There’s a dreamy image I had when it came to how I envisioned our first ski adventure in Alaska. It involved waste deep powder, flying up in clouds as we effortlessly glided down perfect, snow covered slopes set against the backdrop of the legendary Chugach mountains.
Then reality hit when we arrived at Alyeska Resort for New Years to find that if we wanted to hit the slopes…we’d be skiing in the rain.
I love skiing on New Year’s day. Usually, the crowds sleep in due to a lingering hangover, and you have the slopes pretty much to yourself.
I was hoping that was the case when I booked Saige and Summer into all day ski lessons. They hadn’t skied much before (Summer only a couple of times, Saige never) because we moved to Hawaii, so they were anxious to join Bridger, Haley and Candace on the slopes who all started skiing around the age of 3.
We walked out of the hotel to head to the day-lodge, and it was DUMPING rain. Being apparently a Rocky Mountain skiing prima donna, I figured, certainly no one would be skiing in THIS!
I remembered a New Year’s day at Grand Targhee, oddly, when it was raining. It wasn’t a common occurrence for the foot of the Tetons, and there was not a soul on the ski hill. Sheepishly, I’ll admit, we were all sitting in the bar watching football.
To my surprise, there were quite a few skiers out and about, heading up the hill.
The girls still wanted to give it a go, but I had my doubts as I approached the counter. The lady was friendly and acted as if nothing was unusual about the weather on the hill at all.
I said, “Well, are they going to be having lessons still?”
She said, “Of course.”
I said, “It’s raining. Hard.”
She said, “This is Alaska.”
Enough said, I got it.
I changed the girls lessons to half day, as they would get soaked stuck on the lower mountain skiing in the rain, unable to go higher with the rest of us where it was snowing.
We headed out to meet the instructor. Looking at her gear of a thick Gore-Tex outer coat, and rubber gloves that seemed more appropriate for ‘Deadliest Catch’, I could tell this wasn’t her first rodeo in the rain.
Summer and Saige, eagerly got to work, and I headed back into the lodge not daring to leave, as I figured they would bail on the lessons.
Three hours later, I went out to meet 2 absolutely ecstatic, dripping wet daughters. I asked, “How did you like it?” Both exclaimed, “I LOVE IT! Let’s go again!
So, after wringing out streams of water from gloves and coats, hitting the hot tub, and enjoying a warm fire, we booked lessons for the next day. Once again, they went skiing in the rain, happy as ducks on a pond.
Having a base only 250 ft above sea level, and as the northern edge of a temperate rain forest sitting basically on the ocean, at Alyeska, you’re going to get some rain in the winter!
It’s not all that bad! Gene Kelley had nothing on ‘Singin in the Rain’ up here. Nice granular, spring-like snow was soft and easy to learn in. Both girls basically stood up and skied.
With the top of the mountain at about 3900 ft and in good shape with powder, everybody won!
So if you want to go skiing here, gear up properly and get out there! Cause in Alaska, that’s how you roll. It’s not about a perfect powder day, it’s about getting out and enjoying a sport you love, rain, snow or sunshine!