The fireweed has reached the top of its stem and the leaves on the trees are falling to the ground. Along with the temperature dropping and early signs of termination dust on the upper mountain in the morning there is also signs of old man winter approaching on the faces of local skiers. People are getting excited for the up coming ski season. Many people are still reminiscing about steep lines, deep snow and face shots from the 11/12 season. “You should have seen this line I skied,” a local skier told me at the Sitzmark over the weekend, “it hadn’t been skied in years but last season the snow pack was perfect for it.” It’s great to see people’s stoke level go through the roof when they revisit a memory that in reality only lasted a few seconds but has tattooed itself in their mind. It’s reasons like these that people keep returning to the sport.
With an incredible 975″ of snow last year, Alyeska Resort was able to lay claim to one of the most epic winters on record. Lots of skiers in Colorado, California, Utah and Wyoming we jumping on planes and getting to Alaska as fast as they could as the lower 48 suffered one of the driest winters on record. High pressure, split jet streams, and weak storms left many skiers praying for a change in the weather, a storm or even a fresh track. Heli-ski operators in Valdez were buying billboard space and advertising deals to Utahans as they were driving to work in Salt Lake City via I-15. Film crews from MSP, TGR, Warren Miller and well, pretty much every film crew was heading north, booking rooms at The Hotel Alyeska, renting camper vans and calling heli crews to book flight time coming in well over budget for their film projects, but hey, you have to spend money to make money right?
Winter always seems fast approaching but the reality is these shoulder/transitional seasons from mid-September until late-November tend to drag on as anticipation builds. Many local skiers and riders find this time is great for getting the body in shape. Hikes in the rain are not only going to get your legs in shape but can help build balance as you are slipping all over the place in the mud. The cold temperature and damp weather will start to toughen you up so when it gets really cold it wont bother you as much. With shorter days people tend to find themselves inside earlier and earlier, don’t just sit there and watch TV, stretch out, do push-ups, read avalanche safety books and gear reviews. All of these things will help keep your mind occupied while keeping you stoked on what you are about to experience.
All of the boredom of the previous months instantly vanishes with that first chairlift ride of the season. For some, the first turns of the year can feel foreign or a little awkward at first but as soon as the muscle memory comes back and kicks in at the halfway point of your first run it seems as though you’ve never stopped skiing for the summer.
Watching the season progress in a ski town is another very interesting phenomenon. One by one different areas of the mountain open, the snow total climbs upward and everyone is constantly looking at NOAA.gov for any approaching storms. A big storm will come through and dump feet and all of a sudden everyone calls in sick. You can still get a good cup of coffee at the Tramway Cafe though. Sipping it as you make your way to the tram warms you from the inside out as you prepare for your fist run of the day. Good things always happen to you when you’re skiing and it helps to be in the right place at the right time. Every skier has the story of meeting up with a ski patroller as they were about to pop a gate open to some zone that has been closed for a week. Headwall opens and you’re one of the first people on the boot pack or one of the first people out on Max’s Traverse, it’s like it was meant to be for you and your friends on that particular day.
So to recap and reiterate, winter will be here soon enough, until then eat healthy, stay in shape and get ready for another fantastic season of skiing and riding at Alyeska Resort. Make sure to get your Season Pass and 10X Powder Passes by October 31 because the price will jump up on November 1, and through a big smile on your face for the mug shot! You can check this link for a prices that will fit your needs http://www.shopalyeska.com/eStore/Default.aspx