Points North celebrates 20 years

Kevin and Jessica Quinn thank Cordova community

Kevin Quinn, left, of Points North Heli-Adventures, jumps out of a helicopter to go skydiving in the Chugach mountains, just north of Cordova, AK in 2003. (Photo by Tony Harrington/Harro Art)

Just a 10-minute drive from Cordova’s city center, Points North Heli-Adventures provides a landscape for adventure, highlighted by a summer camp vibe; an environment Kevin and Jessica Quinn have nurtured and grown for the past 20 years.

Points North provides remote guiding in the Chugach mountains via helicopters, allowing guests to ski and snowboard remote slopes of the 1,500 square miles they fly between the Copper River, Cordova and Valdez.

The dining hall is alive with music and intense battles of ping pong and foosball. Other guests share photos and videos with each other of their time in the Chugach mountains days prior.

Points North sits tucked at the end of Orca Road, sharing space with Orca Adventure Lodge, a few homes and a helipad.

Over the last 20 years, Kevin and Jessica Quinn and their staff have transported thousands of guests into the Chugach mountains to ski and snowboard.

A Points North helicopter flies above the Chugach mountains. (Photo by Tony Harrington/Harro Art)

The beginning

As the helicopter’s blades begin to rotate, guests spill onto the porch to watch the take off.


Within minutes, the helicopter heads north into the Chugach mountains as those still on the ground head back inside the Nefco building, where Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” plays from a small speaker set up along the far wall.

The New England Fish Company building, once the dining hall for cannery employees, is now the dining hall, lounge and office for Points North.

Jimbo Fritsch sings on the porch as he adjusts crampons, gearing up for a day exploring Sheridan Glacier, as someone inside whistles along to the song.

“When we started this, my goal was to have a season,” said Kevin Quinn, owner of Points North.

Twenty seasons later, Points North continues to grow, hosting guests from across the world, including Olympians, X-Game gold medalists, movie stars, Red Bull athletes and celebrities.

Kevin met his wife and now business partner, Jessica, after his first season in 1999.

“She’s a natural helper,” he said. “Next thing you know she’s literally diving in with both hands, both feet and running a portion of the business.”

Kevin, originally from Anchorage, began skiing and operating out of Valdez.

“We would always go east towards Cordova but because of fuel restraints, we would turn around,” he said. “So, one day, I jumped on a little bush flight in Valdez and flew down here.”

He met with Steve Ranney, now owner of Orca Adventure Lodge, and explained that he wanted to create a heli-ski operation in Cordova.

“One thing led to another and here we are,” Kevin said.

Jessica Quinn of Points North Heli-Adventures skis in the Chugach mountains, just north of Cordova, AK in 2005. (Photo by Tony Harrington/Harro Art)


For thrill-seeker and stuntman Miles Daisher, Points North provided the platform for his career.

“I was on the phone in that building when I got the call,” he said pointing to the building across from the dining hall where he sat.

His eyes lit up, and for a moment, it seemed like he was transported back in time as he talked about the start of his Red Bull Air Force career.

Daisher has completed more than 7,200 skydives and 4,500 BASE jumps and counting, across the world, from Dubai to Norway to Jordan and the United States. (BASE jumping is parachuting or wingsuit flying from a fixed structure or cliff.)

Daisher first visited Points North in 2000, arriving in Cordova on the day of the avalanche that wreaked havoc at mile 5.5 of the Copper River Highway.

“I just remember spinning in circles in my room,” he said.

Soon he and the rest of the guests and staff at Points North headed to the scene to help recover people from the avalanche.

“Things are real here, it was kind of a slap in the face,” he said.

Daisher started working at Points North as the down day activity director, and eventually moved his way to helicopter fuel technician, then chief dishwasher.

Throughout the season, he kept guests upbeat on off days by starting paint ball fights and hikes on Mt. Eyak.

Now, he is a guest.

He began dating Nikki, now his wife, at Points North, after she started working in the kitchen in 2001.

“It’s where everything started, with me, with her, our whole everything,” Daisher said.

People trickled out of the Nefco building as they finished their breakfast and left to gear up for hikes and town explorations.

“The faces haven’t changed, the stories have gotten better,” he said, as people passed by, sharing smiles and fist bumps.

Daisher eventually left the dining hall with friends and geared up for a day of soaring ridge lifts using high performance paragliders while on skis on Mt. Eyak.

“The world will go as far as you let it take you,” he said.

Kevin and Jessica Quinn pose for a photograph outside of Points North Heli-Adventures in Cordova, AK in March, 2018. The two are celebrating PNH’s 20th anniversary since the business’ opening in 1999. (Photo by Tony Harrington/Harro Art)

A family business

Kevin and Jessica, meanwhile, have started a family, grown their business and acquired a new family along the way.

“We have a guest that has come to see us 18 years in a row,” Jessica said. “He came to our wedding. He literally has watched my family being raised.”

Kevin has officiated at the weddings of two of their guides, and inspired kids around town.

“First memory was when I was like 9 or 10,” Wes Thompson said. “Kevin was skydiving out of the helicopter and I got to push him out of the front seat.”

Thompson, now 27, grew up at Points North, doing anything he could to hang out with Kevin and the Points North staff.

“His mom, Cully, became a saint for our business,” Kevin said. “A lot of what Points North is today wouldn’t be Points North without Cully and her efforts.”

Thompson began mopping floors and sweeping the kitchen, just to spend time there.

Eventually, he became a dishwasher and started fueling the helicopters.

By 18, Thompson was training to be a guide.

For the past seven years, he has worked at their tour camp. The heli-assisted camp, set on a glacier, offers hiking and skiing in the depths of the Chugach mountains, with help from Thompson and two other guides.

“Kevin and Jessica have done so much for so many people that I know,” Thompson said. “I consider them like family for sure. I definitely could not be where I am today without them.”

Just as Kevin and Jessica watched Thompson grow up, Thompson is now watching their children, Kash, 3, and Kinley, 7, grow up.

“She is an amazing skier and she’s like 7 years old,” he said.

Kevin Quinn skis a run called “Max’s” in the Chugach mountains outside of Cordova. (Photo by Court Leve/Court Leve Photography)

Looking forward

Kevin and Jessica sat in their office at Points North, thinking of the future.

“What’s your next goal,” Jessica interjects with a laugh.

“The next goal, ya know, we could easily make 25 years, you never know,” Kevin said, as he added a 30-year goal to the mix.

Kevin and Jessica have been working for the past 15 years to acquire more land through permits with the U.S. Forest Service. In doing so, they hope to bring more economic growth to Cordova during what is typically a quiet time of the year.

Out at the Powder House, tables of Points North guests fill one side of the restaurant. They talk about their travels and American fried food, as they scarf down onion rings and beer.

Other Points North guests can be seen throughout the season, wandering Main Street or ice climbing frozen waterfalls along Orca Road.

“We’re here for the community first and foremost,” Kevin said, crediting the enormous amount of help and guidance he has received from Cordovans.

“There was a handful of people that put their arms around us,” he added.

“We feel very, very, very, very grateful to be allowed to operate here in Cordova through the voice of the people,” Kevin said. “It’s turned into something that we never thought imaginable. Its created a lifestyle for us that we never dreamed of.”

Travis Ganong and Mitch Tšlderer wait to get picked up while filming for Warren Miller Entertainment. (Photo by Court Leve/Court Leve Photography)

About the photographers:

Court Leve was hired by Kevin and Jessica for help in their office in 2003 and has been back nearly every year since. “They eventually introduced me to Warren Miller Entertainment and that kick-started my work in the snow sports world,” Leve said. “I owe my success to them for working with me and introducing me to people along the way.” Leve, originally from Missouri, loves the human connection that comes from taking photos as well as spending time deep in the Chugach. “A lot of effort goes into those moments not only from myself but everyone involved,” he said. To see more, visit www.courtleve.com

Tony Harrington has been professionally shooting surf and snow for 35 years. “I love the remote wilderness, the landscape and the passion of the people I meet up here, it’s a very unique experience,” he said of his time in the Chugach mountains. Harrington, originally from Australia, first visited Cordova in 1998 and has been back 12 times since. To see more, visit www.harroart.com