La Nina Calls

scott johnstonMarch 15, 2011

It is a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it and when the 6AM call came I manned up.

Only three days after arriving home from Oslo, where I had bailed on the critical job of paying spectator at the World Championships I was still on Norway time and up early anyway. Since I had been doing nothing more serious at Holmenkollen than peering through and over the fences to catch glimpses of the skiers, I felt that Torin could probably manage without me acting like a kid trying to sneak a peek at the baseball game through the outfield fence and I came back to God’s country.

The aforementioned wake up call came from Dave Waag, publisher of Off Piste magazine who was in town to do some heli-touring and get some stock photos for the mag. There was suddenly a vacant seat on the helicopter and if I could rally in 30 minutes I could put my butt in that seat. The other skiers in the load were all good friends and fellow guides. La Nina has been very good to the North Cascades this winter and the mountains just west of Mazama had received over a meter of snow in the 2 days since I got home. A normal heli-tour consists of getting one big heli assist up some 5-6000 feet (in a 5 minute flight) on to the shoulder of one of our fine ski peaks and then a day of touring in that area. Today turned out to be a bit special since one of the owners of North Cascades Heliski would be touring with us. We all knew that this meant we’d be spending a lot more time flying back up the 3000 foot runs than skinning. But none of us were complaining. With a meter of cold dry powder awaiting and more falling all day were were ready to roll as soon as Seamus, the pilot, got the bird ready to fly.

Rather than bore you with details of face shots and giggles all day I will let pictures tell the story. Dave put together this slide show. About half way through the show you’ll see my gloved hand and pole (that’s all!). Eat your heart out Wasatch skiers!

scott johnston