One comes to Haines, Alaska to confront their personal demons on aesthetic, heavy big mountain lines. With snow that glues itself to seventy degree spines, It's the capital of the snowy planet for that kind of jazz.
Typically, tree skiing and Haines aren't used in the same sentence, but in one of life's little surprises, we found ourselves on a pillow hunt during the Fifty Year Storm.
There is a new cat skiing operation in Haines this year. Run by the boys at SEABA, the operation accesses terrain on a mountain named Old Faithful. When the Snowcat isn't running, it's easy picking on the sleds due to the perfectly groomed cat track.
To get there from the Haines House, it's a few miles down Mosquito Lake, a couple of miles of high speed sleding down the Highway, a right at the 26 Mile Bridge, then up a cat road that you can truly rally on.
The Cat terrain is generally mellow, but there are few choice pillow sections that qualify as A to B grade. The core crew during our first day of the storm was Patrik, Oskar, Mark and myself.
For the cat road, towing is the best way up, and with the sleds, it means a ski lift that moves at fifty miles an hour.
The pillows were sequential, the snow was deep, medium to high density, and super fun.
Small flakes kept falling as we skied. It was quiet and beautiful in the trees. In the thick forest, you only heard the talk and grunts of your friends, your skis moving through snow, and your breath as skis dropped and diced from one pillow to the next. All and all, fairly efforless, except for keeping your goggles unfogged with the dense moisture in the air.
When the cameras were put away, Patrik and I skied one freeski run together. Skiing different sections we could hear each other out of our peripheries; the sound of turning and landing drops somewhere adjacent to one another. At one point, about half way down, we barely missed each other in a near collision. We laughed without stopping, and kept skiing only to meet thrity seconds later at the bottom. We were buzzing. It was the best run of the day. Patrik called it the best treeskiing of his life.