By John Stifter
Photos by Bob Legasa and John Stifter

Finally. Cold, dry snow flew up in faces, forcing smiles. A lot of them.

A small crew of skiers, including Daryl Treadway, linked up with Peak Video Productions last Thursday for a day of heli shreddage at North Cascades Heli in Mazama, Wash. In parts of the Cascades, snow accumulations totaled 40 inches, with single-digit water content percentages. The light, dry snow was anomaly for the maritime climate, but certainly nobody cared.

It was only the third day of operation for North Cascades Heli, and we sampled a few shots of their 300,000 acres that border North Cascades National Park. Despite the clouds, we were still able to get out and fly. The base of North Cascades Heli op, right outside the tiny town of Mazama, is so close to the permitted zone that we were able to access terrain analogous to the Kootenays of British Columbia. Ominous, rimed spires summited by Cascade climbing legend Fred Beckey towered overhead. And powder-plumed pillows were as ubiquitous as the snow blasting our goggles.

Again, finally… the itch of powder skiing has been replaced by the shakes for more pow across the West. For Pacific Northwest skiers, be leery of warming temps that have changed the snowpack, and skiers in the Rockies, avi’s have been occurring at a consistent clip.