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Girdwood, Alaska

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Has anybody ever been to Girdwood?

I have a friend who grew up there and we were talking about heli-skiing and how much it is and she mentioned that the in-bounds and out-of-bounds terrain at GW would be similar to heli-skiing, just not as much vertical and a little more crowded. Basically she was saying if you wanted to experience Alaska and you aren't sponsored by a ski company or aren't a millionaire who can afford upwards of $1000 a day for heli-skiing, then this would be a cheaper alternative.

I know Tyrone Shoelaces has been there (seen the pix on the PMGear site).

Anybody else?
post #2 of 22
Dookie --

Those pics on the PMGear site you saw were taken while flying with Chugach Powder Guides (www.chugachpowderguides.com) out of Girdwood, AK. Last year I made a trip to Girdwood and combined 5 days of heli-skiing with CPG, a resort day or two at Alyeska in Girdwood, and then 2 days of backcountry skiing at Tournagain Pass which is an 45 minutes or so up the road from Girdwood.

Here is the TR with lots of photos from the hightlights:
post #3 of 22
Been there, Done that and got the T-shirt. Skied Alyaska, got to the base lodge and there was 4" at the base and 18" at the top. it has been 10 over 10 years but I will be going back. We eat at 'Chair 5' in Girwood. We also skied Alpenglow where the Military trains skiers. I did spend a day up at Hatchers Pass cat skiing with Glacier Snowcat Tours too.
post #4 of 22


two things:

If the snow is good alyeska can be great. Good powder, cheap skiing, layed back atmosphere, beautiful. You amy even catch some northern lights.

Alyeska is great and very steep. Check out this article by ski magazine on alyeska's north face

If you had a car and are willing to get into the backcountry you can find excellent skking, There are always lots of poeple and alaksans are known for their hospitality and willing to show others around

look into turnagain pass
hatcher pass, just north of anchorage.

Next, step up would be several snowcat tours -
out of alyeska
or hatcher pass
Snow Cat skiing (call 907-346-1276 for more information)

enjoy, well worth the trip.
post #5 of 22
I scored three weeks up there back in '01. flew iwth CPG, cat skied, alyeska, etc. yes helis are expensive, but that's not all that place is famous for. Seward Highway, that runs from Girdwood south to Homer on the point of the Kenai penninsula is something like 150-200 miles long. Along it, peaks stretch right up from the road. It has to be the best road-side skiing in the world. I just can't imagine easier, more convenient, sicker lines than those. Just park your car, skin up as high as you want (up to 4K vert) and lap back to your car. In my three weeks, I only had about 5 sunny days. i spent most my time skinning off the road. I wanted to move there just for that!
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
right on, thanks for the tips, pointers, and feedback.

T'Laces: thanks for the link to the TGR piece. Sweet picks. Now I'm jonesing for some of those long, rolling runs (not too fond of the gnarl in my "old" age).

Samurai, out of curiosity, where do you ski in Japan? Also, what do you do over there (teach English?). I have to dig up this old copy of Ski that had a sweet feature on skiing in Japan (same issue they also went to either Bulgaria or Romania, one of the old Eastern Block/Iron Curtain/Eastern Europe--my geography could be really off, too--countries that has mediocre skiing but for dirt cheap and a wonderful travel experience).

I caught the Northern Lights in Reykjavik, Iceland last October...must say they're a trip. The Icelanders were pretty nonchalant about them and I almost missed 'em except for the local behind me who pointed out the shimmering green hue hovering in the night sky (we were waiting in line to see this Icelandic reggae band at a local club).
post #7 of 22
Dookey, I am based out of Yamagata, northern part of the main island. I hold a pass at Zao and take trips to nagano which is south of me. and yes, like 95% of foreigners in japan, I teach english at a private highschool. you mentioned a mediocre skiing in japan for dirt cheap. well most the resorts are mediocre, some are huge. And dirt ain't cheap here, but the pow can be affordable. here is some more info (scroll down the thread for the pictures)

good luck iwth AK
post #8 of 22
In a word WOW! I drove past Girdwood on the way to Kenai a couple of years ago and was blown away with the scenery. What you guys did was awesome and has to be a very memorable experience. Not too many places like Alaska left on planet Earth.
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 

Actually the SKI issue talked about mediocre skiing in Bulgaria/Eastern Europe, not Japan.

