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  1. #1
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    "Truth about H20 guides" thread deleted

    While as much as I don't want to see any AK heli-operation fail, I think posting a thread stating how great H20 is, and then deleting the thread after catching a bunch of shit is kind of whack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stalefish3169 View Post
    While as much as I don't want to see any AK heli-operation fail, I think posting a thread stating how great H20 is, and then deleting the thread after catching a bunch of shit is kind of whack.
    i agree. fortunately, we've got jtek's mis-truth and the subsequent corrections preserved.

    Quote Originally Posted by JTek
    There have been some rumors going around that Dean Cummings' H2O Guides in Valdez, AK are closing. I just wanted everyone to know that this is absolutely not true. On the contrary, they are, in fact, expanding. H2O Guides in Alaska is alive and well. They are also about to tour the US this fall, promoting their new "It's Our Time" movie, new H2O products, new online gear store, safety programs and backcountry protocol courses (NAOI and 'Be Snow Smart'), and their new Mountain Center at Snowbird, set to open this coming winter. The Mountain Center will be their main hub in the lower 48, offering all H2O products, including the newest and best snow safety equipment and 'Tested|Proven' H2O Guides endorsed products, guided adventure skiing tours, all kinds of educational courses, and their new American Mechanized Ski Guide level II course. There are plans for the Amercan Mechanized Ski Guide level I course to be moved to UT to give more people the opportunity to attend the course. For those who have not yet made it up to Alaska to ski with the best in the biz, Dean Cummings' H2O Guides, "If you don't do it this year, you'll be one year older when you do." For those who live in, or will be frequenting, the SLC area, get ready for the new Mountain Center at Snowbird. It's going to be awesome.

    H2O is also skiing all over the world now: Heliskiing and Big Mountain Ski Camps in Valdez, Alaska, Guided Adventure Skiing Tours and Ski Camps in Snowbird, Utah, Powder Camps in Niseko, Japan, and Guided Adventure Skiing Tours and Ski Camps in Las Lenas, Argentina.

    Check out their website for more info:
    H2O Guides
    "Access The Goods"
    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Shred
    Good luck!
    Quote Originally Posted by upallnight
    since you brought this up, jtek, can you comment on the early shut-down last season?

    there were customers arriving in april who were left high-and-dry, and they were unable to get refunds. that sort of puts a damper on someone's "once-in-a-lifetime" trip to alaska.

    also, what's going on with the "guide school"? weren't there, like, six guides (graduates of guide school) laid off mid-season? we'd love to hear the story direct from you (presuming you have a direct line to dean).

    just asking these questions of you as you raised the general subject and have, basically, only been on the forum to promote businesses or sell your stuff, so it seems like fair questions that potential clients would want the answers to.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hohes
    That would break my frekin heart (if I were a costumer in that situation)
    Quote Originally Posted by iscariot
    JTek fails to answer and as a result has basically spammed the site with H2O damage control propaganda. Not cool.

    Still waiting for a reply JTek...
    Quote Originally Posted by SkiED
    great a giant spam with no real info about h20... I know who I won't be flying with.
    Quote Originally Posted by JTek
    Geez... c'mon guys. Why so hateful? Maybe it's because we're right in the middle of summer, and we're all starting to get antsy about making some turns. Just ease up a bit. Sorry that I didn't respond immediately. I don't spend my whole life plugged in, on the contrary, I prefer to stay unplugged the majority of the time and enjoy the very things we are talking about in this forum.

