Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 29 total)
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  • #580074
    saign
    330 Posts

    So after missing an opportunity a few years back (had a wedding instead 😥 ) This spring the wife and I are going on separate vacations, and I’ll be making my first trip to AK :headbang:

    I think I’m pretty set on heading into Haines, and doing some glacier camping and touring, maybe a day of heli.

    I’ve talked to Mt flying service, and know about Drake, but haven’t contacted him yet, as the crew size is still up in the air, and he has an 800lbs limit.

    I’m thinking maybe the Fairweather range around glacier bay, or the chilkat, wrangells etc.

    Anyways, who’s been? Any advice on zones, places to stay, roadside touring while waiting for weather etc

    Any advice would be appreciated, there may be an open spot or two as well, as one is healing from a broken foot, and another isn’t 100% committed.

    Thanks

    #677124
    _ZakMills
    72 Posts

    Last spring was my first trip to AK (spent 3 months in haines april-july). Drake is the man, if you can fly with him i’d highly recommend it. His prices are more than fair and he is the guy you want to have backing you up in town. I heard several stories of people being caught in storms and Drake showed up un-announced to pick them up during a slim weather window before the storm continued. I stayed at the mountain view hostel (run by alaska mountain guides) pretty poor accommodations but the price is good. It’s pretty much the dirt bag option. There are a few other places to stay in town. Captain lodge or something like that? For flights I flew into Juneau and then took a $50 ferry ride to Haines. The ferry ride was so much fun and it was a fantastic way to see the mountains lining the inlet. Flights are also available from Juneau for around $100 but heavy weight will make the flights cost more. I flew with Alaska sea planes on the return journey. I did not have a car to do any roadside touring, go talk to Jeff at the outdoor store in town. He has the local beta for sure. I guess roadside touring is totally an option and there is some local trees to shred as well. Mount Ripinski looms right over town and has some great terrain on it. Not the dreamy AK spine world though. The boarder is about an hour north of town and there is some great roadside touring up there but if weather is an issue you probably wouldn’t want to be driving up there. As far as zones go, we spent 4 weeks out by flower mountain (right around 35 mile) and the heli op is at 33 mile. We skinned from the car and were up there more for learning than for riding. We got buzzed by helis and saw several sledders out there. We made it all the way back to the Tsirku glacier which is pretty much the west side of the fairweathers, those mountains out there are unreal. Super heads up out there though, glacier travels skills are mandatory in most places. Food is expensive too so if you can get food in juneau and bring it on the ferry that’s a much better way to do it than to buy everything in Haines. Mountain market is a great local spot to grab a good healthy breakfast/lunch. Let me know if you have any other questions!

    #677123
    christoph benells
    717 Posts

    I would highly recommend the Juneau icefield traverse. beautiful and great looking ski terrain awaiting first ascents and descents. way tougher and cooler than flying in on a heli or ski plane and doing the same ol trip that everyone does nowadays.

    http://aaj.americanalpineclub.org/climbs-and-expeditions/north-america/alaska/coast-mountains/2011-traverse-of-juneau-icefield-possible-first-ascents-and-ski-descents-by-oli-lyon-u-k/

    I spent a month on the icefield in july last summer, it was a great experience. We took a boat from atlin b.c across atlin lake to the lewellyn glacier. too late in the summer for quality skiing and boarding, but I most likely got the first ski descent of mt London, (on approach skis with leather mountaineering boots, with viole mtn plates for bindings)!!!

    http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1114955

    doitdoit

    #677125
    sometimesdylan
    5 Posts

    haines is awesome. on the US side there is not as much “easy” road side touring as in valdez, a lot of the mountains have a pretty long approach though the woods and stuff. still, once you get up into the pass the mountains are really accessible, but bring a passport! heres a good guide for the yukon side of things:
    http://yukonbackcountryskiing.com/book/

    as for places to stay, i’d recommend staying at the “funny farm”. bruce is the man. he’s located near 30 mile so youre just a quick hop and skip away from all the fun at 33 mile.
    if you can get a couple buddies together you can rent one of his cabins and it’s one of the cheaper options for a roof over your head.
    http://funnyfarmak.com/home

    your best bet for weather is in haines…but there are plenty of options here in juneau, too. not to mention that we have a ski resort if you’re ever weathered in… just throwing this out there 😉
    http://alaskapowder.com/

    #677126
    saign
    330 Posts

    Thanks for the replies.

