Alyeska Resort, AK Conditions Report: North Face Opening Was Unreal!

Jeffrey Bean | | Conditions ReportConditions Report
20170119_115841(0) West Line goodies were so sweet

I arrived at 9:00am to the Alyeska Tramway early enough to grab a cup of java and put my skis in the line that was forming.  Skiers and riders were pumped with excitement for the first official opening of the North Face.  It felt like years.  The North Face is some of the best terrain Alyeska Resort has to offer.  Double Black pure bliss, and lots of it! 

20170119_101222The line was getting thick when I returned with my hot Java


Walking out with my coffee, I received a tip from a ski patrol friend.  “Banjo on the North Face was skiing really deep” he told me this with a crazy fun look in his eyes.  The expression became mutual.

It was 6° that morning and the snow was hopefully going to be light, fast and virtually untouched.  There were gusts into the 50’s that night so things were loaded up and if all goes well, no wind crust.

20170119_103210_001Silenced with anticipation during the tram speech on the 1st Tram of the day

After the tram speech my thoughts drifted into what was to be my first line.  At the top of the Tram there was a delay in the opening due to the weather that night so there was enough time to warm up the legs with a few laps of the Glacier Bowl Express before they popped the North Face gates.

20170119_122646The Top of 2 soaking up some sun 

The resort was skiing great with wind-blown cold dry powder.  Every bump and pile was    skiing soft with pushable.  I took a lap far into Glacier Bowl to feel out the powder on some untracked. The snow was quite settled in the Glacier Bowl and the top 4 inches felt like butter and was skiing really fast.

NF Glacier bowlThe Glacier bowl gate 

I could feel the North Face was close at hand.   I headed over to Sun-deck gate which was the first gate to open.  Our director of snow safety was there to give a quick briefing on the conditions and popped the gate.

I headed left toward LoLo’s but remembered what my buddy had said, so I immediately dropped straight fall line into Banjo.  I let it rip in the incredible conditions.  It was thigh deep cold light pow and no wind crust to speak of.  I giggled out loud but it wasn’t enough so Yee Haw’s and Whoo Hoo’s started flowing.  It was SO good!  

Heading over the roll into Banjo I made solid turn caught a face shot and then floated down through in the white room for some turns in the bliss with butterflies in my belly.   I stopped to decide if I was going to exit on Spoon Line or continue to the bottom.

20170119_112503  Looking back at lower Tram Pocket I realized it had ripped mostly down to rock

The deep snow thinned out a bit so it was a no brainer to head out to Spoon Line to catch the Glacier Bowl Express for another lap to the top.  After a couple laps in West line and a wide open high speed Tram Pocket run, I saw my buddy Jaha.  We worked the West Line of the North Face until we saw that Chucks gate was about to open.

20170119_111038The short hike from the tram to Chucks gate

The opening just above the Tram was about to deliver the pow for the second time this morning.  Jaha and I ripped down Mighty Might to catch the gate for a few more high speed laps in the sweet powder.

Our decision to continue exiting on Spoon Line was a good one. We were getting two to three laps in the goods before others who skied all the way to the bottom got back to the top.

20170119_113454 Sending Chuck’s gate right out of the ropes

After 3 laps in Chucks gate with Jaha, I decided to ski all the way to the bottom to check out the conditions with a full top to bottom run through LoLo’s into West Line.   The conditions were still amazing.  Drops, pillows, and the thigh deep pow was mostly untouched.  I heard hoot’s and holler’s in the trees all around but scarcely saw another person.

With hours into the North Face opening there were still plenty of goods to be had.  

NF Devin cliff 2Devin getting sendy in West Line

I cut through the trees and drops of Chili Dog, the snow was compact and fast with no room for error.  I slowed on the traverse to Jim’s Branch to let The Alyeska Ski Patrol move through with a hurt skier.  I skied to the tram for one more trip to the top and called it a day with a burning thigh trip down Chilkoot Knoll to the bottom to revel in the great morning.


Snow depth




20170119_115135Flying right out of Chuck’s
20170119_093521A couple of the first riders of the day showing there stoke
NF Devin cliff 2The goods of West line
20170119_113711Frosty hiking to Chuck’s
20170119_120222Patrol evacuating a hurt skier.  She was in great spirits!
20170119_104600Patrol briefing at Sundeck gate
20170119_112436(0)Greg in full speed send
20170119_115443(0)Lolo’s gate love
20170119_124139(0)The untracked cold powder on Chilkoot Knoll

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