Best Backcountry Skiing in Alaska
Trying to find the best backcountry skiing in Alaska? Bivy has great hiking, biking, paddling, climbing, skiing, riding and more, with hand-curated trail maps, as well as detailed driving directions.
02 :54 hrs
The ascent up Loveland begins from mile marker 27 on Richardson Highway above Thompson Pass. Move up the hill favoring easy ground and cross the pipeline enroute to the base of the ridgeline. From the base of the ridgeline, choose to ascend via the ridgeline, or traverse into the lower basin via “Subway” and then ascend the main drainage system (this is the better option if winds are high on the ridge). Choose either option and move up onto the glacier and navigate across along the left-side where there are no crevasses. Finish to the summit by skiing past two smaller summits to gain the main summit ridge. From the summit, choose from one of the chutes to descend off before following your ascent route across the glacier. Next descend down the drainage and traverse up high at the base of the glacier to meet up with you ascent tracks back to your vehicle. Loveland Basin offers a classic ascent, great views from atop the summit, steep chutes up top and a great natural terrain park mid-mountain. Beginner and intermediate skiers should not travel onto the glacier unless accompanied by advanced skiers with adequate local knowledge of the area
06 :11 hrs
Although a strenuous and demanding route, Matthu Pichu offers some of the best and most consistent steep angles in Alaska. Park at the rifle range at the end of Glacier Campground Road and begin your ascent by making your way over to Valdez Glacier Stream via one of the many traveled routes. Use caution when crossing the stream. Freez/thaw cycles can cause various hazards when crossing. After making it across the stream, continue on towards Slater Creek through some, often times, thick brush. Instead of entering the canyon, ascend and traverse up the right side making your way to the upper basin area. From here continue the long journey up the steeps to the high mark of around 4800’. Enjoy great views of Port Valdez, The Valdez Narrows, and of course Matthu Pichu peak on your left before descending down you ascent route.
03 :14 hrs
As one of the premiere ski mountaineering routes in the Valdez area, Sapphire Peak offers all the elements of steep rock, ice and snow resulting in some technical ski terrain that expert level skiers are sure to enjoy. The ascent begins from mile marker 27 on Richardson Highway above Thompson Pass. Move up the hill favoring easy ground and cross the pipeline enroute to the base of Loveland Basin ridgeline. From the base of the ridgeline, ski “Subway” to the base of the 27-Mile Glacier. Move up and to the right of the glacier as high as you can before moving onto the glacier and traversing the main icefall. From here you will need to remove the skis and hike the rest of glacier drainage to the basin. After reaching the basin ski across the glacier over towards Sapphire Peak. Ascend up to the col low located on the south ridge and remove your skis to finish to the summit. Bring crampons and an an ice axe as the ridge may require the use of these to reach the summit. Descending off the summit ridge is steep and best to favor your skin track down through to your boot tracks through the icefall. Do not stray from your ascent tracks through the icefall, as this can prove to be a costly mistake. It is wise to bring crampons, an ice axe and crevasse rescue gear.
03 :01 hrs
As one of the premiere ski mountaineering routes in the Valdez area, Tones Temple offers all the elements of steep rock, ice and snow resulting in some technical ski terrain that expert level skiers are sure to enjoy. The ascent begins from mile marker 27 on Richardson Highway above Thompson Pass. Move up the hill favoring easy ground and cross the pipeline enroute to the base of Loveland Basin ridgeline. From the base of the ridgeline, ski “Subway” to the base of the 27-Mile Glacier. Move up and to the right of the glacier as high as you can before moving onto the glacier and traversing the main icefall. From here you will need to remove the skis and hike the rest of glacier drainage to the basin. Once in the basin, ski left towards Tones Temple Peak and locate the best spot to gain the ridge leading to the summit. Bring crampons and an an ice axe as the ridge may require the use of these to reach the summit. Once at the peak of Rones Temple choose from several descent options off of the steep summit ridge. Follow your ascent line through the icefall and back down to your vehicle. It is wise to bring crampons, an ice axe and crevasse rescue gear. S4 II
01 :22 hrs
Mellow backcountry ski on a nice face. Quick and fairy safe approach. Go as high as conditions allow you. Wind rips through the area so watch for wind deposits creating bad avy conditions.
