Tucked into the Alaskan backcountry 75 miles outside Anchorage, the Tordrillo Mountains could well be the holy grail of hardcore skiing. Massive glaciers, 4,000-vertical-foot powder bowls, and golden granite spires dot the million-plus-acre region, and skiers can easily log 20,000 feet of vertical in a day. In 2007 the heli-ski outfitter Chugach Powder Guides became the only company to offer winter and spring trips here, letting visitors rip down terrain that had never before been skied upon (“first descents” in off-piste parlance) and naming their own runs while doing so.
“Our guests are sharing in the exploration of this zone,” says CPG co-owner Chris Owens. “There are at least fifteen years of first descents still to be had.” While skiing with CPG, groups of up to 12 stay at the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, a 5,200-square-foot cabin on the banks of the Talachulitna River. Co-owned by Olympians Tommy Moe and Jeremy Nobis, who teamed up with CPG to run heli-adventure expeditions from February through June, the lodge has six bedrooms, a full-time chef, an oversize cedar hot tub and sauna, and even a resident masseuse to ease achy legs. Moe and Nobis make regular appearances, dispensing the occasional pointer, and surfer Laird Hamilton is a repeat guest.
On the rare day when bad weather prevents the helicop-ters from flying, guests can cross-country ski, fish, or snowmobile. But most of the time it’s a five-minute flight to the slopes, where 100 feet of powder is the norm and views of Mount McKinley and Denali National Park form the backdrop.
A one-week trip costs $8,900 per person, including meals and lodging (907-783-4354; chugachpowderguides.com).