Backcountry Ski Guiding in Valdez, Alaska.  Ski and Avalanche Condition Reports

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Thompson Pass Treks


Valdez/Thompson Pass

Ski and Avalanche Report

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Thompson Pass Treks - Backcountry Ski Guiding

30 years providing Backcountry Ski Guiding in the Chugach.

March 31, 2014

2100 AK Time


Took the opportunity to test the slab hazard in Thompson Pass which is our primary avalanche issue.   The wind slab is at the surface but has had lots of time to settle and bond with the weaker snow beneath, but not so much on north aspects where shading has encouraged more faceting.  Dependent on slab size, angle and aspect, it could cause some issues as my video depict in what I call the Slab Beam Test.   Hope you enjoy this short avalanche awareness video.

April 1, 2014

2200 AKT


Today In The Chugach

Todd Johnson (VOILE-USA)

April 4, 2014



Our spell of glorious weather will end this weekend with showshowers and  warmer temps to refresh our slopes with 6 inches of more in Thompson Pass with possible rain at sealevel.

Nice tour yesterday to the snowy summit of the Matthu Pichu route near East Peak finding mixed textured powder and soft slabs.

Heather and Kevin (CO)

April 9, 2014



Time to hand out my annual Rotorhead Award to Valdez Heliski Guides for their stellar performance on Cracked Ice last Monday.  As two touring parties approached the summit, VHG zipped in and tracked it up not once, but twice as the skinners made for the untracked summit.  For their total lack of respect (“total” being the key) for backcountry skiers they take home the 2014 Rotorhead Award For Disrespect.   This year’s winner lead guide skied  up to the group and expressed envy they were touring after tracking it up.  That kind of condescending remark puts them on top of all others . Congratulation VHG for being so cool!

Past winners include Alaska Snowboard Guides in 2013 for “Parking Lot Parade” and Mike Hamilton of H20 in 2012 for “Schoolbus Drops On Locals-I Don’t Care”.

Meanwhile here’s a short video of some touring on Sugarloaf by Todd Johnson of Voile from earlier this week.  Check out my “tele-leaf” technique at the end!.

VHSG 2014

April 12, 2014

Kudo’s to Valdezean skier Jordan Pond and snowboarder Ben who last week grabbed the 1st descent of Meteorite Mountain this season.  Pond has opened the mountain every year since 2008 so others could follow. This year was no exception as a Dynafit team soon followed in his skin and boot track a few days later and put a team on top.  Congrats to all.

Here @ Thompson Pass Treks (and most the world), no ski descent is recognized on classic routes unless you climb it.   Mechanized peak bagging (heli-rappeliing) is not recognized as alpinism as it muddies the line of classifying 1st descents, solo descents, first snowboard descent, 1st female descents..etc, of the past, present and more important future summits yet unclimbed around Alaska.

Jordan Pond(Valdez)


April 18, 2014

+To the 13 Sherpas+

Everest enshrouded in lenticulars (Nov 2013)