Trip Number: 13423A
Staff: Rebecca Dameron
- Ski on Nordic ski trails in the beauty of late-spring Alaska
- Enjoy the warmth of an eco-Austrian-style ski lodge
- Expect a good possibility of viewing the northern lights
- All meals (lunch to lunch)
- Exclusive lodging at Denali View Chalet
- Transportation from Anchorage to the trailhead and return to Anchorage
Unfortunately, this trip has been cancelled. If you
have questions, please
Photo: Eric Schmidt
This cross-country ski adventure begins with a van trip from Anchorage to the
snowy wilderness south of Mount McKinley (Denali). After being dropped off at
a trailhead, we'll make a nine-mile ski journey through spruce and birch forests
to our backcountry ski lodge. Every stride through the forests and open land
will bring the peaks of the Southern Alaska Range (McKinley, Foraker and Hunter)
closer. Our hosts, Eric and Frederique Schmidt, will greet us with hot spiced
wine and Alaskan hospitality.
Each day will bring a new cross-country ski adventure -- short and long. The
skiing will be done on set tracks (groomed for Nordic skiing). We’ll also
have the chance to go sledding or tubing if so desired. Additionally there are
opportunities to take a snowshoe walk, lounge around the giant wood stove, bask
in the bright Alaska sunshine, or relax in the frozen-lake-side sauna.
There is no TV or wifi so come prepared to be disconnected from the world of
technology and be connected to the wonderful world of the Alaska wilderness.
There is a good chance of viewing the northern lights (peak time is 1:30 a.m.),
though it varies nightly and depends on several conditions. The moon will be
growing in brightness and hopefully won’t interfere at the beginning of
the week. The waxing crescent may even allow us to have a moonlight ski at the
end of the week.
Photo: Eric Schmidt
Pre-trip days: Our trip doesn’t officially start until
the morning of Saturday, March 16th although we encourage participants to arrive
in Anchorage at least one day early. That way you can rent your skis and get
some practice on the Anchorage Nordic ski trails before we head out.
Day 1: We’ll meet at the Anchorage Executive Suite Airport
Hotel at 7:15 a.m. on Saturday, March 16 so that we can meet our van at 8:00
a.m. After packing our gear, we will have a 135-mile drive to our trailhead
with one stop in Wasilla to take a rest break and buy lunch and any last-minute
items. At the trailhead, we will pass our personal gear over to the Chalet’s
snowmobile (one 40-lb max bag limit). The group will then ski in to the Chalet
(that’s the reason for the practice on the rental skis and boots!) through
evergreen forests as well as open flats. Our first mile will be on a non-groomed
trail while the last eight will be over a marked Nordic ski trail. Lunch will
be on the trail. We’ll be met at the Chalet by our hosts and a cup of
hot spiced wine.
After our welcome, we’ll have time to settle in, warm up, explore the
Chalet’s wonderful secluded setting, and have an afternoon sauna before
a hearty dinner and a well-deserved early bedtime.
Day 2: Each day we’ll start with a family-style hearty
breakfast then take weather conditions and energy levels into account before
we make our plans. Some of our options are a six-mile scenic ski, a three-mile
Brooks Loop, a four-mile Back Loop, a two-mile lake loop or local Denali Ski
Chalet trails. We may take it easy the first day, depending on how folks are
feeling after our nine-mile ski in. And depending on our day’s plan, we’ll
either have lunch at the Chalet or out on the trail.
Day 3: We’ll ski somewhere in this winter wonderland
and return to a warm lodge and a hot sauna.
Day 4: Cross-country skiing, tubing, or snowshoeing (only
a few pairs are available, unless you want to bring your own).
Photo: Eric Schmidt
Day 5: Weather permitting, we will take a nine-mile (each
way) Nordic ski trail up near the top of Peters Hills, with possible views of
Mount McKinley, which is just 35 miles from the summit!
Day 6: Group outing specially planned for us by our hosts
-- to perhaps include a campfire.
Day 7: Sadly, we’ll be heading out today, but not before
our morning nine-mile ski out to meet the van for our trip back to Anchorage
Executive Suite Airport Hotel. Our last official meal together will be a lunch
packed by the Chalet for us to enjoy on the trail. We’ll have time in
Anchorage to return rental gear and then meet again for a post-trip dinner (not
included in the trip price). Due to unknown weather conditions, it would be
best not to plan for travel out of Anchorage before the 23rd.