    Chris,

    I appreciate the advice on the traverse, but I’m going for 2 weeks max, and I’m more into riding than skinning 200km. I’m sure it was amazing and wouldn’t mind doing something like that in the future, and totally commend you for doing it, but this trip is about riding gnar AK lines, not traversing. When traversing comes in, riding lines is kinda a second thought, and the first one is making it to the destination. The main focus of this trip is to ride lines.

    Earnyourturn and sometimesdylan,

    Thanks for the recommendations, I’m going to look into them!

    Here’s to a fat and stable snowpack this spring, and hopefully a weather window! :guinness: :thatrocks:

    #677127
    christoph benells
    717 Posts

    2 weeks is a pretty short trip for glacier camping in ak. (unless you’re flexible with dates and cherry pick the best weather window, like some of the “smash and grab” climbing trips that have been happening) expect to be stormed in 1/2 the time and then waiting for a day or 2 for the snow to shed. that’s leaving you with only a few days of riding…and don’t forget your going to have to pack out a runway for the plane to land, which could take a whole day or at least an afternoon. sorry if that sounds pessimistic.

    Or maybe it’ll be bluebird the entire time and you’ll score the best runs of your life!!! I’d say there’s an equal chance for both…either way it will be an epic time!

    #677128
    HikeforTurns
    1113 Posts

    I was there for just two weeks doing mostly heli, but good advice so far. We stayed at a ladys house on Mosquito Lake (dirtbag option with AK Heli). Might be able to contact her direct, though its a little awkward coming and going with her and or family living there. Beautiful spot though. The rest of the time we stayed in Haines at the Beach Road House.

    http://www.beachroadhouse.com/node/1

    This place was legit and the owners were super cool. More expensive but great setting with the water , town and hiking trails nearby for down days. The drive up from town is a piece of cake if you are used to commuting. This would be my preference, though longer to the CA border. You could always camp for that stuff. I’d hit the Fireweed for pizza and Mosey’s Cantina for mexican. Also got to stop at the 33 mile roadhouse for breakfast or burgers.

    As mentioned, I think Jeff Moski runs the Haines avalanche info center, and would be good to hook up with. You can also follow the Heli ops webpage to follow snow conditions.

    http://alaskasnow.org/haines/conditions.php

    We did some touring on 4 winds https://www.flickr.com/photos/forrestthorniley/11379391225/ near 33 mile and up along the canadian border near 3 guardsmen https://www.flickr.com/photos/forrestthorniley/11379389625/. Ill echo what was said about long approaches doing stuff before you get to the border, pretty similar to WA though. We saw sledders getting into this zone from near 33 mile
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/forrestthorniley/11379522303/
    http://goo.gl/maps/zGTQb.

    Once closer to the border the snow was much shallower and more like continental snowpack. Shorter approaches and not many trees, but would suck to get stuck in a whiteout around here. The Yukon is worth heading into, talk about middle of nowhere. The real spine lines seemed to be harder to get too, maybe 5+ miles from the road. I think if you are doing roadside stuff Valdez/Thompson Pass would be the way I’d go, with maybe a sled shuttle or heli bump throw in. Unless you are set on doing the Fly Drake stuff, which would be super rad if you get good weather. I still want to do it someday. I’d hit up JTrue on the TGR forums. I know Russman has done the trip as well.

    http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php/263616-TR-Haines-AK-Glacier-Trip

    Another trip I’d like to do is rent a boat and explore some of the terrain you see coming into Haines on the ferry, pretty epic. Probably heavier and more maritime but I think its off limits for Heli and probably untouched for the most part. Check the pics at the beginning of this set:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/forrestthorniley/sets/72157638686520945/

    #677129
    Mike Hardaker
    20 Posts

    DO IT, nothing compares and it will make you laugh at most mountains in the lower 48’s


    Travis Young (known to lurk on here) enjoying Haines

    I know this is a splitboard forum but you would be doing yourself a serious injustice by not spending a day or 3 or more with Sean Dog and the boys and gals at Alaksa Heliskiing. $125 a lap last time I was there.. Point to a peak they take you. ( be sure to have a heli full of your crew and make sure everyone is strong) – they wont let you get gnarly if people are gaping..


