Anyone who’s been to Alyeska knows there is no shortage of great runs to enjoy. So when tasked to choose my own favorites, the decisions were not easy. No matter the route, it’s like choosing your own adventure every time you walk out of the tram or get off the top of Glacier Bowl Express or make the hike to the top of headwall.
So, while picking a favorite run is difficult, there are quite a few that I find delectable and irresistible at my mountain here in Girdwood. Here is my top five list.
5. Lolo’s: Coming in at No. 5 is a good one for those stormy days with low visibility that we seem to get from time to time. Lolo’s is a steep and technical run that changes dramatically throughout the year. Cliff bands that were almost unsendable in December have been transformed to minor rollovers come March, given the amount of snow. This run on a stormy day can transform stalky pine trees into pillows and provides soft landings for a drop or two. With many options through this short, steep shot the only thing you’re limited by is your creativity and nerve.
4. Chilkoot Knoll: Sometimes you need to earn your turns even in-bounds. No. 4 is a great little pitch that will not only put a smile on your face but also gives you some bonus exercise for the day. Chilkoot Knoll takes most people about 10 to 15 minutes to hike up; once on top some take a rest while enjoying the view while some click in and get to shredding. Skiing the west-facing aspect will give you a great view of the Turnagain Arm, perfect for updating your profile pic, while skiing the north-facing aspect will insure crisp, cold and fluffy snow. Regardless of what anyone tells you, the best things in life are not free and this one you need to earn with a little hiking.
3. High T: No. 3 can be many things, everything and anything from a feeding frenzy to a desolate highway to paradise. High T is a zone that one must hit over and over again throughout the course of a day because there are so many fun hits and pitches and everyone seems to have their go-to High T plan. Some folks prefer the easy access POW shots of Citation and/or Peel Off while some prefer to traverse all the way out to steep pitches of Lower Shadows. Lower Shadows is my go-to move when the High T gate pops open.
2. Christmas Chute: Ahhhh, Christmas Chute! I believe it was Abe Lincoln (it probably wasn’t Abe Lincoln) who said do something every day that scares you. Nothing will add some pucker to your cheeks like a run through Christmas Chute. This 2,500 vertical foot double-black-diamond starts out narrow and stays narrow all the way through the chock until it aprons out into the lower North Face. Once people make it to this point hoots and hollers of pure excitement and ecstasy are shouted while making high- speed turns out. Those looking to add even more excitement to their day can traverse left out of the chute and hit Facet for some even steeper turns. When you’re at the bottom don’t forget to look back at what you just did. This run should be avoided by beginner-intermediate skiers and riders, and those with commitment issues.
1. North Face: The North Face isn’t technically a run, it’s a zone and it lands as No. 1 on the list because it offers so much great skiing and riding. Yes it’s steep, technical in spots and it can be scary, so make sure you have the skills needed before you enter but it also has wide-open areas perfect for fine tuning your POW turns. The North Face is something that skiers and riders crave after a big snow event. Everything from Ragdoll to Knuckles and Tram Pocket to West Line is great skiing and some days it’s tram laps all day! Whether it’s a bluebird day and you want to challenge yourself on the steep face of Pandora or a low visibility day and the trees of Spider Bite are on the menu the North Face is a zone on the top of most people’s list.