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poutanen 04-10-2014 11:56 AM

Virus Avalanche - Heli Boarding
Not me!!! Just shows that I'm not the only one out there that thinks the Avalanche FLP AFT makes a great off-piste board.

Get past the first shakey minute and then it's good...

hardasacatshead 04-10-2014 12:26 PM

Well I have a hard on. Thanks Pout :blink:

poutanen 04-11-2014 02:01 PM

Yep, the lines just go and go and go... :blink:

hardasacatshead 04-11-2014 02:04 PM

They do, which is awesome. But to be honest the terrain looked a little boring, it'd be nice with a few natural rollers etc to pop off on the way down. In saying that, if was there I'd be all "Yeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwww!!!!" the whole way down. :laugh:

poutanen 04-11-2014 02:22 PM


Originally Posted by hardasacatshead (Post 1676897)
They do, which is awesome. But to be honest the terrain looked a little boring, it'd be nice with a few natural rollers etc to pop off on the way down. In saying that, if was there I'd be all "Yeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwww!!!!" the whole way down. :laugh:

Yeah that pics that Neni posted of heli boarding in AK looked like there were a few more natural features to hit. In the vid it looked like there may have been higher avalanche risk? Maybe they were riding safer terrain due to higher risk?

THIS is where I want to Heli board! Looks like the rock garden at Lake Louise, but bigger, and untouched!

hardasacatshead 04-11-2014 02:24 PM

Yeah, looks ok :blink:

MarshallV82 04-11-2014 03:42 PM

Deltron 3030
Haha. They put on a pretty sick concert!

Looks like a blast, I'd love to make an Alaska trip one of these days!

timhatimay 04-13-2014 08:15 PM

Hey that's my video! Haha, just stumbled upon this thread, and figured I would say Hi. It was definitely a dream vacation, and the Virus avalanche was a great board. It floats pretty well, and is a lot of fun in everything I've tried so far. Actually, thanks to Poutanen for your reviews of the board, because it was one of the reasons I ordered it this year. I certainly haven't been disappointed!

In regards to the terrain, about 50% of the video is actually from 2 different runs that we did a few times each. It was indeed mellower terrain, and while we did get to play on a few rollers, hips, etc., we generally avoided them due to higher avalanche risk. It was still great fun on these runs, because it makes you feel like Craig Kelly or something just ripping down from the top of the ridge with big snow-tails behind you.

On the whole the terrain was definitely not mellow or boring, however. Staring about 7:30 in the video we start to get into some steep pitches. At about 10 minutes is probably one of the steepest runs we did, which you can tell by the significant amount of slough and conservative riding. We also did several couloirs that were narrow, some having rocks just below. I also missed a few of the couloirs and steeps we rode due to my GoPro battery dying (which happened every day despite having 2 batteries). At about 18:15 in the video was the second run we did on the first day, and we did several more like this that day. Unfortunately, I burnt through my battery filming a bunch of helicopter stuff, since this aspect of it was really exciting! I don't know how steep the higher pitch ones are in my video, but I can say they were significantly steeper than the cirque runs at Snowbird (including Great Scott) and Cirques at Whistler/Blackcomb. I would conservatively guess some of it was 45* and up. The runs are also pretty sustained, so it may be 40-50* for 1000' vertical feet, compared to many places where it may be steep for just one small part. The camera is deceiving and makes it look pretty tame.

We could really only ski steep terrain in the higher elevations due to the high avalanche risk. This was due to intense rain earlier this year in Valdez, and a different snowpack this year (google Damalanche). While we were out, there were several destructive and sizable avalanches in nearby mountains, and I believe a guide from another heli company was killed in a slide one of the days we were riding.

The picture above looks more like the Cat skiing we did on the days we couldn't fly. Lots of rollers, trees, rocks, and fun natural features to play on. In Valdez most of the helicopter accessed terrain is above the tree-line. That looks more like BC or somewhere in Canada. Looks like fun!

Sorry for the long first post, but consider it an introduction! For anyone on the fence, I definitely recommend going to AK. The mountains were very unique, and had a totally amazing feel (even compared to the Alps). Just plan that if you go, you will want to go back! This was my first trip, and I'm already trying to find a way to convince my wife and bank account to go back next year! I promise if you go, you won't find it boring!


Kenai 04-13-2014 08:46 PM

12 Attachment(s)
Cool, Tim.

What company did you go with? Also, did I understand your comment correctly that you still can do cat skiing on the no-fly days? I've never understood that aspect about a heli trip - what happens when you just can't get out in the heli!?

timhatimay 04-13-2014 09:07 PM

I went with Valdez Heli Ski Guides. This was Doug Coombs company, and has now changed hands. The guides were great, and our guide was one of the first snowboard guides in the country. Everything was very smooth, and extremely nice. I would highly recommend them, and when I go back, it will be with them.

Being this was my first trip, I didn't realize how touchy flying in Alaska is. This is consistent with all of the guide companies to my knowledge. Even if it is not snowing, but the light is flat, they will often not fly. Being it is above the tree line its very easy for it to get washed out, and visibility is a big concern. The weather in Alaska is very variable, and at all heli-ski companies, this plays a major role in the amount of fly-time you get.

Apparently in BC and other areas with trees and more visible landmarks, they can fly in the snow and in all different conditions...this was not the case in AK. In fact, the week before I got there, they didn't fly one day. Once I knew that, I was so nervous that we wouldn't get out either! Luckily we flew 3 out of four days.

One of the reasons I chose VHSG is that they have cat skiing as a back up. There is some fun terrain with trees, rollers, and rocks. Its much less intense riding, so you can mess around and jump, fall, etc. Its much more relaxed.

If you don't have a cat, or choose not to ride the cat, you can get a credit for the runs. You are guaranteed a certain amount of runs, depending on the package. You can use this credit to stay longer, go cat skiing, or come back another time. Its definitely not ideal, and being that heli-skiing is expensive, its a big downer that you might go and not get out.


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