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Valdez Heli Skiing

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Has anyone been? If you have, and you have heli skied at other locations, what makes them better? Thanks!
post #2 of 10
LM, I went there in 95 when Doug Coombs was running an operation there, before it became as commercialised (commoditized?) as it seems to be now.Skiing was fabulous when you could fly but, as with any heli operation, weather was the issue. We only logged 4 days out of 9 ( we went at the end of March). Fortunately we had organized everything ourselves so we only paid for fly days that we used. We skied with Jim Conway as our guide and he was a great guy.

IMHO what makes Valdez stand out is that it has great high angle terrain and of course great snow. I would add tho that my only other heli-skiing experience was a couple of days in the Italian alps so can't compare too much. However some of my buddies I went with had tried a lot of other heli-ski operations and rated Valdez around the top of the list.

Unfortunately 3 of them were caught in an avalanche while heli-skiing in the Urals 4 years ago and one was killed so have not ventured back since.
post #3 of 10
LM- look at Eric Deslaurier's heli trips to Bella Coola, BC, too- ask Todd about it. Sounded incredible! He also guides a trip in Alaska, but I think that is to pretty extreme terrain. www.allmountainskipros.com.
post #4 of 10
I went a couple years ago with Alaska Backcountry Adventures in Thompson Pass (Valdez). We were lucky to have 2 clear days that weren't blowing, but the snow varied from pockets of light fluff in the gullies to ice, breakable crust, and every other kind of challenging condition. It seemed to change every 20 feet or so. Nothing like in the pictures. Howevert, that was some extremely steep and challenging terrain- it was a great life experience, not a great skiing trip. I spent more time standing around waiting than skiing, but 4 rides a day was all my legs could stand anyway.

If you want a reliable heliskiing trip, try the Selkirks. While not as extreme as Valdez, you're more likely to have great snow and clear weather. Any heliskiing vacation is going to require a certain amount of skier ability for it to be worthwhile, some just require more than others.
post #5 of 10
Heliskied in Valdez (Thompson Pass) back in '92 when they just started up.

We could fly each day but on some days only half, be prepared for quick changes between bluebird sky and horrible whiteout. So was the snow - mixed bag of anything even within the same run.

But as said before the terrain was outstanding and challenging, would do it anytime again if I could afford today's pricing.
post #6 of 10
Are you referring to VHS specifically or just skiing in Valdez in general?

I went with ARL in April and had a great time, but it's not for the faint of heart.


Here a long trip report with lots of pictures.

http://tetongravity.com/forums/showt...+HELI+SKIIN G
post #7 of 10
Thanks for the link to that report. A nice read.
I belong to TGR but had not come across that one. (yet)
post #8 of 10
If you go with Chugach Powder guides I believe they have a package that on days the chopper can't fly there is a seat for you to go cat skiing. Covers your bases somewhat for weather.
post #9 of 10
Yes, CPG has a very nice operation and you are guaranteed that you will be skiing. But I wouldn't pay the extra to be guaranteed a seat in the cat. Some days Alyeska has better skiing and if you don't use your guaranteed seat you forfeit the fee. Plus if you go standby it’s about $75 cheaper.

I would go with CPG if:

1. I wanted guaranteed skiing.
2. It was my first time heli skiing in Alaska.
3. I was interested in luxury accommodations and some nightlife.
4. Easy access was important, like for a short trip.
5. If I went before March 15, much more likely to have no fly days.

I would go with ARL if:

1. I want the most radical terrain.
2. I wanted the Valdez experience.
3. I wanted to scare myself silly.
post #10 of 10
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD
That's the best trip report I've ever read. I almost broke my mouse scrolling down to see what was next...
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