An up-and-coming ski area in the Mat-Su Valley is getting a big financial boost to help with the effort.

The non-profit organization Hatcher Alpine Xperience (HAX) started two years ago, with the goal of filling the downhill void in the Valley.

“There's a obviously a huge need for it because the only other option for kids for skiing, lift-served, is to go to Hilltop or Alyeska. There's a lot of kids who can't make the commute,” said HAX board member Max Schillinger.

As part of Phase 1a, the group plans to install a triple chairlift -- which they say will cost more than $600,000.

The Mat-Su Health Foundation pitched in, donating a half-million dollars over the next 18 months that will be used for the chairlift and to fund a part-time executive director.

“It's huge, it puts the coals in the engine,” said board member Nicole Yount. “We are going to have more momentum now. One of the things we've heard over and over again, ‘You guys have been trying to do that for 30 years now’. It's definitely happening.”

The ski area off mile 10.6 of the Hatcher Pass Road is on Mat-Su Borough land. The resort doesn’t have a name yet; HAX board members said they’ll let community members weigh in on that.

Yount said the entire project has been a grassroots volunteer effort. Last summer the community turned out to construct the shelter—which as also donated—that houses the Snow Cat

“We needed to show on the ground progress,” Schillinger said. “Then the money and the volunteers and the grants for the lifts would come later. That’s been our philosophy.”

Long-term plans include a day lodge and a quad lift that will be able to access higher terrain.

Hatcher Pass has long been a haven for backcountry skiers and snowboarders but HAX board members hope it will soon be a destination for downhill as well.