It's our first priority ....
Demonstrated by our excellent record, safety is Valdez Heli-Ski Guides’ top priority. Our experienced team of avalanche forecasters and guides has worked for years to develop a safety program designed to minimize the risks of heli-skiing in the Chugach Mountains. Our guides and pilots are among the most experienced in their field.
You will be briefed ....
VHSG believes that by educating you about the hazards you may encounter, you can be an active member of the heli-ski team. Prior to your first run, you will attend a safety briefing introducing the team to the latest companion rescue skills and hazard avoidance techniques. The briefing includes proper use of a digital avalanche transceiver, avalanche rescue techniques, safe skiing skills, and helicopter safety. Throughout the week, your guide will continue to teach the team about site-specific hazards, snow stability, and steep-skiing techniques.
How we safely ski steep terrain ....
“How do you ski steep terrain safely?” It’s a common question asked by our first-time clients. With years of experience and professional ski guiding behind us, we start with good information. VHSG’s avalanche forecaster follows our weather and studies our snowpack, helping us decide which slopes are safe to ski. We also maintain extensive historical records on runs that have natural hazards like avalanche terrain and crevasses. All of this information is shared and discussed among the guides and pilots each morning at our guide meeting. Our first runs after a storm, called key runs, are on slopes where we can safely and easily assess the snowpack. If snow stability and ski conditions are good, we move to more adventurous runs. Subsequent run selections are based on assessed snow stability and snow quality and the client’s abilities and desires. During our Terrain Progression Program, you’ll learn to work as a team member while developing new skills that will take you down runs you’ve only dreamed of.
How Steep is it ....
Though we’ve really enjoyed VHSG’s coverage in recent movies and magazines, it’s important to note that a majority of our runs are not as extreme or radical as those depicted in the media. We do ski and ride steep terrain but we only do this when ski conditions and snow stability are good. What makes Valdez Heli-Ski Guides incredible? The majority of our terrain has excellent ski conditions and snow stability!
Helicopter Safety ....
Heli-skiing requires all clients to observe a few protocols specific to this activity. Observing proper protocols around the helicopter is key to a safe adventure. Here is a list of basic procedures. You will be given a complete briefing before flying:
- Follow you guide’s instructions on how to safely approach the aircraft.
- Be alert and listen for your guide’s instructions on how to safely enter and exit the aircraft.
- Never raise you skis over your head around the helicopter.
- While waiting for the helicopter’s arrival and departure, squat in the safe area designated by your guide.
- Make sure you have no loose items around the helicopter.
- Never chase any loose items around the helicopter. Let your guide handle it.
- Never ever, walk uphill, away from the helicopter.
- Never walk towards the rear of the helicopter.
- Be careful not to kick or damage the helicopter with your boots while entering and exiting.
Snow Safety ....
Traveling in snow-covered mountain terrain requires some basic skills and protocols to reduce risk. The following is a partial list of our basic safety protocols. You will be given a complete briefing before your first day of heli-skiing.
- Be alert and listen for your guide's instructions on how to safely negotiate slopes.
- Unless directed by your guide, always descend slopes one at a time.
- Keep an eye out for other members in your group.
- When on glaciers, stay about 10 meters apart; do not group up.
- Keep in mind that your guide is trying to provide you with a safe experience; don't get frustrated if you don’t ski all the slopes you wanted to.
- Let your guide know how you're doing. If you are getting tired, don’t be afraid to speak up
PO Box 3281
Valdez, AK 99686 USA