HELISKI.com Gear Interview: DPS = Deep Powder Skis? Are they the best skis for heli skiing?

Gear for heliskiers interviews continue with another stellar powder ski pioneer – DPS.  We spoke with Erme Catino and Mike “The Ski Finder” Cannon about what makes them great.

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1.  I heli-ski on the DPS Lotus 120 Pure Carbon + Nano, and they CRUSH it!  But the most amazing thing is that everywhere I go, the GUIDES want to ski them.  How did you develop such a strong reputation among the Gods of skiing as the best skis for heli skiing?

 

Nice to hear we’re in good standing with the gods—we want to make sure as we continue to grow that the sweet sirens songs never tempt us—it’s important we stay true to our core audience and our roots. I think our good standing with so many talented, life-dedicated skiers worldwide comes from resonating with DPS’ core vision: to make perfect skis worthy of those who live and breathe the sport. Our roots are ingrained in big-mountain riding. Our founder Stephan Drake has spent his life traveling the globe chasing powder in some of the most storied locations. His obsession from the start was to solve a pain point of providing the most advanced ski shaping coupled with the very best materials available. We’ve never been complacent, and never are. The ski industry is brutally competitive, and DPS is thriving for one reason: we’re obsessed with building the best skis possible for those who demand the best. We pioneered the use of aerospace carbon fiber and a sandwich construction to build skis that are 30 percent lighter than conventional skis, while being 30 percent torsionally stiffer, stronger, and more powerful. The focus is on the product and the search for deep snow, and the best skiers have sought us out. We are psyched when we see guides on our skis.

One more point regarding the guide community, particularly in Alaska and Canada. Last year, we lost our good friend, Rob Liberman, in an avalanche while guiding in Haines, AK. Rob was a passionate human, a damn good heli-guide, and a ripping skier. I think a ton of guides trusted Rob’s ski choices because of his abilities and enthusiasm. He’s part of our legacy, story, and family.  [Yes, Rob was a great guy and is missed]

 

 

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2.  The “DPS Ski Finder” is unique. Tell us how DPS matches skiers to the right boards.

 

DPS has been fitting skiers over the “interwebs” since 2005. We’re also now in over 130 of the finest brick and mortar shops worldwide, but a large share of our sales are direct through dpsskis.com. Customers respond well to the personalized attention they get from us and have peace in knowing that they are being ‘fit’ by ripping skiers. The process works as follows: A customer fills out our ski finder which is written to get a feel for the skier’s ability, preferences, background, skis liked/disliked, etc.

It is sent to Mike Cannon, DPS’ direct sales manager who oversees a small in-house team. Mike has fitted countless skiers over the Internet for over nine years. He’s typically the point of contact, and he emails and speaks with customers constantly. In addition to creating happy customers, he develops a great rapport with them. These relationships are important to us on a number of levels, it is the foundation of the ski finder—to build skis for people with a passion, and develop a family around the brand.

 

3.  What DPS skies are the best for heli-skiing?

 

For powder surfing nothing compares to the Lotus 138, it is the most evolved and tested powder ski on earth… The Spoon debuting this winter will also join the Lotus 138 in powder surfing nirvana. Additionally, and not be forgotten is the Lotus 120, the classic, charging 120mm powder pintail.

 

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4.  Compare and contrast the Lotus 120 and 138.

 

Both the Lotus 120 and Lotus 138 surf powder phenomenally well. Below are two descriptions for each individual ski to help decipher the difference between them.

 

  • The Lotus 120 is the original and often imitated 120mm class powder pintail. If you are looking for a directional charger, and are not a fan of tail rocker, there is simply no comparison. The Lotus 120’s shaping is optimized for deep snow; a 600mm tapered and rockered shovel gives the Lotus 120 early planing ability, while the flex pattern and geometry gives skiers unequaled balance and ball-of-the-foot driven powder performance. [I’m selling a pair of these in 190cm, email if interested]

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  • The Lotus 138 was the first rockered ski with sidecut ever built. The iconic shape is a freak of nature that combines our carbon construction’s unmatched reactive power and precision with featherweight lightness. Riding the Lotus 138 in deep, or even soft snow is like an entirely new sport.

 

 

Overall, the Lotus 138 has a looser feel than the Lotus 120. The 138 slarves and slides down the fall-line, where the 120 is traditionally directional in its turn shape.

 

5.  So how does the new Spoon compare?

 

The idea of the spoon is a ski that nestles the perfect balance between ‘slide’ and ‘rail’. In other words, the skier should be able to feather the ski into long, planing fall line slides; then, at will, have the ability to stand on the tail and experience a tight driving turn across the fall line. To balance both qualities, we discovered that the ski needs to feel very loose in the shovel, semi-loose in the midbody, and have a hard railing turn feel in the tail. This is crucial and will be available on the production Spoon model, debuting Winter 2012.

 

DPS is giving away a pair. Enter by Liking DPS on Facebook]

 

6.  My 120’s are 190cm… Why do you ski DPS’s so long when everyone else is on blades?

 

We offer skis for all ability levels, however, a lot of chargers wanted longer models – The Lotus 120 & Lotus 138 have 200cm and 202cm available lengths respectively. With rocker, skis may be slightly longer, but it is important to pay attention to the running length and what type of ski you are looking for.

 

7.  Your graphics are very simple. Going for retro?

 

Haha, not going for retro. Our skis are intentionally simple by design and are centered on the quiet mystery encountered during a slide across deep snow. When you ski deep powder, your mind is clear, and the skis are a direct reflection of that state of mind. For our Dreamtime Preorder (July 19 – Aug 1) — we offer special edition graphics on select models for folks wanting something a bit more.

 

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8.  Explain your two different constructions – Pure: Carbon+Nano and Hybrid: Fiberglass+Carbon+Bamboo?

 

DPS is driven to improve technology and performance through its construction. In every other sport or field outside of skiing, price stratification exists around the materials and performance of the product.

 

For example, Porsche offers an $80k 911 and a $160k 911 Turbo. The 911 is so fast it will make your jaw drop, but The Turbo is twice as fast.

 

DPS offers two performance packages. Each package is offered at a price that reflects the cost of their components. Both consist of the same award-winning shaping, engineering, and design, but consist of different materials and build process.

 

The DPS HYBRID compares favorably to any ski on the market.

 

The PURE boosts this level of sophistication and power and is an unparalleled skiing experience.

 

 

9.  Why did you decide to sell DPS directly to customers?

 

DPS was founded as a design based/grassroots company to build the perfect ski. We see the ski, skier, and ski builder as an intimately connected triangle, and by selling direct we can keep that tight-knit relationship. DPS customers are among the best skiers in the world and are technically savvy folks with an obsession for trick skis.

 

10.  Now you have retail shops, too, eh?

 

Yes, we do. The brand launched in 2005 via the Internet direct sales model. In 2008 we expanded to include a conventional retail model. Currently, DPS skis are sold in approximately 130 of the best shops worldwide in the US, Canada, Europe, Oceania, and Japan.

 

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11.  Do you consider DPS to be a boutique ski manufacturer?