    God damn I miss Haines!!! A little perspective..

    Lodging: Funny Farm no questions asked. Well you may want to ask Bruce if he was rooms. We met him and his ex-wife at a bar one night, he says why dont you come stay at the Funny Farm. We looked at him like ya fucking right dude.. Turns out best move ever!!

    Fireworks: 28 mile I believe is where the sketchy dude lives, just ask Bruce.

    Food: 33 Mile Burger, repeat, ( although I did hear it was sold?? ) Stay with Bruce, get on the meal plan and eat things like this:

    Another lodging option is the Mountain Chalet

    Although we got a bit rowdy there as their first renters…. So not sure about them anymore. Stay with Bruce, have him take you fish on down days.

    Splitboarding is awesome, don’t get me wrong however sometime a heli bump is even cooler. Just ask Ryland about when we snaked him and the boys on Indy 5000… Sorry about that Ry 🙂 Helis are much faster

    #677130
    saign
    330 Posts

    Thanks for the recommendations.

    The tentative plan so far is to fly into Juneau and take the boat. We’re definitely on the dirtbag budget, going for 2 weeks hoping to be able get dropped and camp tour for around 5 days and maybe do a day of heli. So we’re probably looking to stay closer to where the planes are as opposed to the heli. We even thought of maybe renting an RV or van, when we were thinking of Valdez as well, we found them for pretty cheap out of Anchorage.

    I’ve heard elsewhere that a little ways into Canada there’s tree zones, with pillows and other goods right off the highway to tour when it’s storming, anybody have any experience with that? I’d also like to stay away from heli zones while touring if possible. That’s the point of the plane drop, and going to Haines instead of Valdez, but if there’s anything accessible from the road that I won’t have to worry about getting dropped in on, that would be prime.

    How’s the border crossing to the yukon? Is there one? I’m not really allowed in Canada, but I do have a passport, and know plenty of people who have slipped through at major border crossings, so I’m hoping it won’t be an issue up there.

    Thanks

    #677131
    sometimesdylan
    5 Posts

    @saign wrote:

    Thanks for the recommendations.

    The tentative plan so far is to fly into Juneau and take the boat. We’re definitely on the dirtbag budget, going for 2 weeks hoping to be able get dropped and camp tour for around 5 days and maybe do a day of heli. So we’re probably looking to stay closer to where the planes are as opposed to the heli. We even thought of maybe renting an RV or van, when we were thinking of Valdez as well, we found them for pretty cheap out of Anchorage.

    I’ve heard elsewhere that a little ways into Canada there’s tree zones, with pillows and other goods right off the highway to tour when it’s storming, anybody have any experience with that? I’d also like to stay away from heli zones while touring if possible. That’s the point of the plane drop, and going to Haines instead of Valdez, but if there’s anything accessible from the road that I won’t have to worry about getting dropped in on, that would be prime.

    How’s the border crossing to the yukon? Is there one? I’m not really allowed in Canada, but I do have a passport, and know plenty of people who have slipped through at major border crossings, so I’m hoping it won’t be an issue up there.

    Thanks

    Alaska Heliskiing does a heli-tour option where they will drop you off in a zone and let you tour all day, I think. Had a couple friends go and do something like that last spring with them. They had the whole place to themselves pretty much, as people got spooked away from Haines when SEABA had that accident.

