and Jelly for Heli! by
O.K. so after the typical travel budget
bargaining Kurt Jenson, Elan Bushell,
and I landed in Juneau in the afternoon
to be greeted by Glissade big mountain
guru Mark Schultz. He told us they had
a heli lined up for an evening session
so we went to his place to regroup and
get ready for the sesh. Juneau rulz,
and thanks to Mark we went from the
comfort of his casa to the top of Mt
McGinnis in no more than 30 minutes!!
A quick run for warm up followed by
a run of filming and still shots and
we were back at Marks eating fish and
drinkin brews. Juneau rules!!
The next morning we loaded the ferry
and headed for Haines. We arrived at
the Thunderbird hotel to find the Absinthe
films crew and the rest of the Haines
posse. Then a storm moved in. 5 Down
days of internet, swimming and boozing
and it finally cleared. The absinthe
crew went out only to find sketchy avalanche
conditions. One guide even got swept
1500 feet in a slide and was luckily
let out. The vibe that night was not
good, some people left. We hung out
hoping for our chance. The next day
at the heli pad we hung around to see
if the snow had stabilized. Conditions
improved however politics and too many
groups resulted in a frustrating and
unproductive day. We swept our misfortune
under the rug and looked forward to
day 2. Second group out we went to caffeine
ridge with hopes of bagging a phew great
lines we had looked at the day before.
After an hour sitting on the glacier
waiting for a cloud bank to reveal our
lines we decided to move on as the clouds
were creeping in on us. Off to "venue",
we dropped off the camera crew and then
the riders. I dropped in first to set
up for some stills and experienced a
small isolated slide. Then Mark dropped
in and broke off a large fracture that
nearly swept him into some rocks, his
experience and skills brought him out
at the last second, PHEW!! Elan ripped
a short line near mine and we met up
halfway down. I worked with the boys
and we managed some still shots, Mark
found himself in another slide that
was slow and heavy. It brought him to
his backside but spit him out at the
bottom safely. Check out SoundStrait
productions film 5 to 9 for footage
of both Marks slides.
Day 3 started a bit crazy as Travis
Rice was pulled into a slide by the
wind blast following a cornice release.
He was sucked in and swept 2000 feet!!
The filmer told us that from his view
it did not look survivable yet Travis
came to rest head and shoulder out and
was able to dig himself out with only
We had our last chance due to rising
avalanche danger. We loaded the heli
and returned to Caffeine ridge to get
our lines. I was up first so I could
then film the others. I hiked to my
drop zone from the heli landing zone
and was greeted at the top by falling
armpit deep into a hole. Neat! With
my feet dangling and heart racing I
was able to grasp the nearby rock and
weasel my way out. Crew ready, I dropped
in. I was concerned about a convex slope
at the very start of my run so I pointed
it and tried to tread lightly. It held,
so just when I was feeling better I
hear Elan and the guide yelling “slide
on your left” over my radio. I
head checked and could see that its
path was leading away from me. Just
then I hear the boys over the radio
again, “slide on your right”
With another head check I noticed it
was headed away from me also. I hit
the gas and finished my line by hopping
over 2 large bergshrunds. Happy to be
“safe” on the glacier I
filmed Elan execute flawlessly a sketchy
line through rocks on less than ideal
snow. Then Kurt dropped into the heaviest
line of the day which consisted of a
couple turns, a long chute that he had
to point through followed by an air
and turns on sun abused snow!
Well, counting our blessings and being
thankful for what we got, we got the
hell out of there. I contemplated our
experiences in the plane ride home.
I knew that was the single most dangerous
run I had ever ridden. Without a doubt
a very sketchy experience in Haines,
I can’t wait to get back!
|ELAN BUSHELL AND KURT JENSEN
|"SO, WHAT'S THE RED BUTTON DO?"
|ELAN, KURT, MARK, AND TRAVIS LOOKING
INSTEAD OF RIDING.
|WHO'S THE SMALL JAPANESE MAN IN
THE BIG RUBBER LIZARD SUIT?
|ELAN CHECKING HIS LINE AND FINALLY...
|ELAN GETTING SOME RIDING IN.
|FOOD, GAS, AND BEER. HELPING TO
MAKE ALASKA A BETTER PLACE.