The line I’ve heard most often from people in the outdoors industry this year is “You Alaskans are hogging all the snow!”
And yes, yes we are.
“Let us have some!” they say. We’re not about to give it away, but I tell them that we’re happy to share, just come on up and ski! There’s plenty of snow to go around this year.
Last week I attended the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City, Utah, including the on-snow demo day at a local resort there. Riding up the lift to see exposed dirt, rocks, and nothing but ice on piste made me long to turn straight around and get back on a plane to Alaska, where the snow is soft and so deep that the public got a chance to ski never-before-opened terrain on Max’s Mountain last weekend (an opening I missed, because I was in Utah. Sometimes, you just miss out).
But I didn’t miss out yesterday when I met up with an old friend to ski the 17” of powder for a while. There was no way I was going to miss a powder day after skiing on ice in Utah and then staying inside at the trade show for three days. Work and unpacking and housecleaning can wait! The temperatures have warmed since I’ve been gone and I struggled with figuring out what to wear, casting aside the three down layers I’d been wearing when the temps were below zero and strangely choosing to wear a balaclava for the first time this year.
I wasn’t the only one making time to take advantage of the powder. I rode the lift with another woman who said she had tossed her kids off at school and driven down from Eagle River to ski all day. “It’s not that common for women with families to take time to do that,” I told her.
“I don’t have a problem with it.” She replied emphatically, making me crack up. Seriously, ladies, once you get rid of the kids for the day, you really should be down at Alyeska skiing. The crowds are light during the week, and there’s a Women’s Midweek Clinic to take advantage of if lessons are your thing. Isn’t that what school is for? All-day babysitting? I don’t have kids but I do pay property taxes that help pay for schools, so if you’re not using my tax dollars for good by going skiing, I have an issue with that. Get thee to the mountain.
My vague plan of a few warm-up runs was dashed when my friend Mike met me at the top of Chair 6, saying immediately, “North Face? Ragdoll?” And shot off to show me a great powder stash running almost the entire length of the North Face. I pulled my balaclava off immediately; it was far too warm to wear it and the faceshots were more fun without it. Even my fat skis were almost not fat enough for the bottomless snow on the Face. It was so good we did the same thing again. Then we hit the South Face, Kitchen Wall, small stashes I’ve never seen before (or didn’t recognize because of all the powder); the possibilities were endless and so was the powder. Even with the High Traverse closed I didn’t feel like I was missing out. What a winter!
“I’m stoked to be skiing with you!” said Mike, after yet another faceshot-filled run down the Kitchen Wall, making me smile. There’s really not many things better than skiing with an old friend, is there? And skiing with an old friend on a midweek powder day; well, that’s just about as good as it gets.
This truly is the Year of Alaska. Most other places are pretty dire; have you ever seen grass sticking out of the moguls even in a bad year at Alyeska? I haven’t—but that’s what they’re skiing in the lower 48. If you ever wanted to ski in Alaska, this is the time. Come on up!