    In response to the pending questions here, I have not asked Dean these specific questions, but I do recall him telling me about the hardships they faced last season. First of all, as we all know, we are currently in an 'economic downturn', and everybody is feeling it. In my experience, it is hurting anyone involved in the luxury vacation industry, ie heliskiing, the most, as this is the first thing to get cut out of people's budgets when it comes to pinching pennies. Add to that the eruption of the Redoubt volcano, and you've got yourself a shitty mess. I am not privy to the exact details of what went down, but I do recall Dean telling me how much business they lost, how many good, returning customers were put in difficult situations where they had to forfeit their entire trip and, in some cases, couldn't even fly back to Anchorage due to the giant ash cloud covering the region. This all apparently lead to a near death blow to H2O and left them with few choices. Guides may have been laid off as a result, as countless other folks have been laid off across the globe as of late. As a guide myself, I can imagine how much that must have sucked for those guys up there. Also, as an avid skier who dreams of Alaskan heliskiing as much as the next powder hound, I can only try to imagine how crushing that must have been to have your dream trip ruined by unpredictable events, ie a massive volcanic eruption. My heart truly goes out to all those who were adversely affected by this debacle. As anyone who has gone heliskiing in AK knows, your entire trip hinges pretty much entirely on the weather. Sometimes you can go up for a week and not see a single day, or sometimes you get lucky and ski the whole week. Sometimes you get refunded, usually a percentage of your total payment, and sometimes you don't. This all depends on the operator's contract that you are supposed to read before you sign on. I don't know how the other AK operators in the region handled it, but I imagine they were all in a similar situation and faced similar hardships. If anyone has any further info on that, please feel free to share it. Thanks.
    Quote Originally Posted by carlobee
    Thank you for this information and for clarifying all of us on this matter/issue.
    Quote Originally Posted by upallnight
    that was difficult to read. it covered many things thrown at the wall to see what sticks, including many buzzwords, partial truths, etc.

    i wasn't going to respond further in this thread, but your post reads to me either as that of an apologist for h2o, or someone who sincerely believed what they were told by dean/h2o. what you wrote may seem, at the surface, logical to someone who hasn't been to alaska or hasn't had any dealings with a company other than h2o.

    i'll assume you are sincere but misinformed.

    other operators stayed open and got their clients in the air. dean's inability to return money (or even communicate this issue with any reasonable warning to clients), left some people high and dry. these people were not victims of redoubt -- they were victims of someone who made "interesting" business decisions along the way caused them to run so thin they couldn't weather any kind of storm....and the net effect was to take customer deposits and not refund them -- even when the customers could make it there.

    this is NOT an issue of someone failing to read a contract. it is NOT the same as a week of snow and gray skies. there was money. people were ready to go. weather was flyable.

    getting into anchorage this year had some issues, but conditions were just fine on most days.

    again, what doesn't add up in your explanation/apology is that other operations' clients got in and flew.

    h2o shutting down early sucks for their clients -- and i'm sure it's not something they WANTED to do -- but explanations like the above imply that h2o "had no choice" or that they "did exactly what other operators did", and that's simply not true.

    as an aside (but since you brought it up), it seems like the "guide school" is just another attempt to get paying clients, not guides who will be employable elsewhere.

    i sincerely hope the expansion to non-heli-related business outside of alaska will help the company to employ honest business practices IN alaska. in the meantime, other operations should not be judged by what h2o does.

    EDIT to add: if you haven't spoken with dean in depth about his business practices and what happened, perhaps you should. you are on this forum promoting h2o's services without knowing what's up. you might want to be informed first -- or take more time to figure out who you're in business with. that info might help you out in the future.
    Quote Originally Posted by TyWebb
    Good note, thanks UAN...I'm hoping for a April heli trip this year for the first time and this is good stuff. Lots of great historic heli-op info on the board, but good to be up date with stuff like this.
    Quote Originally Posted by Z
    dude pull your shit together before you get worked over anymore.
    Quote Originally Posted by Summit
    I've talked to several people who have worked at H2O as guides and while they said they loved to guide, they ALL felt like H2O was in the business of fucking over their employees at every opportunity and sometimes their customers too. I have no first hand experience as a customer or guide with them or any other operator, just a potential customer researching options, but of those businesses I've talked to, H2O is regarded as among the most dishonest operators in the business.

