When asked what sets Black Ops Valdez apart from other heli-cat operations in Alaska, founder Josh Swierk’s response is straight to the point.
“We’re a family business,” Swierk says.
Though it might seem odd to refer to a sprawling heli op with multiple birds, snowcats and even a massive 96-foot yacht (with an onboard helipad) in the same vein as your local mom-and-pop ice cream stand, Swierk isn’t being hyperbolic: The business was founded by he and his wife Tabatha back in 2012 and now includes their six- and eight-year-old daughters.
“As a family we do everything with our kids and have since they were born,” says Swierk. “All of our trips, travel, work days, adventures: It all includes our kids. They have been heli-skiing since the ages of 3 and 5, so they have had some unique experiences for kids so young. Our clients love seeing the kids around our lodge and heli base, and think it’s super rad that they have been around it since such a young age.”