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Thread: Heli Skiing!

  1. #1
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    Cool Heli Skiing!

    Ok so we have the best heli skiing in the world right here in our backyard. Unfortunately I have not been able to go YET. Still on my wish/dream list but not too far out of reach. I'd love to hear stories of anyones heli skiing backcountry adventures! Hopefully it won't be long and I can share mine.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don’t have one, you’ll probably never need one again

  2. #2

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    I haven't been either, probably its the cost as much as anything. But I think I'd pick a vendor who has cat skiing as well as heli skiing. some days the weather is down, or the light is flat making the cat skiing an attractive alternative.

    You're right Alaska has some great mountains and snow options for skiing and I kick my rump for not making it out the door to go heli-skiing but then again, its not cheap. Where's my rich uncle when I need him LOL.

  3. #3

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    Valdez area, Currently there are five operators beginning around the 1st week in March-Mid May but it ain't cheap. Many of the operators book by the week/group. only one that I know of does per run Alaska Back Country Adventures ABA, based at the foot of the Worthington Glacier. The operators down there are H2o, Valdez Heli Guides,ABA, Rendevous Guides and Valdez Heli Camps all hav web sites that are worth checking out. One thing I did last season spring, was some road runs in the Thompson pass to get a feel for things, once we hiked and the other time we utilized snowmachine to get some runs in. By far the skiing in that area is amazing whether heli or whatever, its an eye opener.

  4. #4
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    Its $750/ hr for the bird in Juneau vs. $2-3K/hr in Valdez. Plus in valdez they drop you off in zones that can esily be reached via foot or snomobile quickly, in other words waste of money (might as well buy a sled for $7k then a week of heli skiing)
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  5. #5

    Talking Heli Skiing

    Hay AK

    I to dream of being able to afford the life of a Heli-Skier. I spent a number of years working at a ski area in Montana and always dreamed of the Heli experience. That $700 a day is the real problem! Last year my wife got tired of hearing me whine about Big mountain skiing and she bought me a day of Cat skiing in Girdwood. Not quite the Heli experience but real close and less that $200 a day!

    We did in excess of 20,000 vertical that day because we had a well matched group of experienced skiers who wasted very little time pointing them down hill. It was a great experience and the pow was almost endless, best of all it was cost effective for those of us on a budget.

    Get out there and enjoy!

    Walt
    www.northwestalaska.com
    Your best bet in rental camps and inflatable in all of NW Alaska

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by northwestalska View Post
    Hay AK

    I to dream of being able to afford the life of a Heli-Skier. I spent a number of years working at a ski area in Montana and always dreamed of the Heli experience. That $700 a day is the real problem! Last year my wife got tired of hearing me whine about Big mountain skiing and she bought me a day of Cat skiing in Girdwood. Not quite the Heli experience but real close and less that $200 a day!

    We did in excess of 20,000 vertical that day because we had a well matched group of experienced skiers who wasted very little time pointing them down hill. It was a great experience and the pow was almost endless, best of all it was cost effective for those of us on a budget.

    Get out there and enjoy!

    Walt
    www.northwestalaska.com
    Your best bet in rental camps and inflatable in all of NW Alaska
    Cat skiing out of Girdwood. Did you go with Chugach Powder Guides? Don't they do Heli and cat?
    Where did you work in Montana? I'm from Missoula and learned how to ski 37 years ago at SnowBowl. Also skied Big Mountain way before all the new lifts and runs on the backside. Lost Trail Powder Mtn. 70's, 80's and 90's. Skied Alyeska 2 weeks ago after spring break and it was sunshine, good snow and no crowds.

  7. #7

    Red face CPG

    Yes I went with CPG's

    I was the Rental/Repair shop manager at Lost Trail for 3 years in the late 90's. I was there as the Grassers did the Saddle Mt. Expansion. I was able to do a ton of cat skiing in that area before Lost Trail cut the new runs. I also was a backcountry Biologist with the FS in Wisdom MT. during that time period doing fire prediction work in the west Big Hole Mts. Great job but no pay.

