The rain in Haines falls mainly on the plains (in the mountains, it’s all snow)

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It’s been a slow year for me riding wise. Between another below normal Colorado snowpack and a partially torn MCL ligament, I’ve been on the sidelines for a good chunk of the winter. And between being out of shape and overloaded at work I even considered skipping Alaska this year but fortunately for me the plane tickets were not refundable so staying at home was not an option.

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Mike doing some preliminary research…

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David working the hill…

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Me, stiff arming the snowpack…

After a long painful odyssey involving extended quality time in the Seattle airport, we finally made it to the promised land. There the dominant color had been grey for several days so there was a lot of pent up demand among the troops when the skies finally cleared. The first day was spent exploring the close in terrain and sussing out the snowpack but there was still plenty of fun to be had.

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The hangover I can never get enough of…

On morning two we headed straight for an old favorite, “Hangover Helper” (pictured above). We were supposed to save it for the Nike film crew but we decided to help them out by checking for stability – turns out there was nothing to worry about.

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Clears my head right up every time…

Hangover is a classic AK run – a 4500’+ vertical run with that starts with a huge steep face, narrows through a gully and then has a playful and totally delicious spine at the bottom – and since we were the first ones through, we got to enjoy it in all its pristine glory.

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Doing a little recon on the “Dragon’s Spine”

I could have left then and felt like I’d gotten my money’s worth but that was only the beginning. We were now in that sweet spot, where blue skies, deep snow and stable conditions combine to make the mountains your playground.

We left a little something for the film crew…

The snowpack was a little thin this year so not a lot of technical spine skiing but the big open faces were more than open for business.

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Kevin about to have some real fun…

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Cause, look where he’s headed…

By Day Three, we were in the groove and knew we had to move fast because of incoming weather. We went back to Hangover for another helping and then moved on to “Deflower” which was still quite the virgin.

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Getting it while the getting’s good…

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No shortage of lines here…

With the clouds closing fast we headed for a hill we had often admired but never skied – Flower Mountain.

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Ain’t she a beaut…

Two untracked runs from the top allowed us to finish on a high note. We didn’t want it to end but felt blessed to get what we got.

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And it’s not just the mountains that are big…

As much fun as the mountains are, the people who get you there are just as special. As always the folks at Alaska Heliskiing were unbelievably helpful and welcoming (thank you Sunny, Gabe, Vicki and company). The picture above is from a King Crab Bake held at the owner Sean Dog’s house on Saturday night. And yes, that’s the legendary “Stifler” holding his latest conquest.

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My kind of gang…

I also need to acknowledge my partners in powder without whom the down days would have been much duller (they also took most of the photos in this post). The old saying “no friends on a powder day” doesn’t hold true when a helicopter and thousands of acres are involved. As a matter of fact, friends who you see primarily in a helicopter, tend to have very positive memories associated with them.

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No place I’d rather be…

So once again, I need to thank my lucky stars (as well as my family and coworkers) for letting me have the opportunity to experience such grandeur. It takes a lot of time, effort and money to get to Haines, but one spectacular landing on the top of a mountain makes it all worth while. Because only in AK can you have a once in a lifetime experience several times a day…

 

 

 

 

 


5 Responses to “The rain in Haines falls mainly on the plains (in the mountains, it’s all snow)”

  • mike m Says:

    Very very nice. Sure beats my one day at Loveland. Glad it all worked out. Whats for an encore? Your B-day is just around the corner 🙂

  • wendi Says:

    Incredible!!!!!
    So glad you got a piece of the promised land.
    You deserved all those moments of incredible freedom & joy.

  • Geoffrey Gilbert Says:

    Spectacular photos to go along with a great closing line. But you didn’t mention anything about the matzos at the King Crab Bake.

  • Bust My Choppers Says:

    Quite the powder party. Now, all you need is your own private jet to spend winter weekends in Haines, rather than take the Greyhound bus up there again. Love those vertical shots,, quite magnificent.

  • Bobby Parker Says:

    Beautiful shots, and thanks for sharing. I can’t wait until winter when I can actually go out there again.
    I love the website name btw!

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