It's St. Patrick's Day at the Anchorage airport. The airline employee at the oversized bag counter takes one look at my skis and says, "I have three questions. Do you have any undeveloped film in this bag? Do you have any firearms? And you need to listen very carefully, because this is important. Do you have any talent on the slopes?"
"Yes," I reply, without a moment's hesitation. "I'm pretty feeling pretty good about it."
Hitting one of North America's snowiest storm cycles in the middle of another epic white gold beatdown can make anyone feel like a genius, or at the very least an up and coming powder scout. More than 700 inches since November 1 on the slopes of Alyeska, and a three feet deluge on the night of March 14 (our second day of skiing) has a tendency to do that.
Even though it's my first time in Alaska, native son Mark Dorsey, the executive director of PSIA-AASI, has set me up. His buddies Bruce McCurtain and Jim Mullin show us all the good lines on March 13, then McCurtain loans me his longest Rossignol S7s the day the sky drops. It sounds like a war zone at the base with all of the bombs, and every run is overhead, deep, and dark. From The North Face to Rag Doll, we drop into 2,000-plus vertical feet of streaming face shots. We ride the tram until the line is four-cars-deep, and then finish the day on Chair 6 to Christmas Chute—the closest you can get to Big Mountain, AK style heli-skiing without a helicopter.
Later, at the hotel's Aurora Bar & Grill we down pitchers of Alaskan Amber and raise our arms in honor of a painted cutout on the wall we dub the Touchdown Walrus. Coo coo ca choo. We killed it. And tomorrow we're going cat-skiing. —Peter Kray
Visit alyeska.com for more information.