    That said, I have seem them doing some avi safety promotions around CO, though there was certainly plenty of advertising involved in it.
    Quote Originally Posted by iscariot
    It seems that this thread and the posts by JTek corroborate this opinion.
    Quote Originally Posted by BFD
    Z kind of summed it up. Let me guess JTek, you went to guide school. Dean promised you a job guiding in AK. My heart truly goes out to you.
    Quote Originally Posted by covert
    silverton junk show is going to ak again next year. pm me if you want any beta.
    Quote Originally Posted by YetiMan
    it won't surprise you, then, to know that it's owner is a New Mexican/Taoseño
    Quote Originally Posted by Gripen
    From Los Alamos actually. I remember Dean was I was a little kid there. Parents worked together.

  3. #3
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    ^^^ How did you get quotes from a thread that was deleted.

  4. #4
    advres Guest
    Now Jtek is advertising http://www.patagoniaskitours.com/ in his signature...

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    I dunno but FKNA for gettin er done lol

    I love it when fools get called out trying to work over maggots
    Quote Originally Posted by Eldo View Post
    what happened to Shadam this year? Usually by now he is posting drinking reports daily.

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    Quote Originally Posted by advres View Post
    Now Jtek is advertising http://www.patagoniaskitours.com/ in his signature...
    Fresh off a marketing degree?

    Someone shoulda warned him that no matter how brutal winter or summer can be, a bad post on TGR can be almost impossible to weather once the shitstorm breaks loose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by splat View Post
    once the shitstorm breaks loose.
    Or worse, the "Shitnado"!
    Quote Originally Posted by Eldo View Post
    what happened to Shadam this year? Usually by now he is posting drinking reports daily.

  8. #8
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    the pms i've received (multiple) have been very interesting, including former h2o employees. i think it's unfortunate for those folks not to speak up publicly, as that silence causes people (yes, members of this very community) to throw hard-earned money away on a bad bet.

    i suspect folks are afraid to speak up either about the (in)effectiveness of the "guide course" or the business practices that they've observed, for fear that it will hurt their chances of being hired by h2o. the reality is that speaking up might earn them more respect.

    for many people, going to alaska represents a big commitment -- it takes a commitment (time & money) to get there. when one operator screws over customers, it sucks for that customer (of course), but it also adversely affects other, legitimate operations.

    side note:
    * on jtek's web page, he lists the "american mechanized ski guide level i" as his top qualification -- as if it's a weighty accomplishment. ("do you have $5k? you're in!")

    * the assistant guide writes that "he attends the International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW) annually", and his only credential is a 3-day level ii avalanche awareness class. i wonder what he's attending, since issw is not held annually.

    [i]the last points are kind of cheap, but jtek opened himself up to this by contributing nothing other than attempting to promote his business interests here, which could potentially screw members of the community.

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    couldn't agree more with that dude!


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    Quote Originally Posted by upallnight View Post
    i wonder what he's attending, since issw is not held annually.
    For the record ISSW is held "annually," thou it is actually every two years. Last year ISSW was held in Whistler, 2010 will be in Squaw Valley. And BTW, there is a special Europen ISSW this fall.
    "True love is much easier to find with a helicopter"

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by upallnight View Post
    the pms i've received (multiple) have been very interesting, including former h2o employees.

    i suspect folks are afraid to speak up either about the (in)effectiveness of the "guide course" or the business practices that they've observed, for fear that it will hurt their chances of being hired by h2o. the reality is that speaking up might earn them more respect.
    I'd like to see some of those "interesting" pms

    I speak up on the guide school since I attended last year.

    The Avy 2 course was excellent. It was not taught by anyone at H2O. It was taught by Ben Prichett (spelling?) from the AAA and AIARE. Knew his stuff inside and out. Now for the AMSG 1 course itself. We got pretty screwed with the weather, not grey and snowing but blue and windy (50+mph) for the first couple days of the course so no flying. This time was spent on Avy 2 class work stuff, indoor High angle/crevasse rescue practice etc.

