Your heli skiing terrain
The Alaska Heli Ski Terrain of the Chugach Mountains surrounding Valdez offers the Most Exciting Backcountry Skiing Experience You Will Find Heliskiing Anywhere in the World
As we talk about backcountry skiing and snowboarding terrain, first let us provide a general background concerning heli ski terrain and terrain selection in Valdez Alaska;
Heli ski terrain selection correlates to the mountain topography and snowpack characteristics where a heli ski operator chooses to base. Specific weather and snow conditions of a heli ski day will dictate the ski terrain that is accessible in any given heli ski area or heli ski zone. Alaska heli ski operations tend to access very little low angle treed heli ski terrain due to the low elevation of the tree growth line at the more northerly latitudes of Alaska. Although we do have some tree skiing in the earlier part of the ski season that can be utilized by helicopter and/or our snow cats at our lower elevations (in Valdez skiing from approximately 2000 feet MSL to sea level) Alaska heli ski operators mainly ski on glaciated peaks, spines, couloirs and bowls where the strong coastal maritime snow pack clings uniquely to the very precipitous and geologically young surrounding steep mountain slopes. Inland mountain ranges as you may find in the lower 48 states or with most heli ski operators in Canada, tend to have a thinner weaker snowpack characteristic that lends itself to a higher propensity for avalanche conditions to persist. Although any condition can be found in any snow pack type, inland or "continental" mountain ranges tend to offer a drier snow, at the cost of decreased trends in snow stability especially on high angle slopes that we all seek to access while backcountry skiing using a helicopter. This increased safety hazard potential causes inland heli skiing operators to mitigate the avalanche risks in many cases by choosing less extreme slope angles to be accessed on a regular basis than you will find heliskiing in Alaska's coastal mountain ranges during an average year.
For more information about heli skiing weather and why the Valdez location is so special as pertaining to weather patterns in Alaska visit our "What's the weather like?" FAQs page.
The heli ski terrain of Valdez is the single most attractive aspect of visiting Alaska for a heli skiing adventure.
"Nowhere else in the World will you find terrain more incredible, awe inspiring and accessible than in Valdez, the birthplace of big mountain heli skiing!"
The peaks of Valdez offer a tremendous variety of heli skiing, snow cat skiing and snowboarding opportunities, including the ultimate descents, challenging couloirs and tricky spines that introduced the world to "extreme skiing," and the steep and deep powder of the Chugach Mountain Range surrounding Valdez. Valdez Heli-Camps offers all this - and everything in between - set in the heart of the spectacular Chugach Mountain Range. It's Alaska heli skiing at its best!
Due to the nature of the steep and challenging Chugach Mountain heli ski terrain, which is regularly accessed by the pilots and guides of Valdez Heli-Camps, oftentimes, vertical guarantees for your stay will be slightly lower then what you may find advertised at other heli skiing destinations. That is because for us in Valdez it is all about quality over quantity. Accessing steep terrain and using safe skiing techniques just takes more time but the heli runs you will lay down in this heli ski terrain are just plain worth it! Valdez Heli-Camps utilizes a small, personalized group format with just four guests per guide in state-of-the-art A-star helicopters. The Valdez Heli-Camps approach to big mountain skiing allows for the highest level of relative safety while accessing the most exciting terrain available to snow enthusiasts anywhere on Earth! It is clear that Valdez Heli-Camps promotes safety, while providing a world-class skiing experience for the most avid of heli-skier or -snowboarder alive!
For those with a more relaxed approach to powder skiing and heli skiing;
The Heli Ski and Heli Snowboarding opportunities found at Valdez Heli-Camps are second to none and offer much variety. For those that enjoy the freedom of wide-open slopes and backcountry skiing side by side with friends, our pilots can easily fly to less technical slopes. In fact, these less technical slopes can offer a higher level of security allowing us to achieve greater amounts of vertical for those with a preference for this type of experience. This can happen on the same day in areas directly adjacent to groups working the high angle terrain. Quite often you can watch other groups from across the valley challenging the Chugach while you are doing the same at your level or, mix it up bit, with some steep challenging Heli Ski runs and some powder cruisers of your own!!!! The primary mission of Valdez Heli-Camps is to bring the terrain of the Chugach Mountains to you at a comfortable and challenging level for your skill set and skiing or snowboarding fitness.
View a Valdez Heli-Camps interactive Heli Ski Terrain Map.
Land Management of the Valdez Heli-Camps Ski Terrain
The heli ski lands in Alaska are managed by various state and federal agencies. Under State of Alaska management, heliskiing is a generally allowed use and has very few limitations. In Valdez that means on state land we are only limited to terrain by how far we can fly the helicopter with the fuel we can carry onboard over the Vast Chugach Mountain Heli Skiing Range. The federal agencies range in management confinements from relatively available to extremely restrictive by agency depending if the lands are held by the National Park Service (NPS) the United States Forest Service(USFS) or the Department of Agriculture Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Sometimes imposing many different types of overlapping constrictions on a heli ski operator.
For more about Alaska Heli Skiing land management.