Helicopter-Skiing-1The last time Jim Martinson had been in a helicopter was in Vietnam — June 29, 1968 — fighting for his life after a landmine blew off both legs above the knee. This time he was in Alaska, aboard a helicopter loaded with ski gear and mono-ski rigs. As the chopper left the ground, his excitement soared when he passed over the emerald blue ocean and rose toward pristine, snow-covered mountain slopes. This flight was a celebration of life, friendship, adaptability and adventure.

Each spring elite skiers and snowboarders from around the globe make a pilgrimage to Alaska’s vast coastal mountain ranges, using helicopters instead of chairlifts to access remote peaks. The massive, steep, snow-covered mountains are the ultimate playground and proving ground for skiing’s top athletes. Heli-skiing Alaska earns bragging rights and initiation into the elite tribe of “big mountain skiers.”

In March Martinson joined his son Jeremy, nephew Jeff, stepson Travis Sims, cousin Patrick Kongslie and longtime friend and wheelchair sports legend Brad Parks for a week of skiing with Alaska Powder Descents, based near Juneau.

Prior to their injuries, skiing was an all-consuming passion