Written by Ashley Maxfield, winner of the Snow Sisters trip raffle
How do you sum up the trip of a lifetime? I can remember where I was in October when I got the call. I was standing on top of a roof, trying to make some extra money for the ski season. I had no clue who was calling and almost didn’t answer, but the women on the other end of the phone delivered the best news I have ever heard. She let me know that I won the SheJumps raffle, with the grand prize of a 10 day trip heliskiing with Snow Sisters and Alaska Heliskiing. Even before I knew the exact dates I was sold, it’s not every day you are able to help an organization that means a lot to you while getting to explore everything Alaska has to offer. And hanging out with women the whole trip makes it all that much more epic.
Going into this trip I have never been to Alaska. Of course I have seen the lines in all the ski movies and heard about its majestic beauty. But it’s one thing seeing it on the silver screen, and it’s a total different thing to experience it for yourself. Even while being an athlete on the Freeride World Tour, the Snow Sisters trip to Alaska remained the greatest highlight of my season.
While competing in Europe, my worst nightmares became an even worse reality. I had a hard crash that left me with a terrible gash to my right leg, cutting right down to the femur. Once I had made it back to the States, all I could think about was giving myself the best possibility of making to Alaska later in the year. While working physically towards my goal, I still had some questions about the trip. Ashley and Rhianna told me everything was taken care of; all I had to do was show up and be ready for an amazing week. With some advice from the Alaska Heliskiing guides, I started packing. Some key things I was told to bring included: rain boots, a swimsuit, a camera, a tutu, dancing shoes and a “can do attitude.” I made sure to add a couple Ashley Flairs along the way which included a unicorn hood, awesome tights and some sunscreen.
As soon as I got to Alaska, the epic-ness of the trip started to sink in. I flew into Juneau the night before my ferry ride and I couldn’t believe my childhood dream was about to become a reality. I was in Alaska! I was on the same ferry as some amazing women; Claire Smallwood (SheJumps), Ashley Saupe (Alaska Heliskiing/Snow Sisters co-founder), Micaela Bauer (daughter of the famed Bruce Bauer, owner of the Funny Farm Hotel in Haines) – and they all helped me calm my nerves. They told me this trip was just about having fun with the ladies in the most amazing terrain one could imagine.
Once I got to Haines there were no words to describe how amazing the area truly was. Rhianna Rasmussen, a true bad ass herself being a fully licensed heli pilot and founder of Snow Sisters, picked us up from the ferry and showed us what Haines had to offer. From day one, the hospitality of the Snow Sisters and Alaska Heliskiing was amazing. Sitting here three weeks later, looking back on the trip, I have some absolutely amazing memories from this trip of a lifetime. In the ten days that I was there, on top of some of the most beautiful mountains in the world, we had some of the most amazing food – from Ashley’s birthday dinner, to fresh Alaskan sushi, to homemade pizza (including a special gluten free pizza for me), to fresh brown king crab, to halibut cheek, to caribou, venison, elk, and moose.
The town of Haines opened up a bar for us on a down day while Rhianna set up a yoga class for us on a different day. We spent a day shrimping in the Chilkat Inlet and another fishing in the Chilkat River, a night eating with the Shades of Winter ladies and making tutus, along with a much needed hot tub session and ski waxing clinic to help our bodies and minds on a very long trip. All in all, this trip was packed full of amazing women doing amazing things in the most beautiful place I have ever been.
Meeting some of the most wonderful women from all corners of the world helped me find different parts of who I am that I didn’t know were there before. Kajsa Larsson and Nina Franz, who were my roommates at the Funny Farm, made this trip absolutely the best trip I ever had. The three of us had a dance party on top of Scotties, skied epic AK lines in tutus and got to open up all the lines for the day with the head guide Gabe before the boys could. The time I got to spend with these amazing women was really what made the trip as incredible as it was. In all, we had the most eclectic group of women that all came together for the love of the mountains. From this I’ll take away so many friendships and memories from our time spent together in Alaska.
I’m already saving up money to come back and do it all again next year. A huge thank you to SheJumps, Snow Sisters, Alaska Heliskiing and all the women that made the trip one to remember. This year we had four helicopters full of just females, let’s aim to make it even more for next year! Hope to see you all in Alaska!