 

We don’t consider ourselves to be a boutique ski manufacturer. Rather we like to think of ourselves as a leader in innovative shaping and design. Our roots are in the high-performance powder skiing culture, and we strive to build skis that are lighter, stronger, and more powerful than conventionally built skis. The boutique is one of those labels that is too limiting, especially for our vision.

 

 

12.  So DPS stands for Deep Powder Skis, right?

No, actually DPS stands for Drake PowderworkS.  [May be time for a change, I like Deep Powder Skis better……]

 

13.  What else would you like to tell heli-skiers about DPS and the best skis for heli-skiing?

We hope that you can try a pair of DPS skis on your next trip – we’re confident that you will find them to be the highest performing boards you’ve ever ridden.

 

Thanks!  And thanks for the great days on my Lotus 120’s!

tj

 

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Best Alaska Heli Skiing? Operators Debate: Valdez vs. Haines Alaska Heliskiing & Heliboarding

What is the best Alaska Heli Skiing?

Alaska heli skiing is widely varied. Geography, snow, travel, pricing models, accommodations, weather and more.  Heliski.com represents them all, and we are often asked to compare and contrast Haines and Valdez.  So we asked each of the Alaska heli-skiing operators to summarize how their areas compare to the others to find the best Alaska heli skiing. This post focuses on comparing and contrasting the locations for Alaska heli-skiing; primarily Chugach Heli Skiing vs Haines Heli Skiing.

On the map:

A: Alyeska Resort, (Chugach Powder Guides)

B. Valdez, H2O Guides, Valdez Heli Experience (formerly ‘Camps’)

C. Juneau / Haines, (Alaska Heliskiing, Alaska Powder Descents Heliskiing and South East Alaska Backcountry Adventures – SEABA)

D. Cordova (Points North Heli-Skiing)

E. Thompson Pass (Valdez Heli-Ski Guides and Alaska Rendezvous)

So Heliski.com asked the operators to compare and contrast the heliskiing and heliboarding in the Chugach vs. Haines.

Best Alaska Heli Skiing

What they said – Below are the highlights:

Sean Dog, owner Alaska Heliskiing (Haines):

“Last year was a prime example of the difference between Haines and Valdez, they were mostly wind hammered while we had powder snow for most of that same time period. The mountains here are stacked closer together so we have better protection from the wind and more terrain per square mile. The terrain in both areas are certainly similar because it’s all AK and super sweet. I just believe Haines can be more reliable and consistent due to its location and tighter valleys offer better wind protection and hold better snow, less wind can hit the surface and more shade from tighter valleys keep the snow cold and in good shape.

From Aaron Karitis, H2O Heli Guides (Valdez / Chugach Heli Skiing)

“Valdez is the best option for public/private heli skiing in the state of Alaska. With film segments over the past 7 years, Haines has been well represented and marketed. However, Haines is a toned down version of Valdez. With a priority on film crews, there have been rumblings from higher paying public and private clients and their priority when in the field. Valdez and the surrounding Chugach offer the biggest ridge lines, glaciers and runs in all of Alaska. This allows for more options and give guides the ability to find better snow quality, snow stability and terrain. That combined with the longest runs in the state, Valdez offers the best public and private heli skiing option in the state of Alaska.”

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H2O, in our favorite form

No Caption Needed, eh?

From Sunny, owner, Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures (SEABA) (Haines)

“Valdez vs Haines?

This is a tough question that gets asked often.

At any given point the snow can be better, worse or the same. So, I think it comes down to terrain and the ability to access the terrain, especially considering weather patterns.

Haines averages 68-70% fly-able to Alpine terrain, and it averages 80% fly-able to tree terrain, Valdez does not have any trees, unless you include brush.Our tree terrain has top Landing Zone’s of 3200 feet and bottom Pickup Zone’s at 1,000 feet.

We get a lot of skiing done here in Haines because of these percentages, and our tree options. The only operation in Valdez that can really compare is Rendezvous Guides because of their location on the interior side of Thompson Pass, giving them high fly rates as well, but with very little vegetation.

Also our terrain in Haines is really stacked together, meaning we can get many combinations of runs in a short window of flight time.This includes different terrain and aspect because of the proximity of runs to each other. The Tahkinsha and Chilkat Ranges have an east/west strike so that much of our terrain is protected from direct sun, especially in mid April.

We have huge vertical, 5,000 foot descents, on average we can ski 4 groups of 4 around ten runs each a day. Our record with four groups in the field per heli is 16 runs in one day by one of the groups with 3 of those runs being first descents, for a total of 53,000 vert. This is possible because of SEABA’s knowledge of the terrain in Haines, as well as sticking to our policy of not overloading our public ship.

Haines Rocks, so does Valdez, but we do have a little better weather because we are inland and if the weather is in, then we have tree terrain to work until it clears. This limits the amount of sit time for people, which they like.

All said I would choose Haines, Alaska heli-skiing based on just that.

Ski you here!”

Sunny

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Lather, Rinse, Repeat!

Cedar Dumont, co-owner Alaska Powder Descents (Junea/Haines)

As far as Southeast Alaska heli-skiing ( Haines & Juneau) vs Valdez, I first have to say that we at APD have a lot of respect for all of the Alaska heli-skiing operators..
When we started APD Heliskiing, we wanted to change a few things in the industry and one of them is to not get into our op. is better than your op.
What we believe is that all of the ops have a lot to offer it just really comes down to personal preferences and finding what suits you best.

What we have to offer is:
We are the closest heli-ski operation to the lower 48. With direct flights from Seattle you don’t have to worry missing a connecting flight or ferry.
We have the sole use of a 1 million acre US Forest Service permit for the Southern Chilkats and the Juneau ice field, no crowds or competition for lines here!
We have a rich ski community that goes back to the 1930’s that included a commercial snowcat to transport skiers. In the mid 70’s the community got together and started Eaglecrest ski area that is owned by the city of Juneau. Eaglecrest is an amazing backcountry oriented, open boundary area we utilize on weather days.
We are Juneau locals, we have built incredible relationships in our hometown and we know how to give guests the experience of a lifetime and we don’t take it lightly. Most of our guides are local as well and are proud to show off their home!
We operate out of a pristine 10 acre private waterfront lodge with heli’s out the door . No shuttles or van transfers to skiing.
When the weather does not cooperate with heli-skiing we do alternative activities with our guests. Besides skiing at Eaglecrest, we sea-kayak, whale watch, ice-climb, indoor & outdoor rock climbing, museum tours, movie theatres, bowling etc. There is always something to do and friends to do it with!
We get a little bit less sunny days, Valdez gets more windy days.
We offer the longest season of all AK heli ops. Our helicopters and pilots/mechanics are based in Juneau and fly these mountains year around. We do not have to charter a helicopter to come to our location, they are based here. We offer custom trips starting in late December up until our main operating season of February 15th- April 15th.
We offer a FULL refund on any heli time not used. You only pay for what you use!
We operate 4 groups to one helicopter. No lengthy wait times.
That is what comes to me let me know if you have any questions, hope it helps.
Talk to you soon, Cedar

Melanee Stiassny of Chugach Powder Guides (Alyeska):

“A lot of people go heli skiing for a variety of reasons. Some totally want to go somewhere remote and are willing to sit out the storm in the Lodge and wait. Others just want to ski until their legs are too tired and pray that the majority of the time spent in Alaska is in the helicopter… but definitely want good backup options for storms – they look for resort skiing and snowcat backup options. We have both options available (TML LODGE, WINTER LAKE LODGE, SEWARD are remote locations, Girdwood has resort and snowcat backup options for storm days)

There are a few ways that other operators (those in Haines included) that sell heli skiing by the run or flight time. Chugach Powder Guides sells heli-skiing by the vertical feet skied. This is an advantage to the customer since it guarantees their skis on the snow vs. airtime looking around for skiing, or short ski runs.

