Summer Snow (Where Winter Actually Happened)
4 great Alaskan snow stashes
It’s hard to have an endless winter when winter hardly got started across much of the U.S. The usual high-up Colorado passes and ski resorts known for holding snow through summer stayed brown all season. And even up north in Montana and Oregon, where winter did make an appearance, snowpack has been weak, triggering deadly avalanches that killed backcountry skiers and riders across the Northwest.
Still jonesing to break out your skis and skins to make late-season turns? First step, go where there’s snow: Alaska.
“What’s awesome is that we’ve had over 800 inches, and the storms didn’t end with a wind or a rain event,” says Jim Janssen, owner of Girdwood Ski and Cyclery said in early April. “So the powder has lasted all season long, and even now there are pockets if you know where to look.”
Even better, the snowpack has been stable. “There will be some incredible corn this year, and there’s going to be skiing all the way through the summer solstice,” says Janssen. Take advantage at these Alaska locales:
Just south of Anchorage, Turnagain Pass in the Chugach National Forest has everything from fluted steeps to low-angle meadows; you’ll get total variety on North, South and West aspects.
Northeast of Valdez, Thompson Pass is one of the snowiest places in North America, and the backcountry skiing is steep and entirely above tree line. Just don’t cop out on the hike; it will take the better part of your morning to reach the real goods, so carve out at least a full day for your turns.
Don’t want to go unguided? Hire Matt Kinny at Thompson Pass Treksto lead the way through June.
Arapahoe Basin in Colorado is the best-known U.S. resort for staying open into the summer (they’re slated for a June 3rd close this year), but from May 5-29, Alyeska, southeast of Anchorage, is open for weekend skiing—with nearly five times the acreage.
Denali National Park
Drive in as far as you can, then jimmy rig your ski gear to your bike and ride until you can start hiking. When you can’t hike up any farther, ski down. Cars are limited on Denali National Park’s roads, but that doesn’t stop the most persistent of late-season skiers. Try Cathedral Mountain for a 15-mile drive and 20-mile bike-ride before you start skinning.