Imagine for a moment: you’ve just taken off in a helicopter to hit the slopes on what experts in the industry call the holy grail of skiing. You’ve heard the lore and now you are about to embark on your own session, skiing down the mountain on a sunny day that will challenge and amaze you, dropping in on the southeastern side of the Chugach range to glide around on pristine snow.
Points North Heli-Adventures, Inc. calls the Orca Adventure Lodge its base camp for the season. Pauk Krekow, part owner and guide of Points North and his crew, outfit a plethora of clients each year to ride first lines on some of the most awe-inspiring terrains on earth.
Krekow grew up in Seattle, skiing in the cascades since he was 2 years old, he shared.
“I really got into back country guiding in Canada,” said Krekow. “I took this really cool course out there called the adventure diploma program. You can take courses in raft guiding, rock climbing and ski mountaineering. That is where I got opened up to the world of guiding.”
From there, Krekow traversed across the country, ski patrolling in Utah and guiding in north Idaho before making his way to Valdez fueling helicopters in 2012. That year, an intense weather event dubbed “snowpocalypse” coated Cordova and the surrounding mountains in record breaking snowfall. More than 18 feet was recorded.
“Alaska is the best skiing on the planet. The Chugach is the Mecca for skiers,” said Krekow. “Cordova is a pretty special place.”
After joining the Points North Heli-Adventures team guiding in 2015, he eventually became part owner of the operation in 2020, completing four seasons at the helm as manager. Krekow has four partners: Kevin and Jessica Quinn and Sarah and Gerry Hall.
Krekow and company recently wrapped up safety training, a process they go through every year, as a refresher for staff returning and new folks. The staff is comprised of helicopter pilots and guides — including Jim Fritsch, who has been a lead guide for the company for several years and in Cordova for over two decades.
“We are going to be running three or four helicopters this season, same company we have been using for 23 years. We pretty much have the same staff coming back this season,” said Krekow.
The company employs some locals that include fuelers, ski techs, guides, and kitchen staff.
Back in 2011, Points North Heli-Adventures received a “non-motorized ski touring permit” from the U.S. Forest Service Cordova Ranger District — the first of its kind in the Chugach range. Heli-Adventures also obtained a 10-year permit to operate within a designated radius from the U.S. Forest Service in 2022.
“We have got over a million acres of skiable terrain, out the back door there,” said Krekow. “The Forest Service permit added about 500,000 acres. That, combined with the state permits that we have, it’s an impressive array of skiing we have access to.”
Points North Heli-Adventures will be celebrating their 25 years in business in 2023, a milestone, he shared. The organization is totally sold out for the quarter century celebration.
“It’s a big deal, we did a commemorative 25-year buff,” said Krekow. “I am excited for this new season, I think it’s going to be a good one … every time we get out here, it’s mind blowing. It doesn’t matter what the terrain or conditions are, it’s just so special to be out there. It takes my breath away every time. ”
Krekow shared that Heli-Adventures partners with some local oyster farms for tours with their clients, takes clientele to Sheridan Glacier, and leads ice climbing and guided hikes in and around Cordova.
“We are fired up to see everyone again showing back up in Cordova every season,” said Krekow. “If you’re out and about come say hi.”