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I’ve been in Valdez, Alaska, since Saturday night. We managed to squeeze in two bluebird days on the peaks south of Thomspon Pass before 90-mph winds locked down the helicopters on Tuesday. Not even a flurry for the last few weeks, so skiing was a lesson in the many textures of wind-affected snow. We spent yesterday ice-climbing (in my Nordicas!) with Paul Turecki, a pioneer of ice routes throughout Alaska. I’m the only American in this week’s crew of Valdez Heli-Ski Guides clients. There are four Norwegians, two Scots, a Brit, and two Spaniards—kind of refreshing. The country up here is so spectacular that the skiing is almost secondary. I’d be happy if all we got to do was fly the birds around and look at the endless sea of peaks.
Today we head up the pass to Tsaina Lodge to wait. If the wind subsides, we should have some nice fluff tucked into all of the nooks and crannies. I’ll try to check in on Friday.
-Bass, March 15, 2006
Sam Bass’s piece on Valdez Heli-Skiing will appear in the February 2007 issue of Skiing.