While much of Alaska is stuck with freezing temperatures and not much snow to play with, Southcentral's ski areas are moving ahead with preparations for another ski season. At Hilltop Ski Area, on Anchorage's hillside, crews are busy making snow, checking the chairlift and prepping the rental shop ahead of their tentative opening date, Nov. 17.
Hilltop, Anchorage's most accessible ski area, has long been a training ground for generations of young Alaskan skiers. With its gentle slopes and reasonable lift ticket prices, it is a popular ski area for those still getting comfortable sliding down slick slopes. This year will be Hilltop's 30th ski season.
According to Hilltop CEO Steve Remme, the ski area operated a rope tow for many years before investing in paid staff in 1982, and, to serve the increased demand, a chairlift that opened in December 1983. That same chairlift brings skiers and boarders up the hill today.
For those who enjoy the area's slopes, not much has changed in the past 30 years. The skiable terrain is roughly the same, with the exception of a new terrain park added in 2000. Also in 2000 the lift was upgraded from a double to a triple.
There is a new day lodge, larger ski school, and prices are slightly higher than they were in 1983, but Hilltop remains one of the most accessible and affordable ski areas in Anchorage. Arctic Valley, 10 miles north of Anchorage, has comparable prices but is only open on the weekends, and Alyeska Resort, about 40 miles south, offers much more challenging terrain, with prices twice that of Hilltop.