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 Post subject: Where to heli-board in AK?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 6:03 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2005 9:24 am
Posts: 155
I know, I know, it's not "earning your turns" in the skinning sense. But, after a decade or two of earning our way at our respective careers, some friends and I want to go to AK for some heli time.

Problem is that researching what outfit to go with is downright overwhelming. There's tons of 'em and it seems like most don't publish their prices or packages online.

Has anyone here taken a heli trip to AK? If so, who do you recommend and why?


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 Post subject: Re: Where to heli-board in AK?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:16 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:45 am
Posts: 13
If you can choose only one destination in AK, go to Haines in late February or early March. I would recommend flying with Alaska Heli-Skiing (www.alaskaheliskiing.com). Alaska Heli-Skiing delivers the best bang for the buck in Alaska.

If you have to go Valdez, H20 Heli Guides (alaskahelicopterskiing.com) has the most terrain but they charge a premium.

Consider renting an RV with unlimited miles in Anchorage and seeing Alaska. Visit Turnagain Pass, Valdez & Haines. Just make sure that your posse is ready for border crossings.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to heli-board in AK?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 1:41 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2005 11:09 pm
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Location: white room
I'll second Alaska Heliskiing in Haines. But let it be known that operation is not about pampering guests with posh lodging and catered gourmet meals. They will get you the goods, though, and will let you ride the burliest terrain the weakest in your group can handle, provided the conditions allow it. Also, probably the best bang for your buck in AK. Be prepared for down days, bring a rod if you like fishing, your liver will likely take a beating, and the split might come in handy, too.

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 Post subject: Re: Where to heli-board in AK?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:07 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 10:10 am
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Location: Denver
Went to Haines last year. Had a great time. I would second the above. Best case scenario is good stable conditions, fresh snow, fill the heli with 5 rippers, and get a senior guide. If you can line those things up, I think its worth it. But come up short on one of those things, and the value per run drops significantly I think. I doubt I would do a package again unless I knew I had all of those things. I did the ski bum package. Out of 30 runs, I would say that 5-7 were really really good. But I like the gnarlier stuff so maybe my expectations are too high. If you don't mind half the runs being mellower, then you will enjoy it more. (they are still 3-5500' per run!) Accommodations were definitely spartan, but we weren't there to be pampered. The second week we rented a car and stayed in town, which was way better. I would recommend this place:

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


Next time I would drive up and mix up the trip with maybe a day heli, some camp (or boat!) shredding around Haines, and some time with Fly Drake.

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 Post subject: Re: Where to heli-board in AK?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:30 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:11 pm
Posts: 77
Location: Venice, CA
I've had a positive experience w Points North in Cordova. They run a
"Hippie Camp" where they fly you out to the edge
of the motorized zone and you set up camp.
I spent a week there earning my turns. I went in the first week of April 2012 and scored good weather window.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to heli-board in AK?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:17 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2005 9:24 am
Posts: 155
Thanks for the input guys! b PLease keep it coming. I'll look into that Haines outfit and Points North has already been floated by one of our group as a possibility. Some more background;

There's 4 of us. All pretty solid riders and I'm probably the biggest puss of the group - but still comfy on difficult terrain when the snow is good as long as mandatory airs aren't too extreme (e.g. most of Big Sky and Moonlight year round, although probably not Rock Pocket and maybe some other "locals only terrain" unless it's really filled in and soft, anything at all at Bridger).

Two of us, including a Moonlight Basin patroller, are experienced BC riders. The other 2 are not ready for it if avy danger is a concern.

We originally thought of going the RV route and going to AK Backcountry Adventures. One of our crew was there before and liked it but said that they only have one heli and we might not get our runs.

We do plan to spend time at Aleyska and maybe some salmon fishing. I hate the sight of alcohol and typically hide it in my stomach as fast as possible - and I think we're otherwise "connected" once we get there. We're ready for down time although we prefer not to see it.

One thing I'm curious about is the economics/convenience of a package deal (ride/lodging/food) versus the $ and hassle of lining up an RV (we'd pick it up after flying to AK) and buying/cooking our own food.


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 Post subject: Re: Where to heli-board in AK?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 11:22 pm 
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Location: Salida, Flagstaff
$750 for a seven day RV rental out of Anchorage the first week of last April. Company called Clippership. The propane heat worked sporadically; average temp some days was 0F. Four rear bunks, one up front. Stove, fridge (as if needed), pooper. Any more than three guys and gear might be too tight. Get to Anchorage, stock up at Costco, head out. Overall a flexible and functional way to go; stay at the base of routes, drive to where the snow's best. I was skeptical of the RV thing, but having a self-contained mobile living space to base out of actually works quite well.

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 Post subject: Re: Where to heli-board in AK?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:02 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:08 am
Posts: 123
Location: Melbourne, Australia
I went to AK rendezvous up on mile 45 Thompson pass season before last when it basically snowed from Xmas nonstop until The end of Feb.

Whilst I haven't gone with any other AK operators they (Alaska rendezvous) compare really well with Canadian and NZ heli trips I've done. What obviously sets Alaska apart is the terrain, and that season had unbelievably epic snow and a very stable snowpack.