Another advantage here is our location in Girdwood. For our package guests we provide transportation from the Anchorage International Airport to our location. We base our operation at the Hotel Alyeska / Alyeska Resort. So on storm days there are options to ski at the resort or ski with us in the Snowcat for the day (snowcat leaves right from the Hotel). It is very easy to stay skiing no matter what the weather is doing outside. Other places may not provide transportation. They also may be more costly to get to with airplane… so although the package price they sell looks nice the cost of getting there may be higher. We are located 33 miles south of the Anchorage International Airport where all major airlines arrive.

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Our mountains are world-famous and they are dramatic and large. We are the ONLY operator in our permit area…. NO OTHER HELI OPERATORS are out there skiing the same terrain nor at the same time. There are usually competing operators in the same terrain permit area with other heli operations. Our way makes it simple for progressing through zones efficiently and making fresh ski powder runs available to each guest.

Hope this information helps you out! Please let me know if you have more questions regarding the operational differences.

See you in the Chugach”

From Kevin Quinn, co-owner, Points North Heli-Skiing (Cordova)

Alaska helicopter skiing has a lot of options. If the customer does there diligence prior to booking a trip they will find the operator that suit there needs best. The heli-skiing market in Alaska continues to grow each year with new operators showing up each spring. Currently there are now 14 different options to choose from. South East Alaska has several while most are in the South Central region.

Back in the late 80’s early 90’s Alaska helicopter skiing started in the Juneau. It ended up in Valdez do to the endless opportunities that the Chugach held. Coombs and others put the place on the map and now I can say confidently, there is no place on the planet like the Chugach. Whether you’re in Girdwood, Valdez or Cordova, it’s the Chugach. The holy grail of helicopter skiing!

Snow is the very similar in all of the locations. Just about all of the operators have a maritime snowpack. As you work your way in from the coast, you start to see more of a Continental type pack but still influenced heavily by the maritime conditions.

Bottom-line, if folks do their research properly, read forums, etc., they will find the operation that fits there needs best. Hopefully people can see through the other stuff and make and educated choice on their operator they wish choose. Personally, Cordova has been a gem for us given we are away from the 5 heli operations and 2 snowmobile operators in Valdez. We have the entire east end of the Chugach all to ourselves. Thankfully we have a very loyal following with an 85% return rate. Cordova is pretty special to us, not to mention we have a chair lift. It’s actually the oldest chairlift in North America. Additionally, PNH is a member of the United States Heli Ski Association. The US Heli Ski Association’s mission is to continue establishing (the highest) operations, guide and safety guidelines for Helicopter Skiing in the United States. Currently there are only 4 members from Alaska. PNH, CPG, VHSG and APD.

We hope to see you join us in Cordova this spring!

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Aaron Ollivier, (New) Owner

Valdez Heli Experience (formerly Valdez Heli Camps)

I’ll focus on two main aspects of the two, terrain and accessibility/ease.

In general, Haines is not as steep as the terrain you can find around Valdez. To be able to get to the more extreme terrain, you have to “punch in” a little further, if you really want to scare yourself and test your ability. In Valdez, to get on terrain that you really want to test your “pucker factor” there is more variety and it is located all over. You can go from skiing on a nice wide open 30 degree pow run on one side, and be picked up and pop over one ridge and you’re on 55 degree ramp that will make you do the pee pee dance before you drop in. I personally like the variety that Valdez has to offer a bit more, just because it’s nice to be able to have a wide spectrum of stuff to ski depending on a number of factors.

Valdez was a small fishing town before the pipeline was built. Once construction began on that, it became a boom town and experienced a lot of growth. With that came better access and generally better options to get to Valdez. After the oil spill, things have fallen off for Valdez in terms of tourism. In a recent Nov. 2011 Skiing Magazine issue, there is an article about ‘skiing could save Valdez.’ Basically, they examine the possibility of turning it into a ski town from an oil town and establish itself in that industry for the future of Valdez. Valdez’s growth has been stumped since the oil spill, and even with the town building a multi-million dollar dock to handle large cruise ships finished two years ago, only one ship has made the stop. Regardless of all that, because of the industrial activity that grew Valdez, there is better access, more heli operators, more options, more competitors and thus better deals for the skiers. In terms of skiing, Valdez has had heli-skiing longer than Haines, which means more knowledge on skiing locations/snow quality, better landing zones, etc.

Haines hasn’t been established as long and hasn’t had the infrastructure built like Valdez has. Thus, getting there is harder, having your pick of 5 different operators (like Valdez has) isn’t available, and the overall experience is typically limited to picking one heli ski company and you hope you picked the right one. Also, because the variety is more limited in Haines, you might have to fly further to find something that works for your group, which means more flying, less skiing and more money, typically. The good part about having only a couple of operators in Haines is that you have less heli’s flying around, more of a “pristine” and solitude trip. Also, you will probably find more options for first ascents because of it…pretty cool to name a run when you’re the first person to ski it!

Cheers!!

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The Late Theo Meiners

Former President/Owner Alaska Rendezvous Lodge and Heli Guides

Comparing Valdez / Chugach Heli Skiing to Haines

Valdez side of the Chugach and the Central terrain is the largest mountain chain of the coastal mountains of Alaska. There are taller coastal mountains, Mt Fairweather, however the Chugach Range is 150 miles wide and 450 miles long. It is heavily glaciated and outside Greenland and Antarctica has the longest Tidewater glaciers, and the most glaciated coastal mountains in the world. Why? Well more snow falls in winter than can melt in the summer – the accumulation zones are enormous.

