Alyeska Resort, AK Report: Steep, Firm Gully-Skiing on North Face

Martin Kuprianowicz | | Conditions ReportConditions Report

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Report from February 2, 2021

Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska is not for the faint of heart nor the weak of legs.

This place is huge, brutal, and beautiful—not to mention STEEP.

It’s my first time here and I got in last night to Hotel Alyeska ready to take on AK.

I was not disappointed today.

That lovely mountain town down there is called Girdwood. | Photo courtesy SnowBrains

The resort opened at 10:30 this morning because it’s too dark this far north to ski any time before then.

By 11:30 when I made it up it was blistering cold and partly cloudy. 

Being this far north in the winter makes it feels like the sun is perpetually setting even though it’s noon. This whole place has a rugged, desolate feel to it—like you’re on some sort of massive, mountainous powder-island cut off from the rest of the world.

And you’re not sad about it.

The snow was firm, fast, and intense today. If I had to put a label on it, I’d call it ‘Cowboy Conditions,’ because it was tough, exciting snow that’s fun to ski but will buck you around like a wild horse if you’re not paying attention.

One of the gates going into North Face. | Photo courtesy SnowBrains

However, if you knew where to look you could still find soft pockets of isolated, windblown deliciousness amongst the crud, like in some parts of North Face.

I crashed hard a couple of times on North Face—a super steep, flowy, big double-black-diamond-zone of the resort. I spent roughly the whole day skiing here.

North Face is too fun. There were steep gullies all along the traverse that cut skier’s right through the zone.

I’d ski one gully, look back up from the bottom of it, see another one right next to it I’d want to ski next, ski down, take the tram, and get right back up there and ski it.

With over 1,600 acres of skiable terrain, a 2,500 vertical-foot drop, and fast chairs and a tram, you can really wear yourself out in a day here.

That tall peak up there is Mt. Alyeska. | Photo courtesy SnowBrains

The mountains here are giant, towering over you as you ski anywhere inbounds, and I couldn’t stop staring at all the side country terrain you could hike to from the resort.

I’m hoping to get on top of some of those suckers this week while I’m here.

Alyeska is having a hell of a season already with 576″ of cumulative snowfall-to-date.

When my legs started feeling tired I stuck to the groomed trails for a bit and was actually ecstatic with how quality they were.

A chair on Glacier Bowl Express lines up with the northern sun. | Photo courtesy SnowBrains

Alyeska does an amazing job grooming runs and they stay fresh all day. Either no one is skiing on piste—or no one is really skiing here at all.

I didn’t wait in a single line all day and twice I rode up the tram with only one other skier in it besides myself.

Alaska is impressive in so many ways I never imagined. 

Rumor has it’s supposed to snow this week, and if it’s anything like any of the past storms this place has had this season, I ought to be in for a real treat…

I took a good crash today in North Face… | Photo courtesy SnowBrains

Snow Numbers

Photo courtesy Alyeska


Photo courtesy NOAA 2/2/21

Trail Map

Photo courtesy Alyeska Resort


This is the view I woke up to this morning. | Photo courtesy SnowBrains
Go with the flow! | Photo courtesy SnowBrains
The tram looked like this the whole day… | Photo courtesy SnowBrains
Alyeska, you sure are pretty. | Photo courtesy SnowBrains
Alyeska Hotel. | Photo courtesy SnowBrains
Crab omelet for breakfast at The Pond in Hotel Alyeska. | Photo courtesy SnowBrains

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5 thoughts on “Alyeska Resort, AK Report: Steep, Firm Gully-Skiing on North Face

  1. Gotta agree with zzz on this one. Testing isn’t perfect, hence the recommendations by nearly everyone not to travel unless essential. Even worse to publicize your non-essential ski trip. I’m a front line health care worker, feels pretty bad to see people still going on joy-ride trips for fun these days.

      1. I’d assert that the very fact of your non-essential travel points to the fact that you are not prioritizing the health and safety of others. I’m glad you can reassure yourself with one study…did you read it? I only had to get to the title to see that it applies “Gate to Gate”. What about your time in the airport, is that safer than the grocery store? Your time in the Hotel Alyeska, how safe is that? Did you make sure to stay at least 6 ft from everyone in the lift line? Every time?
        Obviously there are to many variables to keep track of, hence, the continued recommendations not to travel, especially to those more isolated communities (ie. alaska).
        I’ve lived in Alaska and have medical provider friends all over the state. What happens when the small hospital in Bethel is overwhelmed with ICU level COVID patients? I’ll tell you from hearing first hand accounts that its not a comfortable reality to face. Your role in non-essential travel is contributing to that reality whether you’ll admit it to yourself or not.

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