Staying on site as opposed to down in Valdez was good as any down days (we had 2 out of 7) you are able to hop straight in da choppa at a moments notice if the weather lifted.

Terrain is as insane as you can handle e.g. North face of billy Mitchell. However, No guide is going to send you down a run with a "mandatory air", in fact you kind of have to tone that instinct down a bit as on the steeper runs these things have consequences! Having said that there are opportunities to get airborne but sometimes it's hard to scope out as from the top you may not see anything but a blind rollover. A good chat with the guide is the key here.

Accom is fairly basic, which suited me I didn't want to pay extra $$ for a flash room (I think some flah New Yorkers expect 5 star accom), the food and bar is great. It's a solid 3 second walk from the chopper to the bar for post heli shot and beer chaser :D ...

You can RV it and just plug in for power in the carpark if you like.

I didn't get any splitboarding in because our down days there was always a chance we could fly so I didn't want to be to far away.

Mt Tiekel looked to be a nice day split from their lodge.

From what I gather they have better weather that far up the pass and are sometimes flying when VHSG are grounded.

I'd like to check out Haines next time so I can compare Valdez vs Haines for myself, but if you're thinking the Chugach you could do much worse than AK rendezvous.

I did the alyeska visit first and that's a great warmup, want to head back for more and with splitboard.

If I can get enough starters I'm looking at private heli next time, you have much more control and its better value.

P.s. I got told by many people up in AK to avoid Valdez heli camps like the plague, I think they had financial problems and some clients lost deposits etc, although the business may have changed hands since.

Have fun, all things being equal ill be up there in march too!


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 Post subject: Re: Where to heli-board in AK?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2013 3:15 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 4:42 am
Posts: 312
Location: Girdwood, AK!!!
There are 2 operations in Haines; Alaska Heliskiing and SouthEast Alaska Backcountry Adventures, which are both awesome and still quite "cowboy" except there have been a couple of... well, snow related de-ths in the past 2 seasons which may have toned down their "cowboyness". I don't know.
SEABA has more options such as snowmachining and cat skiing, AH has Tom Burt!

Valdez has almost too many to choose from but my personal favorite operation at present is Alaska Snowboard Guides which has 2 world freeride champions amongst their guides, and they all love to explore new terrain and charge. Valdez Heli Ski Guides started it all with Doug Combs and still provides the most quality experience in Thompson Pass (Valdez). Their package includes both room and board with heli's right out your door, and a ski cat this season. Valdez Heli Ski Camps is a thing of the past, YAY!!! Alaska Rendezvous may or may not be operating, Theo (the owner/operator) passed away God rest his soul. And H2O is just plain expensive, but is owned and operated by Dean Cummings who is a living legend (just ask him).

Then there is Chugach Powder Guides in Girdwood, the closest and therefore easiest place to reach out of Anchorage who also has a cat and a lift accessed mountain resort to choose from on down days, and don't forget the Great Alaskan Bush Co.

And finally, if you really want to drop some dough, Tordrillo Mountain Lodge would be the bomb!

All in all, you really can't go wrong... They're ALL located in ALASKA!

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 Post subject: Re: Where to heli-board in AK?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:42 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:45 am
Posts: 13
splittilps wrote:
Thanks for the input guys! b PLease keep it coming. I'll look into that Haines outfit and Points North has already been floated by one of our group as a possibility. Some more background;

There's 4 of us. All pretty solid riders and I'm probably the biggest puss of the group - but still comfy on difficult terrain when the snow is good as long as mandatory airs aren't too extreme (e.g. most of Big Sky and Moonlight year round, although probably not Rock Pocket and maybe some other "locals only terrain" unless it's really filled in and soft, anything at all at Bridger). Your group size is just about right and if you are used to Montana riding you will be fine in big mountain riding in AK with a heli operation.

Two of us, including a Moonlight Basin patroller, are experienced BC riders. The other 2 are not ready for it if avy danger is a concern.

We originally thought of going the RV route and going to AK Backcountry Adventures. One of our crew was there before and liked it but said that they only have one heli and we might not get our runs. AK Heliskiing in Haines can call in additional copters from Juneau if needed when they get busy, if they are low on seats head down the road to SEABA. If you are going anywhere but Haines and want to fly more than a couple days you will want to book a package to secure your seats. Put down a deposit for a couple days of day skiing with AK Heli and tell them how long you are planning to "lurk" waiting for good days and check in with them when you are on the road or flying into Juneau.

We do plan to spend time at Aleyska and maybe some salmon fishing. I hate the sight of alcohol and typically hide it in my stomach as fast as possible - and I think we're otherwise "connected" once we get there. We're ready for down time although we prefer not to see it.

One thing I'm curious about is the economics/convenience of a package deal (ride/lodging/food) versus the $ and hassle of lining up an RV (we'd pick it up after flying to AK) and buying/cooking our own food.
R/V is probably going to be about the cheapest option for lodging especially if you go to Valdez or Haines plus you can park it pretty much where you plan to ride or hike. No morning commute from town (Valdez/Haines)


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