The Central Chugach are dissected by the mighty Cooper River. This gigantic river drains the St Elias, The Wrangles and the Chugach Mountains. The Cooper River canyon dissects the Chugach, but this river trench also allows the arctic air from the interior of Alaska to exit to the sea, to the gulf of Alaska. This unique geography allows arctic temperature to seep down the deep cut valleys and to interact with the maritime storms that smash into the mountains from the gulf of Alaska. As my Guides tell me the Glue!! Yes, that is the secret to steep snow stability. This effect also slows the spring warming and gives us the deepest snow pack of any coastal range in the world. My late friend Jesse Tol used to sing a jingle, he learned skiing as a child with his Dad John, on Thompson pass. He never rode a chair and was great skier, he would sing

“Go away in world, ski and see the rest but when your done come back home , to the best, come back, come back to the best  Alaska heli skiing, the original big mountains Valdez is the best”

Haines / Skagway, The Lynn channel

This area is the Chilakats and Chilacoots Mountains – the fantastic rampart of the South East Alaska Coastal Ranges. This area is also blessed with great snow falls and steep runs with surrealistic spines and features. True coastal snow pack with no arctic interface but unbelievable easy access to dreamy lines. There are also trees, but you do not ski them. That is because it gets steeper and steeper with close-outs that drop straight into the water. Use Google Earth and you will see the verticals are not as great as the Valdez. Chugach and you are in the rain forest belt of Alaska, so you will experience longer periods of no fly days due to the intense storms and coastal fog. But you will be rewarded for your patience with the do or die runs of a life time – shorter than Valdez (and that is relative), but intense. The helicopter that most companies use originates in Juneau. It’s a very short flight to Haines, so the cost of transport is considerably less than Valdez. This saving is passed on to the guest – which is a good deal! It costs more to get aircraft to Valdez, which is another reason for so many film crews staging out of Haines. It is cheaper to fly to Haines. Valdez is hard to film because of the gigantic enormous scale of the faces and flutes. Athletes tend to look like a fly on a wall, lost in the scale. In Haines the film runs are short, dramatic and easier to get film crews closer to the action. Also when the first thaws come, it is over quick on the coast because of steeps and shed avalanches, and no arctic air interface. So go early, be patient, and you will get it done. But when you’re done come back, come back to the original, the best, Valdez – the original, the king of locations .

God Bless

Warm Regards- Theo

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That’s It, Chute!

Thanks to all of the owners and operators for their candor and enthusiasm for  the best Alaska heli-skiing! Let us know if we can help you put together a trip.

Best Regards,

tj

Tom Jackson
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)
HELISKI.com
866-HELISKI
(866-435-4754)

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Heliski.com Interviews Alaska Rendezvous Guides, 15 Questions with HELISKI.com

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TJ Skiing with Alaska Rendezvous Heli Ski Guides

Alask Rendezvous Heli Ski Guides

Theo Meiners is an Alaska heliskiing pioneer. We met through a mutual friend with whom we had both run the Grand Canyon in kayaks. Theo runs Alaska Rendezous Heli-Guides (ARG), on the Thompson Pass east of Valdez, Alaska. It’s the first place I had the pleasure of heliskiing Alaska. I caught up with Theo recently to talk about heliskiing Alaska.

1. Theo, how long have you been guiding heliskiing in Alaska?

I have worked on Thompson Pass as a Heli Guide for 17 seasons, and have had an incredible run.

2. Wow, did you grow up skiing in Alaska?

I learned to ski in 1967 in the Chugach Mountains at Arctic Valley and Aleyeska, outside of Anchorage. At a very young age my brother and I were ducking the ropes and skiing 5 miles down Ship Creek to the main valley, and on a few occasions to the Eagle River drainages. We also would ski from Picnic Point at Alyeska down what now is the North Face. Don’t ask me how we survived, but we did.

3. So you have a ‘feel’ for skiing in the Chugach?

I feel that those early Childhood experiences and memories give me an inherent advantage. My feet know the texture of the snow of the Chugach Mountains – The Mountains of the Real People, as the Inuit and Chugach native peoples call their land.

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If you have not been, you should go. The scale is immense!

4. How did you find yourself guiding in the Valdez area?

I was first taken to the Valdez area by The WESC team. The late John McCune and Pete Murphy hired me to do snow pack evaluations, avalanche hazard reduction, and finally as a Judge of the 1996 World Extreme Ski Contest. It was quite the homecoming.

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5. What was your first heliskiing guide gig?

I had known Doug Coombs (legendary extreme skier and founder of Valdez Heli-Ski Guides) since he was a freshman at Montana State University in Bozeman. He had started his guide service after his success in the WESC contest. So once the ‘96 contest was concluded, Emily (Coombs) hired me first as a guide. Later I became operations and logistic manager, as well as one of the 4 lead guides.

6. What was it like in the early days of Valdez Heli-Skiing?

Those were the pioneering years. We found so much great skiing! Everyday was as thrilling as the first decent fell to our discovery team. After 5 seasons with Doug, I started my own service as Doug and Emily sold his business and went on to La Grave (still home to Doug Coombs Steep Skiing Camps Worldwide).

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Chute!

7. Tell us about starting your own Alaska heliskiing operation.

I started my business, the Alaska Rendezvous Lodge and Heli Ski Guides in 2000. I purchased 26.5 acres on Thompson Pass. I believe the Alaska Rendezvous Guide holds the high ground. We are 50 miles from the ocean, and that position on the pass give us more fly days than any of the other companies in the Valdez area.

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Above and Beyond Valdez!

8. There wasn’t anything out there on Thompson pass, eh?

I built the motel and bar restaurant in 2003. We continue to be amazed by the support the Valdez community has given to ARL/ARG. I’m very grateful to all the operators in Alaska, because everyone is doing their best to bring people to Alaska and to get them some true Big Mountain Experience.

[Not one of your typical ski chalets…but more than adequate, especially for Valdez!]

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9. Where do you go in the off-season?

I live for most of the year at the Lodge at 45 mile. I feel that being a local is a great advantage regarding the terrain, weather and culture of ‘the last frontier.’ [Very cool]

10. Now Alaska Rendezvous Guides is a family affair?

Both my son Aidan and my daughter Ali work with me in Alaska, so we are a unique family business.

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Next Generation

11. So you like the team?

I have the greatest staff that return year after year, which is also a strength. Every year their amplified experience propels them on to good terrain decisions and snow selection.

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12. Having your own lodge makes you unusual in the Valdez area. I think it beats the no-tell motel and a bus ride. How many guests can you accommodate?

The Motel that we built-in 2003 can accommodate 20 guests but we also have the ability to put 10 full size RV’s in our 3 parking areas; where they can plug into our electrical system and use the facilities as if they too were in the motel rooms. So, we have as many as 40 guests on the property at any given time.

helicopter skiing alaska, valdez heli-skiing alaskaBack to the Lodge for Lunch – Unique in Alaska!

13. Your pricing is also different, charging separately for food. Explain how that works.

Yes, you are correct. We have packages designed for the groups that ride from Saturday to Saturday – the fully reserved (VIPS). But we also have an ala carte package, so we can reach every guest’s expectations and meet every person’s dream and budget. In the finical times we live in, every person should be able to reach their dream without being hurt with their commitments. My Guides, my children, want everyone who visits the Rendezvous to be able to afford their experience and trip to the Rendezvous. And I’m obligated to listen to the young people. It is not a new level, it is the new world, their world.

14. You are usually booked far in advance (and don’t need help from HELISKI.com, sadly). Lots of repeat guests, eh?

The Alaska Rendezvous has over a 70 percent return rate amongst our guests. This is the final piece of the formula for success – smart, capable, experienced, big mountain guests with the time, resources and skills to hang with the ARG staff [present company excluded….Seriously, they ski some steep stuff. I remember one LZ where there was not enough room for us all to put on our skis at the same time. I looked in every direction, and had no idea which way we were going down. This is not your mother’s heliskiing…].

alaska helisking, helicopter skiing alaskaNice Landing Zone, eh?

