Alyeska

Alyeska

Overall Rating

Alyeska

Alyeska3.5/57
Alyeska3.5 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
  • Recommend
    86%
  • Would Revisit
    71%

Alyeska - Reviews

Alyeska - Reviews

Alyeska local Expert Snowboarder

Evan
09/10/2021
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Month Visited:
    March
  • Admin Rating
    3

Alyeska local Expert Snowboarder

Evan
09/10/2021
This is a great place for those who like it steep and deep. Although the resort lacks a lot of the luxuries, if you're about riding challenging lines, and not much else, this place is great. The learning area is small, with only good but limited intermediate terrain. Its really all about the North Face and Headwall areas for advanced riders. See our video here

Beware of the Weather

Black Pearl
21/11/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    5

Beware of the Weather

Black Pearl
21/11/2017
We went to Alyeska in February of 2016 for 4 days, and had a great time, but...

No one is mentioning the impact of warming temps over the last decade or two. When we were there, there was GREEN GRASS growing around the main hotel lodge in late February. 3 of the days we were there the rain-snow line was just below the top tram station. The highest chair had rain at the loading station, and snow at the unload station. So you got soaked, then freeze dried on the way up, ski down, repeat. We made it until midday and then hit the bar.

Inside the lodge there are pictures of massive amounts of snow around the lodge area, in classic black and white photos lining the hallways, taken 20+ years ago. Workers agree that temps have warmed, rain at the base is normal, and the skiing is being forced higher up the mountain as a result (or to heli-skiing which can go to much higher elevations than Mt Alyeska can offer). I would never travel to just just ski Alyeska. Think of it as a one day warm-up or back-up for a couple days of heli-skiiing, which was our plan.

Hotel Alyeska was built by the Japanese in 1994 and is beautiful, and is the location of the bottom of the tram.

The bottom of the main runs goes to the small town of Girdwood,
which is a mile or two around the base of the mountain, from the Hotel.

We skied day one. Heli on Day Two was cancelled due to weather. They cancel Heliskiing at Chugach Heliski about 65% to 75% of most days due to weather (usually storming up top, raining in the village). So you need to book the heli for early in a multiday trip, and hope/wait that the weather is OK to get the helis flying. We waited 3 days, were on the ever-growing waitlist, and finally got to heliski on our last day. It was awesome because it was sunny, and the mountains had not been skied on in over a week. Snow consistency was soft cream cheese. Lots of windblown powder that loses it "flakiness" and resembles small "bb's" in size. Totally fun, but nothing like blower pow or light fluffy stuff.

If you go to Alyeska:

1 - Book a heli day or two early in the trip (Day 1 and 2).
2 - Use the resort as a back-up activity, be prepared to ski in rain.
3 - Look into, and have backcountry snowmobiling as another back-up activity. We drove 2.5 hrs one way to meet a guide with machines, it was totally worth it and awesome and a great way to fill a heli-cancelled day.
4 - lots of great hiking all around, but if the heli is cancelled, its usually because its grey and raining at sea-level, so be prepared to hike in the rain.
5 - Anchorage is an easy 40 minute drive, its a lot like Denver with malls, chain stores, movie theaters, etc.

If I go back to Alaska, I will look into heli operations at higher elevations in the interior of the state, in order to get away from the now normal rain at sea-level in Girdwood. See our video here

Good Warm Up for Alaska Heli Skiing

20/06/2017

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  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    March
  • Admin Rating
    5

Good Warm Up for Alaska Heli Skiing

20/06/2017
The groomers were still in good condition
You know it's Alaska when you see a moose on the Main Street
Conservation center: he'd just woken up
Baby bear
Beautiful twilight views
If I lived in Anchorage (or Girdwood) I’d be pretty happy with Alyeska as my local ski hill, but I don’t think I’d make the pilgrimage to go to Alyeska unless I was also in AK to go heli skiing.

Alyeska has some great strengths and also some limitations, some of which are outlined on the Alyeska Resort overview page. Also see our USA ski resort ratings to see how Alyeska compares to other resorts.

We visited during spring break and it hadn’t snowed in about 3.5 weeks. The groomers were in very good condition considering this, but not surprisingly, most of the good slopes were closed and we kept the off-piste skiing to a minimum. The twilight skiing and the views it afforded were a highlight.

The slopes weren’t particularly busy, but the holiday crowd was much more obvious at the hotel. The hot tub and pool were a debacle, and with only two very small evening restaurants (for a 300 plus room hotel), there were very long waits for dinner. Later in the week the hotel finally decided to open the Pond Restaurant for dinner which relieved a bit of the problem. The cost of the hotel stay was reasonable, but the evening dining was rather expensive and the Aurora Bar and Grill didn’t provide good value for money. There are a handful of other restaurants in town, but only one option for inexpensive casual dining.

For those staying in self-contained condos with a kitchen, Alyeska could be an inexpensive trip. See our video here

Aly "yes" ka

David
25/01/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Admin Rating
    3

Aly "yes" ka

David
25/01/2015
Top notch skiing without the burdens of waking up early, altitude, expensive lift tickets and crowds. Also amazing views of the ocean, WHILE SKIING! What else could you ask for???? I'm sorry to anyone who would prefer that these details remain a secret. You have to get to this place and experience it for yourself.

