Get Out: Hilltop Ski Area
March is normally the best winter month in Alaska for sunshine and snow. We have the sunshine, but the snow has been in short supply.
Because of the month’s reputation, I told my dad it would be a good time to visit. He was disappointed in the lack of snow, but I promised him we’d find it. We did, and it’s not far away.
With more dirt than snow showing, things didn’t look promising driving up to Hilltop Ski Area. But we got to the bottom of the hill and the snow on the slopes actually looked great.
“Typically, our philosophy is to make more snow than we need so that we can get through any of the warm spells like we have had recently,” said Hilltop Ski Area CEO Steve Remme.
A recent warm spell turned the snow to ice, but you wouldn’t know it.
“We get on the snow and groom it with the snow cats. Tills it all up and, boom, you have another skiable surface,” Remme said.
So, thankfully, I was able to fulfill the promise I made to my dad that we would find skiable snow.
He is the one who got me into skiing years ago, but it’s something that almost didn’t happen after his first ski experience in Germany.
“It was ice conditions when I first started and I fell three times getting from where I put my skis on and to the gondola that took you halfway up the mountain, and I thought, ‘This is not any fun at all. I’m going to give up on this,’” my dad said.
But like me, my dad is not a quitter.
“Through the day it started snowing and made it so the skiing was easier and I got to liking it,” he said.
My dad reminisced about my first ski experience. It was a little better than his — at least until it ended.
“He kept begging to go to the top of the hill and begging to go to the top of the hill, and she [the instructor] didn’t really want to take him up there and finally she gave in and took him up there,” he said. “They got to the bottom and she said, ‘Well, ski lesson’s over’ and he got down on the snow and beat his hands in the snow crying because he was mad it was over with.”
No crying though on this day as my dad and I got to do something we both love, but don’t get to do enough together.
Even though there is no snow in our yards, there is plenty at the Hilltop, Alyeska, and Arctic Valley ski areas, and they plan to remain open for a few more weeks.
Another note — Hilltop will be hosting some events for the Special Olympics Alaska Winter Games if you want to check that out this weekend.
Links to Southcentral Ski Areas
Juneau Ski Area
- Eaglecrest Ski Area http://www.skijuneau.com
Fairbanks Ski Areas