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why not Alaska...

3614 Views 12 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  tigre
News from the pow holiday planning front. Thanks to all the helpful replies over here I was close to booking cat holiday in the Revy/Golden area. But as it looks like now, I won't be able to get days off in 2014 until April. I'll pospone the BC trip to a year I can get days off earlier.

After reading tigres post here I thought... uhmmm.... Alaksa... why not Alaska...?

Ok, begin from scratch. April would be a good time to go there. The flight time to Anchorage is insignificantly longer than to Calgary (20hrs instead of 16hrs), price is the same. So far so good. Replace the cat by a heli. Sounds tempting. So far I found out that the snow is rather heavy, runs are long, timberline is low and days are short. Tried to dig for Alaska threads but they're either very old or a complete mess to read since half of the posts in there are vanished (we WON'T elaborate on this).

Got about 14-20days to spend. In April. Still a mid advanced rider. Still want to spend as much time as possible in the deep. Mix of sidecountry (inbound goods in resorts?), split hiking, heli.

Anyone recently done a heli trip there? How did you proceede? Book a package in advance or stay there and wait for good wheather and book at short hand? Are seats available last minute at all? What are your experiences? Lodges you recommend? Any recommendations/hints are very welcome. Why would a trip to AK be a good idea and why not?
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Replace the cat by a heli. Sounds tempting. So far I found out that the snow is rather heavy, runs are long, timberline is low and days are short.
You can do cat or sled-assisted runs here as well, to stretch your budget (or in case of weather). The further from the coast you are, and the higher your elevation, the drier the snow is. In the Chugach Range it's unlikely to be Utah-style champagne powder, that time of year especially, but our heavier snow sticks to steeper faces and is generally more stable.

Treeline around here is about 2000ft. At the Pass you'll be doing 1500-2000ft vertical runs. From town there are runs that people walk to from their houses that are 4000+ feet. By April 1st we'll have light from 6:30am to 8pm. By the end of the month it'll be 5am to 9pm. Good chance of blue skies and decent temps that time of year.

Got about 14-20days to spend. In April. Still a mid advanced rider. Still want to spend as much time as possible in the deep. Mix of sidecountry (inbound goods in resorts?), split hiking, heli.
The only large resort in the state is in Girdwood, about an hour south of Anchorage. They also have heli and cat skiing over there. Turnagain Pass, a bit south of Girdwood, is the place for splitting around there (also Hatcher's Pass, an hour and a half or so north of Anchorage). They tend to have better visibility over there in general than Thompson Pass and Valdez. There must be something good about Valdez though, or all those people from Anchorage wouldn't come over here to ride. :D You could also fly into Juneau and go to Haines instead.

With that much time you could easily hit a few different spots. Maybe go down to Girdwood for a week, take the ferry to Valdez, for another week, then drive back to Hatcher's for a few days on the way back to Anchorage. It's common (for good reason) to rent an RV instead of spending money on both lodging and a rental car. The roads should be mostly okay, and I assume you're comfortable driving on snow and ice. Some of the heli packages include lodging, though. Talk to a few guide companies to get a handle on what your best option is.

As far as your skill level goes, there's all sorts of terrain accessible to heli skiers. Some of it is a little silly, as people pay for heli lifts up runs they could skin in a couple of hours from the road. Some of the front range stuff can get tracked out, but you've got lots of terrain to choose from. They'll usually take you on a mellow test run to see if you're an idiot (and make sure your gear is dialed) before taking you on more challenging runs. From what you've said in previous posts it sounds like you'll be just fine and have a lot of fun.

Look for blogs or guide websites for the areas you're looking at for pictures and videos of the various runs. The Tailgate Alaska site is another good one (they also have lots of videos on YouTube). Here's one for Thompson Pass that has good information and videos (though I don't like the guy who runs the site):
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Booked! 7day heli package in Cordova in April :yahoo::D:yahoo::D:yahoo::D:yahoo:
Congrats! Sorry I didn't answer your other post, I was out of town doing a backpacking trip over the weekend.

Curious about how you settled on Cordova. Expect pretty wet snow there in April (any time of year, really). They're way out on the Gulf Coast, so they stay fairly warm all winter, at least at sea level. How are you getting out there? Flying from Anchorage or taking the ferry? The guide you're booked with may be of some help in getting you there.

Read that one should bring the biggest version of a model
Not sure what that means. I'd think the Raptor would work fine. No real need for a new board for this trip unless you're just looking to spend more money.

I assume, I'd be ok with my Flagship 158 (120lbs)...
That should work well.
Alyeska is it in AK for major resorts. There are a couple smaller hills in Anchorage that are mostly just locals I guess. If you like resorts I guess you'll like it there. Late March is a good time. Try to be there on a weekday if you can. It can get crowded on weekends that time of year. I know Snow Wolf goes there quite a bit, hopefully he'll chime in, or maybe send him a message.

The road from Anchorage should be in good condition (depends on weather, of course), but is statistically fairly dangerous. People veering out of their lane or passing at bad places cause some serious accidents there. Just pay attention while you're driving, and pull off if you want to stare at the scenery. There is also a risk that an avalanche will close the road. The odds that it will happen while you're there are probably fairly low, but it's a possibility. If a bad accident or avalanche causes a road closure, there's no other route.

There's good backcountry riding in that area too, if you're going to have your splitboard with you, both around Girdwood and down at Turnagain Pass.
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Any tips on snowmobiles is very welcome as well. E.g. does one need a special "driving" licence?
No license required, and there are a couple places to rent in that area, but learning to ride in deep snow in steep terrain can be a challenge. You'll get a lot of practice digging it out of the snow when you get stuck. If it's something you want to do for fun, then go for it, but if you just want to use it to access snowboarding terrain, I'd stick to splitting. There are places you can go out with a guide and get lessons too, if you just want to do something different for part of a day.

Well, I actually dont like resorts for their groomers but for the lifts to some sidecountry. Was hoping, there'll be some of these "gates". If so, I'll try to find a guide. If not SC/BC out of a resort, snowmobiles would be something tempting, since they don't exist here and sound like fun
I don't get over that way much, so I can't tell you a lot about it. I believe their entire north face is ungroomed, though. Search the internet and you'll probably find plenty of information.

By the way... did you get your Odin meanwhile?
I got a Storm. Haven't put the Voile kit on it or cut my skins yet. I figure I'll do that when work settles down in a few weeks and be ready for any early season snow in September. I got my guy a Voile Mojo for a great deal, so we'll see how he likes it.
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