About NSAA Backcountry Tours
Backcountry ski tours are a great (and safe) way to get out on your touring skis (think ungroomed trails, fish scales and metal edges) with a group of like-minded individuals! Meet future friends, enjoy some sweet powder, bring the dog and your thermos full of hot cocoa. BEST PART YET…ski tours are completely FREE!
To support the tours program you can purchase an attractive and specially designed knit cap. They will be available at all tours, the NSAA office and the annual meeting. All of our tours are accompanied by the Anchorage Nordic Ski Patrol, who provides a measure of safety. Many thanks for their assistance. We look forward to skiing with you out on the trail.
Before You Join a NSAA Free Backcountry Tour…
Become a NSAA Member
Your donation helps support these FREE backcountry ski tours! Please note that you MUST be a NSAA member to join a tour.
Pick a Tour
Pick out a tour that interests you from the schedule below, and sign up for it! Signing up for a tour involves a quick phone call or email to the Backcountry Ski Tours Leader.
Fill out the Release Form
Bring your completed form to the meeting place the morning of the tour and give it to your leader! This is required.
Review Gear List and Cheat Sheet
With the ever changing snow conditions we have been experiencing, we will need to be flexible with locations. Based on prior low snow years, we may need to change the location of the ski tour and will let folks know on the web, by email and the Tours Hotline at 907-248-6667, ext. 4.
November 25, 2016: 19th Annual Turkey Day Shakeoff – Hatcher Pass Gold Cord Mine, Talkeetna
Join us for this post-Thanksgiving shake off ski for our first tour of the season. This tour would be appropriate for a beginning to intermediate skier who can travel about 6 miles round trip on terrain with short climbs and downhills under various snow conditions. We will ski through Independence Mine and continue up the hill past Gold Cord Mine and beyond into the flatter upper bowl below Granite Peak and Friendship Pass, where we will have lunch. We will descend the hill at our own pace and if conditions allow, cross the creek to find our way back to the trailhead. Early snow conditions can be sketchy so call the tour hotline at 907-248-6667 ext. 4 for any changes. We’ll meet at the Carrs Muldoon bakery located at Muldoon and Northern Lights at 9:00 am and then carpool to the Independence Mine trailhead where we expect to arrive 10:15 or 10:30 am. A Chugach State Park pass is required; a self-service fee station is located at the parking lot.
For more information contact the tour leader Karlene Leeper at 907-440-0049.
December 9, 2016: Friday Night Fun Ski or “Ski and Suds”- Raspberry Parking Lot
Classic ski and tour the local trails at Kincaid park with headlamps followed by a brew. Come out for a social ski at 6:30 pm on Friday night followed by a beer (or two)! This harkens back to the olden days of the NSAA Friday Night Fun Skis. Bring warm clothes and your headlamp. We will head to Uncle Joe’s Pizza on Old Seward after.
For more information contact the tour leader Mary Vavrik at 907-306-7686.
December 17, 2016: Solstice Ski, Turnagain Pass, The INHT from Turnagain Pass to Ingram Creek
Celebrate Winter solstice and the returning of light. Enjoy a great ski on a part of the Iditarod National Historic Trail (INHT). This tour would be appropriate for a beginning to intermediate skier who can travel about 8 miles round trip on relatively flat terrain and able to negotiate short climbs and downhills on a narrow trail under various snow conditions. There is a short climb from the parking area to the trail. Meet at the Chugach State Park Headquarters (by the train south of Potter Marsh) at 9:00 am.
For more information contact the tour leader Mary Vavrik at 907-306-7686.
January 14, 2017: Center Ridge, AT / Tele-ski, Turnagain Pass, Kenai Mountains
In Turnagain Pass, ski up Center Ridge past the weather station, climbing 1000 feet in 2 miles. The climbing requires you bring skins for your skis. You should also have avalanche gear (beacon, shovel, and probe). Once the climb is gained, the ridge is practically flat with some easy ups and downs. This is a great tour for those who want an introduction into telemark or AT skiing. There are safe alternatives for returning to the car, however, you may have to perform kick turns if you are not proficient turning on your touring skis. Because the weather is often variable, bring clothing for wind, cold and snow. Meet at 9 am at the Chugach State Park Headquarters parking lot (by the train south of Potter Marsh).
