Heli-ski Valdez

With former US Ski Team member Dean Cummings

Heli-skiing Alaska

Alaska air     Photo: Courtesy of H2O

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You may never ride more heroically than you can in Alaska’s Chugach range. The reason is the snow. Sure, the pros you see in the movies are fantastically talented, but they, too, ride better in the Chugach than they do anywhere else. “There’s no place in the world where you can slide your skis like in Valdez,” says Cummings, who has been skiing Valdez for decades, and now runs helicopter skiing operation H20 Guides there. “The maritime snow is so consistent and elastic that it sticks to 90-degree faces, which means you can ski fantastically steep stuff,” he says. It also offers a consistent and fluid resistance, so that even when you’re riding at 90 miles an hour it “doesn’t feel that fast.” (Yeah, to a former World Cup racer.) Lastly, because the maritime temperatures are consistent from the top of the run to the bottom, the snow is consistent, which means even 5,000-foot runs take less effort. “On the first day, people are overwhelmed—just trying to piece together the scale,” says Cummings. “But they leave here looking at skiing differently. They are able to stand on top of a mountain like Jackson Hole and see a whole different set of possibilities. It’s like going from 2D to three dimensions.”

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