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Seth Waterfall Joins the First Ascent Team for Heli Skiing at Haines, AK
Posted on April 3, 2011

By Seth Waterfall

I awoke this morning at 4:30 a.m. just as my alarm started to go off. Not being what you would call a “morning person,” I usually take a second to come around but today I literally jumped out of bed. I knew that by early afternoon I would be in Haines, AK.

Typically when I head out on a trip I am faced with multiple hours, if not days, of flights and layovers, but going to Alaska has none of the hassles of international travel and yet it has world class mountain ranges. It’s one of the many reasons to love the state.

The two-and-a-half-hour flight from Seattle to Juneau was a breeze, and before I really knew it I was flying over Lynn Canal in a Cessna Caravan with seven other folks on our way to Haines. I was psyched to get my first look at the mountains that tower above the fjords in this part of AK, but instead I was greeted with snow flurries that forced the plane to fly low over the water. I love flying and totally enjoyed the flight, but I think some of the other folks on board would have preferred a smoother trip.

It was only a half hour of flying time though, and after an easy landing I met up with Tom Wayes and Sunny Sundberg. They quickly gave me a tour of town with a stop at the grocery store for the “hot case.” Apparently timing is everything when the store stocks the hot food in Haines as everyone we ran into asked us about what we got from the store and what was left in the case. I went with the bean-and-cheese burrito, Tom took down two cheeseburgers, and Sunny trumped us both and went for the gyro. I saw at least one person bolt straight for the store once they laid eyes on Sunny’s sandwich.

After that, I was prepared for an afternoon at the hotel, but Tom and Sunny thought that the weather might clear enough to go skiing. So they rounded up their clients, and we headed back to the airport. There we met up with Reggie Crist and Will Wissman. Reggie flew out with several folks to go check the weather and explore an ice cave, and the rest of us obsessed about the trends of the cloud cover for a few hours.  After Reg came back, it was decided to bag it for the day and hope for an early clearing tomorrow.

As I look outside now, it is definitely clearing up more and more every minute, so hopefully we’ll be able to fire up the helis and do some skiing.

Author: - Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

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