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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    San Fran/x Boston/x aspen/x stowe
    Posts
    376

    AK Heli in March or April?

    A conundrum.

    I'm gonna pull the trigger on Heli in AK this year.

    Options are: Mid- March with one friend or 2nd week fo April with a solid crew of 10, known quantity riders.

    Mid March to me is prime season. Good snow, not too warm.... But, the crew is a bit of a gamble since I only know one skier and I'm at the mercy of the other people I get grouped with. Note: This Heli Op has not let me down before so I trust we'd get setup with good skiers.
    The negative on March is that it can be stormier than April and days are shorter meaning you could get weathered out easier.

    2nd Week of April- We know the guide we are going with and the crew of 10 could be slit among two groups. The days are longer and this crew can rip. But, could be warm, manky and limited to north facing/high terain.

    Anyone got advice here? Experience on Mid April in AK.

    Op is Points North/Cordova Region.
    live the life.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    closer
    Posts
    2,684
    March. If you spend so much money, you should maximize your chances. Only downside you might ski with a rich Australian who freaks out over 35 degrees steepness because you don't have your own group. Happened to us one day with points north. Generally I was more impressed with AK Heli than points north, but that is definitely guide dependent.

    April can be absurdly warm. We toured slush at hatchers pass early April in 2016 and it rained above pass level at Thompson that same period. The people at the Heli ops didn't fly at all because of warmth and sketchy conditions so we were really happy that we did our Heli week in March that year.

    That said: it's all weather. You never know. Still, due to climate change the season with decent conditions tends to shorten.

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    It's a war of the mind and we're armed to the teeth.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    norcal
    Posts
    1,255

    AK Heli in March or April?

    Are you deciding between week 4 and week 8?

    Maybe trying like hell to change/waitlist to march 21-28 would be my .02 but Iím way more familiar with Haines...
    Life of a repo man is always intense.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    1,974

    AK Heli in March or April?

    Been to Haines and Valdez once each over the last four years (a trip every other year). Early to mid March for both trips. Honestly, I think Iím done with AK as sad as that sounds. No snow and boiler plate sling both trips. Climate change, especially the winters in AK is real. I follow weather and ski reports all the time up there and have for a long time. More and more rain events it seems like recently. Just not worth the cost to flip a coin so to speak. 10 days in Haines and we skied low angle terrain, no pow, for 1/2 a day for the whole trip. The trip to Valdez we skied on 1-2Ē of snow on top of refreeze crust to boilerplate. Wish I had my hockey skates up there.

    We are moving our heli trips into BC. Colder. More snow. No rain events. Much better opportunity to get the goods and your moneys worth.

    My thoughts.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    cordova,AK
    Posts
    2,640
    Just go with the group you would most enjoy sitting around the lodge talking about how good it was last time.
    I always said your not a skier if you are not in AK in march. Last year i was in CA. It is a crap shoot. I would ask PNH when they have been getting the most fly days. It may be all over the board. Best advice is come for a couple of weeks.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Tahoe
    Posts
    2,164
    I've spent a lotta time there in Cordova in both March & April. All I can tell you is it's a total crapshoot. I've been fully skunked both early & late and been blessed with high pressure when the forecast said there was no chance.
    Dial up the psychic hotline or get yourself one of these.
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    "The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    No longer Alexandria, VA
    Posts
    1,166
    So you like gambling and have lots of time, money, and patience to spare?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Ross Thompson's land
    Posts
    656
    Having guided out of Valdez for ten years in the early Wild West days, my input would be: No telling what the weather will do. But generally speaking, I was able to ski more aspects, south, east and west, in the early season and lower elevations ie longer runs. As the season progressed and spring set in, I was forced to ski mostly north and pick up higher. So that said more run options earlier in the season.
    But again no telling what the weather will be like when your time comes.


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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    290
    Quote Originally Posted by Sluff View Post
    Been to Haines and Valdez once each over the last four years (a trip every other year). Early to mid March for both trips. Honestly, I think Iím done with AK as sad as that sounds. No snow and boiler plate sling both trips. Climate change, especially the winters in AK is real. I follow weather and ski reports all the time up there and have for a long time. More and more rain events it seems like recently. Just not worth the cost to flip a coin so to speak. 10 days in Haines and we skied low angle terrain, no pow, for 1/2 a day for the whole trip. The trip to Valdez we skied on 1-2Ē of snow on top of refreeze crust to boilerplate. Wish I had my hockey skates up there.

    We are moving our heli trips into BC. Colder. More snow. No rain events. Much better opportunity to get the goods and your moneys worth.

    My thoughts.
    I agree on this too... Alaska is really cool when it's good but the down time is maddening.

    A good option would be to go-to Alyeska and get in stand by lists. If you fly you fly if not still skiing....otherwise spend time and money in other places.

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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Eagle River Alaska
    Posts
    10,909
    Do you like skiing corn?
    If so: April.

    You have a helicopter.

    If you have a helicopter and can't find good snow in April you are doing something wrong (or it rained to 6k'). I love April skiing, the melt refreeze cycle lets you climb and ski better shit. North facing stuff is usually great pow.

    Not to mention having a crew you trust is huge.

    March has been a bit of a gamble as of late, lots of outflow wind events. However, again with a helicopter you should be able to find good snow. And maybe we get a usual march this year...

    Honestly the best skiing is February almost without fail. But don't tell the heli opps that.
    Its not that I suck at spelling, its that I just don't care

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    1,779
    "True love is much easier to find with a helicopter"

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    none
    Posts
    6,308
    I love AK, but Iíll never book a trip way in advance again. I bought a sled, for what one big trip will cost.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Uber Alles California
    Posts
    3,753
    the best time is right after it snows and the skies are blue.
    Hello darkness my old friend

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Posts
    23
    perhaps go to AK in august or september to hunt and fish. go to alps in march. if the snow sucks there, europe is still worth your time.

    the helisking in canada looks rad and may have a higher probability.

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