Haines, Alaska, represents the frontier of big mountain heli skiing—a unique and rugged region sheltered by the highest coastal mountains in the world. Enormous peaks with renowned stature, such as St. Elias and Mount Fairweather, act as a buffer against violent Pacific storm patterns, creating a perfect eddy of weather and snow conditions.
It is a place where the road ends and the ocean and mountains begin, that special locale attracting the world’s best skiers and snowboarders attempting legendary first descents.
This year marked my 14th consecutive season in Haines, but I can honestly say that no two are the same. Prior to our arrival on March 18, the rumor mill was spinning with reports of, “The worst season in 10 years.” Gale force winds, lack of snow, and unusually cold temperatures forced a number of heli-ops to shut down and turn clients away during the month of February.
I must admit, I had my doubts, and I was waffling on purchasing a plane ticket to Juneau. It was a difficult decision made agonizing by the record amount of precipitation in Utah, Colorado, and California. Ironically, I pulled the trigger after a waist-deep powder day at Snowbird with the advice of photographer and good friend, Will Wissman: “A bad day in Haines is still potentially the best day of the season.” It all made perfect sense as the attached photos tell the real story.
It was another banner year in Alaska made possible by SEABA and the realization that you can only ride on the top three feet of blower powder.
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