So, the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming… and all that summertime-is-coming jazz. But before you put your gnarly six-toed skier feet in flip-flops, you should realize the beautiful thing about this big earth is that it’s always winter somewhere. Put a heli trip to Chile on your radar, and check out Stellar Adventure Travel, an insider-only op run by former Olympian and ski-cross pioneer Reggie Crist.
If you haven’t heard of it, you’re not alone: Crist doesn’t advertise or market his operation—his clients come to him solely based on word of mouth. In fact, his contact info isn’t even listed on his website. His heli-op business grew organically from his media venture: After decades of being in front of the camera as a pro athlete, he turned to making films with athletes for destinations and brands. Eventually, he had enough friends who wanted to come shred with him on his shoots that he decided to open an adventure travel arm of the business. This unique model gives guests a star-studded backdrop—and killer photos—for their heli adventure.
“Combining media and guests is an elevated experience,” Crist says. “We’ll have our film crew go out with the athletes first thing in the morning, and we’ll go open up aggressive terrain with the experts. When I go back after breakfast to pick up the guests, I know exactly where I’m going [to take them skiing] and I have way more confidence because I’ve already been there. Guests get into more extreme terrain that way. Then we’ll turn the cameras on them, and they’ll get the best ski photos of their lives.” Crist’s media credential also helps to make Stellar more affordable than most, allowing him to secure lodging deals that he passes on to his clients.
At Stellar, they also take the group dynamic very seriously, sometimes even refusing clients if they think they won’t mesh with the group. “You can’t just throw in a ‘random’ to the group,” says Crist. “Part of my formula for success is creating groups that are compatible.” Some clients want to stay in Santiago, have fancy dinner and fly from the top of a skyscraper each day. Some are budget-conscious and want their trip to be all about the skiing. “Talk to me, and we’ll figure out your trip.”
Despite the selective groupings at Stellar, Crist prides himself on personal relationships with local business owners that he’s cultivated for decades, which means clients get to experience Chilean culture in a uniquely grassroots manner. “We go have an asado at my buddy’s house whose family owns the winery, and they roll out the red carpet for us,” he says, alluding to just one of the many experiences you can expect when booking with Stellar.
Adventure seekers looking to extend their winters and return home with stunning imagery of their South American ski exploits; look no further than Reggie Crist’s Stellar Adventure Travel.
Logistics: Guests can either stay in Santiago, where there are a multitude of options for dining and nightlife, or in Valle Nevado, where skiing huge lines all day is the priority. Crist has three helis at his disposal, which means he can host up to 12 guests. All guests fly into Santiago International Airport, where Stellar will meet you and shuttle you to Valle Nevado or your hotel.
Dates: The seven-night, eight-day skiing packages run Aug. 2–9, Aug. 9–16. The five-night, six-day skiing packages run Aug. 13–18.
Terrain: Like other heli-ops, Stellar has access to huge, untouched 5,000-foot lines around Valle Nevado. Unlike other heli-ops, Stellar has the advantage of opening up more extreme terrain with pro skiers before guests are even awake for breakfast, so the guides feel more confident taking clients to higher angle terrain.
To book: Contact Reggie Crist.