Amazing Photos Of Heli-Skiing Alaska's Chugach Range (PHOTOS)
Vice president of operations for EpicQuest and Chugach Powder Guides, Chris Owens, has written this original dispatch for HuffPost Travel.
It seems that the world is getting smaller every day. In nearly every location and every natural realm on Earth, man has demonstrated the ability to reign supreme. However, every once in a while we are given the opportunity to place ourselves in environments that are humbling in their enormity, reminding us of how small we really are. Indeed, there are places right here in North America that are unexplored and yet to be named.
In 2005 Chugach Powder Guides was granted a United States Forest Service Permit to heli-ski a number of "exploratory units" in the Chugach Mountains near the seaside community of Seward, Alaska. Combined with the adjoining Kenai Mountains bordering Resurrection Bay, this vast swath of terrain took the company back to its exploratory roots. Chugach Powder Guides made its name as the early pioneers of other sections of the Chugach Mountains in Alaska as early as 1996.
The initial ski missions into these new exploratory units were accomplished with a film crew from Warren Miller Entertainment: two professional freeskiers, Mark Abma and Kaj Zackrisson, expert ski guide Virgil Hughes and photographer Tom Evans. The effort yielded a segment in the Warren Miller film "Higher Ground" and the photos exhibited here. Cooperating with media on such efforts allows Chugach Powder Guides to accomplish exploratory goals -- mapping, study of the snow pack, documentation of landing zones and run identification -- without the pressures of delivering a given volume of skiing for paying guests.
Due to a variety of business priorities, the company has not returned to this area since these initial efforts. Now, for the first time since maiden tracks were laid in this zone, Chugach Powder Guides will be introducing advanced skiers to endless expanses of peaks and fjords reminiscent of those found in Norway. With a luxury base camp at the Seward Windsong Lodge, the first ski drops will begin five minutes out of town and range over 40 miles of untouched ramps, couloirs and endless powder fields.
From March 24 to April 15, 2012, Chugach Powder Guides will take three groups of intrepid skiers and snowboarders for pioneering efforts in these mountains with the opportunity to name almost everything they descend. Chugach Powder Guides estimates that there are roughly a decade and a half of first descents to be found in this aesthetically unique mountain terrain. As part of their efforts, Chugach Powder Guides will assist the Forest Service with collection of data on resident wildlife populations.
For more information on the exploration of this area of the Chugach Mountains, visit Chugach Powder Guides' parent company, EpicQuest at www.EpicQuest.com.