What is Hobbs or blade time?
Flight time is tracked by the Hobbs meter onboard the helicopter. The meter begins tracking when the pilot raises the collective. This alters the pitch of the rotor blades simultaneously (collectively) and causes the helicopter to fly. The meter pauses when the helicopter is on a Landing Zone or Pickup Zone with the collective down, or during fueling, even when the blades are spinning.
How many runs will I ski?
Guests will typically average 6-8 runs per Hobbs hour. Keep in mind these are not the same kind of runs found at your local ski resort - these are massive vertical Alaska lines in remote big mountain terrain. So 6-8 Alaska lines are far bigger and more significant than the same number of runs at a ski resort.
The exact number of daily runs varies depending on a number of factors including: weather conditions, snow stability, group ability, group objectives, flight distances to the intended terrain, and multiple other factors involving flight operations.
We do not ski a standard circuit within a small region simply to rack up as many runs as possible. Some days you'll ski more runs and some days less, especially if we must fly deeper to access better snow and weather conditions. Our focus is quality over quantity, and we are always seeking to find the best snow, terrain, and weather conditions even when we must incur longer flight times while always focusing on safety.
What is the avalanche risk?
Avalanches are an inherent risk in all snowy mountain ranges, and anyone who chooses to ski with us assumes that risk. Though avalanche risk can never be fully eliminated, our program is designed to mitigate risk and avoid avalanches. On arrival day each guest will participate in our safety briefing that includes search and rescue practice and techniques. We implement protocols in the field to avoid avalanches including skiing one at a time, regrouping in safe zones, maintaining visual and verbal communication, and choosing appropriate terrain based on our daily avalanche forecast.
How much terrain do you have?
Virtually unlimited. The scale of the Chugach Mountains and the available terrain is truly phenomenal. This is one of those “you have to see it to believe it” places. We are permitted to fly on all State of Alaska lands that are managed by the Department of Natural Resources. State lands in the Chugach Mountains offer more terrain than could be skied in several lifetimes, and the terrain is stunning. Alaska heli-skiing started in the early 1990s, and after three decades much of the terrain remains untouched and waiting to be skied. Pulseline’s experience gives us the ability to find the best terrain on a daily basis based on weather and snow conditions. With a couple thousand square miles to work with, there’s always another run of a lifetime right around the corner.
How long will we ski each day?
Weather and snow conditions primarily dictate how long we can be out in the mountains skiing. Given that Alaska weather may inhibit heli-skiing on any given day, you'll have six reserved days to enjoy all of your blade time. Some days we may be out crushing it dawn to dusk. Other days we may launch later or return earlier due to weather, snow conditions, or other factors. It’s best to arrive in Valdez physically prepared to be skiing massive vertical and challenging terrain all day long.
When is the best time to come?
Heli-skiing in the Chugach during the late February to late April time frame provides reliable powder skiing with longer days. Generally, earlier in the season the powder is colder and deeper, but the weather can be stormier and there is less daylight. Later in the season, the snowpack is at its deepest, opening up the biggest lines, and daylight lasts well into the evening offering big windows for flying. We can still find cold, deep powder even in late April. Any week of the season can be excellent, so we recommend that you reserve the week that works best for your schedule.
How do I get to Valdez?
Several airlines offer flights to Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage. Ravn Alaska offers one flight daily to and from Valdez. This is a 45-minute flight with stunning views of the Chugach Mountains and Gulf of Alaska. Driving to Valdez takes approximately 5-6 hours via the Glenn Highway to Richardson Highway. The drive features beautiful scenery including massive mountain ranges, glaciers, and wildlife. Check weather and road conditions carefully as this can be a challenging winter drive, and a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended.
What happens if we can’t fly?
Valdez has a variety of options for fun Alaska activities when we can’t fly. Some of those activities are also dependent on weather conditions. We’ll help you find something fun to do on those days when heli-skiing isn’t possible. Upon reserving, you’ll receive a welcome packet that will include information about these possible activities such as backcountry touring, glacier exploration, boat tours, fishing, indoor swimming pool, gym, and lift foils on the ocean.
Are Avalanche Airbags required?
Yes, we require all of our guests and guides to wear avalanche airbags while heli-skiing. We have a limited number of Ortovox Freerider 22 Avabag packs for rent (please reserve in advance of your trip). We also offer our guests a discount code to purchase their own Ortovox Freerider pack (please order in advance to ensure your bag is shipped in time for your trip). You may bring your own airbag pack, but be aware that canisters must be empty aboard all flights. We have a fill station in Valdez, or you can find several shops in Anchorage or Girdwood that will fill your canister.
How many groups are in the helicopter?
We never fly with more than three groups per helicopter.