Forums Splitboard Talk Forum Alaska Heli Tips for March 2015
Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
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  • #567990
    CascadEagan
    45 Posts

    Sup ya’ll?

    3 of us are planning a late winter trip to AK with the obvious goal of riding big, steep, deep lines. Doing a full week heli package is outside the budget but we want to maximize vert. For those of you who have been, or live in AK, I’m looking for tips.

    I don’t really have a preference of Valdez or Haines or somewhere else and we don’t have a date picked out yet. We’ll have about 8 days total. Definitely concerned with only a week that we could be there during a storm and end up not riding much at all. That’s part of the reason I don’t want to commit to a full week. It would be sweet if we could stay somewhere and only pay for heli if that weather is best. “Down” days we could do short tours.

    Trying to make the dream happen!! Any tips are helpful.

    Cheers,
    :guinness:

    #589880
    brownz32
    2 Posts

    My wife and I went last year to Valdez and went with Matt Wade owner of Peak Mountain Guides in CO.

    http://www.peakmountainguides.com/Alaskaskiing.html

    I can’t recommend the trip highly enough.

    -#1The heli bump is amazing and my top recommendation- you start the day off with an incredible run and have time to get 1-2 runs in via tour. My understanding is that with a full on heli day you get 5-6 runs possible.

    -#2 with the bump the helicopter isn’t responsible for picking you up so its very unlikely you will get grounded. For example two days the guest at Valdez heli-ski didn’t get any runs were as we just needed a 15min window of good weather for them to drop us off on a peak and where able to ride.

    #3. I was really happy to have a guide for several reasons -one is that you have such an advantage to get on good terrain bc the guides are constantly in communication regarding best terrain and avalanche activity. The second point to highlight is if you are not a native or very familiar with the Chugach the scope of the terrain is so impressive, for me I was overwhelmed. One day out of nowhere a storm rolled in and we where totally whited out. I was defiantly glad and thankful to have Matt to guide us through the glaciers safely.

    #4 and final point- the bump is by far our highest recommendation but it comes with parameters. You have to have a guide affiliated or with a good relationship with VH. Also you have to have a group to bump or tag onto a group- also why a guide liaison is imperative and makes the bumps more affordable. We chose to do an extra bump which cost us $650 for the total group.

    Hope that helps.

    #589879
    peacefrog
    376 Posts

    Get 2 more people. It is imperative that you can fill a chopper. If you don’t you’re rolling the dice on who you’re grouped with. You’re only going to get to ride what the weakest rider can ride. If you’re heli centric and only have 8 days I would go to Alaska Heliskiing in Haines or with an outfit out of Anchorage (or other South Central place). You’ve got to balance competing variables. Coastal Snowpack means pow and stability. It also mean storms, clouds, fog, rain, etc. Since you can’t spend weeks sitting on your thumbs just taking days as they come you want to get as far away from the water as you can without losing the Maritime snowpack. Alaska Heliskiing flys out of 33mile at the base of the pass that goes into Canada. I find it to be a good balance and AH has always treated me well. For down days you can tour on old faithfull or Catski there with SEABA. If your group if free of DUIs you could also go into the pass and tour around the Gaurdsmen or Nadahini. If weather is a complete shut down you could take the ferry to Juneau and ride Eaglecrest. Valdez runs a more serious risk of having no flies for 8 days straight. Anchorage would also be a base to operate out of as you’ve got Turnagin pass and hatchers pass for touring and Alyeska for a resort option.
    In any event get yourself 2 more guys. Have fun

    #589881
    splittilps
    154 Posts

    @peacefrog wrote:

    In any event get yourself 2 more guys. Have fun

    At least call the outfit that you’re going with to talk about it. The only reason I say so is because my group of 4 arrived at our heli base with a 5th person who wasn’t with our group. After a discrete conversation with our guide (hey man, that guy isn’t with us) and at the last moment before we were about to load the heli, someone came out of the office and said “sorry guys, your group is overweight so we can only take four of you”. I’m not sure if it was truly because of the weight issue or if we were just getting a sweet hook up.

    #589882
    peacefrog
    376 Posts

    @splittilps wrote:

    @peacefrog wrote:

    In any event get yourself 2 more guys. Have fun

    At least call the outfit that you’re going with to talk about it. The only reason I say so is because my group of 4 arrived at our heli base with a 5th person who wasn’t with our group. After a discrete conversation with our guide (hey man, that guy isn’t with us) and at the last moment before we were about to load the heli, someone came out of the office and said “sorry guys, your group is overweight so we can only take four of you”. I’m not sure if it was truly because of the weight issue or if we were just getting a sweet hook up.

    That’s all well and good but it means that your bill was spent 4 ways instead of 5.

    #589883
    CascadEagan
    45 Posts

    Solid input guys.

    We’ve got 3 in our group that are in for sure and 1 or 2 that would prob also join, so I think we’ll be a full group of 4 or 5.

    I think we’ve got basically two options:
    1 – AK heli, Executive Ski Bum deal looks like a pretty solid option for almost a week of heli at less than $4k http://www.alaskaheliskiing.com/rates-and-reservations

    2 – heli/tour combo:
    Either Valdez Heli Touring or AK Ski Mountaineering Course. About $2000 less but probably not nearly the vert. Definitely a good option, especially if the weather window during our week isn’t ideal. http://www.pacificalpineguides.com/skiing/alaska/valdez-heli-touring and http://www.peakmountainguides.com/Alaskaskiing.html

    I’m leaning toward AK Heli. Seandog, Tom Burt, Haines, legendary outfit at a good price. :rock:

    #589884
    NickDrake
    46 Posts

    Peacefrog has solid advice. I did an ultra-ski bum special with AH in Haines in 2012. Going solo and trying to get in with groups was stressful, sometimes you fit in with a group of rippers, other times the only group with an opening that works for weight just isn’t on the same level. I rode two weeks, the recovery days were nice.
    If you are stoked to ride and a chill person they will treat you right. I don’t know if he’s guiding or being flown around by Jones now, but Lucas was a super fun guide to ride with.

    Bring extra luggage with you to Juneau and do what shopping you can for food at Costco there and bring it to Haines on the ferry. Especially fruit/produce, drastically lower prices. Rainier or PBR are acceptable forms of currency.

    The best weather windows tend to be the very end of March to mid April for storms to refresh between good weather windows. Nothing is guaranteed though, I would plan for at least two weeks and expect to ride for one. Showing up for 9 days and expecting to ride every one of them is an easy to end up bummed out waiting for weather to clear. I happened to get lucky and nail it, 15 days straight of riding, I blew all my money and it was worth every penny :headbang:

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