Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Juneau, AK with Points North an UnofficialSquaw

On Thursday Tim Konrad(God) came to my room and asked me an electrifying voice if I could have my bags packed by tomorrow morning cause we are going to Juneau, AK to do some heli skiing. I tried to stay as calm as possible with a simple yes response, but shortly after I started to freak out and was totally beside myself. Juneau is my second favorite place in the world, behind Squaw, and I couldn't wait to get there and shred with the UnofficialSquaw Blasters. I was so excited thinking about getting there that I didn't even bother trying to go to sleep that night.

Our plain left early in the morning Friday and the travels all went smooth. We arrived in Juneau around 3pm to find that the sun was already starting to set. We quickly checked into the Travelodge then Kevin Quinn & Jason Mack (Points North Heli) took us over to the NorthStar Heli operations to meet the pilots and check out their hanger. Jay and Mike were are marvelous pilots that were totally down to earth and extremely good at their profession. After getting acquainted with them we met a man that goes by the name Spoon who is the mechanic for all of NorthStar's helis and travels up to Cordova to keep them in shape during the winter with Kevin & J Mack. Spoon explained to us how the A-Star B2 flew and showed us one of the engines that is being rebuilt. It was amazing to see the little engine that gives power to the greatest chair lifts ever. We headed back to the hotel shortly after the show so we could get some rest for day one in Alaska.

We woke up at 7:45 and headed over to the hanger. We had a little bit of time to get ready and wait for the sun to come up. Once we got the OK we loaded up and took off into the mountains. It was some of ours first time in Alaska and some of ours first time skiing this year. So day one was going to be a fun easy day of skiing, Quinner and J Mack made sure of that, not to say that the UnofficialSquaw Blasters didn't help . Quinner and J Mack worked together to find good safe snow to let us rip. We got in some really good runs the first day right outside of the airport in Juneau. The sun set came way to soon and we had to head back earlier than everyone wanted, but it was a super good fun day full of pow skiing.

Day two we set out to a zone that we scoped on the way home the day before. Just as Quinner and J Mack said, it was a super sick zone. The top was mellow and then it turned into a couple steep shoots with a sick win lip at the bottom. We spent the first part of the day getting some shots then at the end we got in some incredible free runs. At the end of the day we posted up on an apposing ridge from a face that we were going to shoot in the morning. The only time the face got sun was right as the sun came up, so we had to know our lines and be ready to go first thing in the morning.

At 8:45 we were ready to get the third day off. There was a little bit of a cloud layer that we weren't sure about, but we headed out to the zone to wait and see what happened. The clouds were slowly moving out of the way of the sun, so to give it some time we took a couple more free runs on the face from the day before. After a couple stunning free runs the cloud cleared the sun and it was game on. Ralph and Arne Backstrom had the the first line of the day. It was a sick face off the top then into one of the shoots that they both skied tandem. Ralph was in front of Arne nuking down the face in between the top line an the shoot. At first I thought they had changed their line last second, but that was not the case. Ralph had mistaken one of the rollers as the begging of the shoot. Without killing any speed Ralph punched it off about a 50'+ cliff into the bottom of the Shoot. My first thought was that Arne was going to punch it straight on to Ralph, but Arne stopped knowing that his brother just sent it into the obis. Ralph had gotten lost in his line a went off something most people would never even look at. To all our surprise Ralph stood up and gave a wave that he was alright. With the heli in the air and money burning up Mattias, Johnny, and I all dropped our lines as quick as possible. Once at the bottom we checked on Ralph and he was fine. His backpack, snowboard, and jacket got banged up and he didn't even have a scrape. It was something that happens in Alaska often and we couldn't have been more happy to see it turn out the way it did. With those lines in our pockets we headed to the other zone that was just starting to get some light.

We got to the second zone of the day and decided to get some free runs in to loosen our nerves from what we had all just witnessed. Once again Quinner and J Mack found the goods and we all couldn't help from screaming as we headed down the fresh pow. Our nerves settled down just in time for some clouds to come ruin the light. We sat and discussed our options and hoped for the best. After scoping two different peaks with the binoculars we decided that if the light was going to go it would only be a short window. With that in mind we headed up to the top of the peak to wait up there. To our luck we only waited for a little bit and the orange Alaskan light came through. We all dropped one by one into the face with a filmer above in the heli. As we all worked our way to the safe zone on the ridge below everyone was speechless and we shared a untainted moment of silence paying our respect to the enormous mountain in front of us. By then it was time to head back to the hanger before the sun went down. We flew past the peak that we were going to ski second and took a photo in our minds for when we make it back for a showdown.

Everyone celebrated a good trip that night in downtown Juneau with some drinks and good food. Our flight left the next morning exceptionally early. It was light enough outside to see the mountains as we flew towards Seattle. The Blasters said their good buys to the gigantic peaks and that we can't wait to see you again. In the Seattle airport we checked the weather to see what was going on back in Squaw. It had snowed a couple feet and at that moment we all started jonsing to get back and shred the mountain that made us the skiers we are today.

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