Arctic Valley

Alaskan FreeMo

Arctic Valley is a small ski area on the north side of Anchorage. After a few days of stormy weather, Ben and I headed up for an afternoon tour in the backcountry adjacent to the ski area.

As the days get longer, the ski area starts operating on Thursday and Friday afternoons. We watched some folks get first tracks on the T-Bar and it looked awesome!

Maybe we should have gotten a lift ticket…

The backcountry here is very open, mellow, and beginner friendly. The entire frontside is just open moderate slopes.

A beginning backcountry skiing mecca.

We cruised up to the summit of Gordon Lyon, the highest peak in the area. Our plan was to poke onto the NW face of Gordon Lyon, which is a legitimately big, steep face. Winds were transporting snow off this side onto the east side pretty strongly, so it seemed safe, although maybe variable.

The Hiland neighborhood. There are homes up this valley… bizarre.
Ben dropping off the top of Gordon Lyon.

The snow was undeniably funky. In places there was a few inches of fresh powder, but the surface underneath was sometimes breakable crust that would grab our tails. It was not terrible, but pretty inconsistent.

It looks better than it is.

It was a pretty long run, taking us all the way down to about 2500 ft in a broad valley. From here, we climbed back towards the NIKE missile station on William Barrett. Even with the fresh snow, we encountered incredibly challenging skinning once again. Eventually, I was forced to skin the bare rocks and grass because at least there I could get traction.

Better than slipping on ice.

Clouds were moving in as we crested the ridge back into Arctic Valley. We skied down mellow southerly slopes that had better snow.

Not bad.

Near the bottom, Ben found a natural wind lip that he really liked, so he did a brief “skimo session”, trying to land a backflip on his skimo gear. I would not say he came that close, but it was pretty hilarious to watch!

Alaskan FreeMo!

On our final run out, he landed a 360 first try, so I guess Ben does win the Alaskan FreeMo (Freeride-Skimo) competition!

Arctic Valley is a fun spot close to Anchorage with a bunch of great mellow slopes to ski, along with some bigger faces on the backside. Keep working on the backflips, Ben!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *