Mount Alyeska is a hard mountain to learn to snowboard on. I know this because that’s where I learned since moving to Alaska. I never snowboarded before then, except in my friends backyard in Homer and at the super awesome and totally worth-while Homer Rope Tow. But as far as real resort style stuff, Alyeska was my proving ground.
It’s has the reputation of being “steep and deep” because, like, it’s super duper steep, and it also gets a super duper lot of snow fall every year — an average of 650 inches, according to the resort’s website. Of course that same web page says it’s good for beginners too, so I’m not sure how much I believe it.
It’s steep as hell.
Ok, so like not every run at Alyeska Resort is death defying. They do have some bunny hills and magic carpet rides. And there’s a very nice long, mellow run from the main mountain down to the resort and spa. There are indeed amply opportunities to learn the ins and outs of snowboarding or skiing there, which I’m probably proof of since I had like zero experience before my first time heading up the mountain.
A Beginner’s Guide to Alyeska Resort:
If you’re ready for your first trip up a ski lift at Alyeska, the best place to start from the day parking lots is the Bear Cub Quad next to the Sitzmark Bar and Grill. Or, if you’re at the resort proper, take up Chair 7. Both of those lift drop you at the tops of Alyeska’s best “bunny hills,” which offer a few different routes to gain confidence before shooting over to Ted’s Express and exploring the greater mountain.
If you’re looking at the mountain map, these runs are clustered in the lower left-hand corner.
Parallel to Chair 7 is Blueberry Hill, the mellowest run on the mountain, that will take you on a long-distance, slow cruise back to Alyeska Resort. There is one steeper hill as you near the resort, but don’t be scared of it. It’s a good one to master before upping the ante.
A fair warning about Blueberry Hill though: if you don’t get up some speed as you approach the resort you may find yourself walking the last leg. Not a huge deal for skiers with poles, but it can be a pain for snowboarders — especially in sticky snow when it seems impossible to make it all the way to the resort without hoofing a portion of it.
Next up is Perseverance, a short but wide left-leaning turn to the base of the Bear Cub Quad lift. You can also hang a hard left half way down this run to ride Chair 3 Road to the base of Ted’s Express (when you’re ready).
The other two notable runs on the lower mountain are called Cheechako and Lower Confidence. Both are accessible from the top of the Bear Cub Quad. Both are the most challenging and steepest beginner runs you should feel comfortable with before taking on the middle mountain. In particular, Lower Confidence, while short, will give you a good idea of the vertical terrain you should expect on the rest of the upper mountain.
Once you commit to taking the Ted’s up to the mid-mountain or beyond, the only way down is, well, down.