Waiting for the perfect moment
Special to the Daily
Vail CO Colorado
As I lie in this closet typing away on my computer listening to the water drip outside, I’m hoping to fall asleep soon. But before I do, I’m looking at my surroundings and laughing. I’m really in what was a day ago just a closet of an old house that is somehow still standing.
Why, you ask?
The long and the short of it is this: I have sleeping issues, especially while I’m on the road chasing after a variety of skiing experiences our planet has to offer. So here I am, at sea level surrounded by the Chugach Mountain Range in an environment that is based around extreme patience and/or total adrenaline. So rather than share a room with a fellow guide in this drafty old guide house and drive them crazy, we mutually decided that I should have my own room. Thus, the team decided to clean out a closet and make it my room. I almost feel like the stepchild Harry Potter living under the staircase.
So here I am typing this article about heli skiing while it’s raining outside and watching a twisted show called “Californication.” Eventually, I do fall asleep, and I start to dream. And considering the combination of events taking place in my conscious life, my unconscious life gets some traction, and so do my dreams. If you know the show “Californication” as well anything about obsessions that can cause strange decisions, you might understand my dream.
Everyone at one time or another dreams of flying. For skiers, it can be achieved in few ways: floating through deep powder, dropping off cliffs, or flying through a terrain park. But one of the coolest experiences is stepping into a helicopter and then stepping out of one on top of a snow-covered peak somewhere on this amazing planet, preferably in Alaska under blue skies with ideal snow conditions. “The cream,” as I have always referred to it, as it is the holy grail of powder. For a skier, experiencing the creamy Alaskan pow on a steep slope is a climactic moment but it can be hard as hell to chase down.
It’s a long journey to arrive in heli camp – not just physically but mentally and financially. Not to mention the difficulties if you are part of a family that does not understand your obsession with the idea of disappearing for a week or two to go flying some remote mountain range. If that’s the case, you might even have another roadblock. Thus comes my other term – “spouse negotiations for a heli injection.”
One of my clients was told by his significant other that the day he would be given the green light for heli skiing would be the day hell would freeze over. Thus began our five-year mission to start freezing hell over, and, eventually, we did through spousal negotiations.
Which leads me to another point – heli skiing can be a very selfish endeavor that can require the support of others. This makes for very interesting math as the equations to reach heli camp are as unique as snowflakes themselves. Each negotiation requires a different formula of equations.
The initial conversation usually comes up in a social setting amongst ski types, including Facebook. It’s a safe place that allows for a broad stroke of the brush to reach in to skiing topics that may be sensitive in more closed quarters. When the topic is brought up in this setting, it is out in the open, free from public judgment. It can be less personal this way and allows for other input. Bottom line, skiers are always willing to talk about skiing, especially when helicopters are brought up in the same conversation. Should there be an anti-heli-skiing person in the audience, they will be always be outpowered – bottom line. Want to get the hall pass for a heli trip? Bring it up at the dinner table with a group of like-minded friends.
Alaska, Canada and the rest
To me, there exist three types of helicopter experiences. There is Alaska, Canada and then the rest of them.
Alaska represents the greatest risk-to-reward ratio when it comes down to fulfilling this fetish. Just talking about it makes most addicts get a little sweaty. Thus, it’s important to be careful in the company it’s brought up in as you just never know how this might affect someone or what it could trigger.
Canada is the safe route to go. Once you are there, the consistency and quality is amazing. It just might not be as orgasmic or nutty as its Alaskan counterpart but loving none the less. Sound familiar?
The rest of them, well, they are good whenever – there are just not a lot of other options.
I personally seem to be more attracted to Alaska. Not to say that I would turn down a trip to Canada, especially if I could get Canada to venture out of its comfort zone a bit. That would actually be an amazing combination, but Alaska has this awesome power over me that makes me want to return over and over and thus agree to live in a closet. I personally can’t seem to get away from the emotional attachment to just maybe once landing that perfect peak on that perfect day with the perfect snow pack. It’s a selfish addiction that at the same time I must share. So here I am far away from home after being pushed around by abusive airlines nickel and diming me while waiting a storm out so I can step out of a helicopter on an Alaskan peak for a few runs of just pure “cream.”
Pro skier and Warren Miller film star Chris Anthony, a Vail Valley local, guides heli skiing trips in Alaska. For more information, go to http://www.chrisanthony.com