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Ambassadors Programme

Ambassador

Richard Walch

Apr13

The Alaska Diary: Part Two

By Richard Walch, Monday April 13, 2015
The 'Legs of Steel' ski crew with their Alaska 'heliski' helicopter in the Haines back country of Alaska, USA, filming for their new movie 'Passenger' - see if you can spot the helicopter and the crew in the picture!

The 'Legs of Steel' ski crew with their Alaska 'heliski' helicopter in the Haines back country of Alaska, USA, filming for their new movie 'Passenger' - see if you can spot the helicopter and the crew in the picture!
© Richard Walch/Legsofsteel.eu

We have touched down in Haines, Alaska, USA! Michi Haunschmidt, one of the camera operators from the Legs of Steel crew, picked me up at the aiport and we raced to the operation zone of Alaska Heli Ski. From there I jumped straight into my snow gear, put on the harness, signed my life away on the insurance waiver (after the helicopter safety briefing and the avalanche safety test) and then the last check box: a weight check with all my gear before being given the all clear for lift-off.

It was a sunny day and six helicopters were constantly coming in and out like bees around a beehive. I was super-nervous because my film crew had already flown out at 6.30am that morning and I wasn't sure if there was a chance they would come back and pick me up. So I sat next to Ashley the dispatcher – who was coordinating all the flights – and made sure I was good friends with her so I got my ride! But no luck. I slow-roasted in my snow gear for the next five hours but never got a flight. But never mind; it was only the first day.

Next morning I woke up at 4.30am. I had a quick breakfast and raced along with all the other film crews to get the first helicopter out – because first come first served: who arrives first gets first choice of locations to film. At 6.35am our helicopter was the first to take off – and off we went to the legendary Haines back country!

The first zone we worked in was called 'Dirty Needle'. It is a legendary place – just stunningly beautiful. Benedikt Meyr was the first to drop in – he opened the day with a beautiful line. Sven Kueenle was the next to go – and he chose one of the most radical lines you can pick on this face and what both skiers have in common is that they ski super fast! The reason is that there is a danger here of 'sluff': a mini avalanche that can be created by doing a turn in very steep terrain. Thomas Hlawitschka got taken out by sluff the day before and had a scary fall.

In my next blog I will talk about the photography setup from the ground and also from shooting from the helicopter.

Ashley, the dispatcher of Alaska Heliski, making sure the operation runs smoothly in the Haines back country of Alaska, USA.

Ashley, the dispatcher of Alaska Heliski, making sure the operation runs smoothly in the Haines back country of Alaska, USA.
© Richard Walch/Legsofsteel.eu

Sven Kueenle, one of the skiers of the 'Legs of Steel' crew skiing a very steep and legendary line in Haines, Alaska, USA, called the 'Dirty Needle'.

Sven Kueenle, one of the skiers of the 'Legs of Steel' crew
skiing a very steep and legendary line in Haines, Alaska, USA,
called the 'Dirty Needle'. © Richard Walch/Legsofsteel.eu