Atop a glacier-etched bowl called «7th Heaven,» the view beyond our ski tips is a diorama of the divine; the power of the earth in uplifted rock, the power of the water and ice in the sculpting of the land, and the power of human experience in our anticipated descent – connection and sensation we’ll take to the bank. Before us an ocean of mountains ripples towards the storm-lashed Pacific, trailing a nexus of rivers limned by verdant valleys. Raw beauty, unsullied by anything. The tenure of Northern Escape Heli Skiing, in fact, is one of the jewels in the crown of recreational tourism worn by Terrace, B.C. Yet though we’ve made a half-dozen life-affirming powder turns in this basin, on each lift of the helicopter I have seen not only the snowy ridges and vast forests of a northern playground, but oil pooling in the valleys, and a thick menacing line drawn across the mountains as if with Magic Marker. I have heard the sirens of emergency vehicles rushing toward something they know they are powerless to either repair or reverse. I have seen fishing boats bobbing morosely on an oil-slicked sea. And I have seen headlines – a told-you-so litany of what should have been apparent from the start. A classic of human folly. Today is the 24th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster, and it has not gone unnoticed in our group.
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