It was March of 2020. My flights were booked. And the chopper was waiting—4,500 miles away in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains. At long last, after nearly three decades on snow, my first-ever heliskiing trip was within reach.

My destination. Photo: Chugach Powder Guides.

Like many of those fortunate enough to heliski, my road leading up to it all was long and rugged. It began in Vermont, where I grew up ski racing on ice-covered slopes and accepting frostbite not as a possibility, but simply a daily occurrence.

Each day, in between the turns, I’d go to school with my dad’s turqoise CMH Heliskiing backpack; he’d gone to their Galena Lodge in ’93 and didn’t stop bragging about it ’til the day he passed away in 2011. If he had the chance, he would’ve kept bragging for many more years. Who knows, maybe we would’ve gone back to Galena together.

When I was 18, I moved out West and experienced the joy of real, deep powder—not the crust-covered, 6-inch, skunk storms of New England. My home base was in Colorado, but my ambitions led me all over with dad’s rusty pickup truck: Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, California, you name it. Yet, I was still far, far away from my heliskiing dreams—nagging marketing friends for free lift tickets and selling old ski racing gear to save up for a touring setup.

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Heliskiing “training” in the woods of Vermont. Photo: Paul Orr.

Now let’s time travel again to March 2020. I’m living in Maine. And remember: my tickets are finally booked and the chopper is waiting in Alaska. Not to mention, I had clearly won the long and complex verbal battle with my wife, who made the strong point that leaving her and my 2-month-old daughter in Maine so I could go heliskiing was a bit selfish. A valid point. But also, heliskiing…

You all know what happens next: COVID. The pandemic cancels my trip entirely, and my dreams are just dreams once again. After all those years honing my skills, all those years staring at that turquoise CMH backpack, and all those husband vs. wife verbal battles, heliskiing was no longer in reach.

But now, I am in reach again. I’m watching my favorite film segments like I’m 12. I’m running and biking like a madman. I’m drooling over trips online daily. And I’m ready for revenge. The only question left is: where to?

I don’t know. But I do know I’ll find out right here.