Overview:

Alaska’s Chugach Mountain Range hosts some of the best ski terrain on the continent. On this 7-day trip you will sample the classic lines above Thompson Pass via human power and helicopter. On our Valdez Ski Mountaineering and Heli Tour, we keep our itinerary flexible in order to get the most out of our days. We tour to great ski descents and learn technical mountaineering skills along the way. Plus, with two mornings of heli bumps included, you get to experience more of what Valdez is legendary for!

With Colorado Mountain School you can experience all that Valdez has to offer at a fraction of the cost of a typical heli-ski trip. The flexibility in our itinerary means that even if the weather is poor and the helicopters are not flying, we can still be out having fun in the mountains ski touring and climbing. Let our AMGA Certified Ski Guide ensure you get the most out of your time in Alaska!

Prerequisites:

AIARE I Avalanche Education or similiar experience.

Because of the nature of the terrain, we ask that clients meet a minimum level of both fitness and skiing ability. Skiing in the Chugach often means great snow quality, but to ski off summits or tackle more technical objectives, clients must be able to ski in all snow conditions. The terrain is steep, rugged, and has natural hazards that must be navigated. Enrollment in the pre-requisite courses and/or a day of  ski touring assessment in Rocky Mountain National Park is highly recommended to ensure a quality and fun experience.  Individuals are always welcome to take one or more rest days to relax and explore the area.

Clients must be:

  • In good health and physical condition
  • Able to climb up to 5000’ vertical feet per day
  • Able to ski in control in challenging snow conditions while wearing a pack

Time:

7 days

Duration:

6 Days

Minimum Age:

18

Meeting location:

This expedition starts and ends in Valdez, AK. Flights are available directly to Valdez or shuttles/ferries can be arranged from Anchorage. Lodging is provided in downtown Valdez, close to the Bay, restaurants, and other amenities. Transportation is provided to each day’s site.

Notes:

Expedition Cancellation Policy:

  •      A non-refundable $250 application fee will not be refunded from your initial deposit.
  •      100% (minus application fee) will be refunded 121 days prior to trip start.
  •      50% (minus application fee) will be refunded 91 to 120 days before trip start.
  •      25% (minus application fee) will be refunded 46 to 90 days before trip start.
  •      0% will be refunded 0 to 45 days before trip start.

 

Day 1: Arrive in Valdez, Alaska, settle into your new surroundings

Day 2: Rescue and technical skills review with short tour

Day 3: Ski tour

Day 4: Heli bump and ski

Day 5: Ski tour & mountain skills

Day 6: Heli bump and ski

Day 7: Ski tour, travel back to Anchorage, fly home

Note: This schedule is subject to change at the guide’s discretion due to unforeseen difficulties such as weather, illness, road conditions, etc.

Price Includes:

AMGA Certified Ski Guide, shuttle to and from Valdez airport, transportation to daily sites, and lodging.

Price Excludes:

Cost of heli lifts (~$250/person/lift) due to unpredictability of flying weather. Guests may choose to add on additional heli lifts or even go for a full day of heli skiing.

Item Description Quantity Example Purchase At Rent At Equipment Type
Autoblock

This is a small sewn loop to assist in rappelling. The #1 choice on the market is the Sterling Hollowblock, or the Sterling Autoblock.

1

Sterling Auto Block

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Avalanche Beacon

Modern, digital, three-antennae beacon with fresh batteries.

1

BCA Tracker 2 or 3

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Avalanche Probe

Collapsable metal or carbon rod used to probe avalanche debris while attempting to strike a buried target.

1

BCA Stealth 300

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Avalanche Rescue Shovel

Ski specific shovel used to dig pits and avalanche rescue. A metal blade is mandatory.

1

BCA B1 Ext

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Backpack: 20-40 liter

Packs smaller than this tend not to be able to carry the necessary amount of equipment and clothing. Large backpacking packs are acceptable, depending on the climb.

1

CAMP M3 30L

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
Baselayer Bottoms

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Lightweight or mid-weight are recommended.

1

Men: Rab Merino 120 Pants
Women: Rab Merino 120 Pants

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Beanie/Fleece Hat

Should cover the ears and fit under a helmet. Hats with fluff balls on top do not fit under helmets.

