or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Alyeska ski resort Girdwood Alaska
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Alyeska ski resort Girdwood Alaska

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hey Everyone, Its that time of year again. Anyone have any first hand knowledge of Alyeska in Girdwood Alaska ? We are going there in mid January. Any info on snow conditions this time of year ? Terrain ? Ski Equipment, clothing, etc. Will I need powder skiis ? I have Volkl gammas. Thanks for help........Leisa
post #2 of 10
I have a fair bit of experience with Alyeska as I lived out there for a winter.
Nice mountain. Terrain wise, the mid section is one giant bowl with the typical features (a few cruisers, some ungroomed areas left for bump, etc) carved out of it. The lower area has a few nice groomers. The best terrain is off the North side of the mountain. The top is nice and steep coming out of the chutes, or, if chutes aren't your thing, you can enter near the tram and access the lower 2/3. It's nice terrain, steep...rolling, variety of little micro-areas.
The unbeatable part is the view. On a clear day the view from the top over Turnagain is absolutely incredible. There aren't many places in the world this beautiful. If you have a day off, driving along the Seward highway is a real treat. Honestly, probably the most stretch of highway in the country. I drove it a lot when I went back and forth from Girdwood to Anchorage and it's spectacular. Heading out to the Glacier about 10mi South is quite beautiful as well. I never made the trek over to Valdez as the road was never open when I had a chance, but it's supposedly beautiful as well. The drive to Seward is equally as stunning.
The real gem of the area in terms of skiing, though, is the backcountry. When I was out there I didn't know anyone yet and had little experience backcountry skiing so I wasn't comfortable going out on my own. Had I had the money, I would have definitely gone out with Chugach Powder Guides. They run a heli and couple of cats into the area and it's supposed to be outrageously good skiing. (I dearly regret not going and will, without fail, be going back out there at some point for a purely backcountry trip).

January is a COLD month. Temps can routinely be a high of 0 to -15, so be prepared. Also, the area is a bit short on daylight that time of year. Sunrise will be around 9 or 10am and set around 3 or so (depends on what time in Feb).

Girdwood is a tiny little mountain town with some of the friendliest people I've ever met. For ski gear, DEFINITELY use World Cup in the town of Girdwood. They're great people, and very knowledgable. You can pick their brains for all sorts of info about the area.

There used to be a bar in Girdwood called Max's that was a fun place to hang out, but they may have closed down and turned into some sort of upscale bistro that doesn't really fit the area...oh well.
In Anchorage, the Beartooth is a great restraunt/beerpub and also has a movie house that serves food and beer as well. The Moose's Tooth is owned by the same people and has great pizza and beer. Try Gwennie's for a good, uber-fattening breakfast and bloody mary...it's scuzzy, but it's oh so Anchorage...

Downtown Anchorage isn't all the much to write home about. It makes for a couple of hours bumming around if you're short on things to do.

For good advice on outdoor stuff to do, don't hesitate to drop by REI. I worked there so I can vouch for the fact that 95% of the people that work there really know their stuff, are very friendly, and can give you great ideas of where to head into the backcountry if you're interested.

If you've never been out there, I strongly urge you to grab a car and drive out to see some good views of Denali on the Parks highway (stop in Talkeetna at the Roadhouse for a great lunch before you turn around). Talkeetna is the town they based Northern Exposure off of. Make sure you go on a clear day, though, as Denali is often absent if it's a bit cloudy.
You can also drive out to Hatcher's Pass (about an hour or so from Anchorage) for great snowshoeing and views of the Talkeetna's.

In Anchorage, there's good snowshoeing and x-country skiing in Kincaid park. On snowshoes you can get off trail and make it down to the ocean where you get a clear view of Susitna and the opening of Turnagain arm.

