Ski Big-Mountain Lines
For big-mountain lines blanketed in mind-blowing powder, there’s no place better than Alaska. Thanks to Alaska’s thick and stable snowpack, you’ll ski lines you only dreamed were possible—3,500-foot faces, 1,500-foot spines, sweeping glacier runs—all while bald eagles circle in the skies above you.
“Heli-skiing in Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you’re going want to do year after year,” says Reggie Crist, a professional skier and former U.S. Ski Team downhiller who has been guiding in Alaska for nearly 20 years.
What sets Alaska apart is the sheer size and scale of the terrain and the fact that it’s all covered in a thick layer of snow that sticks to even the steepest faces.
“You can do things in Alaska that you can’t do [in] other places because of the maritime snowpack and because of all the terrain that’s available," says Crist. "That’s what makes Alaska extremely unique.”
That’s also what makes Alaska a ski flick staple. Each year, pros from Todd Ligare to Ian McIntosh head to Alaska to reap its notorious bounty and shoot segments for the next season’s ski films.
While there's incredible skiing to be had anywhere in Alaska, Crist suggests heading to Haines, a funky fishing village on the shores of the Lynn Canal that serves up some of the best skiing in North America.
“From a terrain and snow-quality perspective, Haines is largely recognized as the best,” says Crist, who in 2010 opened Stellar Adventures Media, a boutique heli-ski operation and media company that offers trips in Alaska.
That’s because Haines lies in the foothills of the Saint Elias Range, the highest coastal mountain range in the world. Lying about 200 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Haines is protected from the storms that ravage Prince William Sound while also benefitting from them.
Be forewarned: Once you ski Alaska, you’re ruined for life. It’s hard to go back to resort skiing, so save this trip for the end of your ski career, or else you may go broke.
Expert Tip: “You don’t have to be an expert skier to enjoy Alaska," says Crist. "There are mountains as far as you can see, of all shapes and sizes, all different lengths and steepness, and you can pick whatever works for you."
Logistics: March and April are the best months to ski Alaska—that’s when the days are long, the temps have started to get milder, and the snow is prime. Visit stellaradventuremedia.com for more information on skiing with Crist in Alaska.
The Skier's Bucket List
Calling all skiers: Get in your turns before the snow stops flying in the Northern Hemisphere and it's time to head south. From skiing Antarctica to a self-powered adventure through the Alps, here’s a collection of trips that should be on every skier’s bucket list. Plus: Get tips from some of the world's best ski guides. —Kelley McMillian