World Freeride Champion Eva Walkner had the run of her life in Alaska

November 12, 2015 by Iselin Næss

Alaska. The name itself is powerful enough to send shivers down your spine. A place on earth that is still so remote, and so wild, that it frightens you a little. Yet it intrigues you even more. Alaska is every skier´s cold dream, and on every adventurer´s bucket list. Everybody wants to go to Alaska.

“I saw a moose, a white mountain goat and oh my god the bald eagles. I could watch them for hours. The wilderness of Alaska is incredibly special. I´ve never seen a landscape so beautiful.”

Eva Walkner has been to Alaska several times. As a part of the Freeride World Tour, traveling the world searching for powder lines is her job. But the past couple of years a film project has given her the opportunity to really explore the backyard of Alaska. More specifically, the backyard of the city of Haines: where every fall the human population of 2400 is exceeded by around 4000 bald eagles.

Eva Walkner skiing in Haines, Alaska. Photo: Jeremy Bernard

Skiing in Alaska
The lowdown from Eva: “There are two aspects to skiing in Alaska. I´ve experienced both. One is amazing powder, endless amount of perfect spines, helicopter rides from mountain to mountain. It´s the American dream for a skier. The other part of the game is waiting. As with other places the weather can be really unstable. You can sit for days or weeks waiting for the right conditions. But it feels so much worse than other places, because this is Alaska! You have been waiting your whole life to save up money to get here. It´s wild and you don´t want to miss out.”

“This is where you find those crazy steep spines that you see in ski movies. The ones everybody dream about. But you don´t even have to ski that crazy stuff. You can ski average lines that you would find in the Alps as well and it would still feel different and totally amazing just because it´s Alaska. It takes such an effort to get there because of its remoteness and vastness. You know all the planning and effort it took for you to get to the exact moment when you´re standing on a mountaintop in Alaska about to drop into the spine of your life. That´s what makes the experience so special. It´s the whole package.”


About Haines
The traditional Haines inhabitant is the opposite of a skier! It´s so strange, people are living in probably the most famous „ski resort“ in the world, but they have absolutely no idea. I once asked somebody if they knew that it´s every skiers dream to at least once in their lifetime visit Haines. They looked at me like I´d just told them I don´t like fish (fish is a big thing in Haines). The town is full of normal small town Americans; working in restaurants, grocery stores or fishing. They spend their afternoons in the bar watching football or basketball on TV while they´re drinking beer and eating (fish) burgers.

When they learn the name people often come over and give me a big laugh, telling me they love my Douchebag.
{ Eva Walkner }

Hot conversation topic: Skiing. Even though there are no skiers living here they love to hear about our skiing adventures. Also traveling around with a Douchebag is a nice icebreaker amongst the locals. When they hear the name people often come over and give me a big laugh, telling me they love my Douchebag.

Best ski memory from Alaska: I was skiing a very steep and exposed line on the famous “Dirty Needle” face. I took the wrong entrance and found myself skiing probably the steepest part of the face. There was powder blowing up around me giving me a complete white out, and a sluff waterfall going out beside me. The face was so steep I could touch it, and I stopped skiing for a while, just sliding down. So many mixed feelings went through my mind at that time. I was scared to death but at the same time this was probably the best run of my life, so different and so much fun.

How to get there: You can fly to Whitehorse and rent a car, then you´re more flexible. The drive from Whitehorse to Haines is pretty ok. Or you can go by plane directly to Haines.

Where to eat: Don´t miss out on the famous Mountain Market & Café where you´re almost guaranteed to run into a fellow douchebag. You will definitely see some hot faces there like Tanner Hall, Aksel Lund Svindal or Christine Hargin.

Something to remember: You will need at least three weeks there to make sure you get a good weather window, and to get the proper feel of the country. Also try to let go of your expectations and be open for what´s ahead. Enjoy the nature, and just let yourself be blown away by the fact that you´re in the wild, you´re in Alaska!