ALASKA - Freerider´s dream -

A dream which came thru this winter and with this article I would like to share the experience which might be useful to some of you. Preparations began in summer time when we were arranging together with Robin K. what a group of people to choose and go. Finally, we set out in a grope of six persons: Robin Kaleta, Philip Paseka, Ales Zeman, and Martin Vrbicky behind camera Vrbický Martin and photographer Vitek Ludvik.

We departed from Prague on March 15 in directions to Amsterdam - Mineapolis – Anchorage and trying to lift up the luggage a little in order not to pay overweight. Well result was 55Euro extra which is not too bad. Overall, the ticket came with overweight luggage for 23000 Kc (Czech Crowns). Problems with full cylinders from the bags and ABS, Snowpulse fortunately met us only in Prague, even though they were previously reported. I personally recommend reporting it again in check-in. After that we did not have problem at all. We met Germans, who took the cylinders on board even though they had a technical documentation directly from the ABS and had problems in Mineapolis. Eventually, all the complications were solved out for them. Finally after 21 hours flight we step out in Anchorage.  At that place we started al the tasks what we previously scheduled, such as rent a trailer ($ 120 day), in local advertisements, but also on the web looking for a snowmobile and lastly a trolley for it. We miraculously managed to borrow it from a local guy for the voluntary $ 100.

After three days of beautiful weather we finally set out to the final destination called Thompson pass which was about 5 hours drive. Snow over this winter was very weak I must say and unfortunately wind 3 days prior our arrival blew all the powder away to unknown destination. An unpleasant situation stood up in front of us and checking the weather before going to AK would not be a bad idea. Actually as we found out the snow is not guaranteed in AK and that is why we were so surprised and shock how few snow there was.  We drove around Thompson pass and its surroundings and checked variety of Heli companies, which were around. That week they were all free, but unfortunately the snow condition was confirmed. Icy surface with max of 10-15 cm of pow, so what we did we postpone heli in hoping for better conditions to come. Prices for a heli day are pretty much the same everywhere; it comes to 800us per person. In this price are about 6 flights. Somewhere else you can buy an individual heli run for about 150us depends on flight distance, or a half day (3 runs) for 450us. Another option is to buy a flying hour which was priced differently starting from 3000us to 3800us over to the beautiful rocket price 4400us. The cheaper ones are more away from the mountains, this means that your flight take longer so you pay the price anyway. If you want to shoot and record and the most importantly choose what you wanna ride instead of let it be chosen by you guide, the choice “flying hours” is for you. We chose the ABA Company, which is situated in Thompson Pass, where we had parked our caravan and in the fact we might as well hike or use snowmobile to the nearest surrounding without any further car transport. An flight hour here was for 3800us. Robin had a couple flights with them in last year and had a positive experience so that is why ABA.


The first week was azure, so we explored the mountains, hike on glaciers and searching for at least a little powder, practicing with pips, than try to carry a wounded person coz when you are out there in BV without heli and something happens to yourself or to your friends there is never a signal coverage that you could get call for help the only think which could help you is signal rocket. We also built an igloo on top of the saddle, in which we ultimately spent one night and also got familiar with our snowmobile, because it is not as fun as we thought. Driving somewhere with it and subsequent dig in takes enough time to dig it out, takes much power. Over the time we dominated over the snowmobile and became helpful to us. Not all snowmobiles are the same. Depends on the length of the belt, should be at least 144, and also waist width and length of blades is very important. When you chose these aspects wrong than the snowmobile can take you max to a bakery for bread. 

Approximately after 5 days the snow finally came but the snowing remained until our departure. This means not even one sunny day. Sometimes clear windows came for 30 sometimes up to 3hours. This unpleasant condition complicated the whole filming and photographing. The only chance of getting quickly up to the mountain was to use heli, but than we had a problem. Of course we were not the only ones who wanted to fly. There were groups a financially better replete than we were. Had paid in advance the whole of flying week which meant having a flight will not be as easy. We neither had any reservations as the others. I’d like to pint out that those with pre-paid week have and disadvantage in case of bad weather. You don’t have to use all the flight days and in this case they do not refund money but they move it to the next year. After many meetings with the boss of the heli company he promised us that he could give us a “flight hour” but only in the morning, before the prepaid group starts or afternoon when the finish. This seemed promising, but unfortunately due to the weather, it became unrealistic, because it was more fog than sunny and snowing at times. The prepaid group could not be able to catch up all the flights and still were flying over and over again so there was no time for our “flying hour”. All this happened to us because last year they had two helicopters and this year, unfortunately only one. Why? Lack of snow. Only one heli and that was the problem ... the only chance to fly was to pay a single ride, but unfortunately we found out that we were over jumped by groups who bought entire day. The only solution for this was to buy a half day = 3 rides. We had to endlessly wait from early in the morning coz they did not know when exactly we can fly. Coming at 8 am waiting for pick up and when your time comes, it could be even at 3 pm, that it was clear for us that there will not be any movie thx to bad weather and unpredictable waiting for the heli. This waiting makes you wonder about go and hike your own line but on the other hand trying heli for the first time definitely worth it. We finally managed to fly 3 times, but everything was limited by weather. Not having any mega Alaskan lines or something like that, but did not have lack of adrenaline also. Landing on the edge which has is 2m wide was perfect experience and also helpful guide, who saw our disappointment that he had to drop us off in the middle of the hill due to bad weather followed by a ride in already ridden terrain. Memories are incredible but as we all know order weather. Next time, I'd definitely pre-booked and paid in advance  at least  one day or one hour so they will count on you. Than you will be among the first ones and can order more flight if you want to. .... and then there is no need to stress or wait. While you have your flight booked you can hike or snowmobile. We were hiking for about 3 hours in total fog and when the window came there was suddenly a bunch of other riders on snowmobiles within 10 minutes.


So that would be all in a long story short. We have some materials and will try to make up something from it. Let you know when it is gonna be ready and where the presentations is gonna take place. Also would like to thank to sponsors´ support: Millet, Hudy, Redbull, Ltb, Salebra, Dakine.

Text: Fidel

Photos by Vítek Ludvík:

ALASKA - Freerider´s dream -


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