Alaska provides some of the most stunning and unique skiing experiences in the world. With its vast, untouched landscapes, the possibilities for backcountry skiing adventures are seemingly endless. Whether you’re an experienced backcountry skier looking for a thrilling challenge or a beginner looking to take your first backcountry ski trip, Alaska is the perfect place to explore the incredible beauty of the backcountry. Here, we’ll discuss the types of backcountry skiing opportunities in Alaska, the top regions to explore, and safety considerations when skiing in the backcountry.
Types of Backcountry Skiing in Alaska
Due to the abundance of untracked terrain, there are a variety of backcountry skiing experiences available in Alaska.
Here are a few of the most popular types of backcountry skiing in Alaska:
Heli-skiing is a type of backcountry skiing where skiers are dropped off in remote areas via helicopter that can’t be accessed by any other means. This type of skiing provides access to some of the most untouched and often steepest terrain in Alaska. It’s a great way to explore remote areas and experience the thrill of skiing off-piste.
Hut-Based Ski Trips
For those who want to experience backcountry skiing in a more organized and semi-structured environment, hut-based ski trips offer the perfect balance between adventure and comfort. On a hut-based ski trip, skiers have access to pre-arranged lodging and meals as well as guided ski tours and other amenities to make their ski trip as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
For those who want to get off the beaten path, backcountry bootpacking is an excellent option for exploring remote areas on foot and finding untouched powder stashes. The difficulty level can range from moderate to challenging depending on the terrain and elevation gain.
For those who want to enjoy the benefits of backcountry skiing without the strenuous effort of bootpacking or heli-skiing, snowcat skiing is a great option. Snowcat skiing allows skiers to access remote areas of the backcountry via a tracked snow vehicle, providing access to untracked terrain without having to climb hills or hike long distances.
Popular Regions for Backcountry Skiing in Alaska
Alaska has no shortage of amazing ski destinations!
Here are a few of the most popular regions for backcountry skiing in Alaska:
The Chugach Range is located just outside of Anchorage and offers some of the best skiing in Alaska. It’s home to numerous glaciers and steep mountain faces that provide ample opportunities for experienced backcountry skiers looking for a challenge.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
This national park offers some of the best ski terrain in all of Alaska and is a paradise for backcountry skiers looking for untouched peaks and powder stashes. With over 13 million acres of protected wilderness, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park provides an immense playground for adventure seekers looking to explore the backcountry.
The Tordrillo Mountains are located just outside of Anchorage and provide access to numerous glaciers and vast mountain terrain that are perfect for both beginner and experienced backcountry skiers alike. The mountains offer incredible views of both Mount McKinley and Denali National Park and provide endless opportunities for exploration and adventure.
The Alaska Range is home to some of the best ski terrain in all of Alaska and is an ideal destination for those looking to explore their adventurous side in the backcountry. The range is home to an abundance of glaciers, steep couloirs, and untouched powder stashes that make it one of the best backcountry ski destinations in the state.
Planning a backcountry ski trip in Alaska?
When planning a backcountry ski trip, it’s important to be prepared for a variety of weather conditions. Be sure to check the snow and weather conditions before heading out and dress appropriately for the conditions. Additionally, it’s a good idea to practice skinsuit and rappelling techniques before embarking on a backcountry ski trip, especially if you are an inexperienced skier.
Additionally, it’s important to be aware of the regulations and restrictions in place in each area you plan to visit. Make sure you are familiar with the rules and regulations in each region, as some areas may have restrictions on motorized vehicles, campsites, and other activities.
It’s also very important to be aware of the wildlife that may be in the area. Make sure you are familiar with the local wildlife and know how to safely interact with them. You should carry a bear spray and bear bells with you in case of an emergency.
When backcountry skiing in Alaska, safety should always be your top priority.
Read this if you are planning to go backcountry skiing on your own.
Considerations to keep in mind when planning a backcountry ski trip in Alaska:
Avalanche Awareness: The risk of avalanches is always present when skiing in the backcountry, so it’s important to have an understanding of avalanche safety before heading out. Make sure you’re familiar with avalanche safety and know the signs of an avalanche. Additionally, it’s a good idea to carry a transceiver, shovel, and probe when skiing in the backcountry in case of an emergency.
Navigation and Route Planning: It’s also important to have a good understanding of navigation and route planning when skiing in the backcountry. Make sure you know how to read a map and compass and understand route planning before heading out on your trip. Additionally, it’s a good idea to carry a GPS device with you in case you get lost or need help.
Backcountry skiing in Alaska is an incredible way to experience the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness. With its vast landscapes, there are endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. Whether you’re an experienced backcountry skier or a beginner just starting out, there are plenty of types of backcountry skiing experiences available in Alaska, from heli-skiing to hut-based ski trips. Make sure you’re familiar with avalanche safety and navigation before heading out and you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience in the backcountry.