Heli-Skiing: ALASKA - Spring 2022

Trip Details

LOCATION & TERRAIN

Pulseline operates out of the Valdez Pioneer Field airport just minutes from Valdez, Alaska. We have access to terrain in nearly every direction with flexibility to choose the best terrain based on weather and snow conditions.

The Chugach Mountains surrounding Valdez and Prince William Sound are the snowiest, most glaciated mountains in Alaska. These mountains offer an excellent combination of diverse terrain, massive vertical, broad glaciation, and a consistently deep annual snowpack.

This unique glacially-chilled powder paradise is shielded from rain and warm temperatures that often wreak havoc on snow in other maritime climates. Thousands of square miles of glaciers and cold microclimates contribute to immense snowfall and premium powder snow.

After heli-skiing in the Chugach Mountains you’ll quickly realize that nothing else compares.

VALDEZ VS. HAINES

People often ask us whether Valdez or Haines has better heli-skiing – the truth is we love them both equally! The terrain and experiences are different but equally enjoyable. Haines is more remote and has a smaller full-time population. The heli-ski acreage is smaller in Haines, but the distances between areas is also shorter, which often requires less flight time. Valdez has more skiable terrain, but it also has much larger and many more glaciers, which can increase flight times. Haines has more potential for tree skiing and Alaska spines, while Valdez is known for many large, steep planar slopes and ramps that taper at the bottom near the glaciers; although you can find a great mix of terrain in both places.

REQUISITE ABILITY

Heli-skiing in Alaska is the pinnacle of big mountain freeride skiing and riding. We access some of the most challenging heli-ski terrain in the world including steep, deep, technical lines along with variable snow and weather conditions. Therefore for these trips, we require that each rider be at least a High Level Advanced, Expert, or Pro level as described below:

High Level Advanced

You confidently ski or ride all conditions (fresh powder, hard pack, wind buff, ice, etc.) and ride in control on steeper slopes up to 40 degrees. You are comfortable descending steeper or more difficult lines occasionally, but conditions must be good, and you may take additional time to make it down. You may not have experience with slough management on bigger Alaska faces, but you are open to learning and improving your skills.

Expert

You ski or ride with confident control in all conditions and terrain; you are generally comfortable skiing steeper lines greater than 40 degrees even in challenging snow conditions. You often push yourself to ski more technical lines and are comfortable getting a bit of air occasionally (but not necessarily hucking the largest cliffs).

Pro

You ski or ride at the absolute highest level – whether or not you are actually getting paid for it.  You are known as a local ripper, shredding with style and ease.

FITNESS REQUIREMENTS

Heli-skiing in Alaska is mind blowing, but it can be strenuous even for expert skiers and riders. It is mandatory that you are physically prepared before your trip, so that you can handle large amounts of vertical, deep powder, variable snow surface conditions, technical terrain, long days in the mountains, and potentially harsh weather conditions over multiple days, while wearing a pack.

We partner with Mountain Tactical Institute (MTI) to offer our heli-skiing guests mission direct fitness programming specifically designed for heli-skiing in Alaska. Upon booking a trip with us, you'll be eligible for a free discount code for MTI's Pulseline's heli-ski trip training plan.

We also recommend that you ski or ride as much as possible before your trip. If you are not skiing or riding three to four days per week, please undertake the MTI heli-ski trip training plan to ensure that you are ready for this Alaskan big mountain freeride experience and can keep up with the rest of your group while not impeding other groups. Fitness is also key for helping prevent injuries and increasing the margin of safety. As part of your trip application, we will request information regarding your fitness and planned fitness training.

Please check with your physician before starting any new exercise/fitness program.

ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT

  1. Big Mountain Powder Skis or Snowboard – Skis: at least 105mm underfoot (we recommend 110mm or wider) with some side-cut/camber underfoot, and slight-moderate rocker at the tip and tail (we may encounter variable snow surface conditions that require you to engage your edges). Alpine bindings are preferred. Snowboards: sufficient rocker and appropriate size/width for your weight. Confirm that ski and snowboard bindings function correctly and double check your DIN; Get a full tune and wax (all temp. wax) before arrival in AK. If coming with new equipment, ski or ride on it at least one day before coming to Alaska. Note: there are no local ski shops in Valdez (Anchorage has several).
  2. Ski poles – we prefer non-telescoping for heli-skiing
  3. Alpine ski boots – for heli-skiing trips (Pulseline does not provide ski boots)
  4. AT boots - for heli-assisted touring trips or backcountry camps (Pulseline does not provide AT boots)
  5. Snowboard boots - for riders (Pulseline does not provide snowboard boots)
  6. Avalanche Air Bag Pack (Required) – approximately 20L is preferred (sufficient to include an extra layer, shovel, probe, lunch and water. Pulseline has Ortovox Avabags available (must be arranged in advance). We have Ortovox discount codes for guests to purchase a new pack. If you need to fill your compressed dry air canister in Alaska, you have the following options:
  7. Modern Digital Avalanche Beacon – must be digital (this item is included in your package if needed)
  8. Shovel and Probe – shovel must be metal (no plastic), large enough to move snow efficiently, and stored inside your pack; probe should be at least 240 cm (these items are included in your package if needed)
  9. Lightweight Harness & Locking Carabiner – we recommend the Couloir Harness from Black Diamond (these items are included in your package if needed)
  10. Hardshell Jacket & Hardshell Pants – waterproof, windproof, breathable
  11. Eyewear – goggles (photochromic for changing light conditions, or interchangeable lenses); sunglasses
  12. Ski Helmet – optional but recommended
  13. Ski Gloves – two or three pairs (warm, waterproof); carry a backup pair in your pack
  14. Thermal base layers (tops & bottoms) – heavy weight for cold days; light weight for warmer days; no cotton
  15. Mid layers – puffy jacket or similar mid layer; plus an extra compressible puffy jacket to store in your pack
  16. Ski socks – a few pairs; no cotton
  17. Beanie(s)/ski hats
  18. Balaclava or neck gaiter 
  19. Reusable water bottle – 1 Liter bottle (no plastic bottles)
  20. Sunscreen
  21. Lip balm
  22. Snacks to store in your pack
  23. Key Après wear – water proof boots for walking around Valdez (e.g. Sorel); warm jacket; rain jacket
  24. Ski straps – we'll provide these if needed

Notes: space and weight are a factor for the helicopter ski basket; keep your pack in the 20 L range, and pack only the essentials to minimize space and weight. If you have any questions about equipment, email us at info@pulselineadventure.com.

Filling your avalanche air bag compressed air canisters: locations in and near Anchorage include:

  • Dive Alaska, Anchorage
  • Alaska Avalanche School, Anchorage
  • Girdwood Fire Department, Girdwood
  • Alaska Aquatics, Wasilla
  • Pulseline Adventure, Valdez
  • The Prospector, Valdez