15. Theo, is there anything else you would like to add?

What can I say? I have been blessed by the Mountains and the universe, and get to ride the best snow and terrain in the world.

Thanks everyone,

Theo

Thanks, Theo! Hope to get up there to ski with you again soon

Best Regards,

tj

Tom Jackson
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)
HELISKI.com
866-HELISKI
(866-435-4754)

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heli-skiing canada, helicopter skiing bc canadaKnowledge is Powder!

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Alaska Heliskiing Debate: Haines vs. Valdez – Alaska Heli Skiing Operators Weigh-In

Alaska Heli Skiing Debate: Haines vs. Valdez – Alaska Heli Skiing Operators Weigh-In

 

ALASKA HELI SKING OPERATORS:

Chugach Powder Guides Alaska Heliskiing         Points North Heli Skiing Alaska

Alaska Heli Skiing                                                    H2O Guides Alaska Heli Ski

SEABA Alaska Heli Skiing                                       Alaska Snowboard Guides

Valdez Heli-Ski Guides Heliski Alaska                   Tordrillo Mountain Lodge Alaska Heliskiing

Rendezvous Heli-Skiing Alaska                              Black Ops Valdez Alaska Heliskiing                                    

Want the best Alaska Heli Skiing?  Alaska heli-skiing / heli-skiing Alaska  is widely varied. Geography, snow, travel, pricing models, accommodations, weather and more.

Heliski.com represents all Alaska heli skiing operations, and we are often asked to compare and contrast Haines and Valdez Alaska heli-skiing and heli boarding Alaska options.  So we asked each of the heli-skiing Alaska  operators to summarize how their areas compare to the others.  This post focuses on comparing and contrasting the locations to heli ski Alaska and heli board Alaska.

Alaska Heli Skiing Locations On the map:

A: Alyeska Resort Alaska Heliskiing, (Chugach Powder Guides)

B. Valdez, H2O Guides, Valdez Heliski Alaska Experience (formerly ‘Camps’)

C. Juneau / Haines, (Alaska Heli Skiing, Alaska Powder Decents Heli Skiing and South East Alaska Back Country Adventures – SEABA Alaska Heliskiing)

D. Cordova (Points North Heli Skiing)

E. Thompson Pass (Valdez Heli-Ski Guides and Alaska Rendezvous Heliskiing)

So HELISKI.com asked the operators to compare and contrast the Alaska heli skiing and heliboarding in the Chugach vs. Haines. Below are the highlights:

Sean Dog, owner Alaska Heli-Skiing (Haines):

“Last year was a prime example of the difference between Haines and Valdez, they were mostly wind hammered while we had powder snow for most of that same time period. The mountains here are stacked closer together so we have better protection from the wind and more terrain per square mile. The terrain in both areas are certainly similar because it’s all Alaska and super sweet. I just believe Haines can be more reliable and consistent due to its location and tighter valleys offer better wind protection and hold better snow, less wind can hit the surface and more shade from tighter valleys keep the snow cold and in good shape.”

From Aaron Karitis, H2O Heli Guides (Valdez, Alaska Heli Skiing)

“Valdez is the best option for public/private heli skiing in the state of Alaska. With film segments over the past 7 years, Haines has been well represented and marketed. However, Haines is a toned down version of Valdez. With a priority on film crews, there have been rumblings from higher paying public and private clients and their priority when in the field. Valdez and the surrounding Chugach offer the biggest ridge lines, glaciers and runs in all of Alaska. This allows for more options and give guides the ability to find better snow quality, snow stability and terrain. That combined with the longest runs in the state, Valdez offers the best public and private heli skiing (and heli boarding) option in the state of Alaska.”

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From Sunny, owner, Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures (SEABA) (Haines, Alaska Heli-Skiing)

“Valdez vs Haines?

This is a tough question that gets asked often.

At any given point the snow can be better, worse or the same. So, I think it comes down to terrain and the ability to access the terrain, especially considering weather patterns.

Haines averages 68-70% fly-able to Alpine terrain, and it averages 80% fly-able to tree terrain, Valdez does not have any trees, unless you include brush. Our tree terrain has top Landing Zone’s of 3200 feet and bottom Pickup Zone’s at 1,000 feet.

We get a lot of skiing done here in Haines because of these percentages, and our tree options. The only operation in Valdez that can really compare is Rendezvous Guides because of their location on the interior side of Thompson Pass, giving them high fly rates as well, but with very little vegetation.

Also our terrain in Haines is really stacked together, meaning we can get many combinations of runs in a short window of flight time.This includes different terrain and aspect because of the proximity of runs to each other. The Tahkinsha and Chilkat Ranges have an east/west strike so that much of our terrain is protected from direct sun, especially in mid April.

We have huge vertical, 5,000 foot descents, on average we can ski 4 groups of 4 around ten runs each a day. Our record with four groups in the field per heli is 16 runs in one day by one of the groups with 3 of those runs being first descents, for a total of 53,000 vert. This is possible because of SEABA’s knowledge of the terrain in Haines, as well as sticking to our policy of not overloading our public ship.

Haines Rocks, so does Valdez, but we do have a little better weather because we are inland and if the weather is in, then we have tree terrain to work until it clears. This limits the amount of sit time for people, which they like.

All said I would choose Haines based on just that.

Ski you here!”

Sunny

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Cedar Dumont, co-owner Alaska Powder Descents (Juneau / Haines Alaska Heli Skiing)

As far as Southeast AK ( Haines & Juneau) vs Valdez, I first have to say that we at APD have a lot of respect for all of the heliski Alaska operators.

When we started Alaska Powder Descents Heliskiing, we wanted to change a few things in the industry and one of them is to not get into our op. is better than your op.

What we believe is that all of the ops have a lot to offer it just really comes down to personal preferences and finding what suits you best.

What we have to offer is:

We are the closest heli-ski operation to the lower 48. With direct flights from Seattle you don’t have to worry missing a connecting flight or ferry.

We have the sole use of a 1 million acre US Forest Service permit for the Southern Chilkats and the Juneau icefield, no crowds or competition for lines here!

We have a rich ski community that goes back to the 1930’s that included a commercial snowcat to transport skiers. In the mid 70’s the community got together and started Eaglecrest ski area that is owned by the city of Juneau. Eaglecrest is an amazing backcountry oriented, open boundary area we utilize on weather days.

We are Juneau locals, we have built incredible relationships in our hometown and we know how to give guests the experience of a lifetime and we don’t take it lightly. Most of our guides are local as well and are proud to show off their home!

We operate out of a pristine 10 acre private waterfront lodge with heli’s out the door . No shuttles or van transfers to skiing.

When the weather does not cooperate with heli-skiing and heli boarding, we do alternative activities with our guests. Besides skiing at Eaglecrest, we sea-kayak, whale watch, ice-climb, indoor & outdoor rock climbing, museum tours, movie theatres, bowling etc. There is always something to do and friends to do it with!

We get a little bit less sunny days, Valdez gets more windy days.

