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Alaska Heli Skiing / Looking for Skiis / New Introductions

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hey guys and gals,

A few things:
First, I’ll be going to heli ski at CMH (Adamants) for a week at the end of January. I’m planning on writing up a big recap for y’all.
Second, I’m looking for recommendations for Alaskan heli ski operations – who can scare me silly/put me on the most ridiculous terrain? Eventually, (Although I may be planning for a 2009 trip at this point. It’s a little too late for 2008, but never say never) I may be looking for three other like-minded people with similar interests to fill out the heli.
Third, I’m (still!) looking for another pair of 2005 Head Mad Trix Mojos 186cm – best damn skis I’ve ever owned (it’s the one with the snakes on them). Anyone have a relatively not-beat-up pair they want to sell?

Anyway, I’m new around here and found this site when searching for Alaskan heli ski operations. I just joined up and thought I would introduce myself, so here I am. I’m 25, live in LA and split a place with friends at Mammoth so I’m up there on the weekends. I grew up in a ski town, and competed in freestyle (moguls) for a long time before going to college. Would love to hear from all you dedicated folks who make the LA/Mammoth trip regularly like we do!

Looking forward to hearing from everyone,
post #2 of 13
#2 http://www.arlinc.com/index.php

This was the most aggressive operation I've flown with.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the idea. I've seen their website before. Who else have you flown with?
post #4 of 13
your second request needs some rewording. All AK ops can scare you and put you on ridiculous terrain. Fly with the most experienced and the biggest safety records; CPG, H2O or VHSG. Some (not all) of the other ops have half their experience. Rendezous has also been around a while.

A few years ago, ABA didn't even have a hanger for their birds. I don't know if they do now or not. they were also the only operation flying during one of AK's worst avi cycles in '01. The other ops closed down, canceling filming crews and forcing big competition for seats. (this avi cycle scared so many experienced guides than some operations even got sold) Nor do they list their guides/credentials on their website.

Points North also just opened in like 2000 (?) although some of their guides have been around much longer than that.

I've flown with CPG and would do so again. I'd also fly with H20 or VHSG in a heartbeat.

(*disclaimer- I used to be a level 3 avi forecaster and value safety records.)
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
You're right about the safety issue.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I will likely be going by myself. For all of you that have gone by yourself, were you able to get into groups that were skiing where you wanted to ski, or did you feel like you were hamstrung by the other skiers? Maybe what I'm getting at is which operation has the most hardcore clientele?

How about flying days? Is it really that different between Cordova and Valdez, or should I just assume that I'm going to get in a couple of days either way, and bring a good book?
post #6 of 13
post #7 of 13
they all attract core athletes. Some more than others, I guess. CPG is based out of Girdwood, and is right next door to Alyeska, giving riders downdays on the snow. They also have cat skiing for when it's storming. H20 and VHSG are world-renowned for core trips. All ops will place you with groups to your ability.

Quite frankly, you'll be proving yourself to them. They may ask of your experience, etc, but the "I'm fast and don't want to ride with slow skiers" attitude is a blatant signal of "I'm also a rookie, and shouldn't be with any core riders." fwiw.

be modest. AK is a place where one can't see 5 feet below them due to the change in pitch. All that is visible from the peak is the valley floor. That'll grip any experienced skier.
post #8 of 13
Thanks for the review, habacomike.

skiermike123: Since I was the one who did that trip report, I'll throw in my $.02.

Samurai is absolutely right in that every operation up there can put you on terrain that will make your little sphincter flutter. I went with a group, but my experience was that if you've got the tools, they've got other riders they can put in the bird with you.

That said, you should be most interested in the operation's skiing practices as well as their snow and helicopter safety. The skiing is incredible no matter where you go up there but you really do want to come back in one piece.

And Samurai is also right about fantastic skiers being a dime a dozen up there. Those guides have seen it all. If you don't go in with the idea of impressing anybody, you'll just naturally find out where you fit in.

Have fun if you go.

I did. :
post #9 of 13
Keep in mind that the AK heli operations will admit that they only fly half the time because of weather, which may mean it's acutally even less. Like Samurai says, if you go with Chugach Powder Guides out of Alyeska you can have backup cat or area skiing instead of sitting in the fog running up a bar tab and playing ping pong at some of the more remote lodges.

When I skied at Alyeska we were on standby for cat skiing because the heli skiers had first dibs if the weather was bad. The weather was good, the choppers flew and we got the cat at a reduced rate. I have friends that went wtih the heli operations father north and only skied one or two days, but the terrain was off the scale.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I'm starting to think that it doesn't matter too much. Just cross your fingers on the weather, go with a reputable operation, and hope that it all works out... I'm stoked. Why don't people do this more often?
post #11 of 13
Originally Posted by skiermike123 View Post
Why don't people do this more often?
because it's expensive as hell, doesn't often link family members in the family vacation, etc...

I've only flown on two occasions- once in AK and once in NZ, not nearly enough. Convincing the wife, however, that I need 3 weeks to go hang out in AK, which will use up my vacation time and a good 10,000 in savings is nearly impossible.

However, I'm working towards career adjustments to allow for more frequent endeavours. It's all part of the master plan. Hopefully in the next two years, the vacation time won't be an issue, and salary should have more fruitful benefits as well. My goal is to have seasonal trips to AK be the norm by the time I'm 35. That sh:t takes severe planning. :
post #12 of 13
Originally Posted by skiermike123 View Post
Why don't people do this more often?
Because with plane tickets and everything else you can spend several grand and not make a turn. It's the most expensive skiing on the planet, and it's worth it when it's good, but it's almost as expensive when it's not. As my friend who's skied 65 weeks with CMH always says, it's the most expensive gamble you'll ever make.

Bottom line: You can't do it if you're not there. Pay your money and role the dice. A lot of people rationalize the expense by saying "it's a once in a lifetime trip," but I guarantee you that if it's a good week they will be planning to comeback by day 3.
post #13 of 13
I like Alaska Redevous because I know a lot of those guys and trust them. There are other operators up there that are good. I liked the CMH guys a lot too, but don't know them as well. I've met a few Alaska guides that I think I might choose to not ski with. I doesn't mean their not good. It's just my impression.
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