The Western Chugach Mountains are like the land that time forgot. Glaciers loom all around you. 5,000 foot peaks rise directly out of the sea. The ocean’s tide comes crashing into the steep shoreline in a single bore wave. Hundreds upon hundreds of inches of snow smother the jagged landscape. And there dangling off the side of a steep, chiseled, snow choked mountain is the mighty Alyeska resort.
It lacks some of the glitz and glitter that you’ll find in Summit County and Tahoe. What you will find is the greatest riding of your life. Huge weather rolls in off the Pacific and gets trapped by the steep, labyrinth of the Chugach Mountains. This causes heavy snow laden storms to literally park above the resort, and puke down snow like the next ice age is on its way.
The front side of the resort seems like it was designed by a bunch of video game manufacturers rather than resort engineers. Steeps, drops, booters, rollers, the only thing that’s hard to find is wide-open intermediate terrain because there’s hardly any around. This is a shredder’s mountain. The backside of the resort, the infamous North Face is beyond description. From the mythic open steeps of Chuck’s gate, to the puckering narrows of Christmas chute, it’s huge, steep, crazy, and inspiring. After your first run, you’ll wonder why Transworld hasn’t assigned a professional photographer to document your sweetness.
If you want the ultimate freshies keep an eye on the patrollers. When they surreptitiously begin taking positions at the access gates to the North Face, openings are eminent. If you’re up to it, enter Rag Doll gate and shred the knuckles…you’ll never be the same again.
When your legs give out or you’ve lost your nerve, head to the Sitzmark for a “muscle relaxer. If you’re looking for a killer spot just off the tourist lap, head downtown to Maxine’s Glacier City Bistro for a copious tap selection and some bad-ass grub.
In early summer, Alyeska hosts the Borderline Snowboard camp. The top of the mountain is transformed into a massive terrain park, while riders get to rip under the hot sun.
World Cup Sports is a sweet snowboard shop in downtown Girdwood, where you can hook up with new gear or let the experts patch up what you’ve got.
Alyeska is the last resort at the end of the road. Take the New Seward highway south from Anchorage for 37 miles. Turn left on the Alyeska hwy. bringing you into the picturesque town of Girdwood (there’s a large Tesoro gas station at this junction). Head up the road for a few miles until you crash into the resort.