For the third consecutive year Jeff Dostie and I were fortunate to spend a little time on the mountain. The mountain in this case is a little place we call “Home Peak” in Alaska’s Chugach Mountain Range, arguably one of the best places to ski and ride on planet earth. As guides for the Points North Heli-Adventures Touring Program based out of Cordova, Alaska Jeff and I welcomed our second season of clients and couldn’t be happier with the results after four weeks of camping and ski touring in this little slice of skier heaven. We had some great guests, beautiful descents and an amazing amount of snow fall at camp this season- a conservative recording of 236 inches. Here’s the first piece in a series speaking to why traveling to ski in Alaska is always a gamble, always an adventure, and always worth every little bit of effort it takes to get there.
You never really know how things are going to play out when you plan a ski trip to the great state of Alaska. You could show up and not see the mountains for the whole duration of your trip. On the flip side you might time it just right and nail perfect weather, snow and stability. Usually over the course of a month or so you get a little bit of everything. Arriving in the middle of March Jeff and I were greeted to clear visibility of the Chugach Range- the views of why we do what we do to make it a priority to be here every ski season.
With a good window of weather Jeff, myself and our boy from Cordova, Wesley Thompson set up camp for the season and headed out for a tour. Our program is predicated on getting our living quarters, cooking area and other camp amenities established before our first guests arrive. Once camp is established it’s paramount to get out in the field and get a feel for the snow. The above shot shows Jeff skiing back to camp, which is seen off in the distance, after some snow stability tests and before any visitors had arrived.
The most brilliant Northern Lights show we saw at camp this season came on our first night out. After a day of ski touring in the Chugach, hanging at camp and enjoying 5-star winter camping cuisine, an aurora borealis display is tough to beat. This one was a doozy! Photo Credit:Wesley Thompson
Once our first crew of clients arrived from Washington, California, Virginia, Nevada and Colorado it was time to get after it. With not much new snow, but clear weather we ramped up each day seeking out the best snow we could find. Here our crew heads home touring the Simpson Glacier after skiing “Shakedown St.” (seen in the below photo).
The first several days in the field the snow did not showcase perfect Chugach conditions, but since we’re ski touring sniffing out the best of what’s available is the name of the game. Over several days we were able to ski several classic lines with our crew, find some great powder and break in a couple of first ascents/descents. By weeks end legs were sore, the stoke was high and the weather started to change. On the last night of week one it started to snow. The next time we saw a helicopter to pick us up close to 11 feet of new snow had fallen on camp.
11 feet is not a typo.
Stay tuned for episode 2 dropping soon…