1

Rab Logo Beanie

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Belay/Rappel Device

Plaquette style devices with auto-block mode are ideal.

1

CAMP Piu 2

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Climbing Harness

UIAA/CE approved; With belay loop and gear loops. The waist belt should fit over multiple layers of clothing.

1

CAMP Laser CR

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
Climbing Skins

Nylon or mohair. Trimmed/adjusted to fit your skis/splitboard ahead of time.

1

Dynafit Speedskin

Neptune Mountaineering

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Compass

Used for navigation and orientation. A compass with adjustable declination is preferrable.

1

Silva Ranger CLQ

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
First Aid Kit

Your guide will have an emergency First Aid Kit. You should bring a small kit including blister prevention and care products such as a role of athletic tape and Moleskin. Your kit should also contain a few Band-aids, some Tylenol and Ibuprofen.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Food

Proper lunches that are prepared ahead of time are recommended (sandwich, burrito, leftover pizza, etc), along with an assortment of snack bars, gels, and/or trail mixes. Feeze-dried meals are acceptable on overnight trips, but not day trips.

1

Made in Nature, Thrive Tribe

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Hardshell Pants

These should be non-insulated pants with ankle cuffs wide enough to fit over your ski/ride boots.

1

Men: Rab Latok Alpine Pants
Women: Rab Firewall Pants

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Headlamp

Load with fresh batteries. Critical for hiking before sunrise and great to have in the pack in case you are caught out after dark.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Heavyweight Waterproof Glove

This glove comes out when the winter going gets cold and wet or at higher altitudes.

1

RAB Alliance

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Hot Drinks

Coffee, tea, hot cocoa are great for warming up when it's cold outside.

1

Cusa Tea; Alpine Start Coffee

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Lightweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Worn against the skin and is considered a "wicking" layer that facilitates the movement of moisture away from the skin and through the layers. Hooded base layers add extra versatility.

2

Men: Rab Merino 120 Long Sleeve
Women: Rab Merino 120 Long Sleeve

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Lightweight Gloves

Synthetic; Thin gloves used when hiking the early morning approach. Belay gloves can suffice if full-fingered.

1

RAB Power Stretch Pro

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Lip ScreenSPF 15 or higher.

Non-SPF rated lip balms can actually increase your chances of getting burned.

1

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Lip Balm

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Midweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Adds extra warmth and protection from the cold and wind without creating a moisture barrier as a jacket would. Having at least one base layer that is hooded adds versatility, protecting the neck and ears from cold winds.

1

Men: Rab Merino 160 Hoody
Women: Rab Merino 160 Long Sleeve

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Midweight Softshell Glove

This is the workhorse glove and is most often worn on warmer days when mountaineering. Softshell gloves are water-resistant and durable. They often have leather palms and fingers.

1

RAB Guide

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Mountaineering Axe

Utilized in ascending or descending snow slopes. Ideal length is variable based on terrain and height of person.

1

CAMP Alpina

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Mountaineering Crampons

Steel crampons with horizontal front points are ideal. Must be semi-rigid and compatible with your boots.

1

CAMP XLC 390

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Neck Gaiter

"Buffs" are quite versatile in their uses. They can be used as light beanies, neck warmers, and can offer face protection from the cold wind or sun.

1

BCA Neck Tube

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Personal Care Items

Medications, glasses/contacts, feminine products, etc.

1 Optional
Personal Toilet Kit

At minimum, bring a small Ziploc with toilet paper. Consider bringing a travel sized package of hand-wipes. Idealy, purchase, or for free from the RMNP Backcountry office, bring a "Rest Stop." The Rest Stop, known as "Blue Bags" in the Pacific Northwest, or the "Wag Bag" in other areas, are poop-in-a-bag systems that include toilet paper and a sanitizing hand wipe.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Prussik Cord

1m of 6mm nylon accessory cord. Tech cord (kevlar, spectra) is not acceptable.

2

Sterling HollowBlock

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Ski Helmet

This item is recommended but not required. We will be skiing in the trees, and in snow conditions where rocks, stumps, and downded logs are present.

