Heli Hunting for Pow in Haines, Alaska with SEABA

Casey Cane | | Trip ReportTrip Report

Hell must have froze over because I finally made it up to Haines, Alaska.

It was early April of the year 2017 when Jamison Blair and I traveled up north from California in search of the elusive winter coated AK spines. Year after year, I get the annual invite but for some reason the wife and I keep having kids and scheduling a trip was next to impossible. However, when you turn four decades old, a heli-skiing trip seems rather appropriate.

Upon arrival in Juneau, the drenching rain, lost luggage and bad sushi definitely did not provide that solid stoke we were after.
But hey, the next morning we were off to Haines to do some heli skiing!

After an easy flight up to Haines, we rolled over to SEABA to check in with the crew and get settled.
Stoke level was extremely high until we checked the weather. With a forecast showing heavy snow in the mountains the next few days, we had to start planning for the daily wait and see scenario. Luckily for us, SEABA just installed a new bar for the perfect hangout zone on down days and a night cap…or three. Down day activities included eating, runs along the Chilkat Inlet, hours of Shovel Knight on PSVita, drinking whiskey and talking skiing with ski folk. Hell, on Day 3 we even geared up and sat on the deck in the sun, but the terrain was still socked in with low visibility.

However, we finally got up in the heli around mid-day on Day 4 and skied run after run of dry powder until sunset.
With pro guige Tom Wayes, photographer Will Wissman, Cameron from Tahoe, and us in the first group, we tiptoed to steeper terrain as conditions permitted. Runs included some spines, high speed open powder fields, pow turns between glacial seracs and some steep faces that didn’t seem to mind me rolling a 16 DIN. Of course, after we departed, the following two weeks were ideal for the steep couloirs and spines…terrain that we dreamed about before arriving but I’m not complaining.


The trip began in a commercial jet airplane…

Sunrise over SFO…

By the 3rd flight, glacial flows met the sea…

North of Juneau, AK…

Upon arrival in Haines, the weather report created some depression knowing we would not be skiing for a few days…

Why do we ski?…

Haines, AK has a sign when entering the town…here’s proof I was there.

Haines, Alaska…

On the down days, it was best to get outside as much as possible…

Socked in terrain…

The coffee machine in the lodge got some heavy use…

Heli ski espresso…

Did I say espresso? Oh, I meant beer…

SEABLA has a new bar…

The building boom is leaning towards the retro look…

Haines architecture…

Cultural carvings scatter the town…

Are the clouds starting to clear?…

Gloomy bay on a gray day…

What’s this? Day 3 and we are told to get ready…

Gearing up in Haines…

The author is ready and caffeinated…

Nothing better than espresso in ski gear…

SKUNKED! Oh well…at least it felt like we may get up there.

Planking is cool right?…

Decided to go for a run and found the perfect spot…

Chilkat Inlet, AK…

Mandatory Alaskan Bald Eagle photograph…

fly and be free…

The next we were told to get dressed and head to the airport…Tom was ready and waiting.

Tom Wayes – An Alaskan Guide…

Finally in the air and got a great perspective of my running location…

Up and away above the Chilkat Inlet…

Let’s do this…

Flying with SEABA Heli…

The scenery alone was well worth the trip…

Mountains outside Haines, AK…

Landing zone for run numero uno…

Heli just chilling…

Sure, this will do…

Just point it…

Skiing sure is fun…

Pow turn in Haines, AK…

Did I mention the scenery?…

Glacial terrain…

After 3 feet of new snow, we slowly got into new terrain…

Jamie Blair turns among aged ice …

Even deeper in the range, the GNAR shows itself…

Mountains of spires…

On day one, we farmed cold smoke pow…

Jamie Blair fluffing around…

Mountains upon mountains…

Alaskan mountains…

Day one complete and so is the shot-ski…

Apres ski…

Day two began a bit late as we waited for the weather to clear…but it was totally worth it.

Jamie Blair looking nervous…

One of those runs where you turn off your GoPro when you thought you turned it on…

Oh boy…

Cold smoke steep face session…

Cameron lines up some fun…

The snow continued to be decent below…

Jamie snorkeling…

Tom continued to monitor the next best zone…

Tom Wayes keeping us safe…

And this one worked well for pow skiing…

Jamie goes for some untracked…

Chris extended his trip another week just to make this turn…

Pow farm – Haines, AK

And he continued to make more lovely turns in lovely snow…

Cold smoke happiness…

We continued to roam around the zone…

Jamie makes a scenic turn…

As the sun lowered in the sky, the visuals improved…

Steep and clean canvas…

Jamie Blair rides the ridge…

Skier skiing some snow…

The lower apron was sheer perfection…

Jamie Blair sending smoke signals…

Next, Tom sent us over to small spine zone…

Tom testing the stability…

Oh boy, that was quite enjoyable…

Spine skiing in AK…

Chris continues to revel in his decision to stay longer…

Chris playing with terrain – Haines, AK …

The aftermath of spine starving skiers…

Fun zones with SEABA Heli…

With lots of sunlight, we continue to fly…

Bye bye helicopter…

Sadly, we still were not crossing any tracks…

Powder skiing in Haines…

That time the snow was deep and fast at the same time…

Cameron throwing roosters …

Why not session it some more? …

Jamie doing what he does best …

Sunset pow laps and no complaints…

Skiing near Haines, AK…

After a long day in the mountains, its sure nice to come home to a proper meal…

When in Alaska…

At the SEABA HQ, the nightly scene looked this this…

Ring the bell and make some friends…

The following day, the strong visuals and favorable weather continued…

Not a bad first run if I may say so…

Fluffy goodness persists…

The run continued onward into a heavy glaciated area…

Listen to your guide…

It was a stellar day to go deeper into the range…

These hills are massive…

The snow remained quite fantastic for making turns on skis…

Jamie Blair skiing fast…

We ventured off into different aspects as we hit new zones…

Deep in the mountains near Haines, AK

One of our best runs was called Pineapple Express and the views from the summit were adequate…

Glacier – Haines, AK

Tom did some roped-up stomping before shredding the line to the safe zone…

Safety first!

Steep, stable, fast and one hell of a run…

Pineapple Express – Haines, AK …

You know its good when your can feel your skis flex…

Yewwwwww!…

The views continued to be sub-par…

Triple black runs…

Still not crossing any tracks…

Jamie Blair stylin’…

We then started to get artsy…

Black and white madness…

Our mode of transport delivering us our quad coconut lattes…

SEABA heli…

At this point we headed back in for the day…

Tired skier in Haines, AK…

The following day, flat-light moved in and therefore time to go home, albeit stoked on lifeā€¦

The author is happy…

And just like that, you are flying right over your house…

San Francisco, California


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