Timing, timing, timing. Life is all timing. Sometimes plans take backseat to timing, sometimes plans are broken, but how is your timing ? My latest case of broken plans left me with perfect timing on an epic adventure. A great buddy of mine works at Alaska Heliskiing so all spring Haines Alaska was on my radar, I would look at the weather every few days mostly seeing lots of clouds and snow. Then I made some plans to ski around the wasatch with a friend after alta closed, that fell apart. I had looked at the weather in Haines a few days prior, nothing but clouds and snow for the 10 day forecast, it was Wedensday and now somehow there was sun in the forecast for the weekend. FUCK IT, I packed my bag and booked a flight for Thursday.
Packing sucked especially because a friend had my big ski bag.... All I had was a bag that held my skis and gloves and such. I packed my backcountry pack with skins, sleeping bag, helmet, waterbottle, camera and snacks. I wore multiple layers of clothes onto the plane. Overnight layover in seattle had me sneaking into town and staying up all night. Back on the plane 6:45 am I was on the milk run out of seattle which stops at all the small cities on the way to anchoridge. Outside of Ketchikan the mountains start building. Outside of Wrangell you start to see glaciers You get off in Juneau sit around, the ferry to haines has left already, so you charter a flight 100 dollars and I'm the only person on the flight, SHOTGUN! My first time on a small plane and WOW, Im really in Alaska, its just all endless mountains.
almost to Juneau, AK
Landing in Haines someone from AH was there to pick me up and bring me to town. Haines AK, still has an "IGA" everything is double price, but fine. 33 miles down the road toward canada AH's base sits. They briefed me so I would be ready to ski in the morning. My buddie finished up the guide meeting and we cruised back to his cabin 6 miles away.
Saturday 4/20/13 I'm waiting for my first ride in a helicopter. Many film crews were out that day so it took a while. You load up and take off, what you fly into is something you cant imagine. An ocean of massive mountains as far as you can see, you fly higher and see more even bigger peaks. Then the heli just plops down ontop of a mountain and you hop out.
The first run was decent, the snow started to turn sour about halfway down. Probably a 3000 foot line and your legs are blown up because you try to ski it all at once.
Chill out eat some snacks, heli comes zooming back in flys up the glacier, drops you off on another peak. It seems like you are going to get gyped because it only took like 20 seconds for the heli to fly out of the glacier onto the next drop. This line was totally fresh and the guide let the group go first. You still feel robbed because you think the run is small, but once someone drops in and skis for a minute or two you realize nope this is huge, there is just nothing to compare the size to. On this the snow was great all the way down its cool to be skiing for a long time.
Our third line of the day (gilligans island) is one I will remember forever. We were dropped off on a mellow ramp and the guide started talking about a 3,500 vert foot chute with a 50+ degree headwall, you deffenately couldnt see anything but a mellow line then a rollover about 1000 feet away. Whatever..... Tim the guide says hes going to ski half the line then send us down, he skis away down the mellow pow then disapears over the edge. 5 minutes later the group was getting nervous, we hadnt heard from the guide on the radios... is the run really that big ? Then he radioed sent me in first. A bunch of pow turns lead me to the rollover, then this bitch dropped away like I hadn't seen before. I saw the guides tracks heading left I said fuck it he left the fall line of the headwall for me I guess. Thigh deep blower is fun to ski, when its on a slope well over 50 degrees it gets insane. My turns kept getting bigger, as out of both sides of my eyes 6 foot high walls of snow were on either side of me, the slough was huge. KEEP SENDING OR GET SMOKED ! This upper 1,000 vert of skiing is burned into my brain as hands down some of the most thrilling turns I have ever made. The guide was off to the side on a bulge and yelled "KEEP GOING" I skied that baby all the way out. Waiting for the rest of the group I had plenty of time to just relax in the totally calm weather on a glacier in the middle of nowhere, pretty amazing.
Top of Gilliagans Island
Gilligans Island from the bottom, the steep headwall is up in the shadow.
The last line of the day (deflowered) was another steep headwall into mellow terrain that allowed for lots of turns, my guide said I was the new record holder for most turns on Deflowered.
The next day which happened to be the last day of the operations, we went back out and skied a few sick lines, one that turned to corn by the bottom when it changed aspects, another that was just massive and variable, a third I could have done without as it had a stout breakable crust, and the fourth was back to deflowered the mountain that had the most consistent snow in the range it seemed. I linked up a few hundred turns after jumping off a few things up top to break my own record and we called it a day.
La Blondo NW
La Blondo from the bottom
More La Blondo
AH was full of awesome people, we ate tons of fish and oysters and moose and I enjoyed 4 down days hanging out, getting drunk, raging the pioneer bar and trying to stay out of the mud.
The only bar where you drink all night free and people get haircuts with buck knives
N_GGERS "people that annoy you" 3 seconds mr. marsh