    Walt

    www.northwestalaska.com
    Your bets bet in Camp and Inflatable rentals in all of NW Alaska

  8. #8
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    Hey Walt,
    Nice to me another Montanan or former Montanan. Last time I skied at lost trail was in 91. If we didn't have much snow at the Bowl we could usualy always count on LostTrail. A couple years ago the NSP Magazine had a big write up on the Patrol there. Patrol of the year.

    Might have to consider that cat sking. Just once though I'd like to step out of a heli on the top of a mtn.

    Later

    Perry

  9. #9
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    Default CPG

    I've been to 3 of those Teton Gravity Research ski/snowboard premieres that they show at UAA every year. At one of them, a buddy of mine won a free day of CPG heli-skiing. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't a skiier/boarder, so, he gave it to our friend for the price of the movie ticket ($10). Our friend in turn split the ticket between us all; lowered our price $150 each! So, we went with CPG in mid March...2005. It was a BLAST! However, it all depends on the weather...and we had the clearest/windless day you can have in southern AK.

    They were very professional and we always felt safe (despite the massive Avalanche one of the guides created...they taught us to ski right through where the Av slid...and we did and nothing else happened). We also covered a little more than 20,000ft vertical. The one thing I didn't like was the fact that they charged us a little extra for going over 20,000ft of vert...other than that, they had a hot lunch flown out to the middle of a mountain for us and were very friendly. It was, without a doubt, the coolest day of my life (most meaningful was my wedding - I love you Allison).

    I hope you all get a chance to go...with whatever company you chose!

  10. #10
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    Red face heli ski

    i am not sure that the best heli ski is in ak., but it is among the best. valdez heli ski and chugach powder guides get most of the press. bring a video camera in a chest pouch. you will get great video.

    i skiied 110,000 vertical feet in one week with c.m.h., canadian mtn. holidays in n. b.c..

    for good stories. i watched 2 guys get swept away by an avalanche right in front of me. they got buried up to their chins and were stuck out of the snow like 2 buddas. luckily, i had direct radio comm to the heli pilot and the guide, via 5 watt motorola v.h.f. radios that i had brought. got the freq. in advance of the trip and had the radios programmed for it. wow, what a lifesaver. bring extra radio battery and radio chest rig.

    there are so many people to go to c.m.h. they now want a $25,000 interest free bond to be bought from them, in order for you to pay them and then go skiing. rediculous.

    the food was great. one dr. on the trip brought his mistress. another dr. l.o.l.

    i think my thighs got 2" larger in one week. even more than going sheep or goat hunting. they would fly a hot lunch out to the glacier each day and they could take back 3 people in the bell jet ranger.

    i sat next to a canadian guy who was left inside the tree line over night after being separted from the group. survival gear in a pack with a shovel is a smart way to go.

    my friend that invited me on the trip survived 2 helicopter crashes with c.m.h.. there is risk to this and not just falling into the cravase.

    goood things to pack;

    titanium or plastic collapsible shovel
    dry synthetic shirt
    extra pair of socks
    v.h.f. survival radio
    v.s. 17 panel, mini
    strobe
    signal mirror
    matches, fire starting gear
    bivy sack
    extra food and water/camelbak
    extra set of glove liners
    balaclava
    headlamp
    knife, folding
    ear plugs/ ear muffs-electronic
    helmet
    first aid kit (the guides was woefully lacking)
    repel harness and locking carabiner/s

    we had one guy catch a run away ski in his face. a lot of blood. not much of a first aid kit to work with.

    try to keep the pack compact and light weight as it will wear you down as the day goes on.

    be safe.

  11. #11
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    Default Heliskiing in Northern BC

    I am not sure about heliskiing in AK, but there is an excellent heliskiing outfit in north-western BC called Last Frontier Heliskiing. They operate out of Bell 2 Lodge on the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy, and also out of the Ripley Creek Inn in the town of Stewart.

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    Default Heliskiing Operators..

    I've spent a little bit of time putting together a list of heliski operators (http://www.heliskipowder.com). I've added a google maps mash-up of all the different locations.. and there are a whole bunch in AK. Not nearly as many as in Canada though.

