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[Editor's note: Here on ESPN Freeskiing, we are hosting Teton Gravity Research's Almost Live series -- sneak peeks into footage taken for their fall 2011 release, "One for the Road." The author of the words below is one of TGR's newest athletes, Griffin Post. Click the tabs above if you've missed any of the last episodes.]
Conditions were tough this year in Alaska -- record low precipitation, high winds, and an uncharacteristically low snowpack. When the Teton Gravity Research crew arrived in Juneau, it might have been the first time that everybody was happy to see that the forecast called for consistent precipitation for the foreseeable future -- the mountains needed it. However, after about 10 days of rain in town, stoke dwindled and people were itching to get out. Athletes, including myself, came and left -- sometimes only getting a handful of runs in front of the lens. We checked the forecasts and aviation webcams religiously, and still there was no sign of a break in the weather. But finally, after almost two weeks of consistent clouds, things started to look better. That's why TGR commits to over a month up there.
This edit comes from the first day of full bluebird. There had been some days of window-shopping, but nothing like this. "This was our first day out and I was hungry to do something even if it wasn't too gnarly of a line," says TGR athlete Sage Cattabriga-Alosa. "What I didn't realize was that the gnarly part of the line was the access." In many cases in Alaska, there's not enough room for the heli to completely land, so the pilot "toes in," essentially just setting one skid down and allowing the athlete to gingerly get out of the heli with his skis.
"It was one of those things where the comfort level of the toe in experience has been pushed for so long, that getting dropped off on a cocktail table size chunk of snow with literally 1,000 feet of exposure below in almost every direction is no big deal," says Cattabriga-Alosa. "But after that one I had to take a step back and look at the whole experience a little more seriously." Sometimes, the most intense part of the line isn't actually skiing it, just merely getting to it.