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.

Release Form

Review Gear List and Cheat Sheet

 

Ski Tour Classifications

  • Easy I: 1 to 3 miles round trip on generally flat terrain. Suitable for beginners.
  • Easy II: 3 to 6 miles round trip and up to 600 ft. elevation gain.
  • Easy III: 6 to 8 miles round trip or 600 ft. to 800 ft. elevation gain.
  • Moderate I: 800 ft. to 1100 ft. elevation gain.
  • Moderate II: 1100 ft. to 1500 ft. elevation gain.
  • Moderate III: 1500 ft. to 1800 ft. elevation gain.
  • Advanced I: 1800 ft. to 2500 ft. elevation gain.
  • Advanced II: Over 2500 ft. elevation gain

Advanced ski tours are generally on more difficult terrain and participants have developed efficiency and acquired skills for their safe backcountry ski travels. To go on an Advanced ski trip, you must be able to break trail for a period of time and must have excellent nordic/downhill skiing ability. In addition to the “10 essentials”, you should carry a shovel, probe and avalanche beacon and know how to use them, plus any extra items required by the trip leader.

 

Schedule

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 website and by email.

 

November Backcountry Tours

 

November 24, 2017: 20th Annual Turkey Day Shakeoff – Archangel Road, Hatcher Pass, Talkeetna Mountains

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.   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.

Additional Information about Hatcher Pass Gold Cord Mine tour

For more information contact the tour leader Ken DePalma at 907-344-1772.

 

December Backcountry Tours

 

December 9, 2017: Iditarod Trail INHT from Eddies to Turnagain Pass

Enjoy a great ski on a part of the Iditarod National Historic Trail (INHT).   Meet at the Chugach State Park Headquarters (by the train south of Potter Marsh) at 9:00 am.

Additional Information about Turnagain Pass Iditarod Trail tour

For more information contact the tour leader Mary Vavrik at 907-306-7686.

 

December 15, 2017: Friday Night Fun Ski – North Bivouac Trailhead

Tour the local trails 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.

Additional Information about Friday Night Fun Ski tour

For more information contact the tour leader Ken DePalma at 907-344-1772.

 

 

January Backcountry Tours

 

January 13-15, 2018: Overnights at Sheep Mountain Lodge and Touring Matanuska Glacier along Caribou Creek

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. 

Additional Information about Sheep Mountain Lodge tour

For more information, contact the tour leaders Mary Vavrik at 907-306-7686 and Ken DePalma at 907-344-1772.

 

January 19, 2018: Friday Night Fun Ski- Mile 1.2 Campbell Airstrip Road, Basher Trailhead

Tour the local trails 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.

Additional Information about Friday Night Fun Ski tour

For more information contact the tour leader Ken DePalma at 907-344-1772.

January 27, 2018: Williwaw Lake and out Middle Fork

Tour the local trails 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.

Additional Information about Friday Night Fun Ski tour

For more information contact the tour leader Patti Phillips at 907-240-3742.

 

January 30 – February 1, 2018: Lunar Eclipse and Overnight at Red Shirt Lake

Catch the lunar eclipse and spend 2 nights (mid-week) at private cabin on Red Shirt Lake

Additional Information about Lunar Eclipse and Red Shirt Lake tour

For more information contact the tour leader Patti Phillips at 907-240-3742.

 

 

February Backcountry Tours

 

February 9, 2018: Friday Night Fun Ski- Upper O’Malley Trailhead

Tour the local trails 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.

Additional Information about Friday Night Fun Ski tour

For more information contact the tour leader Ken DePalma at 907-344-1772.

 

February 11, 2018: Portage Lake and Pass

More information coming soon!

Additional Information about Portage Lake tour

For more information contact the tour leader Patti Phillips at 907-240-3742.

 

February 17-19, 2018: 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.

Additional Information about Manitoba tour

For more information, contact the tour leaders Karlene Leeper 907-440-0049, Mary Vavrik 907-306-7686 and Michael Henrich

 

March Backcountry Tours

 

March 2, 2018: Friday Night Fun Ski- Glen Alps

Tour the local trails 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.

Additional Information about Friday Night Fun Ski tour

For more information contact the tour leader Ken DePalma at 907-344-1772.

 

March 2-4, 2018: Denali View Chalet, Peters Hills

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, 2018.

Additional Information about Denali View Chalet tour

For more information, contact the tour leader Karlene Leeper at 907-440-0049.

 

March 10-18, 2018: Denali National Park, Fly in/out of Kantishna

Back by popular demand!  Join us on this once in a life time ski tour through Denali Park supported by dog teams.  More information is coming soon!

For more information, contact Bob Sutherland  funhog.fundogs@gmail.com 

 

March 18, 2018: Skookum Glacier, Turnagain Arm, Kenai Peninsula

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).

Additional Information about Skookum Glacier tour

For more information, contact the tour leader Patti Phillips at 907-240-3742.

 

March 30, 2018: Friday Night Fun Ski- Prospect Height Trailhead

Tour the local trails 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.

Additional Information about Friday Night Fun Ski tour

For more information contact the tour leader Ken DePalma at 907-344-1772.

 

 

April Backcountry Tours

 

April 7, 2018: Turnagain or Hatcher Pass Tour- TBD

More information coming soon!

For more information contact the tour leader Mary Vavrik at 907-306-7686

 

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.

Weather Links

Area Temps

Anchorage Forecast

Palmer Forecast

Turnagain Pass temps and snow depths

Independence Mine temps and snow depths

Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center

Chugach National Forest Service Avalanche Center

Contacts

Backcountry Ski Tours Leader, Patti Phillips
Phone: 907-240-3742

Patti Phillips, NSAA Contact: phillipspj@chugach.net, 907-240-3742
Mary Vavrik, Nordic Ski Patrol contact: mvavrik@gci.net, 907-306-7686
Karlene Leeper, Denali View Chalet contact: kbleeper@gci.net, 907-440-0049
Ken DePalma, Friday Night Fun skis contact: traveler@alaska.net, 907-344-1772