Hilltop opens Saturday, Alyeska opens Wednesday

Beth Bragg

The ski season opens Saturday at Hilltop Ski Area, with Alyeska scheduled to open Wednesday, just in time for Thanksgiving.

Workers at Hilltop are making snow for the Caribou run in preparation for a 9 a.m. Saturday opening, Hilltop CEO Steve Remme said Thursday.

"We still have a little snow- making to complete, but the forecast looks good and we'll make snow for the next 14 hours," Remme said after a mid-afternoon inspection of the South Anchorage ski hill. "There's not enough natural snow."

The Caribou run is the only one expected to be open at first, he said. Regular prices will apply -- $30 for adults and $28 for students for a full day of skiing.

Hilltop will be open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekdays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., with Friday's hours extending to 9 p.m.

In Girdwood, Alyeska will open to the public Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, with a special opening Tuesday for season pass holders from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Amy Quesenberry, Alyeska's marketing manager, said the resort will decide next week which lifts and runs will be open initially. According to Wednesday's snow report, there were nine inches at the base of the mountain, 14 at midway and 17 at the top of Chair 6.

Skiers and snowboarders at Alyeska will find a new high-speed quad chairlift in place of the old Chair 4, which was 20 years old. The new lift, called Ted's Express, shortens the ride time from seven minutes to five.

Skiers and riders will also discover a new traffic pattern at the base of Chair 6, where trails have been widened to improve access, decrease speed and create a safer corridor. Skiers and riders will chose one of two routes when reaching the base of Chair 6 -- one to access the Chair 6 lift line and one to bypass the chair and continue to the lower mountain.

The mountain is closed to all hiking above the base area.

It will be another couple of weeks before Anchorage area's third alpine area opens. Arctic Valley Ski Area just north of town hopes to begin its schedule of weekend-only openings Dec. 8-9, but the area is "wholly dependent on natural snowfall," said general manager John Robinson-Wilson.

"We're hopeful," he added, "but currently don't have much more snow than what has fallen in town."

For the Alyeska snow report, call the hotline at 754-7669 or go to alyeskaresort.com.

For the Hilltop snow report, call 346-2167.

For the Arctic Valley snow report, call 428-1208.


Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.