    The time spent outside, flying or other wise was interesting. Dean and his staff know what they are doing and were able to explain/show the techniques to us as well as answer any questions as to why certain things were done. Basically I would say the course provided me with a good idea of how to properly guide in the mountains. The only thing I felt lacking in the course was time. More time "mock'" guiding and route selecting would have been nice but I think skill in those categories comes much better with experience and watching skilled guides over long periods of time.

    So that's it for the course. I felt that the course was done pretty well.

    Communication is where H2O seemed to be lacking a little. I was sent the client gear list instead of the guide list as well as most of the others so many of us were severely short on gear. That was the only issue I had which I think was just an oversight on the GM's part and I'm sure has been rectified.

    I know that there are a couple others on the boards that have been to H2O for guide school as well. I would be interesting to get there take as well.
    "The idea wasnt for me, that I would be the only one that would ever do this. My idea was that everybody should be doing this. At the time nobody was, but this was something thats too much fun to pass up." -Briggs
    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    Wear your climbing harness. Attach a big anodized locker to your belay loop so its in prime position to hit your nuts. Double russian Ti icescrews on your side loops positioned for maximal anal rape when you sit down. Then everyone will know your radness
    More stoke, less shit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    For the record ISSW is held "annually," thou it is actually every two years. Last year ISSW was held in Whistler, 2010 will be in Squaw Valley. And BTW, there is a special Europen ISSW this fall.
    hey, hacksaw:
    yep, every other year with the special, 1st-ever off-cycle session in davos in cotober.

    you attend them all (at least in n. america), right? would you say you go annually? you wouldn't. and i bet you wouldn't list annual attendance @ issw as your #1 credential.

    i was just being overly picky due to the self-promotion as there is no way to attend annually.

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    Quote Originally Posted by upallnight View Post
    i agree. fortunately, we've got jtek's mis-truth and the subsequent corrections preserved.
    Heh, heh. Well played.

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    I wonder if this incident was before or after guide school?

    https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/s...vail+avalanche
    off your knees Louie

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    ^Found out what you are talking about. Kind of a low blow IMO. Jtek may have been promoting H20 in a questionable way, but let the dead rest. I'd sure as hell expect that he learned from the death of his friend, and that it is something he carries with him every day.

    Although they'd like to be, no ski guide certified at any level is infallible in their decision making. Everyone is susceptible to human error,and in this case he made a wrong choice that resulted in the ultimate price. Somebody died in an AIARE class in Aspen a few years ago too, in circumstances not unlike the ones from that post. IFMGA guides have lost clients too. He doesn't need a slap in the face for losing his friends just because he was trying to promote H20 after a messed up season. You want him to carry a scarlet letter for the rest of his life or what?

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    I agree with Kevo, that was a low blow. I briefly met Jtek a few years ago and skied with him. More than anything else he seemed like a very positive person, just a young guy stoked on skiing and life. Much like many of us, I would guess. Keep the attacks fair.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    For the record ISSW is held "annually," thou it is actually every two years.
    For the record, that's not annual (thou should know this). Bi-annual.

    Too bad most of the people with firsthand knowledge of what's going on at H2O don't seem to be saying anything.
    [quote][//quote]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dexter Rutecki View Post
    Too bad most of the people with firsthand knowledge of what's going on at H2O don't seem to be saying anything.
    The silence is deafening.
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by upallnight View Post
    hey, hacksaw:
    yep, every other year with the special, 1st-ever off-cycle session in davos in cotober.

    you attend them all (at least in n. america), right? would you say you go annually? you wouldn't. and i bet you wouldn't list annual attendance @ issw as your #1 credential.

    i was just being overly picky due to the self-promotion as there is no way to attend annually.
    I have attended ISSW from 1992 thru 2008. I personally list attending ISSW as "continuing education." Sadly, I cannot attend the ISSW in Davos this coming October.
    "True love is much easier to find with a helicopter"

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    Another flame festival?? And no more real info comes from it... Go figure!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Huckin eh? View Post
    Or worse, the "Shitnado"!
    No, a shiticane.
    Quote Originally Posted by wintermittent
    And furthermore. What is up with turkey bacon? Healthy bacon? Unpossible.
    Quote Originally Posted by snowsprite
    That is like masturbation. People resort to it when they can't have the real thing!

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    I flew with H2O almost ten years ago and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I was in Valdez for a week and only skied 3 days. There were lots of options available that clients could hedge their bets on. I was told straight up during booking that weather is not always conducive to flying, so I could book 3 days and then take my chances on seats being available the rest of the time or book 5 days and take my chances on having to wait or participate in down day activities. I chose the 3 day deal because I asked the person booking what they would do and it turned out almost exactly like they said, but some idiots showed up having booked 7 days for the 7 days they were there and spent most of the time bitching about not flying and having to road runs off Thompson pass. I think there's a culture of entitlement with some people who watch a movie, read a magazine or a website and feel like if they pay the money then it should be perfect for them.

    Dean is probably one of the hardest working guys up there and he goes the extra mile to ensure people ski sick terrain. Again, some people showed up with visions of skiing AK spines like Jeremy Jones, only to realize that they really suck in comparison and would be a liability on that terrain, but they bitch anyway because they'd rather point the finger at Dean than admit they really suck. One guy was sent back because he refused to listen to the guide about where he could ski on the terrain and spent the evening at the bar talking shit about how Dean screwed him.

    To H2O's credit, they weeded everyone out in the 1st run and reorganized the groups according to ability, so people who were capable skied some crazy shit. Dean is a bit of a cowboy, but I'd rather fly with him than a bunch of salmon munching wannabe's who talk a good game, but only deliver mediocre skiing.

    You go to AK to experience skiing on a grand scale, but that comes at a price. For every blue bird day you see in ski movies, they're waiting out AT LEAST 2 or 3 days. Valdez itself is almost 3rd world. The airport may or may not run its scheduled flights for whatever reason. My scheduled flight back to Anchorage was cancelled because the pilot didn't show up. I had a flight out of Anchorage that night with a for real airline that told me I was out of luck if I missed the flight so I had to find a way or it was going to cost me a lot of money to re book. The rental car kiosk was closed despite the posted hours of operation and the waitress at the cafe told me I was better off taking a taxi than waiting around for the rental agent to "sleep it off". The taxi guy said he didn't feel like driving me to Anchorage, but he knew someone headed that way and dropped me off at their place which was an old school bus buried in the snow with a big stove pipe sticking out the top. I rode in some falling apart minivan all the way from Valdez to Anchorage with no heat. At the end, all the guy wanted in payment was a 1/5 of Jack "for the ride home". Welcome to AK folks. Shit doesn't work the same up there. Read the New Mexico thread for the type of service you should expect up there.

    I have no idea what happened last season at H2O or with guide schools, but I do know it's really hard to run a heli op in AK. Weather and other shit out of your control can shut things down in a heart beat. People who travel to AK to heliski have to be prepared to either ski the most insane terrain of their life or sit in a shit hole motel drinking their face off. AK in itself is a shit show, so if you want someone to douche your vagina with champagne while you ski low angle shit, go to Weigles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    ...so if you want someone to douche your vagina with champagne while you ski low angle shit, go to Weigles.
    zing!

    69

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    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    I flew with H2O almost ten years ago and it was one of the best experiences of my life....

    ...AK in itself is a shit show, so if you want someone to douche your vagina with champagne while you ski low angle shit, go to Weigles.

    Gees, if you're going to slam Wiegele's at least spell Wiegele correctly...
    "True love is much easier to find with a helicopter"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    Gees, if you're going to slam Wiegele's at least spell Wiegele correctly...
    ok, pull over for the spelling police It ain't a slam when it's the truth!

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