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Photos: Hilltop Ski Area preps for its 30th ski season

Bryce Ehmann works the slopes at Hilltop Ski Area, prepping the mountain for it's 30th ski season. November 9, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
A snowmaking machine blankets the slopes of Hilltop ski area in advance of their 30th ski season. November 9, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Bryce Ehmann attaches a seat to one of the chairlifts at Hilltop Ski Area, in advance of it's 30th ski season. November 9, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The rental shop at Hilltop ski area is ready for its 30th season. November 9, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The daylodge at Hilltop Ski Area, ready to warm up skiers and snowboarders. November 9, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The lift at Hilltop ski area has been operational almost as long as the ski area itself, which is celebrating its 30th season this year. November 9, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Dustin Cravens re-covers chairlift seats in advance of Hilltop Ski Area's 30th ski season. November 9, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The chairlift serving Hilltop Ski Area has served skiers and snowboarders for 29 of the ski area's 30 years. November 9, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Bryce Ehmann adjusts a snowmaking machine at Hilltop Ski Area. The ski area is celebrating it's 30th ski season this year. November 9, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
A snowmaking machine, one of five at Hilltop Ski Area, enhances the snow base on the mountain. November 9, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Manmade snow dusts the slopes of Hilltop Ski Area in advance of its 30th ski season. November 9, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Hilltop Ski Area has been making snow since November 7, hoping to have enough to open by November 17. November 9, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Hilltop Ski Area CEO Steve Remme inspects the ski lift in advance of the ski area's 30th ski season. November 9, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

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.