No matter the snow conditions,
November beckons winter sports enthusiasts
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to live in Alaska if you don’t like snow. True, most of us are about ready to see the snow gone in April, when our minds are turning to summer recreation, but this time of year, snow fever is alive and well, as it should be.
November is when, most years, it is safe to assume there is enough snow on the ground to at least slip and fall – and if we are lucky, there is enough accumulated that groomers can turn the white stuff into smooth skiable trails for Nordic and Alpine skiers who are just waiting to hit the trails and slopes.
Alyeska opens its slopes for the season in late November and will be hosting gearing-up-for-the-opening soirees and concerts all month leading up to the big day. Consider buying season passes – it’s a great way to take advantage of special offers and be able to hit the slopes the second a big-powder day arrives. See Page 11 for more on that in our monthly White Pages column, where Alyeska’s Ben Napolitano will keep us in the know on the latest at Alyeska each month.
Closer to Anchorage proper, there are plenty of skiing opportunities as well. Here is a town where people can literally commute to work on skis, briefcase on back, poles in hand. The 80-plus miles of groomed trails in Anchorage and beyond are enough to turn ever the even the most novice of skier into a true connoisseur of the sport. The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage begins a new season with trail grooming, ski lessons, junior Nordic programs and more. The race season begins this month, too, with the Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking-sponsored AMH Cup race series. That, along with the Besh Cup series, Tour of Anchorage and other community races throughout the winter, will make for some good times on skis. See Page 8 for more details.
And if tricks and snowboarding is your thing, look no further than Hilltop Ski Area, Anchorage’s most convenient downhill ski area smack in the middle of town. If you can’t make the daily trek to Girdwood, hit the slopes at Hilltop and practice your skills while still getting home in time for dinner. See Page 8 for more.
The opportunities don’t end there, though. The great thing about skiing in Alaska is that the possibilities are limitless. From my house in Chugiak, I can leave my driveway on skis, wander into the woods at the end of our road and ski for several kilometers on old snowmachine trails that somehow stay put year after year. Like folks in Anchorage, who can walk out their doors and literally be on a groomed ski trail, I am lucky. We Alaskans, in general, are lucky. Take off for the nearest hill and enter a winter snowscape that beckons those brave enough to go off trail (fully equipped with the proper gear, mind you; always be alert for signs of avalanche danger). We live in such a big, wide-open place, with so much wilderness surrounding us, there really are no excuses for not getting outside.
As November brings with it more snow, shorter days and longer dark evenings, begin your love affair with the snow anew. Sure, it’s colder out now, but look how beautiful it is too, with the new white snow, unsullied by a winter’s worth of grime, and a season of adventure ahead.