Words and Photos: John Stifter

These conditions aren't supposed to coincide with your first trip to ski Alaska. Or the iconic heli-ski hamlet of Valdez. But for Boise, Idaho, resident Chris Hendrickson, sun, blower snow, no wind, and little slough collaborated to cause Valdisease. He doesn't want to go home.

Hendrickson is here in Valdez along with his brother and Atomic's Chris Benchetler, as he won the Atomic Alaska Giveaway contest that was postponed a year due to the eruption of Mount Redoubt last April. In addition to winning a free trip to ski four days with a friend, in this case his brother, and Benchetler with Valdez Heli Camps, Hendrickson scored a free pair of Atomic BENT_Chetler skis and Arc'teryx outerwear.

Without question, the new gear augmented yesterday's life-changing experience. Yet new gear or tattered gear, it mattered nonetheless. Conditions are all-time right now and with Valdez Heli Camps' arsenal of snowcats for down days, which no other Valdez heli operation possesses, and seasoned crew, the Hendrickson brothers Valdisease symptoms will only worsen.