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Tucked amid the Chugach Mountains on Alaska's south central coast, Alyeska is located just 40 miles (68km) south of Anchorage, Alaska in the quaint town of Girdwood. The resort boasts the only four diamond rated hotel in the state of Alaska, the Alyeska Prince, part of the hotel chain which dominates Japanese ski resorts.

Alyeska is by far the largest of the ski areas in Alaska, which has potentially more skiable terrain than the rest of the US put together. It is famous for its spectacular scenery, spectacular snowfall (average annual 631 inches), non existent lift queues, diverse terrain and long season.

In Spring daylight hours approach 24 hours, in winter the northern lights often put in an appearance. The word Alyeska (Alley-Eska) is derived from an Aleut word meaning "great land of white to the east." The state name "Alaska" is also a derivative of this native word. The local town of Girdwood, originally named Glacier City, was founded as a gold mining town at the turn of the century with several gold claims being staked on Crow Creek and the Virgin and California Creek.

The original townsite of Girdwood was flooded by the Turnagain Arm during an earthquake in the 1960s when the land sank eight feet. The town was relocated to its present location two miles up the valley. In 1954, eleven local men formed the Alyeska Ski Corporation along with the beginnings of the hard-earned dream of a first-class ski resort. In 1959, the first chair lift and a day lodge was built. The Corporation managed to secure a used chair lift from France that was dismantled, shipped to Alaska and rebuilt at Alyeska, to create a day use ski area.

In 1967 the resort was sold to Alaska Airlines and the present General Manager, Chris von Imhof, then the Director of Tourism for the State of Alaska, was hired to run the resort. The Nugget Inn, the original hotel, was built and a second chair lift was constructed on the upper mountain. In 1980, Seibu Corporation purchased Alyeska and invested heavily in its development. Seibu built a new high-speed quad chair, a fixed quad and a 60 passenger aerial tramway. The Alyeska Prince Hotel opened in August 1994.

Mountain

Alyeska has wide ranging terrain including wide open bowls and long top-to-bottom runs that ideal for intermediates, while tree-lined runs will suit beginners. The fast cruisers amongst more than sixty runs include Trapline, Main Street, Ego Flats and Klondike. Bump runs options are Prospector, South Face and Don's. The steepest on-piste trails are double black diamonds like Lolo's Leap and Gear Jammer. There are 2,000 (650m) vertical feet of lit night time terrain - one of the biggest nightlit verticals in the world. Chugach Powder Guides offer snowcat or helicopter adventure in the world-famous Chugach Mountain Range. Their exclusive-use permit area covers miles of mountain terrain with gentle bowls, giant mountain faces, massive glaciers and sheltered tree skiing. The guides are highly trained and have extensive Alaskan experience. A full days heli-skiing guarantees 16,000 vertical feet of skiing/riding with a maximum of 20,000.

Families

Children will enjoy the frontier feel of the resort and fun activities like tubing. Little Bears Day Care takes care of some of the youngest guests, or the ski school has special children's classes.

Eating Out

Alyeska offers a variety of restaurants from romantic and intimate to live dance music venues, with menus created and updated for summer and winter seasons by Executive Chef Lamont Caldwell. The menus are created in a way to take advantage of produce in season as well as the fresh catch of Alaska seafood and wild game. Seven Glaciers is one of the resort's top restaurants in more ways than one, as it is located at 2,300 feet above sea level at the top of the cable car/tram. It offers panoramic views of Turnagain Arm, the Chugach Mountain Range and seven "hanging" glaciers. Seven Glaciers' signature menu selections include Alaskan Crab Cakes, Pesto Roasted Scallop Bisque, Buffalo Strip Loin, Mesquite Grilled Alaskan Salmon, Pan Roasted Alaskan Halibut and Alaskan King Crab. Limited menu selections are also offered in Seven Glaciers' Lounge. Featuring wines from California, Washington and Oregon, Seven Glaciers continues to receive the Wine Spectator Restaurant Award in addition to being one of two AAA Four Diamond restaurants in Alaska. Katsura Teppanyaki is an authentic Japanese restaurant where you can watch the chef prepare a masterful meal featuring your choice of live lobster, Alaskan king crab, prime steaks, Alaskan salmon and chicken with wine and sake selections. The Sitzmark, a landmark at Alyeska Resort, is located on the Boardwalk by Chairs 1 and 3. The Sitzmark Bar and Grill features monster burgers and sandwiches and is open daily in the winter in conjunction with mountain operations. This Pond Cafe is located on the second floor of the hotel, a family-style restaurant offers Alaskan favourites including Reindeer Stew.

Apres

The main après venue is the Sitzmark, with live music on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the ski season. It's also a good warm up spot during a night of night skiing or to enjoy the deck on a sunny afternoon. The Aurora Bar and Lounge, located on the third floor at the top of the Grand Staircase, offers everything from a casual atmosphere with sports to a relaxing venue with the soft sounds of a grand piano.

Boarding

The Perseverance Terrain Park is the place for freestylers of all abilities to session and dial in their latest tricks. The Park is loaded with rails, fun boxes and kickers, including a rainbow rail. Freestyle terrain can be found from top to bottom on the mountain. Take Chair 6 or the Tram to hit the kickers on Mainstreet, then head down to Prince Run on Chair 7 where the rail fun begins. Snowboard summer camp is held in June on the upper mountain Glacier Bowl.

// HIGHLIGHTS //
Vertical drop
762m
Resort height
76.2m
Airport
Anchorage
Train station
Girdwood
beginner
11%
intermediate
52%
expert
37%