WORDS & PHOTOS • Crystal Sagan
The first time I heli-skied in Alaska, I almost had a panic attack in the helicopter. It was our first drop and I was deep diving into the “what the hell am I doing here” mentality, also known as, “I’m in way over my head.” Lucky for me, the primary concern for ski guides is our safety, including not dropping us on top of runs we can’t handle. Phew. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a healthy dose of adrenaline at the top of each line, it’s just outweighed by the fact that I know I’ll get down in one piece—not to mention have the time of my life.
Now, more than ever, Alaska is the perfect spring skiing destination. Legendary and flat-out humongous lines are set in a backdrop of never-ending peaks, blue skies and orange-peel snow. It’s terrain that humbles the best of us and leaves the rest of us feeling inspired and alive.
The quintessential Alaskan guiding operation, Valdez Heli Ski Guides, recently expanded its permitted heli-skiing terrain to 10,000 square miles. Combined with new ownership, a beautiful lodge and some of the area’s most tenured guides, skiing with VHSG is the experience of a lifetime. I’m not saying you won’t have a panic attack on your first flight when you see just how big those peaks are in-person but, rest assured, feeling your racing heart and a tad short of breath is well worth it. If you’re still unsure, this gallery ought to do the trick.