Adventure Skiing in Alaska
The months of March and April are upon us, and that means its prime time for spine skiing in Alaska. Many top film company’s and the worlds best mountain riders will make the annual pilgrimage in hopes of riding this fabled terrain. Last spring, alongside my brother Neil, we put everything we had into our first effort in Alaska, and finally realized a dream of 10 years. We decided to skip the helicopters and guides and settled on the ski plane for access, a less than standard approach for ones first ski outing in the Alaskan wilderness. We wanted to do it big and figured that maybe we’ll get in over our heads, but perhaps we’ll also have the greatest adventure of our lives. Thats exactly what happened. At one point in the trip, I had a massive realization that skiing had changed for me. There I was, on a glacier no less than 50 miles by wing to the nearest road, amongst the most intimidating yet fully rideable mountains I had ever laid eyes on, and all because of the skis on my feet. They had become the engine that drives my exploration. This style of adventure skiing brought with it a colossal sense of isolation, self reliance, and when we finally made it back to civilization safely, a massive sense of accomplishment. In 6 days, I will be flying up to Alaska with my brother for 4 weeks of exploring new mountains, and I’m excited to apply all of the knowledge I gained on my inaugural Alaskan voyage. Confidence is high, and there’s no doubt in my mind that my skis will provide yet another excellent adventure.
The ski plane allows you to see an immense amount of terrain in a short period of time, and has the carrying capacity to land a base camp worth of gear to just about anywhere. The only question is, how crazy is your pilot?
Setting up a comfortable base camp is one of the highest priorities for me. Its my home away from home, and helps me feel relaxed in the lonely, and often times hostile environment of south east Alaska
If you look closely in this photo, you can see our base camp setup down in the middle of the rather broad glacier. Our daily commute to the mountainside was a little long, but we slept good at night knowing that we were probably out of harms way if a massive avalanche were to ever come down
Here I stand where no man had ever stood before, on my first ever “line” in Alaska which I liked to call “the moonwalk”. It was at this point where I thought maybe I was in a bit over my head, that maybe I should have practiced on something a bit more mellow first, but I’m glad I did it
And this is what I’m after… spines. Glorious, steep, powder covered Alaskan spines!
Words by Ian Provo
Photos by Ian & Neil Provo