After loads of snow fell in Anchorage early last month, skiers and snowboarders in Southcentral were shivering in anticipation.
While rain and warmer temperatures have caused some of that snow to melt, local ski mountains are still preparing to welcome enthusiasts to the slopes.
In Anchorage at Hilltop Ski Area, General Manager Trevor Bird said the early snow in November was great for the base but warm temperatures made it difficult to make snow. But over the last 10 days, temperatures have lowered and the facility is opening this weekend. On Wednesday, grooming, snowmaking and other preparations were in full swing.
“It’s been this rolling thing this year with the temps,” he said. “It’s not been unusual, we’ve just been lucky the last 2-3 years we’ve had solid November temperatures and we can get it open then we just have to start getting snow.”
Hilltop is opening this weekend with a sneak peek for pass holders at 3 p.m. Thursday. The venue will open to the public at 9 a.m. Friday with limited runs. Bird said the Caribou run will be open Thursday and will be opening more terrain as the weekend continues. He said Hilltop hopes to have Turkey Trench and King Salmon open by the end of the weekend. He said they should also have a park open at Porcupine for opening day.
“There’s something for everybody,” he said. “We expect it to be busy this weekend. We know that other ski areas are opening as well, so that’s going to kind of spread the demand out. But we want our family back. We’re excited to see our regulars. We’re excited to see the folks that come out here all the time.”
Season passes are available at Hilltop’s website.
At Hatcher Pass, Skeetawk Ski Area is also opening with a tiered plan this weekend. On Friday, season pass holders can hit the mountain starting at 4 p.m. On Saturday starting at 10:30 a.m., Skeetawk is opening to the public. Season passes and memberships are available on the Skeetawk site.
Alyeska Resort in Girdwood has been open for skiing since last month. Passholder day was Nov. 24 with the mountain open to the public on Nov. 25. Initially, Chair 3, Chair 7 and the magic carpets were opened but a Facebook post Friday announced Ted’s Express was also open. The post also said “early season conditions do exist out there, so shred with caution.”
On Wednesday, the lift status report on Alyeska’s site indicated Chair 7, Ted’s Express, Bear Club Quad and Finnland were open. The site indicated the mountain had over 15 feet of snow on the season and two inches in the past 24 hours. Of the 76 available trails, 11 were open on Wednesday including eight that are groomed.
Season passes are available for purchase through Dec. 14 and following that date, only lift tickets will be available.
Arctic Valley Ski Area had planned to open this weekend as well. But in a Facebook post Tuesday, Arctic Valley said opening had been delayed. Between melting and multiple cycles of freezing and thawing, the mountain isn’t ready. They said they’d be in touch with updates but cautioned opening probably isn’t imminent.
The post read: “The good news is the forecast for this week is showing some snow through the weekend, though probably not the 12″+ we need to open.”
Membership plans and passes are available on the Arctic Valley website.