We offer the longest season of all Alaska heli ski and heli boarding ops. Our helicopters and pilots/mechanics are based in Juneau and fly these mountains year around. We do not have to charter a helicopter to come to our location, they are based here. We offer custom trips starting in late December up until our main operating season of February 15th- April 15th.

We offer a FULL refund on any heli time not used. You only pay for what you use!

We operate 4 groups to one helicopter. No lengthy wait times.

That is what comes to me let me know if you have any questions, hope it helps.

Talk to you soon, Cedar

Melanee Stiassny of Chugach Powder Guides (Alyeska, Alaska Heli Skiing):

“A lot of people go heli skiing for a variety of reasons. Some totally want to go somewhere remote and are willing to sit out the storm in the Lodge and wait. Others just want to ski until their legs are too tired and pray that the majority of the time spent in AK is in the helicopter… but definitely want good backup options for storms – they look for resort skiing and snowcat backup options. We have both options available (TML LODGE, WINTER LAKE LODGE, SEWARD are remote locations, Girdwood has resort and snowcat backup options for storm days)

There are a few ways that other operators (those in Haines included) that sell heli skiing and heli boarding Alaska by the run or flight time. Chugach Powder Guides sells skiing by the vertical feet skied. This is an advantage to the customer since it guarantees their skis on the snow vs. airtime looking around for skiing, or short ski runs.

Another advantage here is our location in Girdwood. For our package guests we provide transportation from the Anchorage International Airport to our location. We base our operation at the Hotel Alyeska / Alyeska Resort. So on storm days there are options to ski at the resort or ski with us in the Snowcat for the day (snowcat leaves right from the Hotel). It is very easy to stay skiing no matter what the weather is doing outside. Other places may not provide transportation. They also may be more costly to get to with airplane… so although the package price they sell looks nice the cost of getting there may be higher. We are located 33 miles south of the Anchorage International Airport where all major airlines arrive.alaska heliskiing, heliski alaska, heli ski alaska, heli boarding Alaska

Our mountains are world-famous and they are dramatic and large. We are the ONLY operator in our permit area…. NO OTHER HELI OPERATORS are out there skiing the same terrain nor at the same time. There are usually competing operators in the same terrain permit area with other heli operations. Our way makes it simple for progressing through zones efficiently and making fresh ski powder runs available to each guest.

Hope this information helps you out! Please let me know if you have more questions regarding the operational differences.

See you in the Chugach”

From Kevin Quinn, co-owner, Points North Alaska Heli-Skiing (Cordova, Alaska Heli Ski)

Alaska helicopter skiing has a lot of options. If the customer does there diligence prior to booking a trip they will find the operator that suit there needs best. The Alaska heliskiing market continues to grow each year with new operators showing up each spring. Currently there are now 14 different options to choose from. South East Alaska has several while most are in the South Central region.

Back in the late 80’s early 90’s Alaska helicopter skiing started in the Juneau. It ended up in Valdez do to the endless opportunities that the Chugach held. Coombs and others put the place on the map and now I can say confidently, there is no place on the planet like the Chugach. Whether you’re in Girdwood, Valdez or Cordova, it’s the Chugach. The holy grail of helicopter skiing!

Snow is the very similar in all of the Alaska heliskiing locations. Just about all of the operators have a maritime snowpack. As you work your way in from the coast, you start to see more of a Continental type pack but still influenced heavily by the maritime conditions.

Bottom-line, if folks do their research properly, read forums, etc., they will find the operation that fits there needs best. Hopefully people can see through the other stuff and make and educated choice on their operator they wish choose. Personally, Cordova has been a gem for us given we are away from the 5 heli operations and 2 snowmobile operators in Valdez. We have the entire east end of the Chugach all to ourselves. Thankfully we have a very loyal following with an 85% return rate. Cordova is pretty special to us, not to mention we have a chair lift. It’s actually the oldest chairlift in North America.  Additionally, PNH is a member of the United States Heli Ski Association. The US Heli Ski Association’s mission is to continue establishing (the highest) operations, guide and safety guidelines for Helicopter Skiing in the United States. Currently there are only 4 members from Alaska. Point North Heliskiing Alaska, CPG, Valdez Heli Skiing Guides and Alaska Powder Descents.

We hope to see you join us in Cordova this spring!

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Aaron Ollivier, (New) Owner

Valdez Heli Experience (formerly Valdez Heli Camps Alaska Heli Skiing)

I’ll focus on two main aspects of the two, terrain and accessibility/ease.

In general, Haines is not as steep as the terrain you can find around Valdez. To be able to get to the more extreme terrain, you have to “punch in” a little further, if you really want to scare yourself and test your ability. In Valdez, to get on terrain that you really want to test your “pucker factor” there is more variety and it is located all over. You can go from skiing on a nice wide open 30 degree pow run on one side, and be picked up and pop over one ridge and you’re on 55 degree ramp that will make you do the pee pee dance before you drop in. I personally like the variety that Valdez has to offer a bit more, just because it’s nice to be able to have a wide spectrum of stuff to ski depending on a number of factors.

Valdez was a small fishing town before the pipeline was built. Once construction began on that, it became a boom town and experienced a lot of growth. With that came better access and generally better options to get to Valdez. After the oil spill, things have fallen off for Valdez in terms of tourism. In a recent Nov. 2011 Skiing Magazine issue, there is an article about ‘skiing could save Valdez.’ Basically, they examine the possibility of turning it into a ski town from an oil town and establish itself in that industry for the future of Valdez. Valdez’s growth has been stumped since the oil spill, and even with the town building a multi-million dollar dock to handle large cruise ships finished two years ago, only one ship has made the stop. Regardless of all that, because of the industrial activity that grew Valdez, there is better access, more heli operators, more options, more competitors and thus better deals for the skiers. In terms of skiing and heli boarding, Valdez has had heli-skiing longer than Haines, which means more knowledge on skiing locations/snow quality, better landing zones, etc.

Haines hasn’t been established as long and hasn’t had the infrastructure built like Valdez has. Thus, getting there is harder, having your pick of 5 different operators (like Valdez has) isn’t available, and the overall experience is typically limited to picking one heli ski company and you hope you picked the right one. Also, because the variety is more limited in Haines, you might have to fly further to find something that works for your group, which means more flying, less skiing and more money, typically. The good part about having only a couple of operators in Haines is that you have less heli’s flying around, more of a “pristine” and solitude trip. Also, you will probably find more options for first ascents because of it…pretty cool to name a run when you’re the first person to ski it!

Cheers!!

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The Late, Great Theo Meiners, Former President/Owner Alaska Rendezvous Lodge and Alaska Heli Ski Guides

Comparing Valdez to Haines Alaska Heli-Skiing

Valdez side of the Chugach and the Central terrain is the largest mountain chain of the coastal mountains of Alaska. There are taller coastal mountains, Mt Fairweather, however the Chugach Range is 150 miles wide and 450 miles long. It is heavily glaciated and outside Greenland and Antarctica has the longest Tidewater glaciers, and the most glaciated coastal mountains in the world. Why? Well more snow falls in winter than can melt in the summer – the accumulation zones are enormous.

