating.” No, sir. Once your plexiglass bubble lifts off the deck, you’ll love heli-skiing. Heck, just boarding a helicopter—ducking under the blades, striding purposefully against the rotor wash, resembling a world leader with a G8 summit to attend—feels privileged.

Sadly, untold thousands of skiers and boarders still haven’t tried it. They believe themselves unworthy to try backcountry snow. Which may have been true once, however, these days boards make intermediate skiers experts, and experts become ski gods.

Some heli-ski virgins wonder if customers actually leap out of helicopters with their skis on. It’s actually more civilized than that. The heli-skiing operation establishes landing zones (LZs) in advance. The pilot sets the skids down in a safe place on the snow, the guests step out, the guide retrieves their skis and poles, gives the pilot a thumbs-up, and the heli shoots off into the wild blue yonder. The peak becomes startlingly quiet and pristine again as guests click into their bindings. Then, the reward: skiing down virgin fluff to the lower landing zone.

Jet fuel-assisted ascents promise untold ski descents. On a typical day at Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing (MWHS) in Blue River, British Columbia, you might ski 20,000 vertical feet of gloriously open glaciers before lunch. A few years back, in fact, Swiss freeski star Dominique Perret came to MWHS and set the stunning record of 264,000 vertical feet skied in a day—akin to 76 top-to-bottom laps at Vail Ski Resort!

Rotor recreation has existed for half a century now, since Austrian immigrant Hans Gmoser began whup-whup-whupping BC’s Bugaboo Mountains in 1965. Yet operators are still imagineering fun new twists on the concept.

Shredding Icleand, for instance. Exclusive Resorts Members traveling to the Eleven Experience’s Deplar Farm will relish “summit-to-sea descents” from the Troll Peninsula’s mountains to the storm-fattening Atlantic Ocean. At Deplar Farm, sunset may occur well after dinner time. This means your appetizer may be untracked powder, steep couloirs, and face shots of Arctic maritime snow. Then, the floor-to-ceiling windows in the lodge mean you can sip a cocktail and gaze out at the tracks you just laid down. According to Steve Banks, director of mountain guide operations, “Long daylight hours allow us to choose the best time of day to ski given the weather and snow conditions.”

In Alaska, Black Ops Valdez last year paired with Alaska Tidewater Logistics on an ingenious method for accessing the ginormous Chugach Mountains: basing from Tidewater’s 68-foot boat, which features a helipad on the top deck, next to the hot tub. I joined Black Ops for the inaugural heli-skiing voyage of the boat, and it was sublime. One morning, a humpback whale breached less than a hundred feet away. I was lucky enough to scope the Northern Lights one night, and was convinced the dancing, squiggling reds, greens, and blues of the Aurora Borealis herald astronomy’s finest work.

Helicopters—bar none, the best way to scoot through the wilderness—can rock your world in summer, too. The company Hans Gmoser founded, Canadian Mountain Holidays, conducts dozens of heli-hiking tours in which customers amble among immense glaciers and towering peaks, on trails that see more mountain-goat traffic than the human kind. CMH choppers can even fly you to a private via ferrata and zip-line course. And no one who takes a scenic flight above Glacier National Park or the Grand Canyon will ever forget it.

These days, heli-assisted recreation portends a hot travel trend. Witness the emergence of Heli, a two-year-old company that provides a clean, intuitive interface for adventure travelers looking to book their next vacation. Co-founders Andy Culp and Brock Strasbourger previously worked in emerging markets and had an abiding passion for heli-skiing. They wanted to build something they were truly excited about and saw a void in heli-skiing booking and online discovery capabilities.

For instance, instead of being stuck with random people in your group, heli customers can tap into the social component of the platform and build customized trips for friend groups and approved ski partners.

“Heli-skiing does not have to be an advanced or scary endeavor,” said Heli spokesman Sam Coffey. “There are myriad options to fly in a helicopter to access unforgettable ski and snowboard runs that don’t marginalize intermediate skiers.” Heli is succeeding, he said, because true adventure travelers don’t need to acquire additional material things. “More and more, people want to collect experiences and memories.”