    I've spent some time with Valdez Heli Ski Guides (admittedly 6 years ago) and they did an awesome job. Driving from Valdez to the helipad in Thompson pass got a little trying after a while.

  13. #13

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    Still on the Wish List! Got to save a little more for that one. Did get 2 feet of fresh with just my wife and myself Cat-Boarding 2 weeks ago.

  14. #14

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    It's been a few years (prices have gone up) but we used to do annual heli-days out of Juneau. There were 2 important things that worked in our favor: 1) the mountains on the Juneau ice field are very close - some literally 10 minutes; and, 2) the heli operators didn't charge us for standby time - only for the time we were actually flying. With these conditions, we'd get in several *very* high quality runs.

    So we'd get 4 guys together and plan on buying an hour's worth of time. In those days, it was $150 apiece. Sure, it was a splurge, but we were all bachelors at the time so what the hell? We'd wait for a perfect day, usually end of April/first of May then go for it.

    Oh man, we had some stellar days. A couple times, we'd turn it into a day-long affair: we'd go up, ski until we burned through most of our flight time, then send the bird home, leaving us on the ice field. We'd hike to do another run, then find a comfortable spot to sit down, open beers and smoked salmon, and just hang out in the sunshine until the afternoon when we'd get picked up.

  15. #15
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    CPG works great for Cat skiing, especially with the new cat. I'm not getting any heli time this year, or haven't yet. Summer toys and babies are the staple this year. Next year should improve. I'll get a couple more days of cat skiing in now that the sun's out more. I was supposed to drive cat for them this year but the economy isn't helping business.
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  16. #16

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    Haines is not as popular as valdez (which I think is a plus) and offers great heli skiing. The TGR guys as well as guys from a number of other outfits like warren miller, standard snowboard, absynthe films ext... all ski and film in haines. Its a great trip.

    Sean Dog is legendary, and there is another outfit as well. Make sure to get a burger at 33 mile.
    Alaska Fishing Forums : They are my addiction!

  17. #17
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    I have worked as a heli-guide out of Valdez for the last 2 winters and would be happy to field any questions.

  18. #18
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    "Plus in valdez they drop you off in zones that can esily be reached via foot or snomobile quickly, in other words waste of money (might as well buy a sled for $7k then a week of heli skiing)"

    Really!? I would love to see you access the terrain we are in by foot or machine. Shouldn't talk smack about stuff you don't know...

  19. #19
    Member L. G.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HainesAKFisherman View Post
    Haines is not as popular as valdez (which I think is a plus) and offers great heli skiing. The TGR guys as well as guys from a number of other outfits like warren miller, standard snowboard, absynthe films ext... all ski and film in haines. Its a great trip.

    Sean Dog is legendary, and there is another outfit as well. Make sure to get a burger at 33 mile.
    I did my first Heliski trip in Haines at the end of March this year. I've skiied in Alaska for 32+ years. This was with a group of J-town folks. Took the FVF - something like a 2.5 hour run.

    TGR was there filming.

    Met Sean Dog. He's pretty much a family man now.

    Pretty good snow up high. Up to my armpits in couple of places when I laid it over pretty good.



    Good group of folks. The best women I've ever skiied with.

    The chopper ride was worth 1/2 the price of admission.



    Some BIG MOUNTAIN runs for sure.



    Yup, the Roadhouse it a good one. Didn't try the 33-mile burger tho . . .


  20. #20
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    Default AK vs BC

    Is this forum still active?

    The reason is I have never been heliskiing before, but am planning a trip for this upcoming year - 2010. From what I've found online, there are nine operators in AK (that have websites at least). They are listed below.

    I have many questions, and can't find answers to all of them online. I want to hear from people who have actually done it.

    So this is a one time shot for me, what are my chances of having a weather day? What are my wait times between runs? How to I ensure that I ski difficult terrain, which is the sole reason for coming to Alaska?

    Chugach Powder Guides Points North Heli-Adventures Inc. Valdez Heliski Guides Alaska Rendezvous
    http://www.arlinc.com
    Alaska Heli Skiing http://www.alaskaheliskiing.com/
    Alaska Backcountry Adventures H20 Guides - Dean Cummings Valdez Heli Ski Camps Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures


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