[This is part four in a series about skiing and filming in Alaska for Teton Gravity Research's new film, "The Dream Factory." This piece was written by TGR athlete, Dash Longe.]
Despite the fact that humans have been in contact with nearly every square inch of the planet, there are still vast opportunities for exploration. This winter, Teton Gravity Research's filmmakers and athletes have done just that in zones all around Alaska.
After extensive planning and 3,048 miles of driving, a group of cameramen, other athletes and I found ourselves in the midst of what became a record-shattering winter in Alaska's Chugach mountains. Our mission: spend an indefinite amount of time exploring and filming around the town of Girdwood by helicopter and snowmobile. We spent days in a dark abyss of a never-ending snowstorm, burning through daylight by discovering routes through braided river systems that led to glaciers and ended in large skiable faces.
Out of the seven weeks our crew spent in Girdwood, we saw just two full bluebird days. On one of those days, we stood in glory at the top of the ridge, all the gratification we needed to justify the long, epic quest it took to get there.
Next, TGR set out for a northern region of the Chugach located near the Knik Glacier, an expansive and relatively unknown area that only recently became a permitted fly zone. This plan was put in motion a few years ago, but conditions weren't right until this winter.
When I received the phone call that a slot on this trip had opened up, I immediately jumped on it, as I have been aspiring to do a big AK trip with TGR for years. I arrived in Anchorage and met up with big mountain legends Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Seth Morrison and former Olympic downhill racer Daron Rahlves. This type of trip is essentially what I have been working my whole life to be a part of.
The Knik river area is a never-ending, jaw-dropping array of scenic visuals. The approach to the zone starts over a blue watered river system that turns into the toe of the Knik Glacier. From the base of this complex arrangement of gigantic ice rivers you can see peaks and snow-covered ridges shooting out high above them in all directions. This became our playground, which we explored and skied for multiple weeks.