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VIDEO: Dropping In With Rachael Burks

Author: Outdoor Research

January 10, 2018

We can tell you all day about how Rachael Burks handles what big Alaska lines dish out, except it's better just to watch her yourself. But if you've ever wondered what it takes to ski lines like this, here are Rachaels thoughts on the ski trip to Seward Alaska, where this edit was filmed.

This session was all filmed in Seward. It's crazy to be right there at the head of Resurrection Bay and still "surrounded" by mountains. Seward is not necessarily what I'd call a "skiing destination." It's more of a fishing destination and sea port. They have a lovely Aquarium, the Sea Life Center, and the little downtown strip has an AWESOME dive bar where you can buy a "Bucket of Butt," or bucket of fried halibut, for a perfectly reasonable price. They also have an AWESOME Thai restaurant and Ray's seafront tavern with some good eats too. So if we had down days in Girdwood it was relatively common to head to Seward for some delicious food. I'd been to Seward for lots of reasons other than skiing, so it was particularly rad to approach Seward for the first time as a ski destination. A lot of times you're nestled into some really bitchin' mountains in ski towns and you go to bed looking out the window and imagining yourself skiing different lines. We call this mind-jibbing) The crazy part of Seward was that we sat there mind-jibbing and then all the sudden we were on top of the peaks? NUTS!

I have all sorts of feelings looking at lines: Feelings range from nausea, nervousness, and needing to poop, to excitement, anticipation, and disbelief. I look for good snow, hopefully related to a specific aspect, and for safety. Like, where would I go if ... ?

Feelings when the helicopter drops me at the top? "Holy S%@& I can't believe I'm here." After that, it depends on the line with how nervous or not nervous I get. This particular day I didn't have any time to think about things. It was drop off-ski-pickup-new line-drop off-ski. All day. It's kind of nice when you don't get quite as much time to think, I guess. 

I'm still a rookie with lines that big. But the progression of getting there was filled with really, really, really expensive failures. I can say that without a doubt. Very few confidence-invoking days and a whole lot of not-beginners-luck. But then randomly I got a call from the production crew for this Yeti project and the stars aligned and I had the best day of helicopter skiing I'll have in five lifetimes. 

Advice for dealing with failures? My brother said something so profound to me—it was a life-philosophy change. He said, "Always remember that it's a million times better to show up and fail than to not show up at all."

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