    There is a lot of easy road side trees (and steeps) in Juneau, but as far as in Canada I am not too sure. The border crossing is just the same as any Canada-USA border crossing. I have had a couple friends searched going through, but your experience may vary…

    Snow level dropped to 3000 feet last night… Starting to get real pretty up here :disco:

    #677132
    sometimesdylan
    5 Posts

    Just a couple photos from around here last winter because I am excited and I want you to be too


    #677133
    NickDrake
    46 Posts

    As was said before, get food in Juneau first, go to Costco and stock up because everything is already expensive in AK and terribly so in Haines (beer, buy beer). If you’re hanging around 33 mile beer is like gold. I do highly recommend doing at least a few heli served laps with Alaska Heli Skiing, you’re really selling yourself short if you don’t. Do what it takes to make it happen, when I went I sold my car before hand to fund more heli time (nailed a weather window, rode every day for 2 weeks straight which is unheard of). Right near 33 mile are the classics of indy 5000 and hangover, both highly recommended (indy 500 is a fun warm up also).
    Oh and when I was there all the produce was brown in the stores, but somehow they had fresh salad at 33 mile. On day 10 of nothing but carbs and meat you’ll appreciate some greens 😉

    #677134
    fustercluck
    668 Posts

    Although my experience in the area involves a lot more time in the bird than on skins, I don’t think Haines is ideally suited for touring unless you are getting dropped somewhere by plane or camping due to the approaches, though there is obviously killer riding to be had. The helis access enough terrain that they will generally stay away from people touring. The border crossing can be a bitch as they get pretty bored there. I know I’ve read about some fun touring and riding in Canada, but once you get to the border the snowpack quickly transitions to continental. The Funny Farm is legit, especially if you are there for fish fry night. And definitely make sure you do at least a couple days with AK Heli, but make sure you shred your credit card or lose your wallet before you get in too deep.

    #677135
    nwkayaker
    18 Posts

    Saign,

    If you are targeting an Alaskan spring trip where you are going to be mainly skinning I would encourage you to consider targeting Anchorage instead of Haines. Check out: stockalpine.com, dongshow-productions.com, http://www.frqncy.com/news/2013/11/22/roadside-runs-in-alaska-with-the-provo-bros. The Turnagain Pass/Girdwood area offers an amazing amount of prime terrain close to the road. Turnagain Pass is the place to be if you are traveling under your own power, hunting powder. It also provides a lot of options to change venues (Talkeetnas, Hatchers Pass, Valdez) if the conditions aren’t happening, (plus Alyeska Resort and Chugach Powder Guides — heli)

    There are excellent fly-in options from the road system out of Anchorage into The Talkeetnas, The Tordillos or Wrangells that could put you into prime zones for touring that aren’t as heavily glaciated as the high alpine in Haines.

    I wouldn’t trivialize the border crossing into or out of Haines, just avoid it without a passport.

    #677136
    saign
    330 Posts

    Thanks for all the advise, It’s very appreciated.

    We’re not so much looking for roadside touring as the main goal, but more of something that is doable when it’s storming. I think we’re pretty set on doing a plane drop and camping as the main objective, and probably 1 (maybe 2) heli days if possible.

    We’re still not set on Haines, but the terrain there is definitely appealing. It would be nice if the terrain is less glaciated, the less hazard management the better. But some friends have gone to Thompson pass on a bad snow year, and it was pretty crappy until a storm came in on the last couple days and they got in one good day in the heli. While I know higher elevation could just mean bulletproof ice instead of low tide, I would kinda think that you could find something better up high than low. If it’s really bad, we’ll probably just head somewhere else.

    We’re definitely trying to avoid the crowds etc of tailgate.

    I have a question for the guys who have been in the heli:

    Which operation did you use, and if you had a full group, did you get to ride the gnar? Or were you farming turns on mellow slopes and taking picture of the gnar that surrounds. (when I say mellow slopes, I mean wide open runs, or something you could find in the a resort without the vert and being untracked

    Also If you did get to ride the goods, how long did it take to get there? Like did they test your skills on a warm up run then, once they see you can hang let you start pointing to peaks, or was it more structured, or?

    I know you’re only as good as the worst person in your group, and I’ve seen a lot of film/pics, and heard stories of getting dropped on stuff I wouldn’t want to pay that much for. So I’m curious to hear other peoples experiences.

