helicopter skiing alaska, bc heli-skiing

7 Reasons to Try a New Heli-Skiing Location Next Year

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New Heli-Skiing Location : 2014

In heliskiing, momentum is a good, but inertia is not. Are you going to the same heliskiing operator year after year? Take a look around. It may be time to think about a change for 2014.

You and your buddies owe it to yourselves. Don’t automatically sign up for the same week, at the same place next year when you check out. There will be plenty of dates available, and good prices. Consider your options.
We represent every operator, and our recommendations and service are free. Here are 7 reasons to consider getting out of those tracks!

1. Variety. The spice of life. Mountain ranges, snow, terrain, lodges, travel, group size, pricing, down days, catskiing backup, and more. My mom used to say, “You don’t know what you’re missing.”

chopper_at_top_of_world_coast_range_heliskiing
2. More Choices. Since we started offering reviews and recommendations 20 years ago, there has been an explosion in the number of heli-skiing options. There are dozens of choices in British Columbia, Canada alone.

 

3. Travel. If minimizing your travel time is important, there are some great choices. Cost and reliability of flights and roads are also important considerations.

How about reaching the lodge in time for dinner, and skiing the next morning? Or fly to Vancouver, spend the night, fly up in the morning and heliski that afternoon. Another benefit to easy access travel is that it may also increase the skiing time you have available on the last day.

 

4. Group Size and Lodge Size. Have you tried small group heliskiing? It is very different – much faster, more comfortable and less susceptible to weak links. Some drainages cannot handle 12 tracks, let alone 24, 36 or 48.

How about sharing the chopper with one or two groups to eliminate waiting? One operator is offering ONE GROUP per helicopter and unlimited vertical! How about a lodge that holds 12 guests, instead of 40 of your closest friends?

 

5. Pricing. A week can range from $7-12K. And you may be writing a big check on checkout for extra vertical. We have many unlimited vertical options as well as hybrid models.

 

6. Alaska. If you can hang in BC, you can hang in AK. And to paraphrase Warren Miller, ‘if you don’t go this year, next year you will be a year older!’ You do not want to retire from heliskiing without Alaska on your resume.

13Mi9071_Valdez_Alaska_Heliskiing47dc1764311b

 

7. Flexibility. We offer trips of any length and can start and stop on any day you choose. Warm up at a resort like Whistler, Revelstoke or Kicking Horse. Or combine heliskiing with catskiing to save you legs and your wallet.

 

Let me know when your group likes to go, and where. I will give you some options so that you can be the hero. I can hold dates and get you the same re-booking discounts, too.
Email tj@HELISKI.com or call me at 866-HELISKI.

Alaska heli-skiing, helicopter skiing alaska

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

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. This post focuses on comparing and contrasting the locations for Alaska 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 Heliskiing Review asked the operators to compare and contrast the heliskiing and heliboarding in the Chugach vs. Haines. 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)

“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.”

Alaska heli-skiing, helicopter skiing alaska
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

heli-skiing alaska, alaska helicopter skiing
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.

alaska heli-skiing, heli ski 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 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!

helicopter skiing Alaska, Alaska heli-skiing

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!!

heli-skiing alaska, valdez ALASKA heli-skiing

The Late Theo Meiners

President/Owner Alaska Rendezvous Lodge and Heli Guides

Comparing Valdez 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 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

heli ski Valdez Alaska, heli-skiing alaska

That’s It, Chute!

Thanks to all of the owners and operators for their candor and enthusiasm for 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
HeliskiingReview.com
WhistlerHeliski.com
HEIBOARD.com
866-HELISKI
(866-435-4754)

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

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

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

 

ALASKA HELI SKING OPERATORS:

Chugach Powder Guides Alaska Heliskiing         Points North Heli Skiing

Alaska Heli Skiing                                                    H2O Guides Alaska Heli Skiing

SEABA Alaska Heli Skiing                                       Alaska Snowboard Guides

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

Alaska Rendezvous Guides                                    Black Ops Valdez Alaska Heliskiing                                    

Want the best Alaska Heliskiing?  Heliski Alaska and heli boarding Alaska is widely varied. Geography, snow, travel, pricing models, accommodations, weather and more.

Heliski.com represents all Alaska heliskiing operations, and we are often asked to compare and contrast Haines and Valdez Alaska heliskiing and heli boarding Alaska options.  So we asked each of the Alaska heliskiing 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 Heliskiing 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 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 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 Heliskiing)

“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 Heliskiing)

“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 (Junea/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 Heliskiing):

“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 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 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 Heliskiing)

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 Heliski Guides

Comparing Valdez to Haines Alaska Heliskiing

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 heliskiing 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 heliski Alaska or heli boarding 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 heliski Alaska 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. Email or call 866-HELISKI so we can get started putting together the best fit for your Alaska heli boarding / Alaska heliski trip!