VIDEO: BD athlete Mark Welgos big mountain heli skiing in Haines, Alaska
Black Diamond athlete Mark Welgos found time between big mountain comps to shoot up to Alaska for a quick one week heli mission. Below is a report and video that Welgos sent us after he returned.
In my brief trip to Haines, I learned that the rumors are true: the weather is rough; when it snows, it really snows; when the weather pops, your eyes pop. During the week I was there, it snowed 14 feet in the mountains. There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as too much snow. I agree, but when the storm limits you from skiing on an already short trip you find yourself wondering if the snow will ever stop. When it snows in Haines, you can’t fly; when you can’t fly, you can’t ski.
The first part of the trip, we got 2 days of overcast powder skiing near and below treeline. The potential for pillow lines is out of control! If you felt comfortable with the pillows not breaking on you, you could take a 1500-foot spine pillow line to the valley bottoms. After the first couple days of skiing, weather moved in again and shut us out for a few days. My last night in Haines, I was bumming. The weather was fierce and it was not looking good for another day of skiing.
That next morning I woke up before the sun, looked out the window and saw clear skies. My flight out of Haines was later in the afternoon and I knew that I could get a few runs in before leaving. When there is no weather in Haines, the views are epic. It was the first time I could see the views during the week I was there, and it made my eyes pop.
Flying in the helicopter on a blue bird day in Haines, is surreal. The amount of snow combined with the glaciated steep terrain, will make any skier quiver with excitement. We got three runs in that day before catching the flight out to Juneau. We skied two couloirs and a mellow face that was chalked full of features to play with. The snow was deep and stable.
This trip was just a tease for me. I will be back year after year and spend more time on each trip. This was the perfect introductory trip and I cannot wait for next year