For more information contact the tour leader Kellin Lang-Gillming at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 28, 2017: Nancy Lakes Parkway Trails, Mat-Su Valley
Ski 10 miles of rolling terrain through beautiful forested hills and open frozen swamps on the Parkway, Jano Pond and Rhein Lake Loops. There are a couple of steep hills that can easily be negotiated, if needed. Meet at Carrs Muldoon bakery located at Muldoon and Northern Lights at 9:00 am and then carpool to the winter trailhead at mile 2.2 on the Nancy Lake Parkway. It can be very cold here, just a few miles north of Anchorage, so dress appropriately. A Chugach State Park pass is required; a self-service fee station is located at the parking lot.
For more information, contact the tour Leader Patti Phillips at 907-240-3742.
February 4, 2017: Manitoba Mountain AT / Tele-ski and Touring options, Kenai Mountains
Join us for a fun day telemark, AT skiing or touring. This terrain is for beginning to intermediate skiers. If climbing Manitoba Mountain, you’ll need skins for your skis. You should also have avalanche gear (beacon, shovel, and probe) for the telemark or AT portion of skiing. If you’d like to kick and glide instead, there are touring options to beautiful Summit Lake (no skins required). Depart from the Chugach State Park Headquarters parking lot (by the train south of Potter Marsh). Because the weather is often variable, bring clothing for wind, cold and snow.
For more information, contact the tour leader Ken DePalma at 907-440-1562.
February 18-20, 2017: Sheep Mountain Lodge
Enjoy two overnights at Sheep Mountain Lodge in group cabins. Ski on 24 km groomed non-motorized trails or beyond on 60 mi multi-use trails at Sheep Mountain Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, ski out to Matanuska Glacier along Caribou Creek. Space is limited.
For more information, contact the tour leaders Mary Vavrik at 907-306-7686 and Ken DePalma at 907-344-1772.
February 20, 2017: Matanuska Glacier Tour
Meet at 8:30 a.m. at Carrs Muldoon where we’ll drive up to Caribou Creek pullout (Mile 106 of the Glenn hwy) to ski to the toe of the mighty Matanuska Glacier. The ski will be on and off the creek and thru some brush, but mostly open terrain. We’ll ski approximately 10 miles. Be prepared for cold and wind. Make sure you have lunch and water. If you choose to meet at the trailhead, be there at 11.
For more information, contact tour leader Ken DePalma at email@example.com or 907-344-1772
February 18-25, 2017: Denali National Park, Savage River to Kantishna
Back by popular demand! Join us on this once in a life time ski tour through Denali Park supported by dog teams. Ski 7 to 17 miles per day staying in historic Denali Patrol cabins with gear hauled by the dog teams. Ski with only a day pack. Start at Mountain Vista near the Park Headquarters and end at Kantishna, where you will fly out to Healy. Great wholesome food, warm cabins, awesome guides! Expect amazing views of frozen braided rivers, mountains, passes, the aurora, and of course Denali. Contact us for more information; we have a slide show, gear list and plenty of advice. Cost about $1,800 plus air charter out of Kantishna for about $150. Deposit of $900 required by January 1st but a deposit holds your spot. Sign up soon, so your spot is guaranteed.
12/26/16: This trip is full. If you’d like to attend, please contact Bob below to be put on the waitlist.
February 25- March 4, 2017: Denali National Park, McGonagall and Oastler Passes
This trip is also back by popular demand because of its unparalleled beauty. Fly into Kantishna, overnight at a Park cabin above Wonder Lake, then ski over McKinley Bar and Turtle Hill to our basecamp with wood stove heated Arctic Oven tents on Cache Creek. Ski north toward Denali the entire tour to basecamp. From our basecamp we’ll ski to McGonagall Pass for grand views of Denali and the Muldrow and Traleika glaciers. We’ll follow the footsteps of the historic routes of the first climbs of Denali. The following day we’ll ski up to Oastler Pass for even more scenery and stunning views of Mount Brooks and surrounding mountains. Ski with your day pack and the dog sleds will haul all the gear. Contact us for more information, pictures, gear list and plenty of assistance. Cost about $1,800 plus air charter in and out of Kantishna for about $350. Deposit of $900 required by January 1st but a deposit holds your spot. Sign up soon, so your spot is guaranteed.
1/11/17: This trip is full. If you’d like to attend, please contact Bob below to be put on the waitlist.
