Heliskiing in Haines, Alaska – there where shit got wild!

The planning for my 2018 ski trip started last summer. Destinations such as Norway, Georgia or Alaska came up. The decision was finally made for Alaska. Skiing or even just travelling through Alaska has always been a big dream of mine. Now it was time to let this dream come true.


Photo: Will Wissman

If skiing in Alaska then heliskiing! And when heliskiing in Alaska then with Seaba Heli in Haines. Seaba is short for “South East Alaska Backcountry Adventures” and was founded in 2002. Since then Haines has been at the top of the hit list as a destination for all big mountain skiers.

It’s the first time I’ve gone on an overseas ski trip by myself. During the planning I didn’t even think for a second how it would be, all alone as a woman in Alaska. It was my dream to do this, so I focused only on realizing it for myself and enjoying it to the fullest.

I must confess – the week before my departure I didn’t sleep very well. Doubts and thoughts like: Am I doing the right thing? This is insane, I don’t know anyone there and what if something happens? Why exactly should I do this on my own? All these thoughts were constantly shooting through my head – but now it was too late to question everything again – there was nothing but to do it. I started on April 6th at 7am. Off to Alaska “in to the wild!”

I flew with British Airways from Zurich via London to Seattle. From Seattle I flew with Alaskan Airlines to Juneau. Juneau is the capital of Alaska. Haines, the final destination, can only be reached by sea or air during the day in good weather conditions. Since I arrived in Juneau late in the evening, I had to spend the night there and left early next morning for Haines in a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan.


It was a long but very uncomplicated journey. None of the flights were cancelled or delayed and all luggage arrived safely at its destination.

add:

Jou reis start hierrrr

 

 




Booking.com


Haines is located at the northern end of the Chilkat Peninsula in Alaska. Who once was in the small village with its 2000 inhabitants returns again. The place is magical! Anyone who has been there once in their life, can confirm this. So also ski pros like Tanner Hall, Lexi Dupont or Parkin Costain. Everyone asked what the best heli-ski spot in the world is? Said all three – Haines! Lexi added that Haines is not only great for skiing, it is also the place that is magical and won’t let her go. When I met her, this was her ninth visit in Haines.


Photo: Will Wissman / Rider: Henrik Harlaut

Nick from Seaba Heli picked me up at the Haines airport, in an oversized pick-up. It was 9 am and I was wide awake. No sign of jet lag. I got my adrenaline rushed. I was curious about everything that was coming up in the next 10 days. Simon greeted me at Seaba Base Fort Seward Lodge. He is Swiss and a guide at Seaba Heli.

After a small breakfast and the obligatory safety briefing he asked me: “Do you want to go skiing today?” I looked at him: “Is that a question? Of course I’m in,” I replied with a big grin on my face. For me it is clear, every minute on the skis I can get I want to use! No sooner said than done – about an hour later I sat in a helicopter with four boys from California and was eagerly awaiting my first run in Alaska.




Photo: Will Wissmann


Photo: Will Wissman

It’s hard to put this first day into words. In fact, it was definitely one of the three best skiing days of my life. Everything was just perfect – the weather, the snow, the people. We laughed, “high fived” gave us hugs and let the day end at sunset and a few beers in the local brewery. Honestly, what more do someone want?

Yeah, good. That was the first day – in the best case 8 more such days will come haha!


You have to be aware that not every day can be like this one when you book a heliski trip. Heliskiing is extremely weather-dependent and can also be frustrating.  There are days when it is clear that you cannot fly. But then there are also days when you wait 4 hours at the airport hoping to get a blue window and get a few runs out there. Also the mood among each other can change from one minute to the other, so it is important to take everything step by step and to be happy about everything that happens right now.

The guys of Seaba Heli have a large repertoire of down-day activities and if nothing helps anymore, the bar at Fort Seward Lodge is always open. The fact that Seaba is stationed in a small village also helps. The ceiling doesn’t fall on your head that fast.


                         

Photo: Will Wissman

The luck was on my side. Five full days with an average of 7 runs I could ski. Each day was unique in its own way. The Chillkat River region is extremely varied in terms of terrain. There have been days where we have only ridden beautiful, smooth slopes. But most of the runs are already in steep terrain and that’s what makes Alaska stand out.


Photo: Will Wissman

In Alaska it is possible to ski much steeper terrain than in the alps. This due to its geographical situation and its different structure of the snow cover.


Photo: Will Wissman / Rider: Parkin Costain

The safety of the guests is Seaba’s top priority. The whole team is incredibly well attuned to each other and works highly professionally. In case of fast changes in the weather or uncertain snow conditions, everything is immediately stopped and absolutely no risk is taken.


                        

It has rarely been so difficult for me to write about that journey. It seemed to me almost impossible to put the emotions I experienced into words. Maybe because a dream came true. But even three months after the trip, it still feels like it was all just a dream. Haines and the Seaba crew stole my heart. All my fears and doubts I had before the trip disappeared into thin air when I landed in Haines. I felt at home from the first minute.

                        
The combination of landscape, people, culture and shared passions made this trip one of the best of my life.

                        
Photo: Will Wissman


If you expect a well-behaved, luxurious heli-ski vacation, one is in this place wrong. The nights in the bar are long, the beer cold, the parties loud and the stories wild. You meet so many different characters and life stories.

But in the end, skiing and the inner urge for freedom connect – becoming one with the wilderness.  And all this gives you Seaba Heli to 100%. So if you want to do heliskiing in Haines, you should do it.  Open yourselves up and be ready to let a wild, magical worldinto your heart forever.

You are curious how a trip to Haines could look for you in detail? Write me at tina@outsideisfree.ch or Simon simon@alpinzentrum.ch and we will be happy to help you with the selection of the suitable offer or to support you with any questions you may have.

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