The Central Chugach are dissected by the mighty Cooper River. This gigantic river drains the St Elias, The Wrangles and the Chugach Mountains. The Cooper River canyon dissects the Chugach, but this river trench also allows the arctic air from the interior of Alaska to exit to the sea, to the gulf of Alaska. This unique geography allows arctic temperature to seep down the deep cut valleys and to interact with the maritime storms that smash into the mountains from the gulf of Alaska. As my Guides tell me the Glue!! Yes, that is the secret to steep snow stability. This effect also slows the spring warming and gives us the deepest snow pack of any coastal range in the world. My late friend Jesse Tol used to sing a jingle, he learned skiing as a child with his Dad John, on Thompson pass. He never rode a chair and was great skier, he would sing

“Go away in world, ski and see the rest but when your done come back home, to the best, come back, come back to the best the original big mountains Valdez is the best”

Haines / Skagway, The Lynn Channel

This area is the Chilakats and Chilacoots Mountains – the fantastic rampart of the South East Alaska Coastal Ranges. This area is also blessed with great snow falls and steep runs with surrealistic spines and features. True coastal snow pack with no arctic interface but unbelievable easy access to dreamy lines. There are also trees, but you do not ski them. That is because it gets steeper and steeper with close-outs that drop straight into the water. Use Google Earth and you will see the verticals are not as great as the Valdez. Chugach and you are in the rain forest belt of Alaska, so you will experience longer periods of no fly days due to the intense storms and coastal fog. But you will be rewarded for your patience with the do or die runs of a life time – shorter than Valdez (and that is relative), but intense. The helicopter that most companies use originates in Juneau. It’s a very short flight to Haines, so the cost of transport is considerably less than Valdez. This saving is passed on to the guest – which is a good deal! It costs more to get aircraft to Valdez, which is another reason for so many film crews staging out of Haines. It is cheaper to fly to Haines. Valdez is hard to film because of the gigantic enormous scale of the faces and flutes. Athletes tend to look like a fly on a wall, lost in the scale. In Haines the film runs are short, dramatic and easier to get film crews closer to the action. Also when the first thaws come, it is over quick on the coast because of steeps and shed avalanches, and no arctic air interface. So go early, be patient, and you will get it done. But when you’re done come back, come back to the original, the best – 

“Valdez – the original, the king of Alaska heli-skiing locations.”

God Bless

Warm Regards- Theo

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Thanks to all of the owners and operators for their candor and enthusiasm for Alaska heli skiing and heli boarding Alaska!

Let us know if we can help you put together a trip.

Best Regards,

tj

Tom Jackson

CPO (Chief Powder Officer)

HELISKI.com

866-HELISKI

(866-435-4754)

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Knowledge is Powder!

There are many aspects to consider for your ideal Alaska heli-skiing or heli-skiing Alaska  trip.  Some of the things to ask yourself, and to tell HELISKI.com, will allow us to narrow down the dozens of destinations for your Alaska heli ski and heli boarding Alaska.

  • Do you prefer an intimate heli-ski lodge or ‘the more the merrier?’
  • Do you want to heliski Alaska in a group of four or are you OK in a group as big as eleven?
  • How many days or dollars can you spend heli skiing / heli boarding Alaska?
  • Do you prefer heliskiing trees, bowls, glaciers and high alpine or all of the above?
  • Do you want unlimited vertical, or do you want a base amount with the option to pay for extra heli-skiing and heli boarding Alaska? (We are happy to do the math for you.)
  • Do you want to get to and from your heliski Alaska / heli board Alaska lodge as quickly as possible, or do you have time to burn?
  • When do you want to schedule Alaska heli boarding / heliskiing?
  • Do you want to try heliskiing and heli boarding Alaska during or after a resort skiing vacation?
  • Where are you originating travel?
  • Do you want a remote, rustic lodge from which to heliski Alaska and heliboard Alaska?
  • Do you want catskiing or resort skiing options in case the helicopters cannot fly?

There are myriad choices of Alaska heli-skiing. Email or call 866-HELISKI so we can get started putting together the best fit for your Alaska heli boarding / Alaska heli ski trip!

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HELISKI.com Interviews H2O Guides Alaska Heliskiing Heliboarding

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Aaron Karitis of H2O Guides Auditions for HELISKI.com Interview

H2O Guides

Alaska Heliskiing Heliboarding

H2O Guides Alaska heliskiing operation, founded by Dean Cummings, enjoys a great reputation among HeliskiingReview.com and HELISKI.com clients. HELISKI.com caught up with H2O this summer in the first of a series of interviews with Alaska heli-skiing and heli-boarding operators: HELISKI.com 15 Questions. We talked to Aaaron Karitis (on the cover shot above) of H2O Guides from his summer home in Lake Tahoe. Many HeliskiingReview.com and HELISKI.com clients want to know how Alaska differs from British Columbian heliskiing and heliboarding. Comments welcome.

HELISKI.com Operator Interview with H2O Guides Alaska Heli-Skiing

1. Dean Cummings is a living legend. What is H20 Guide’s claim to fame?

We specialized in small group, remote helicopter skiing. And as one of the pioneers, Dean got his pick of prime terrain. We now proudly have more skiable terrain than any other operations on the planet! More terrain equals more options and better safer snow!

2. AK is almost all above tree line, right?

This is correct, most of Alaska’s terrain is considered high alpine. H2O has a couple regions that have trees and reference which allow for flying on days that are overcast and snowy. High alpine skiing is one of the factors that separate Alaska from Canada. This type of mountain environment allows for an unlimited amount of skiing terrain and variation. Translation: our guests don’t have to be concerned about farming terrain or skiing the same run or region over and over.


Landing-H20_Heli_Valdez_Photo_Nick_HAMILTON_1

Pick a Peak!

3. You do fewer runs in a day, but they are steeper and way longer than BC. Can you describe a ‘typical’ run with H2O Guides?

A typical run starts with an endless view of Chugach peaks and glaciers. 90% of the time we are skiing high alpine terrain. Our typical run is 3,000 to 6,000 feet long and ranges from 30 minutes to 2 hours long.

In Alaska, we don’t ski down a run, we take a journey through a massive mountain range. Runs range from long moderates to steep Alaska spines and ramps. Generally, our pick-ups end on the glacier. A day contains 6 runs and an average of over 20,000 vertical feet per day.

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Awwwwe-some

4. We find AK weather is more problematic, both for travel and for skiing (I was once down for 6 days in a row in Valdez). And to get there, we had to drive from Anchorage (5 hrs.). Are the flights in and out of Valdez cancelled often?

Travel to AK is not problematic, that is a false statement. Just 5% of the flights into Valdez get canceled, which is similar to most flights throughout the world. Canceled flights don’t result in missed ski days, because if an airplane can’t fly neither can a helicopter.

Over our 17 year history, we fly 68% of the time; this is a surprisingly high rate to most people who hear that rate. [That’s good. HELISKI.com advises to plan on 4 out of 7 days (57%) in Valdez] Both of our public packages, include 2 weather days, which means your seat in our helicopter is reserved for two days on your trip that you are in fact not paying for. No other operation in the world will hold your seat unless there is money on account. We realize weather can impact a trip in Alaska, our 2 weather days are designed to protect our guests.

