Can Skiing Save Valdez, Alaska? - Ski Mag

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This is a view of a region called the Iguana Backs. Valdez Heli-Ski Guides can you to this terrain, to ski 1,500-foot-long couloirs of creamy Chugach powder. I'm currently spending two weeks parked in an RV at Valdez Heli-Ski Guides with two of the best telemark skiers in the country—Paul Kimbrough and Jake Sakson, who recently first and second, respectively, in the Telemark Freeskiing World Championships, which was held at Alyeska, Alaska, last weekend. Also with us is in the RV is Jonah Howell, who is filming footage for Powderwhore Productions, a telemark-specific ski movie. During downtime in the RV, I asked Paul and Jake for some pointers on skiing steep terrain on telemark gear. Find out their tips and check out photos from our trip in the next few slides.

Valdez, Alaska

In 1993, ski legend Doug Coombs opened Alaska's first heli-ski operation in Valdez. Skiing Magazine's Megan Michelson is currently spending two weeks in an RV parked at Valdez Heli Ski Guides with two of the best telemark skiers in the country. Here are photos from their trip—along with pointers on how to ski Alaskan-style steeps.

When Doug Coombs opened Valdez Heli Ski Guides in 1993, it was the first heli-ski outfitter in Alaska. Now owned and operated by Scott Raynor, VHSG has access to over 2,500 square miles of glaciated terrain, with one run as long as 6,200 vertical feet (it's called the Diamond, and if you're lucky, you'll get to ski off the top). You can book single-day packages starting at $925 (for six runs) or all-inclusive weeklong packages from $7,640. Find out more or book a trip at Valdezheliskiguides.com.

Valdez Heli-Ski Guides

Do whatever it takes: refinance your home, sell your kidney, get a telemarketing job. But at some point in your life, you need to go heli-skiing in Alaska. Here are photos from a day with Valdez Heli-Ski Guides—to show you why it's worth saving for.

The down time worked, and we headed off in generally good spirits toward our final objective. We made our advanced base camp at snow line, in the midst of what might vary well be the best trundling zone in the world. Although we couldn’t muster the energy to hike any further, we easily found enough energy to roll massive rocks for a solid hour before going to bed. Our final ski day lacked the trepidation of the other ski days—there wasn’t a sense of urgency and we made a couple of laps on generally mellow slopes. It had the feeling of a fun spring day at a podunk resort rather than another day on a month long odyssey. As we headed back down to the rafts, the skiing behind us, I was overcome with a sense of relief. The trip wasn’t done by any means, but I felt the hardest, most dangerous part of the trip was behind us.

Dream Trips: Alaska

What's your dream ski trip? Griffin Post, Drew Stoecklein, Todd Ligare, and Lars Chickering-Ayers attempt to ski and raft from a river's source to the sea in Alaska's Brooks Range.

Arctic Man

Arctic Man

At Arctic Man, skiers and snow-machiners unite for one of skiing's weirdest races. There are busted bones, burning couches, and hopes of seeing Todd Palin. Surviving the 4.5-mile race is the easy part. We have helmet cam footage and in-depth account from last spring's race in Alaska.

Helicopter

Dream Jobs: Helicopter Pilot

Ken Schwabenton, helicopter pilot at Points North Heli-Adventures, spends more than 50 days a year skiing untouched Chugach powder. And that's just a side perk. Here's how he got the job, the weirdest places he's ever flown, and what it feels like to fly.

Dan Carr Photography Tips

How to Shoot Ski Photos from a Helicopter

The work of Whistler-based ski photographer Dan Carr has been featured in ski magazines and commercials across the world. He recently returned from a heli-skiing trip to Alaska and spoke to us about what it’s like dangling from a chopper by a harness and how you can get a bird’s eye view without a helicopter.