One con and that is that the light is extremely flat so wear your super low light goggles. The sun kind of checks in on things late in the day then promptly goes back into hiding once it sees that everything is OK at the resort. See our video here

Solid but Overpriced

18/02/2014

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  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Telemarker
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Admin Rating
    3

Solid but Overpriced

18/02/2014
Alyeska is a solid resort for expert skiers and snowboarders although due to the size of the resort, freshies disappear quickly. It wouldn't warrant being on your destination list unless you were going to Alaska for heli skiing or other backcountry skiing.

Alaska generally provides good value for money but the hotel is incredibly over-priced for what you get.

For more information see our full ski resorts ratings to see how Alyeska compares to other ski resorts around the world. See our video here

Seriously under-rated by Powder Hounds

Shae Richardson, CA
31/05/2013
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Telemarker
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Admin Rating
    2

Seriously under-rated by Powder Hounds

Shae Richardson, CA
31/05/2013
Absolutely loved the snow, the people, the new lifts, the awesome music at night -- and my God, have you skied lately under insanely gorgeous dancing northern lights???

What an enchanting, incredible, lovely resort and ski experience. Not for the faint of heart! I loved it! See our video here

Steep and snowy, but small - Perfect warm up for the Alaskan Backcountry

Method
17/06/2012
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Admin Rating
    4

Steep and snowy, but small - Perfect warm up for the Alaskan Backcountry

Method
17/06/2012
Alyeska is quite the pleasant discovery and essentially the only major lift served ski area in Alaska. The best reason to visit Alyeska is to combine it with some backcountry touring in the Chugach, either leg-powered or if your wallet permits, via helicopter. I wasn’t really expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised by what Alyeska had to offer. Alyeska seems to get fairly epic snowfalls (it certainly did in 2011/2012!), visiting in the dead of winter means arctic weather and short days. The beginning of March is still powder season and the days are already getting long again, so is the best time to visit. The crowds mid-week were non-existent, although I can imagine a powder day on a weekend would mean it would get quite crowded, given the proximity to Anchorage. Lift tickets were good value, around the $55USD mark from memory.

Access is really easy, we stayed in downtown Anchorage and it’s a stunningly scenic 45 minute drive to pretty Girdwood (small village at the base of Alyeska) south-ish along the Seward highway, with “ooh/aah” spectacular views of the Turnagain Arm (make sure you take a camera). You could stay at the Hotel Alyeska (ski in/out), there looked to be a range of other accommodation in Girdwood, but with Anchorage so close and Girdwood being a bit of a one-horse town I wouldn’t really bother. It’s a flat drive all the way (albeit ringed by the massive peaks of the Chugach!) and even if it’s dumped, road access wouldn’t be difficult. If you’re just coming for the day, park on the day lodge side rather than the Hotel Alyeska side as the latter involves catching an infrequent bus (or a 10 min walk) to/from your car. There’s one tram (from the base on the Hotel Alyeska side) otherwise the lifts can be a little slow.

The views on a nice day back towards the Turnagain Arm are probably more impressive than some of the South Island of New Zealand snow views, and that is saying something!

The Terrain is small relative to other North American resorts, but otherwise quite impressive in pitch. Vertical is around 700 metres and there’s definitely some awesome, though short, options.

Number one on your hit list should be the headwall. It’s a short, but brutal bootpack up to the aforementioned stunning views. The bootpack definitely will sort the sheep from the goats and is your best chance of some steep and deep untracked. You’ll most likely need a beacon for the headwall (enforced by ski patrol). Ski patrol had a tent up on the headwall and were extremely helpful with tips on the best lines (it’s easily scope-able from below, not so much from the top – get too aggressive and you will be looking at “mandatory air”). Off the back of the headwall (looking south towards “Little League” and “Big League”), you will get an idea of the unbelievable backcountry options, which are virtually limitless. The usual cautions apply (brain, beacon, shovel and probe required). Virtually all the touring requires good weather as the tree line in Alaska is, unsurprisingly, quite low.

“Shadows”, to the skiers left of the headwall looked equally awesome, but is totally off limits – 2012 was an epic year for snow, so maybe it’s normally just too “rocky” (or “slide-y”!). The terrain to the right of Alyeska Peak itself is also absolutely epic, but again, totally off-limits, real Jeremy Jones stuff. It’s probably 60 degrees (beautiful spines!) at the top and heavily corniced. I saw evidence of a slide (size 2-2.5 on the Canadian scale i.e. will bury you good!) in the glacier bowl below Alyeska peak.

From the bottom of the headwall, you can traverse around the skiers left of the resort to Max’s and what looked like some nice tree runs. Skiers will be fine traversing over there, but I didn’t do it, as it looked an annoyingly flat clip/unclip/slippery traverse option for boarders.

The other good options are on the North Face (skiers right on the resort), Xmas and New Years are awesome runs, like you’d expect to see in Jackson Hole, but are narrow chutes so get tracked and icy fairly quickly. Look for a traverse exit skiers right off New Years and this takes you over to Ruben’s Shoulder and Chump Change, which open up into a mellow powder bowl.

Should the weather preclude getting above the tree line, there’s a quite respectable park and well maintained half-pipe too.

In summary, Alyeska is proof that epic options can come in small packages and is well worth a 2 day visit to warm-up (rather than as a destination itself) before hitting the all-time, epic, “insane-in-the-membrane” Alaskan backcountry. See our video here