Helicopter pilot Chet Simmons, one of the original members of Valdez's "Ski to Die Club," played a critical role in bringing heli-skiing to Alaska. He was flying supplies to the interior during the oil pipeline's construction when he started charging skiers $25 a drop. We caught up with him on Thompson Pass after a day of skiing and got to fire off a few rounds from his rifle.

Can Skiing Save Valdez, Alaska?

What happens when an oil town runs out of oil? What if that town happens to access some of the best skiing in the world? We sent Devon O'Neil to Valdez, Alaska, to report on just that for a story in our November issue. This is what he saw.

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.