Day 1 of Heli-skiing in Cordova, Alaska 2012

 

 

What a sick day!

Today has been a day where I care about nothing, but what is ahead of me.  Heli-skiing in Alaska.

It is mind-numbing to think that I would ever make it to Alaska once in my life, let alone twice in one year!  First traveling to Haines, Alaska on the original The Most Epic Trip and now we are heli-skiing with Points NorthHeli-Adventures thanks to Columbia Sportswear. (#OmniTen Team)
The first day of shred we hiked the “Backyard” of Points North Heli, so I was ready to get in the chopper.  For that article, check it out from Gina Begin here.
Heli-skiing is amazing, but heli-skiing in Alaska is a whole other ball game.  It would be like watching the Cleveland Cavs with Lebron versus watching them with Kyrie Irving.  Sorry had to throw in the Cleveland sports analogy.  Anyway, the day was freakin’ incredible.  The powder was incredible with several face shots traveling down glacial peaks.  Oh I guess I forgot to mention that before, yeah, we were shredding on glaciers.
We had 7 runs on the day all at an area called The Worm.  We hit runs called Lower Guilt, Upper Guilt, Pilot’s Perch, Three Hotties, and The Tube.  All were powder filled but left us taking on different obstacles and challenging each of us.  I can’t say that I had a “bad” run today.  (Go figure?!)

 

How heli-skiing works is this…

There are 3 helicopters.  4 groups to each helicopter.
The first ride from base camp is 10 minutes where they drop you off at your first Landing Zone (aka LZ) above where you will drop in to shred.  After you get to the bottom of the run, you hit another LZ on the mountain where you wait for your heli to pick you up and go to your next LZ to shred.  The heli rides after the first takeoff are only about 2 minutes.  You repeat this until about 4:00pm.  Then have another 10 minute ride back to base.
One of the LZs on mountain
The crew we had was perfect.
Jessica, Co-owner/Guide
Duncan in the blue and Will in the black n white
Duncan Sisson, our guide, was at the helm with Gina, Will, Murray, and myself following lead.  We also had the pleasure of shredding with the co-owner/guide, Jessica Sobolowski-Quinn.  What I can say about both Duncan and Jessica is that they are professionally fun.  They rip hard, share laughs, powder smiles, and sick pow stashes while at the same time making sure that everyone in the group is safe.  Having them around makes it really easy to feel at ease and slash turns in full force.  When I first heard about this trip, I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous about it.  Avalanches are very real out here.  The idea of getting caught in an avalanche is not my idea of extreme fun.  Once you get on a the mountain, the guides take you to terrain they think you can handle based on past experiences.  Once they figure out where you stand skill-wise, they know exactly how to have a perfect day.  That is what we had.  A nice warm-up, to something that pushed us a bit, and a nice finish with some rolling pow.
Left to right: Gina, Murray (Behind Gina), Jessica
The snow itself was so powdery soft.  The day before we got slammed with a storm that spanned all day.  It covered up lots of tracks but still left some ghost tracks.  It didn’t matter though; we hit fresh lines the entire time!
The temperature started off cold and remained cold in the shade.  The sun raised the temperature what seemed like at least 10 degrees.  Overall I never got that cold, just a little bit in the morning when we were waiting to get picked up at an LZ.
Untouched freshies
The lines that we did hit were some quad burners.  After getting the vertical info from Gina (3000-4000 ft) I quickly realized why I was so tired after one run doing nearly double what many front country ski resorts offer.
To be honest, it is tough to put into words what I experienced today.  I have so many emotions: excitement, nervousness, anxiety, happiness.  The only way you will really know what I am talking about (ie sick powder, breath-taking scenery, great people), is if you try it for yourself.  Trust me, it is totally worth it.
View from the helicopter
 Oh and by the way, when you come to Points North Heli, they serve you the most delicious food.  It is like a 5-star meal!  Powder and food fit for kings!

 

Below is what it’s like to ride in a helicopter for heli-skiing. Shred videos to be posted later!

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