Trip Report by Native Ambassador/Sales Rep, George Terrizzi.
A once in a lifetime trip comes along, well, once in a lifetime. I was fortunate to end up on just such a trip this past March. It all started back about a year ago when Tom, my boss and mentor, and I won a trip to Haines, Alaska to heli-ski on some of the most incredible terrain we’ve ever seen.
Days before our trip had officially started Tom and I did one last shakedown with all of our gear at his house in Grand Haven, Michigan. We had little to no idea what we were exactly in for as far as the conditions went. Variable was about the most information we could get when chatting with the guys in Haines. “How many gloves are you taking?” I asked Tom, “I don’t know, maybe 2-3 pairs—what about you?” We really didn’t have a clue, so we packed heavy. Looking down at our gear all laid out, the gravity of what we were about to do began to set in. The Holy Grail of ski trips is about to be ours…after 4 flights and 2 days.
If you’ve never been to Alaska before, please do yourself a favor and plan a trip—if you have, then you will understand what I’m getting at. Nothing I’ve seen compares to it, and the scale is indescribable. Endless mountains dramatically exploding out of the ocean as far as the eye can see. It is a truly otherworldly landscape. We had arrived, we were awestruck, and we had a healthy amount of nervousness coursing through our veins.
After another bout of nervousness from our safety meeting with SEABA, a most excellent outfitter and guide service, we were issued our avy-packs, beacons, probe, harness, and shovels; gear necessary for skiing in avalanche terrain. We then had a helicopter safety meeting and loaded into a bright yellow helicopter that would serve as our ride into, out of, and through some truly magnificent terrain. The guys from SEABA worked closely with the pilot to determine a good spot to start out and before we knew it, we were touching down on a small purchase of semi-flat snow. It was really happening!
Getting out of the helicopter is an event that is equal parts nerve-wracking and exciting. The guides instruct us to hunker down and secure our gear (read: lay on top of it) and wait for the helicopter to leave. The entire time the helicopter is essentially hovering, rotors are rotating and it is loud, violent, exciting, and chaotic all at once. Almost immediately, the helicopter takes off and we are left with the most quiet and alone feeling that I’ve ever experienced.
It was time to ski. Our nerves settled once we got our gear on and started making turns. We were lucky enough to have a stellar crew of badasses who made sure we were always safe, and communicated exactly what was happening and what to expect next… So, how was the skiing you ask? Well saying that it’s a trip of a lifetime is a true statement, but it is one that I’ll be working hard to make happen again sometime in the future. Go find out for yourself; you will not be disappointed.
Photos courtesy George Terrizzi