If you’ve watched a ski movie lately, odds are good that you’ve watched some footage from south-central Alaska.
The region is a sort of Shangri-La for big mountain skiers—the Chugach mountains get high energy storms that bring in a heavy snowpack that sticks to impossibly steep slopes. As temps cool, the snow dries out and to assume an explosive, bouncy texture. It forms into spines and wide powder fields that make for thousands of feet of steep, deep, turns.
The quality of the Alaska’s skiing is no secret. But most people don’t know that it can be enjoyed without a helicopter and/or Donald Trump’s vacation budget. With the right beta (which I’m about to give you), you can shred Alaska’s best with little more than a rental car and your regular backcountry touring setup.
First stop: Anchorage
Anchorage sits in the middle of everywhere you want to be; the Chugach, Kenai and Talkeetna mountain ranges. Book a ticket there between February and mid-April. Any earlier and it’ll be getting dark every day before you even get your ski boots on.
If you’re on a budget and want to get your bearings in Anchorage, Base Camp Alaska and Spenard Hostel International are decent options (starting at $30). For a more “meet the locals” experience, I’d recommend looking on AirB&B or VRBO.
Last minute gear can be purchased on pretty much one stretch of road; Spenard. There, you’ll find REI, SkiAK, Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking, and The Hoarding Marmot withing walking distance of one another.