Note: The leaders will make every reasonable effort to meet the goals outlined
in the itinerary. Please keep in mind that weather or other conditions beyond
our control may cause us to modify the itinerary in order to ensure the safety
and well-being of the group.
Transportation to Anchorage will be on your own. We strongly suggest you arrive
at least by March 15th. We will plan to meet at the Anchorage Executive Suite
Airport Hotel the morning of our departure.
Accommodations and Food
For the pre-trip, we hope to be staying at the Anchorage Executive Suites near
the Anchorage airport. You will need to make your own arrangements for pre-
and post-trip lodging. We will work to make group reservations here (not included
in the trip price). The hotel does have a free shuttle from the airport and
serves a free continental breakfast. More information to follow for registered
During our trip, we’ll be staying at the remote and rustic Denali View
Chalet, a wilderness lodge built by Sepp Weber in the 1970s as an Austrian style
ski chalet. Mount McKinley (Denali) will be visible, as will the Foraker and
Hunter peaks of the southern Alaska Range.
The focal point of the sitting area is an enormous woodstove to relax around.
We’ll also be able to unwind in the wood-fired sauna (with or without
a suit). The lodge is eco-friendly and the lights are solar LED and propane
lamps. We will be staying in dorm-style rooms and will be sharing an outdoor
bathroom (paths are lit). The hot shower is located at the sauna.
There is a communal dining area where we will have our hearty home-style vegetarian-friendly
meals. Those with dietary restrictions should let the leaders know before the
trip and should know that not all restrictions will be able to be met. We will
be asked to help with kitchen duty (prepping, cooking and cleaning) each day.
Photo: Eric Schmidt
Almost all of our skiing will be on set Nordic tracks, but as we start right
away with a nine-mile ski it is crucial that all participants be physically
ready to jump right in. This means good conditioning for winter conditions,
comfort with the skiing gear, great blister protection, and great winter clothing.
The initial ski in will probably take three hours.
Well-conditioned beginners would be welcome if they would be ready to ski the
nine miles the first day. We plan to ski every day on rolling terrain tracks.
One day will be a long trek (nine miles each way) up to Peters Hills to get
a better view of Denali. Participants must come prepared for the rigors of Alaska
Equipment and Clothing
You will need cross-country ski gear -- boots, skis and poles. You can either
bring your own or rent in Anchorage. REI and Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking
both have these items for rent and are less than two miles away from the Executive
Other items that will be needed are warm layers of clothing, including long
underwear, a wool hat, gloves and a hooded, waterproof outer layer to protect
you from snow and wind; a day pack large enough to handle at least a liter of
water, snacks, dry socks and possibly some of your layers; first-aid supplies
(especially blister prevention and protection); flashlight or headlamp for walking
around at night; insulated boots for walking outdoors; and house slippers. A
more complete gear list will be sent to registered participants before the trip.
- http://www.nps.gov/dena/index.htm Denali National Park and Preserve
- http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/denali1.htm Denali State Park
- http://alaska.sierraclub.org/actions/index.html Sierra Club’s Alaska
- http://www.anchorage.net/ Anchorage Tourism Information
- http://www.anchoragenordicski.com/ Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage
showing maps of where to ski in Anchorage
Photo: Eric Schmidt
As a frontier, Alaska has been known for its beauty and wildlife: it’s
also known for its untapped energy reserves. The Sierra Club has long opposed
the prospect of drilling for oil in the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge. This
struggle continues as another push has arisen for drilling in the Arctic Ocean
off the northern coast of Alaska in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. There are
concerns near Fairbanks about coal ash pollution and a fight to protect Bristol
Bay and salmon from the proposed Pebble Mine (gold and copper mining). So what
does this have to do with us who are traveling in the south-central area of
Alaska? Everything if we use oil, coal, and gold. It is ironic that we will
be using oil/fuel to be on this trip -- but we need to see what is in need of
protection and come up with ideas to lessen our carbon footprint on this earth.
Staying at an eco-lodge is a great way to support those in Alaska trying to
protect the wilderness.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Rebecca Dameron is a lifetime member of the Sierra Club, enjoys winter, snow, skiing, hiking and kayaking. She also enjoys lounging by a wood stove after a great day out of doors in the snow. Rebecca is excited to be offering a cross-country skiing trip to Alaska and have her first view of the Northern Lights.
Elaine Grace spent 20 years working for the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. While living in Seward, Anchorage, and Fairbanks, she cross-country skied nearly every day during the long winter months. In her opinion, there is no better skiing than springtime in Alaska!
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips