Alyeska

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The Mountain’s of Alyeska

Though small in area, riding at Alyeska is a blast. The mountain is littered with gullies and natural hits, and much of the lift-accessed inbounds terrain is ungroomed. Freeskiers & riders will find steeps aplenty, with untracked chutes stretched out along the summit ridge. Bizarrely for those used to the altitudes of the Alps, the base of the mountain is practically at sea level, bordered by ocean inlets. Yet despite the altitude, it dumps here, more than twice the average in Colorado. Bleak in midwinter, by February temperatures are warming up. Come mid-March and the sun is still high when the lifts close at 1730. March is also prime viewing time for the Northern Lights.

Alyeska has 760 km or 475 of slopes

1 Funicular Train, No Cable cars & 6 gondolas

No Chair & 2 Drag Lifts

1 Park & 1 Pipe

Night Opening & summer skiing/boarding

Beginners

Complete never-evers should head for the day lodge; others head via Chairlift 4  to the upper mountain cruisers: avoid achingly slow Chairlift 1. The lodge itself is often closed midweek out of peak season, making it necessary to rent beginner gear elsewhere. Stop at Boarderline in Anchorage.

3 Easy Runs

11% Blues
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Intermediate

After a ride on the Speedy Tram, drop down to Chairlift 6 and start lapping, taking full advantage of the rolling terrain and numerous cat tracks en route. Leave the small, rail-heavy terrain park until a little later in the day, when the sun hits Prince Run and the ride back up the cable car is a welcome break.

14 Intermediate Runs

52% Reds

This super-fun little mountain in the back of beyond is the ideal warm-up for heliskiers & boarders en route to the interior, and a great alternative to most American resorts.

Advanced

If the snow’s fresh and the sky clear, stumble onto the first tram at 1030. Drop straight off the backside onto the ungroomed North Face for a few powder laps. If it gets chopped, take Chairlift 6 and start hiking: the spines and chutes off the summit of Mount Alyeska are worth the trek. After a few shots at Glacier Bowl and Headwall, test your calf muscles on the long traverse to the steeps and shrubs of Max’s Mountain.

10 Expert Black Runs

37% Blacks

Download large Alyeska Trail Map

Alyeska Trail Map
Download large Alyeska Trail Map

Mountain Stats

Top Lift 1200 m
Vertical Drop 960 m
Bottom Lift 76 m

Essential Info

Opening Mid November (24 November 2016)
Closing Late April
1 Day Pass US $ 80 , Midweek US $ 60
7 Day Pass US $ N/A
Season Pass US $ 999
Tourist Office anchorage.net
Website alyeskaresort.com

Getting There

Anchorage (ANC) Airport is the resorts nearest at 65 Km or 41 miles away.

The Town

Originally a mining settlement, Girdweed, as the locals call it, is a sleepy, Bohemian hamlet, only really coming to life at the weekends, when Anchorage folk head down to their cabins in the spruce. Midweek in winter, it’s a quiet, quiet place. If you’d like something to do at night other than watching the Northern Lights, consider basing yourself an hour up the road in Anchorage.

Sleeping

The Alyeska Hostel has eight dorm beds. Five minutes from the slopes, Winner Creek is an impressive log cabin B&B. While the five-star Alyeska Prince can be a good bargain midweek when empty.

alyeska3

Eating

Stop at the excellent Bake Shop for inexpensive sandwiches and pancake breakfasts. Chairlift 5 is the local’s stop after a day on the hill while the Double Musky Inn is upscale Alaska.

Apres Ski & Nightlife

The Sitzmark sees the occasional DJ but you’re looking at a drive into Anchorage. Grab a copy of the free weekly, The Anchorage Press, for gig and club night listings.

Pro’s & Con’s

Pro’s Con’s
Unique. Small area.
Great for pre-heli trip acclimatization. Hours from anywhere else.
Consistently amazing snow. Less a resort than a country village.

Blasted with ridiculous amounts of snow and refreshingly different from the average resort.

Shopping

Stock up on groceries in Anchorage at the New Sagaya City Markets.

Health & Wellbeing

Holistic chiro and massage at Girdwood Chiropractic Clinic.

Internet Access

Logging on options include Kaladi Brothers or Dark Horse Coffee in Anchorage.

Transfer Options

The Magic Bus is the on-demand service. Far cheaper is the ski shuttle which runs from Anchorage.

Local Partners

None.

Children

Most of the programs here are geared towards Anchorage kids, but basic two-hour lift, lesson and rental packages are available on a daily basis for US$55-60. Child day ticket rates are US$34 for 14 to 17 year olds and US$26 for 8 to 13 year olds. Under-eights are free when skiing with a paying adult (US$10 if not).

Bad Weather Days

Whale-watching and iceberg cruises depart daily from Seward, two hours south of Girdwood. Check out alaskatours.com/girdwood

Avoid

Taking the tram around the lunchtime peak, when the queue is swelled with sightseers just up for the view.

An Interesting Little Fact

Stumble into any restaurant for a sudden immersion into a scene straight from cult mid-nineties TV show Northern Exposure.

Don’t Miss

Chugach Powder Guides is the local heliboarding & skiing outfit, running snowcat trips close to the resort and heli trips further inland in the Chugach Range.

Local Tips

Do Don’t
Ski/Ride the park jibs late in the day. Eat at any of the Prince Hotel restaurants, including those on-mountain.
Return to Anchorage at night. Head up early, cold temperatures mean it’s bulletproof until midday.
Go for a post-ride pizza at Chairlifts. Stay in Girdwood, unless they have a weekend cabin.
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Jen is a correspondent for Outside, Ski and Snowboarding magazines and a frequent contributor to the New York Times travel section. Her work has been featured in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing and other anthologies. She has reported from seven continents, loves languages, and is based in British Columbia, Canada.

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