The process is simple, if also insane. One end of a 200-foot steel cable hooks onto a helicopter, the other end clips onto a fully geared-up skier-or two. The helicopter roars off, skiers dangling like bait on the end of a giant fishing line. The chopper then lowers them onto peaks too sheer or unstable for heli-landings. "There was a lot of wind, so our skis were in a constant back-scratcher. It was intense-we just held on and didn't say much," says Micah Black, who hung alongside Kevin Quinn, owner of Points North Heli Operations, during a long-lining flight in Alaska's Chugach range last season. "When we were flying across the valley, thousands of feet in the air, it was like being in a dream," he says. A few helicopter operations and film crews are using elite skiers to experiment with long-lining to rack up first descents, but don't expect to slip into a heli-harness at any mainstream resorts soon. "The much larger application for long-lining is how it will be applied to rescue operations," Quinn predicts. One unexpected benefit of flying through the air at the end of a giant cable, Black says, is that you scare the snot out of yourself just getting to your pitch. "So when you finally do ski, it's not so bad."
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Go above and beyond for your outdoorsy dad or husband this year, here's what they really want. By Leslie Hittmeier
Last spring our testers logged about 5 million vertical feet in Snowbird's Gad Valley to evaluate 2014-2015’s new skis, which is why ours is the most trusted, legit test in the ...
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A former Alaskan heli-skiing guide revisits the line that almost killed him.
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Welcome to Gearfinder 2013-14, Skiing Magazine’s comprehensive compilation of information on virtually every adult ski on the market.