The resort they went to in Japan had hot spring geisha houses on the mountain that served green tea and fresh sushi.

post #10 of 22
geisha houses are usually pretty exclusive. people usually can't just go, you have to be invited, and it is common practice to decline your first invitation. A place in Kyoto (japan's oldest city/ famous for geisha houses) opened last year to taking reservations for tourists, but even then was thousands of dollars per head and booked several months in advance. usually when I go to kyoto, I make it a point to go to the geisha district just to catch a glimpse of an actual geisha/maiko (maiko is a geisha in training) They often walk to work in uniform. Never heard of a ski resort with geisha houses. green tea and sushi of course, that's standard. You can buy sushi at 7/11. but geisha houses are for the elite-class and they hope to remain that way. A geisha house is something Prince Charles would get invited to, then must show the modesty to decline his first invitation only hoping that the invitation would come up again. if he is in-fact worthy, he will receive a second invitation at a much later date. This is the tradition regarding geisha houses and although those traditions are fading, the japanese are very serious about keeping their traditions traditional. Although I would love to go, I don't think my japanese wife would even consider me worthy.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

I was using the term loosely. and that must suck to have a wife that doesn't find you worthy.

i'll dredge up that article (maybe they were just tea girls?)
post #12 of 22
yeah, maybe tea girls, maybe girls just dressed in kimonos, acting like geisha. maybe they were geisha!: It wouldn't be the first time I was wrong about something in japan. As far as my wife is concerned; I'll ask her when she gets back from her massage study course in thailand. when she has me all relaxed from her magical hands, she'll most likely tell me I am in fact not worthy of such endeavours. then she'll pat me on the back and tell me "maybe next year." : which of course will be a lie. but I won't care as i'll be half-melted to the floor.
god bless massages and sake after skiing pow.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
found the article.

"Hokaido Dreaming" from the March/April 2000 issue of SKI

the resort they visited was Niseko.

the skiers got stormed out and skied to an onsen (hot springs). given that i'm a writer, i slightly embellished the bits about sushi and geisha/tea girls (granted i haven't read the article in six years, so i created a bit of myth around it, most likely an attempt to convince some of my buddies to make the trip out East. That said, I tend to live by the credo set forth by the fictionalized depiction of Chaucer by Paul Bettany in A Knight's Tale whereby he proclaims that it's a writer's job to embellish the truth for the sake of a good story!)

oh yeah, the Eastern Block country with the mediocre, but incredibly cheap skiing was Slovakia ("Beauty and the Bleak" from the same issue).
post #14 of 22
embellish away...
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
so, have you ridden at Niseko and partaken in the glorious warmth of the onsen?
post #16 of 22
Been to Girdwood twice during the fall and spring, not to ski but to just enjoy the area.

Ate at Chair 5, excellent food and great old time ski bum atmosphere, loved it.

Girdwood has one of the best radio stations I have ever heard. I tried to find it on the internet but failed.
If anyone has a link to the Girdwood radio station, please post it.
post #17 of 22
Girdwood, wha..? Oh yeah, this thread WAS about Alaska. Way to hijack your own thread, dookey!
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
blame it on Samurai and his massuese wife and the mystical allure of the geisha!
post #19 of 22
I grew up skiing at Alyeska & to a lessor extent at Alpenglow over on Ft. Rich. There are tons of BC skiing options. As teenagers, we used to hike into Hatchers Pass, and hike up the slopes around Flat Top at the Glen Alps trailhead on upper O'malley too. Great touring around Turnagain Pass as well. I understand that Alyeska is looking to really expand it's terain. The Japanese investors that owned the Prince Hotel sold it last week and I also hear that Alyeska Resort is also on the block. It would be nice to see some money put into Alyeska and add some new terrain and BC like skiing experiences. It really comes down to getting such a far away place on the map for vacation skiers and getting folks from the lower 48 to come up and experience it.
post #20 of 22
Actually, the whole resort was sold as a package - hotel, ski resort, golf course in Anchorage, and it transferred a few days ago.

The hotel was immediately renamed from The Alyeska Prince to The Hotel Alyeska (so now it's the hotel formerly known as Prince, ha ha).

The guy who bought the resort is some investor from Utah who supposedly skis 100+ days per year.

The long-time locals seem real excited about the sale & think this guy will do good things for Girdwood & the resort. I've only been up here a year and a half, so I have no opinion, but I hope for only good things, since I am a season passholder!

post #21 of 22

small article about the sale of alyeska

ktva television

Alyeska Resort sale finalized
Associated Press
Article Last Updated:12/03/2006 11:34:07 PM AKST

A company headed by a Utah real estate financier and ski enthusiast has finalized the purchase of the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood. John Byrne the Third says he intends to play an major role in developing the resort. The resort includes a ski area on Mount Alyeska, and a large hotel called the Alyeska Prince, whose name is being changed to the Hotel Alyeska. Byrne says he wants to make the resort more family friendly. Byrne, who lives in Alta, Utah, also says he wants to improve snow-making as well as the resort's day-skier amenities.
Seibu Holdings is the Japanese company that has owned Alyeska since 1980. Last summer it put the Alyeska property up for sale as part of a large sell-off of its resort holdings. Byrne is the principal owner and president of Cirque Property, a privately owned real estate investment company based in Utah.
post #22 of 22
Well I may just have to get back up there if they start making improvements to the resort.
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