1

Dynafit ST

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Ski or Trekking Poles

Two poles, with powder baskets, are required for all skiers, splitboarders, and snowshoers. It is ideal if poles are ski-specific and collapse small enough to fit onto a pack when climbing.

1

BCA Scepter

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Ski Straps

18" Rubber or velcro straps to connect skis when attaching them to a pack. Also useful for a variety of in-the-field equipment repairs.

2

BCA Ski Strap

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Ski/Snowboard Boots

Footwear should be appropriate to mode of travel i.e. ski, snowboard, or insulated winter boots for snowshoes. For snowshoers, a boot such as the Scarpa Mont Blanc is the minimum level of boot required. Ski Boots should have a walk mode.

1

Scarpa Maestrali RS

Neptune Mountaineering

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Skis/Snowboard

Skis should have touring bindings; lightweight tech bindings are ideal. Splitboards are ideal for snowboarders. Snowboarders using resort snowboards will need to have snowshoes and poles.

1

Dynafit Chugach; Dynafit Radical ST 2.0

Neptune Mountaineering

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Smartphone

Great for taking photos and videos. Smartphone batteries tend to shut down in freezing temps - keep your phone in a warm inner layer. A tether is ideal in the mountains to protet against dropping your phone.

1 Optional
Snow Saw

For cutting columns during snowpack analysis

1

BCA 35cm Snow/Wood Saw

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Softshell Pants

Softshell material is stretchy, wind-proof, water-resistant, and resists abrasion. Mid-weight is recommended and light-weight pants can work for warm days. Typical thin, nylon "hiking pants" are generally not tough enough.

1

Men: Rab Vapour Rise
Women: Rab Upslope

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Softshell/Fleece Jacket

Water-resistant, windproof, yet it "breaths," which means it allows moisture to move through. Hoods are ideal. There are multiple thicknesses of Softshell jackets. A lightweight or medium-weight jacket is preferred. Fleece jackets are acceptable.

1

Men: Rab Alpha Direct
Women: Rab Alpha Direct

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sports Bra

Provides support and allows for full range of motion

1

North Face Beyond the Wall

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sun Hat

A billed hat to keep the sun at bay during the approach and descent.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sunglasses

"Wrap-Around" style sunglasses with 100% UV Protection.

1

Julbo Stunt

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
SunscreenSPF 30 or higher.

Travel size.

1

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF 50

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Synthetic or Down Puffy Jacket

Fits over all other layers and is worn at breaks and on really cold days. Synthetic puffies are more durable, are easily laundered, and dry out quickly if wet. Down puffies are lighter weight, pack smaller, and provide exceptional warmth, but once wet, they stay wet.

1

Men: Rab Zero G
Women: Rab Electron

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Synthetic/Merino Wool Socks

Wool/Synthetic blends are great for long days on the trail. "Ski" and "Snowboard" socks are especially useful when warmth is desired.

2

Point 6 Hiking Light Crew

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Thermos

Many ice climbers prefer to bring a thermos of hot water or soup instead of one of their water bottles.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Toe Warmers/hand Heaters

Help keep you warm on particularly cold days.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Toiletries

Bring enough for the trip. Toothpaste & brush, floss, deoderant, lotion, eye drops, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.

1 Optional
Trash Bag

Lining the inside of your pack with a heavy duty trash bag will keep the contents of your pack dry on rainy days.

1 Optional
Watch w/ Altimiter

An altimeter is very useful in gauging progression of altitude gain or loss when climbing, and especially when visibility is decreased due to weather. Many Altimeter watches have compasses and/or GPS tracking functions.

1

Suunto Vector; Suunto Core

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Water Bottles

1 liter bottles are the standard. Bladders such as Camelbacks and Platypus are acceptable for above freezing temps, but only in conjunction with another bottle. Bladders are not acceptable during sub freezing temps. Sports drinks are also acceptable.

2

Nalgene, Hydro Flask

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Waterproof Shell Jacket

Non-insulated, Gore-Tex, Dermizax, Event, or other waterproofing system is required. Mostly, this jacket sits in the bottom of your pack and comes out when the weather gets nasty with precipitation. This jacket should fit over all other layers.

1

Men: RAB Latok
Women: RAB Latok

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing

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