March 3-5, 2017: Denali View Chalet
Enjoy the weekend at a rustic Alaskan lodge on Kroto Lake south of Mt. McKinley. Ski 8 miles into the lodge with just a day pack. Your gear and food will be brought in by the chalet owner on snow machine. Enjoy great views of Denali, fantastic company, wonderful group cuisine, sauna and more skiing on various trails in the area. Because the weather is often variable, bring clothing for wind, cold and snow. Space is limited. A $100 deposit to hold a spot is required by February 15, 2017.
For more information, contact the tour leader Karlene Leeper at 907-440-0049.
March 18, 2017: Eddies AT/Tele-ski, Turnagain Pass
Join us for a fun day of telemark or AT skiing in the wide open bowls of Eddies in Turnagain Pass. The area we plan on skiing is a great intermediate terrain where you can spread out and get some of your own swooping turns in untouched snow. The climbing requires you bring skins for your skis. You will need avalanche gear (beacon, shovel and probe) as travel is within avalanche terrain. The ski begins with a gradual skin in through a well- developed trail though the forest. The surroundings open up leading to a sustained climb to an approximate elevation, of 2500’, resulting in a total of 2000’ gained. Slope angles average in the low 20’s. Meet at the Chugach State Park Headquarters parking lot (by the train south of Potter Marsh) at 9 am. We will drive to the Eddies pull out on the southeast side of highway before Turnagain Pass. Because the weather is often variable, bring clothing for wind, cold and snow. Expected on snow travel time is between 5 and 6 hours, round trip.
For more information, contact tour leader Kellin Lang-Gillming at 208-874-2501
March 25, 2017: Skookum Glacier
This will be a kick and glide tour up to the Skookum Glacier. On a sunny day, you’ll enjoy incredible views of the glacier and because it’s spring, we have to worry about the warmth instead of the cold. Depending on how far out we go, the ski is flat, but we will need to negotiate some snow bridge crossings. We’ll meet at 9 am at the Chugach State Park Headquarters parking lot (the train south of Potter Marsh).
For more information, contact the tour leader Patti Phillips at 907-240-3742.
Additional Information and Contacts
Our plan is to have a fun time on the trail. So a here is a list of things to bring and what to expect to make this as enjoyable and trouble free as possible.
Frequently on our tours there will be stops on the trail for water, food and visiting. And to help re-energize and to enjoy ourselves we’ll also take time to have lunch and visit as well. Bringing a good lunch, break food and water are important. At our stops, make sure you have a jacket or other layers to put on so you can keep the chill off.
Good working gear is essential. If this is your first ski trip of the season, check your skis, boots and poles to make sure they are up to the task. Breakdowns in the backcountry are a real pain in the neck. Of particular importance is appropriately fitting footwear. Long backcountry trips with poorly fitting boots spells disaster for your feet. Nothing spoils any sport like ill-fitting foot gear.
Metal edged skis scale skis are not essential, but are great for touring. The AT and tele tours will require the use of skins. Most ski tours require waxless, classic skis or classic skis with kick wax. The most popular skis used on our tours are waxless with metal edges. Since we’ll use the traditional diagonal stride while skiing, skate skis are not appropriate. If you have questions concerning the type of skis to bring, email or call the tour leader.
It’s always good to check the weather and see what gear might be appropriate to bring along. We strongly advise bringing a day pack and loading it with warm comfortable clothes. Obviously warm gloves or mittens and something to keep your head warm are important. You also might want to wear long underwear on colder trips. Bring a fleece or other light puffy jacket for added warmth during breaks and lunches. We also advocate bringing something for the wind and if necessary snow (and rain). Being prepared in the backcountry is always good advice.
Dogs on trips can make them much more pleasurable. And they are welcome on the trips we lead as long as they get along with other dogs. Dog fights are repulsive and are unallowable. We really don’t care who starts the fight, we just don’t want to be there for it. Dogs staying in the confines of the group are welcome, so those who might chase animals should probably stay home.
Feel free to contact your trip leader if you have any questions. Asking questions can clear up confusion and assist you in your preparations for your ski trip. Questions are good.
Backcountry Ski Tours Leader, Patti Phillips
Tour Hotline: 907-248-6667 ext 4
Patti Phillips, NSAA Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 907-240-3742
Mary Vavrik, Nordic Ski Patrol contact: email@example.com, 907-306-7686
Karlene Leeper, Denali View Chalet contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 907-440-0049
Ken DePalma, Tele-skis contact: email@example.com, 907-344-1772