[Sponsored By: Alyeska Resort, AK]
Welcome to the Show!
Mount Alyeska, and the resort that shares its name has topped the Last Frontier’s ‘must-ski’ hit list for sixty years. Its flanks are steep, base deep, and options practically endless. This resort rolls out the red carpet for Old Man Winter.
With trails setting in nicely it’s time to get skiing, and this guide has all Mount Alyeska’s most thrilling angles covered. Enjoy!
This Alyeska Resort gem is out-shined only by its own reputation. A thrilling double-black diamond, North Face is the longest ski run of that classification in the country and is often the reason skiers choose Mount Alyeska as the destination of their ski holiday.
Slope access is achieved by either short decent from atop Glacier Bowl Express or direct off-load at upper Tram Station.
Up-to-the-minute North Face terrain assessment is thanks to seasoned Alyeska Resort Ski Patrol. They make reasonably safe a raw, big mountain face that has been called, “a backcountry ski experience without the helicopter.”
This slope’s wide top portion dips into a dreamland for seekers of the snorkel effect. The tree sections to follow conceal a delight of hidden lines holding fresh caches that remain un-skied for days. Alder fields add their own special flavor, that is, until plump snowfall after snowfall buries them from sight. And speed racers take great pleasure in the leg-burning, nose freezing rushes of North Face’s sharp descent to run out, where distances are long and speeds high.
Here hides a fun, duck ‘n run zone playfully connecting upper and lower mountain portions at proud Alyeska Resort
Located like a lynchpin, Eagle Rock is a smooth mid-mountain nexus, dipping skiers through off-piste runnels of varying pitch and width. In addition to the zone’s natural grooves, virtually all lateral terrain waits similarly open—perfect for discovering new POW paths.
Eagle Rock transit arrives from Upper Bowl, or Main Street lap traffic. Upon entering its gully-like gate, skiers swoop either right or left to circumnavigate the dominating geologic which grants the zone its name.
Skier’s right of the rock is a ribbon shot line pinched between sharp flank and towering, solid wall. Along that narrow base, snow collects to plentiful depths and deposits skiers at top station of famous chairlift Ted’s Express, where a half the mountain still waits below.
Skier’s left quickly takes formation as a close and steep chasm, as narrow as it is ideal for natural carving. Those walls soon open however and wide, un-hindered fields await. And while Eagle Rock’s left option may be also skied to Ted’s Express, there is the alternative to carry even farther left and dip, briefly, into short but sweet gullies that make natural, un-groomed boundaries in-between Mount Alyeska piste.
This is Mount Alyeska section that every local loves to re-run.
Accessed from atop the might height of chairlift Glacier Bowl Express, Upper Bowl is known to unfurl completely distinct runs, under wildly varying light—on back-to-back laps. Wind depositing and migrating cloud add unique accessory to this zone, enhancing its reputation for delivering throat-clenching ski thrill.
Gail’s Gully, Prospector, and Chilkoot Ridge are neighboring ski runs that stripe Upper Bowl, and each pack an awesome punch. A descent by any of these trails means a run that combines pillow pockets, surf-esque flank skiing, or skimming the very ridge line itself.
And (if only for extra zest) charging Upper Bowl puts the skier center stage before a captive audience of chairlift passengers. Bringing the fat-planks and A-game to Upper Bowl just might invite one (or two) not-so-secret admirers back at the hotel.
Gear Jammer/Bear Trap
There is a very sobering sense of dropping beyond the known when skiing either of these neighboring gnarly trails.
Either of these Double Black Diamond trails are accessed via Upper Mountain top stations, Aerial Tram or Glacier Bowl Express. And both contribute to the vibalicious lore of now defunct Chair1. Skiing top sections of trails, South Edge or Mambo offer merging access to a curvy, roundabout run aptly coined Dog Leg. From there, Gear Jammer and Bear Trap are mere hard right turn (and deep breath) to enter.
It’s the sort of skiing Hansel and Gretal could relate to. Deep, dark woods that stretch overhead. A way is marked by clearings like dots in otherwise pitted, dense terrain, and a trail followed as if laid be bread crumb for wide-eyed skiers hoping their own ambition has led them to a new level of skiing bliss, rather than dangerously far beyond bounds.
Welcome to Alyeska’s ski-version of a western film classic. If cowboys (or skiers) could convince horses to put on planks, High Traverse is where they would roam.
Way up high, and stretched out wide, this Mount Alyeska zone offers near unlimited possibility. Five trails, totaling six Black Diamonds, carve down and through this mountain portion. Plus the traverse itself also is Black Diamond rated.
Here again the grit of Alyeska Ski Patrol is evidenced by the hard work put in to control this massive area, and access to it is allowed only by gate. Skiers must ascend Glacier Bowl Express and from there carry speed across Glacier Bowl itself to reach the gate, and a vast, wild open of wind and snow invite from beyond it.
Right through the gate, terrain of High Traverse is steep, and gets steeper. There’s a general concave trend to this particular Mount Alyeska zone, a topographical aspect to much benefit the salted cowboys who ski this raw terrain. Ask any of that Lot and they’ll be more than happy to reply, “it’s tips down to light speed from High Traverse”.
Worthy of quick mention amidst description of Alyeska Resort’s thrilling, snowy best is the region’s absolutely EPIC snowfalls. The much cherished white stuff falls to blanket the entire Turnagain Arm to ample depth, and Mount Alyeska along with it.
Yes, tales of notorious Alaska summits are deep and getting deeper this 2018-’19 season, making any time the right time to visit Alyeska Resort.