Valdez, AK Report: My 1st Ever Day as an Alaskan Heli-Ski Guide with Pulseline Adventures

Miles Clark | | Conditions ReportConditions Report

Report from March 8, 2022

On Tuesday, I heli-ski guided in Alaska for the first time.

I was a tail-guide for the legendary Dan Van at Pulseline Adventures and I learned a ton.

I’ve been a mountain guide since 2006 and have always wanted to heli-ski guide but was too busy pursuing a freeskiing career to commit all of March and April to guiding.

I’ve always planned on becoming a heli-guide before the age of 50 and this year, at the age of 43, I stumbled upon an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.

The Pulseline team is humble, extremely experienced, and growth-mindset oriented.

So, here I am in Valdez 🙂

Valdez Harbor in the back. image: snowbrains

The weather was rolling in on Tuesday so we had to chase blue holes a bit (some of the photos in here are from Monday when I was in a guide ship doing reconnaissance and snow analysis and the sun was out).

Our 1st run was a great warm-up with excellent powder, a steep drop, and a long run out.

Our 2nd run was a 2,000 vertical-feet of perfect powder – a dream run.

Matt ripping down run #2. image: snowbrains

Then the clouds came in and we started dodging them.

We bobbed and weaved in the heli and ended up in Northern Chugach in a place that looks a lot like Colorado.

I’d never been in that northern zone before and it was cool to see how different it was.

“Over there!” image: snowbrains

Old mountains, no glaciers, rocks, and bushes.

We’d come there exactly for the rocks and bushes.

The light was getting flat and we needed rocks to land on top with and bushes to land on at the bottom so the pilot could see.

Arnie shredding. image: snowbrains

After the Colorado run, we were headed back to base when another blue hole opened up.

We hung a right turn and dropped off on a glacier above town.

The zone was south-facing so the snow was a bit funky in spots but the run was long and the views were nuts.

Miles shredding down run #2. image: snowbrains

The blue hole was just long enough to get us back up for one more run on a steep, wind-pressed wall.

The light faded and after the steep section and it was difficult to see so we headed for the heli and home.

Our group was pumped.

We’d skied more than anticipated given the weather.

I learned a ton and I can’t wait to back out and learn more.

Photos:

Purple. image: snowbrains
Authority. image: snowbrains
The 3 Muskateers. image: snowbrains
Gorgeous. image: snowbrains
Tazlina. image: snowbrains
Jason Champion getting some snow numbers. image: snowbrains
Tazlina glacier is huge. image: snowbrains
Icefall. image: snowbrains
High up. image: snowbrains
Window shopping. image: snowbrains
Wow. image: snowbrains
Cracked. image: snowbrains
Pointy. image: snowbrains
Valdez Harbor down there. image: snowbrains
Texture. image: snowbrains
Medial moraine. image: snowbrains
Walking the tarmac. image: snowbrains
Window candy. image: snowbrains
Matt. image: snowbrains
Layers. image: snowbrains
Valdez Harbor. image: snowbrains
Big mountain, small human. image: snowbrains
Plastered. image: snowbrains
Chute. image: snowbrains
Champion digs. image: snowbrains
Wicked. image: snowbrains
Heli. image: snowbrains

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