Let me know if you have other questions,
post #3 of 10
It's a nice resort, but mid January? I hope you like night skiing. I would tell you to go cat or heli skiing, but I don't think CPG opens that early.
post #4 of 10
Andy hit it on the head. Hatchers is a great choice for Cat Skiing too. "Chair 5" is a fun bar to hit too. I hit the area in March, a much better time than January. January is also a very day in daylight time.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks Guys......After considering your replys and doing a little research I think we are going to wait until the latter part of Febuary or Early March to go to Girdwood. I would prefer a little more sunlight. I want to be able to see everything and go different places while we are there. I want to drive up to Fairbanks also, My dad helped build the Alaskan Highway ( Yukon Highway ) I think its called the Al-Can now ? Anyway, Thanks for the replys, and Andy thanks for all the info you provided, definately want to drink a few brews while we are there. Leisa
post #6 of 10
I went to Anchorage on a business trip in early January two years ago and drove down to Alyeska on my way to Kenai. Awesome drive and scenery. Didn't ski on the trip like a dummy. But the comments about the lack of sunlight during that time of the year is very true. It wasn't terribly cold when I was there , but I had just come down from Dead Horse where the temp was -50F. That's an experience I'll never forget. The Alaskan Prince Hotel at the base of the gondola is first class all the way, and they had at the time a $100 a night ski and stay midweek package. Can't beat that.

Alaska is the great outdoors for sure. I'll be honest, I was concerned about getting snowed in and stuck while I was there so I didn't stay longer. Be careful driving around, the roads can be slick. I just saw on the news some people from my area were killed in a car accident outsdie of Girdwood a couple of weeks ago.

Unbelievable place to visit. I had lunch I think in the cafe mentioned right behind the service station on the acess road going up to Alyeska.
post #7 of 10
Go in mid February around Presidents Day weekend. Fur Rondy is in full swing. Dog Races, Fireworks, Auto races, snow shoe softball, Parties, etc. Hopefully they have a good winter. It's been pretty sketchy that past few years. They got snow a few days ago. Alyeska has some great terrain. South Face and Max's Mtn will challenge you. It can get very cold but it makes for good snow.
post #8 of 10
Good decision to go late February to early March. That's a GREAT time to experience winter out there. Cold, but not awful. LOTS of daylight. Usually a good bit of snow, and it's a typical time for a second wave of storms to come through. All in all it's the best time to visit the area for winter.
post #9 of 10
A couple of years ago when I was there late in the season they did not change their hours of operation even though the daylight had changed. We went nuts after a huge dump when we had to wait until 10:30 for the lifts to open.
post #10 of 10
Bring your boots, demo skis from World Cup. That way you won't miss with equipment. It can change day to day. Usually we consider powder anything that doesn't raise a bruise when it falls. In other words, the snow can get kinda heavy at this elevation.

The hill is what I'd call a mid-sized mountain. It seems smaller if you want beginner and intermediate terrain. Hours are fairly short, but after avalanche work and waiting for the sun to come out, a 10:30 start isn't all that bad. Catch the tram early if you want to get to the top for near-first tracks. Chair 4 is painfully slow for a quad. Lines are extremely short on weekdays, so you'll burn you legs out easily if that's what you're looking for.

The North Face and Christmas/New Year Chutes are fun, but make your way around to the High Traverse and Max's (if it's open) for more steep fun that the boarders usually skip. The main part of the upper mountain is open bowl skiing, so flat light days can be... interesting. Hug the treeline along South Edge when the fog drops in and do laps on Chair 4 or the Tram. The middle section of the mountain is a choke point, with everyone converging to two main routes.

For fine dining, The Double Musky is the best place in town. For pizza, I prefer Coast Pizza near the highway. For mid-range food and granola music, Maxine's (nee Max's) is a good option. For apres-ski beers and burgers, hit the Sitzmark. For breakfast, the Bake Shop (in the same building as the Sitzmark) is the place to be.

Keep in mind that Alyeska isn't really a destination resort. Alaska is the destination, Alyeska just happens to be here. A day with CPG heliskiing wouldn't be bad if you have the skills. Make sure to plan time to see the sights so you don't miss out on the real experience.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Resorts, Conditions & Travel
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Alyeska ski resort Girdwood Alaska