Every mountain range and every mountain community is special, just as the never ending quest to search for the best line, in the best conditions, will always provide allure. But if you’re a skier or rider, there’s no place in the world quite like Alaska. Year in and year out, no matter where I go, it’s the handful of “perfect AK” days that stand out the most. After three incredible weeks at Points North Heli-Adventures Tour Camp this season, our fourth week continued the trend of memorable days in the mountains that last a lifetime.
Week four brought a father with his two teenage sons, a couple on their honeymoon, and three solo travelers from different corners of the globe to Tour Camp. By the end of our session you would’ve thought we had all been hanging out with each other for years. While the weather kept us on our toes all week with numerous days teetering between shutdown or full bluebird, we were able to ramp it up each day, and as a result week four got a little taste of everything Tour Camp has to offer.
Plenty of powder skiing was easily accessible this week as an onslaught of sticky, cold Chugach fluff fell from the sky in copious amounts. With a gradually improving forecast, we inched out deeper and deeper into our zone eventually getting our clients out to classic runs like “Shakedown St.”, “Rest Day Couloir”, and “Blue Steel”.
With a high caliber crew of adventurous shredders new lines were broken in, which allowed Jeff, Wes and I to add some new runs to our ever growing map of PNH Tour Camp. The couloir skiing this past week was especially prime. While powder skiing has always been our go-to, it’s always incredible to drop into an aesthetic run lined by rock walls and filled to the brim with smoky powder. Couloir skiing is some of my favorite terrain to seek out. Sometimes you’re going for corn conditions, other times you’re skiing windboard, mank, or really anything you have to just to experience the essence of the line at hand. But to ski couloirs in prime powdery conditions is something I know all of our crew from week four will remember for years to come.
As stoked as we collectively were by week’s end, the most dependable weather day of the session fell on our last day. With high hopes, Kristen, Nate, Sean, Bob, Dan, Kevin, Christian, and Collin joined Jeff, Wes and myself for a day on our local spine wall, Danno’s. Temps were warm on “D’s Approach”, the 2200’ warm-up run we ski to get to the base of Danno’s, but as soon as we started skinning up adjacent to the wall it was clear that spines of varying abilities were open and ready for our crew that day.
I can still see myself standing next to Kevin (dad) as I lined his sons Christian (16) and Collin (14) out for fifty plus degree spine runs that both youngsters absolutely crushed. Sean, our Aussie splitboarder’s face after riding what he said was the run of his life, was just as good as skiing one of my own shortly after. As we skinned home that last night, with a full moon rising to the east with a blood red sun setting to the west, milking our last turn into camp at about 9:15 pm, as crushed as everyone was, the vibrating glow of thanks shared between our crew was what “it” is all about.
“State of the Backcountry” is sponsored by Alpenglow Sports. Established in 1979, Alpenglow Sports is Tahoe City’s original mountain shop. Specializing in Backcountry and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, trail running, backpacking, hiking, camping, and the mountain lifestyle apparel, Alpenglow is always psyched to offer premier user-based customer service.