02 :15 hrs
Located within the Valdez Arena near the Valdez oil terminal, this north facing route offers some of the best “ski to sea” terrain in the world as you descend down to Port Valdez. Park at Solomon Lake trailhead and and begin up the snowcat trail through the trees. Head west along the pipeline for a short distance before heading south into a clearing beneath Benzene Alley. Ascend up to the first bench through a forested slope and gain the windlip which is usually around 2500’ on “Matts Slope”. Follow the windlip to it’s end which will bring you just below Benzene Peak. Descend to the valley below via the slope adjacent to you ascent route. If desired, the hills above Salomon Lake can be accessed from part of this approach as well. Continue beyond Matts Slope and make your way to a nice series of hill situated above the lake. This offers a great beginners experience with amazing views.
Alaska, Valdez-Cordova County
03 :20 hrs
Begin your ascent from a pullout on the side of Richardson Highway near mile marker 30 above Thompson Pass. Move across Ptarmigan Creek (crossing the creek can be challenging during early and late season) and head south under the treeline towards Happy Valley. Once making it into the valley, make your ascent along the east side up to 5200’ where the ridge will begin to crest and you will begin to see Python Peak to the east. Beginners should start their descent from here unless accompanied by an advanced skier to assist in navigating the glacier. Advanced skiers often choose to ascend onto and above the glacier before making their descent from various starting points.
Alaska, Valdez-Cordova County
04 :31 hrs
Located outside of Valdez along Richardson Highway, Crudbusters offers some big lines with a quick approach favored by the locals. Park along the pipeline access road and ski along the pipeline right-of -way heading towards the base of the ridge. Ascend a small spine enroute to a bench before finishing up the rocky ridge to about 5000’. Enjoy the descent following your ascent tracks or find various other lines on Crudbuster’s 25-40 degree slopes. If desired, other options exist on the northwest aspects of Peak 6140 on excellent couloirs.
10 :16 hrs
If you’re looking for a multi-day expedition with the steepest terrain in the Port Valdez area, than Meteorite Mountain should be next on your list of backcountry skiing routes to tackle. Park near the end of Whispering Spruce Drive and begin crossing the Lowe River via snow bridges to reach the pipeline right-of-way after passing Taps-Access Road. Cross the pipeline and head southeast through the brush and into a valley carved out by glacier activity. Continue up the valley east of Heidi Peak to reach Ethrington Glacier. After ascending the lower headwall parties usually set up base camp. From here, ascend the southwest ramp which leads to the summit ridge. After reaching the summit ridge, technical mountaineering equipment will be required to cross the ridge over to the summit. One option for the descent is the east rib. Another option is to approach the north ramp via Browns Creek (neighboring canyon to the east) and ascend the east rib. Various difficulties such as; brittle rock, high avalanche danger, glacier travel, crevasses, river crossing, and difficult approaches through brush makes this a expert level route. With that being said, Meteorite Mountain offers the steepest terrain in the area and is well worth the effort.
04 :21 hrs
Located within the Valdez Arena near the Valdez oil terminal, this north facing route offers some of the best “ski to sea” terrain in the world as you descend down to Port Valdez. Park at Solomon Lake trailhead and and begin up the snowcat trail through the trees. Head west along the pipeline before turning south as you enter Benzene Alley. Locate “Larsons Notch” to the west and move up the steep terrain through the notch and onto the flat region of the ridgeline. Traverse along the ridge to the saddle below Snow Dome around 2700’. To reach the summit from here, mountaineering equipment is necessary. Once you reach the summit use extreme caution due to the high angle. Descend Snow Dome’s north face to about 1400’ before locating Larson’s Notch again. Exit through the notch and make your back to the trailhead.
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