Words and photos by Eric Daft.
The Valdez, Alaska, heli-ski season is in full swing, and the TGR crew has found themselves at the Tsaina Lodge on Thompson Pass, following in the footsteps of founders Todd and Steve Jones. This is how it all began, with a ragtag team of skiers and boarders shredding endless unnamed and untamed peaks at Valdez Heli-Ski Guides. And this is where it goes on today.
The Tsaina Lodge was recently rebuilt, so of course, we showed up for the grand opening. Everybody came out to support what was, in the past, a legendary lodge. When you walk in, you are greeted by a warm fire and a friendly staff. A lot of the old lodge was used in the new construction, so you also get that nostalgic feeling. If you were here in the ’90s, you will recognize the bar is almost identical to the old one, with the same stove, bar stools and pool table.
Todd Ligare, Griffin Post, and Ralph Backstrom met up with Scott Raynor, owner-operator of Valdez Heli-Ski Guides, which is based out of the new lodge. Our guide Dylan Freed showed us photos of what the Chugach had to offer. It had us drooling. The hit list was big and the weather looked to be cooperative. We were ready to go deep into the range to charge big lines, spines, and ramps. What we found did not disappoint.
On Day 1 Griffin and Todd shralped the gun barrels on Mt. Dimond simultaneously, then skied right down to the lodge. The next day was the best day for filming of the trip so far, with perfect light on Python and Pyramid. We hit it hard the first week without a day off, ticking off zones and finding even more objectives.
Right now, the Chugach is as deep as it gets, and conditions could not be better for the filming of TGR's next film, The Dream Factory.
Griffin Post at the heli pad.
Griffin finds some classic flutes.
TGR flies with VHSG.
The crew gets dropped off on top of their lines.
The new Tsaina Lodge.
Griffin Post, Ralph Backstrom, and Todd Ligare scope some lines.
Ralph Backstrom sends some air.
Todd Ligare looks down from Mt. Dimond.
Our VHSG guide Dylan Freed drops into the gun barrels on Mt. Dimond.
Todd Ligare gets deep in the Chugach pow.
Python Peak and Cherry Couloir.
And oil truck drives Thompson Pass under the northern lights.
Our pilot Mike fuels up the heli.
Yesterday with great sadness, we learned about the untimely death of freeskier Dave Treadway. Beyond his incredible skiing abilities, Treadway was an individual that held a special and vital place within his community, family, and the snow industry as a whole. With the news still setting in, friends and loved ones of Treadway are taking to social media to share moving tributes in honor of the late skier. RELATED: Dave Treadway Dies From Crevasse Fall in Pemberton B.C. Treadway is
Wyatt Minor sits at the base of the Greyhawk lift at Sun Valley. Idaho Mountain Express photo. Most 18 year-olds are more concerned with their Instagram following and class schedule than snow safety, but Wyatt Minor isn’t most 18 year-olds. He was practically raised on the mountain, unsurprising considering that his father owns and operates a classic onslope apres-spot. The Sun Valley, Idaho local has been instrumental in saving the lives of two skiers over the past two seasons, simply by
Audi Nines has been notorious for pushing the boundaries of freestyle snow sports. That’s not too surprising when you consider the rocket-sized launch pads they have for jumps. Still, it’s always exciting to witness a record being shattered, and David Wise potentially just crushed the highest quarterpipe air. The skier sent it 38.39 feet out of a quarterpipe, and after floating in outer space for a second he touched down to a banked landing. RELATED: This Year’s Audi Nines Course Looks