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TOUR | 15.04.2018 | Igone Campos

My alarm clock went off after just 2 hours of sleep. Still drowsy, I staggered to the bath and readied myself to head out to the airport to Bilbao. The last few days were stressful. Preparation for my trip to Alaska consumed nearly every free moment. And then a powerful storm almost completely destroyed the camp in the Chugach Mountains. Nevertheless, I boarded the plane for Seattle. A turmoil of changing feelings -- uncertainty paired with huge excitement. Excited and anxious about the next two weeks, I try to sleep for a few hours.

After arrival in Seattle, I am still alert, and jet lag takes care of the rest. I look for the hotel for tonight as quickly as possible. After a few restorative hours of sleep, I head straight out to Cordova in Alaska. Now I am wide awake, indeed nearly jumpy. Filled with excitement I take in the countryside in awe from above as it rushes past -- expansive, untouched country alternating with huge pine forests and wild mountain peaks covered with shimmering glaciers.

Foiled plans

Cordova is a laid-back town. Still, from there, you can glimpse the Chugach Mountains in the distance. I was actually supposed to be flown today by Point North Heli Adventures (PNH) by helicopter to the base camp. From there, the tour in the interior of the Chugach area was to start originally. Huge amounts of fresh snow and the storm a few days ago, however, make that impossible. So instead I use the morning to run the area trails. Main thing is to get a little activity after the long flight.

On the next day, I meet with the PNH guides, and we consult on how we should proceed in the next few days. We are quickly in agreement. Further details we can discuss then on a ski tour together around Cordova. After some awesome descents in firn snow and my first summit in Alaska, we head back satisfied after a long day. The start is looking good.

Changeable weather determines the next three days. We take advantage of a short excursion to the Sheridan Glacier for some ice climbing plus some theoretical and practical work on crevasse rescue. A good, stable high pressure system is forecast for days 8 and 9. If the weather indeed plays along, we will fly in the morning by helicopter to the interior of the Chugach Mountains. Sure hope it works out!

By helicopter to base camp

If there is a weather god, then he heard my prayers. After a big breakfast, the helicopter lifts off and we fly toward the white Chugach Mountains. Not a cloud in the sky is to be seen as we take on the first downhill through the countryside covered in deep snow. What a feeling! This is precisely how I envisioned Alaska and my Mountopia. Wild, untouched slopes lie before us begging to be explored. Ski, eat, sleep, repeat -- this is how the next day also ended, with unforgettable feelings and many downhills in deep pow.

Despite the early uncertainty about how the trip to Alaska would unfold and how my Mountopia would turn out, it was in the end the fulfillment of a long-held dream. The Chugach Mountains are in person much more beautiful than in any photo I have ever seen. Now I have seen and experienced them. But of course time in the mountains in much too short. There will most certainly be a next time. Hmmm, what will my next Mountopia be?

Alaska -- ski touring in the Chugach Mountains

Alaska -- ski touring in the Chugach Mountains