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Most Of Alaska's Ski And Snowboard Resorts Collect Near Anchorage

AK-Alyeska-Cover The mountains above Anchorage have plenty of steep terrain, especially the North Face at Alyeska. (Image via Alyeska Resort Facebook)

The state's largest city, Anchorage is home to half the state's population, and many of hem ski and ride at a quartet of mountain resorts within an hour's drive.

The big gun in Alaska is Alyeska Ski Resort (1,600 a., 2,500 vert.), the state's biggest and a 50-minute drive from Anchorage. It gets plenty of snow (1,000 inches in 1998-99), which tends to be heavy.

Not much for easy terrain (11%), as upper mountain grabs the attention. Two high-speeds and a tram deliver to three bowls. North Face off the tram and Glacier high-speed is renowned for steep, long runs -- to some, the longest steeps in North America.

On the other side, the lengthy High Traverse off Glacier Express opens into Upper Bowl's wide-open steeps. Keep going onto Max's Traverse and the gnarly double-diamonds drop through sparse trees. Plenty of short drops on the lower sections, too.

Lifts generally open around 10 a.m., and tram, quad and base lifts run until 8 p.m. There's tons of hike-to terrain, including a long hump up to the summit of Alyeska Peak (3,939 ft.) and along the ridge to the nefarious Headwall.

Alyeska just went on as an Ikon Pass seven-day partner. The hotel at the bottom offers classic high-mountain lodging and dining.

About 30 minutes drive from Anchorage is nonprofit Artic Valley (320 a., 1,500 vert.), the oldest operating ski hill in the state and run by Anchorage Ski Club. Open on weekends only, Artic Valley has a pair of 40-year-old double chairs, but the star is a 2,800-foot retractable cable T-bar that handles the front side.

Terrain is wide open, not a tree to be seen. Most of the pitch leans to novice-intermediate grade, but steeps are tucked away under Rendezvous Peak (4,068). Tickets are cheap, facilities basic at this local hill. Closing times extend as late at 7:30 p.m. as the season goes on.

Hilltop Ski Area (30 a., 294 vert.) qualifies as Anchorage's genuine local hill. Perched above the suburban Hillside East neighborhood, it's got a triple chair for the main runs and a long platter for the extensive terrain park. A couple of black runs intermingle with greens and blues.

With snowmaking and lighting all over the hill -- and even RFID ticketing -- Hilltop is open until 8 p.m. except on Sunday. There's competitive ski jumps next door.

And finally Sheetawk (30a., 300 vert.), an hour's drive from Anchorage at Hatcher Pass. Open in 2020 by a local nonprofit, what the native Dena'ina call "the place we slide down" has a triple chair for the whole hill. Big plans for future would extend to summit of Government Peak (4,068) for a 2,600 vertical drop. 

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