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heli-skiing in Alaska?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
40th birthday is next year and the wife has given the OK for a heli-skiing adventure. (A relatively cheap cure for midlife crisis in comparison to a Porsche or a sordid meaningless affair). Now that the Alaska heli season is done, I would ask any Bears that have been there to give their assesment of the various companies. I am currently biased toward Chugach Powder Guides for the simple reason that the thought of flying to Alaska and sitting in the Lodge on no fly days seems pointless when you could instead Ski Alyeaska. I am a strong level 8 and I am more interested in the total experience,(surviving it especially)not the sysiphean quest for vertical. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 6
Make sure you go to Valdez! Been to Alaska twice, ski'd with Valdez Heli Ski Guides out of the Tsaina Lodge one time and did the Alyeska thing the next time. No comparison! I'd never ski with Chugach Powder Guides at Alyeska ever again. What a waste of a trip!
post #3 of 6
Originally posted by retinadoc:
<SNIP>A relatively cheap cure for midlife crisis in comparison to a Porsche or a sordid Meaningless affair. <SNIP>
HEY NOW what you got against Porsche or a sordid Meaningless affair?!!!
post #4 of 6
Chugach Powder Guides is a solid company that tries to give you your money's worth. Unfortunately, the snow on this side of the Chugach can be kinda boney (rocks). Their snowcat skiing is pretty much what you'd see at Alyeska, since it's in the same valley (from what I've heard, anyway).

Alyeska is nobody's idea of a destination resort. It has some great inbounds skiing, but nothing I'd base my vacation on.

Alaska Backcountry Adventures (Http://www.alaskabackcountry.com) in Thompson Pass (Valdez) has a pay by the flight policy, and a full day of Heliskiing is still below $500. Great bunch of guys, no-frills, all-business operation that gives the biggest bang for the buck in the area. However, Valdez can be kinda hit or miss. When it's good, it's very good. When it's bad, it's painful. It gets very cold with not as much snow in the early part of the season, and the later part is taken up with festivals and filming. Plan well.

If you have the money, you might want to look at Blue River, BC as well. They seem to have more reliable conditions, and they definitely take care of you. You pay for it, though.
post #5 of 6
I was just in Alaska April 10-21. Skied in Alyeska for two days at the beginning of my trip and spent a week in Valdez heli-skiing or attempting to heli-ski when the weather co-operated. Got three bluebird days in a row followed by four down days. The skiing was a mixed bag of snow conditions as this has been a very lean year snowpack wise for the Valdez end of the Chugach. I skied with Valdez Heli-Ski Guides. Great people. Great guides. Great scenery.
Some powder, some windslab, etc.Though they have some intermediate terrain the real draw here is the steep and deep. Also their landing zones can be very exposed and intimidating to some. From your description of your ability and desires I would recommend Alyeska and Chugach powder Guides.Alyeska resort is a great ski area with some excellent in area steeps. The North Face is 2300 vert from 40-50 degrees. This year CPG had better snow than Valdez. The combination of Alyeska Prince Hotel, Girdwood's excellent restaurants,the ski area(Alyeska), plus backup snowcat skiing on weather days is probably the totalpackage that you are looking for. I am basically a professional ski bum, having skied 150+days for the last 30 seasons. I chose Valdez strictly for the ski experience. Having been there and done that, my next trip, if I can afford it might well be with Chugach Powder Guides. The cost is about the same with either operation.
post #6 of 6
I recommend heli-skiing in Canada; they have been at it longer, have better weather and the US$ is doing well in Canada. I have spent a lot of time in Valdez and can only remember a hand full of sunny days, most of the time it is snowing or raining. Almost all of the skiing is done above treeline and on or near glaciers, therefore the ability so see where you're going is crucial, skiing on a glacier during a whiteout is quite scary. So if this is your 40th birthday bash might as well make it a good one!
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