5. AK is serious steep. They can get as extreme as you can handle. I’m an accomplished powder skier and former ski bum. There are places in Alaska that scare the hell out of me.

Alaska is seriously steep…no question. It also has a variety of terrain unlike any other region in the world! The variety and the amount of variety is perhaps the most amazing thing about skiing in Alaska. While Alaska is known for its steeps, it has runs for my 65 year old mother, to runs Seth Morrison wants nothing to do with. The majority of our skiing is 35 – 45 degree 4,000 foot powder runs. We can go steeper or more mellow and ski longer runs or shorter.

6. AK is beautiful and wild. Not really a question, I know.

Anyone who has been to Alaska, will say it is one of if not the most beautiful, raw, vast and wild places they have ever been. From a guiding stand point, the thing that stands out is the raw scale and vastness of the place. You look at a run and what seems like 10 turns ends up being 50 turns, the glacier that looks like you could walk from edge to edge, is a 5 minute heli flight.

It’s everything that everyone who say it is plus more. It’s truly something any real skier or boarder needs to experience to full complete their resume.
[Great description! I found the mountains to be foreshortened, too.]

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Alaska is Vast!

7. We tell clients that AK is a later season, because of the temps and the daylight. March is the early season. April is prime time.

Realistically, we could ski 12 months out of the year in Valdez. However, short days, cold temps and winds make skiing in traditional early winter months not as favorable as the spring. Consequently, our season is March and April. The gives us the best chance to send our guest home while skiing the most days as possible on their trip. There is no bad time to come during March and April; however we classify prime time as March 10 – April 20.

8. Most Alaska accommodations are not luxurious but better than most think, agreed?

Accommodations in Alaska are not luxurious or glamorous…the skiing more than takes care of that. We stay at a Best Western, which is the nicest hotel in town. It is located right on the Prince William Sound and is just a few steps from downtown Valdez. The accommodations are clean, comfortable, and warm and include the best restaurant and bar in town. In addition, the hotel has wireless Internet, a work out room and suite options.


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9. What if guests want a few days of skiing to warm up?

Alyeska is located 40 minutes from Anchorage. It’s a full scale resort and is a great place to warm up for a few days. We also have terrain that is more than capable of warming skiers of all abilities up.

10. How many in guests per lift / group?

Our public helicopter holds 5 and our private holds up to 8.

11. How many lifts per helicopter?

Public heli’s consist of 4 groups of 5 per heli and our private is sold as 8 people, but can be expanded if necessary.

12. What packages does H2O offer?

We have 3, 5 and 7 days packages with the ability to do custom packages as well.

13. How much farther is Valdez, Alaska than BC locations?

Alaska is a much shorter travel than most think. You can arrive into Valdez on the 6pm flight from anywhere in North America.

heli-boarding alaska, heliboarding valdez alaska
Hey, that ever LOOKS like BC Heli-Skiing….rare for Alaska

14. How do you prices compare to BC heliski operators?

Our public and private options significantly less expensive than Canada. [True, and typically a different experience, eh?]

15. Anything else you want to add?

Our terrain is simply the best! We have amazing variety, run selection, steeps and high alpine. On top of that H2O has been in Alaska the longest and has the best safety record.

h20 guides heli-skiing, heliskiing valdez alaskaHey, that looks like your Powder cover shot!

Thanks, Aaron. Hope to ski with you soon!
tj
Tom Jackson
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)
HELISKI.com
HeliskiingReview.com
Heliboard.com
866-HELISKI
(866-435-4754)

heli-skiing canada, helicopter skiing bc canada
Expert Advice – Knowledge is Powder

Heliskiing in April? Yeah, April Heliskiing

Heliskiing in April

Does it get too warm to go heliskiing in British Columbia in April?    No.

Is the heliskiing season over in Alaska?  Not. It’s prime time up there. The days are twice as long in April as in February.

Does it quit snowing?   Nope

Why does heliskiing wind down?

We all get out our golf clubs, tennis rackets, mountain bikes and boats.

What does this mean?

There are great deals and great heliskiing in April.

Why is this blog post about heliskiing all questions? I don’t know. Why not?

Is it irritating? Sorry. Maybe I have listened to too many lame Bowl Game announcers this week.

What do I recommend for heliskiing in April?

great canadian heliskiing British Columbia Heliskiing

Great Canadian Heliskiing offers unlimited vertical during the first week of April for $8,820. You can rack up the vertical!

CMH Revelstoke offers a 5-day heliskiing trip, April 2-7 for $4775. This location gets rave reviews and that’s a great price. Also March 28-April 2 for the same price.

CMH Galena has a one-week heliskiing special March 26 – April 2 for just $5900. There is a slight catch. Call or email for more details.

Always wanted to go heliskiingski the Bugaboos, the birthplace of heliskiing? How about a week April 16-23 at CMH Bugaboos for $6400?!

cmh bugaboos heliskiing lodge, heliskiing bugaboos
Bugaboo Lodge, Canadian Mountain Holidays

CMH Cariboos are still heliskiing April 9-16 for $6600.

OR, try Alaska Heliskiing. Long runs, crazy steep, bucket-list worthy experience. We work with most of the operators and can set up a great experience for your group. Check out:

H2O

Valdez Heli-Ski Guides

Chugach Powder Guides

Alaska Heliskiing

helicopter skiing alaska, valdez heliskiing
Alaska Heliskiing is Steep and Deep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Email or Call about Heliskiing in April.

 

We will send the best options.

Cheers,

tj

 

 

 

 

 

Alaska Heli Skiing, the time is Now

Alaska Heli-Skiing
Alaska Heliskiing is STEEP

Heli Skiing Season is just hitting its stride in Alaska.

In the Rockies, many of us are putting away our heliski gear and dusting off the bikes, tennis rackets and golf clubs. But in Alaska, heli-skiing prime time is March and April.

What’s heliskiing Alaska like? How is it different from British Columbia heli-skiing?

  • Alaska heliskiing is almost all above tree line
  • Alaska weather is more problematic, both for travel and for skiing (I was once down for 6 days in a row in Valdez). You may have to drive from Anchorage (5 hrs.) because the flights in and out of Valdez are canceled, often.
  • AK is serious steep. They can get as extreme as you can handle. I’m an accomplished powder skier and former ski bum. There are places that will scare the hell out of me.
  • AK is beautiful and wild.
  • We work with some great Alaska heli-skiing operators in both Alaska and BC
  • Alaska helicopter skiing is a later season because of the temps and the daylight. March is the early season. April is still prime time.
  • AK accommodations are not luxurious. Sometimes you commute from a Valdez hotel or stay in a motor home.
  • There is an operator out of Mt. Alyeska that allows you to ‘warm up’ before you heliski/boarding, and offers backup options during bad weather.

So if you are not ready to give up on the steep and deep, drop me a line and I will find the best options for you to do some heliskiing in Alaska!

Alaska Heli-Skiing and Heli-boarding Backcountry Extreme
Alaska Heli-Skiing - Awesome Terrain