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Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Updated: June 26, 10:42 AM ET
PNH gets new non-motorized zone


The late Kip Garre skiing at Points North Heli in Cordova, Alaska.

For the past 14 years, Kevin and Jessica Quinn have been running Points North Heli-Adventures in Cordova, Alaska. Starting next winter, the Quinns will have access to a new non-motorized permit area near their heli base. By February 2012, they plan to have four to six yurts around their new non-motorized zone.

Acquiring this new tenure has been in the works for several years and they finally received approval on the permitting recently. This backcountry yurt operation is the first of its kind in Alaska and much of the terrain in the zone has never been skied before. Tahoe skiers Brennan Lagasse and Jeff Dostie spent time in the zone this past season. "The terrain is epic, without a doubt, and could make for one of the best trips of your entire life," Dostie says.

The yurts will be a type of tent called an Arctic Tent, a six-sided, soft walled, pyramidal tent made specifically for arctic conditions, a cross between an expedition tent and a yurt. The Arctic Tents will be heated by stoves that Kevin Quinn says, "Get so hot you'll want to hang out in a t-shirt." He added: "Our idea behind getting permitted for a non-motorized ski touring zone and establishing a yurt system is to showcase the Chugach in a way that makes it affordable and unique for backcountry enthusiasts to experience Alask."

Trips into PNH's non-motorized zone will generally be guided and fully catered, although options for non-guided self-supported trips may also be available to qualified groups. Groups traveling into the non-motorized zone will still be fully supported and clients will be flown by helicopter to a drop near the zone's boundary. Once in the zone, all travel will be human powered and touring between the yurts will be a possibility. There will also be an option for a day of backcountry touring with a single heli bump. "You get dropped off by the heli with the freedom to skin, climb, and ski whatever is speaking to you and your crew on that particular day," says Lagasse.

A price range of $1,800-$2,500 per person is estimated for a guided and catered week. Access to the non-motorized zone will be based out of the town of Cordova, and the season will mirror their heli season, mid February through the end of April.