    Thanks

    #677137
    peacefrog
    376 Posts

    I’m in Juneau give me a call 907-957-six-zero-3- six. I think this is more complex then a forum

    #677138
    davidr
    102 Posts

    @saign wrote:

    But some friends have gone to Thompson pass on a bad snow year, and it was pretty crappy until a storm came in on the last couple days and they got in one good day in the heli. While I know higher elevation could just mean bulletproof ice instead of low tide, I would kinda think that you could find something better up high than low. If it’s really bad, we’ll probably just head somewhere else.

    We’re definitely trying to avoid the crowds etc of tailgate.

    I have a question for the guys who have been in the heli:

    Which operation did you use, and if you had a full group, did you get to ride the gnar? Or were you farming turns on mellow slopes and taking picture of the gnar that surrounds. (when I say mellow slopes, I mean wide open runs, or something you could find in the a resort without the vert and being untracked

    I went to Thompson Pass this past April (during a “bad snow year”) the week after Tailgate and had amazing snow and saw little remnants of the tailgate scene.

    I think everyone shows up to AK and tells the heli op – “I want to ride the gnar”. I will say our runs got progressively better and better. Consider spending a few days in the area beforehand, putting in some legwork to learn the snowpack/terrain so when you show up to the op they’re more likely to understand/believe where you’re coming from.

    #677139
    davidr
    102 Posts

    Anyone done the sled rental through Black Ops?

    #677140
    splittilps
    154 Posts

    @saign wrote:

    I have a question for the guys who have been in the heli:

    Me and 3 pals went to Haines in March 2014, just days after the SEABA accident. I can agree with the other’s about the following;

    – take the ferry. It’s beautiful.
    – get all the food and booze you can in Juneau.
    – Stay with Bruce at the Funny Farm. We were on the Dirtbag Special so we had the back house. It was comically “unpolished” but perfect for 4 dudes. The parrots were cool to see and the sauna was sweet.

    I can’t say much about access from the road as we spent the whole time in the heli (AK Heliskiing at 33 Mile). I’d recommend them to anyone. Being that we had sketchy conditions there were some runs that they didn’t take anyone on while we were there (Indy 5000, Porky Spines) but we did get some epics like Hangover. They definately feel you and your group out for a bit but the only time we were slightly dissapointed with the terrain was during a low angle day at Four Winds which was required due to heavy windloading the night before. Ours and another group each triggered small avies on that day so the safety concern was well appreciated. It was really fun watching how the guides managed terrain to keep everyone in safe spots. Really really professional, I can’t say enough about them.

    BUT, based on my limited experience, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that “you can just point at a peak and go there”. There is a fair bit of logistics and coordination between groups and the heli(s) to minimize wasted gas and down time, and for safety reasons. If you wanted to go somewhere that threw a wrench into that they probably wouldn’t take you. Although they sure do try hard to keep everyone happy :thumbsup:

    #677141
    D-GREEN
    336 Posts

    First; anywhere you go and any operation you use, you’ll love it. It’s Alaska! The only real deterrent is the weather, and we get some shitty weather (Everywhere!).

    Second; ” I think we’re pretty set on doing a plane drop and camping as the main objective… It would be nice if the terrain is less glaciated, the less hazard management the better. “

    …Any plane drop you get is going to be on a glacier and you better be prepared for that (i.e. ropes, harnesses, ice axes, crampons, and knowledge). Repeat; Any plane drop is on a glacier, and the weather does not get any better up there.

    Obviously, Anchorage is the easiest place to get to. Anchorage also has many options/weather variations around it. If it’s shitty in Turnagain Pass it could be sweet in Hatchers Pass or even sweeter on Thompson Pass. If it’s shitty in Haines, well, you’re stuck there. There are fly in services out of Anchorage as well as Talkeetna to a little known place called The Alaska Range too (but it’s glaciated). My advice: rent a RV in Anchorage and camp out on the roadside. Talk to each of the guide services personally and see which seems the most legit to you. Then on a super sweet day, go for it! But until then, why limit yourself to one area and one company?

    As I said: Anywhere you go and any operation you use, you’ll love it. It’s Alaska!

    Decisions… decisions… decisions.. :nononno: :scratch: :nononno:

    Good luck, and we’ll all be waiting for the report. :mrgreen:

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