A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to ski the lines of my dreams. If you have ever arced a powder turn or even watched a ski movie, you’ve probably heard of Valdez. (If not, you’ve definitely heard of the Exxon Valdez, the tanker that spilled about 30 million gallons of oil in Prince William Sound in the late eighties.) Nestled in the spectacular Chugach Range in southern Alaska, the city is home to pockets of the most skiable terrain in the world.
Before I ever visited, I pictured Valdez as a pseudo-mythical place, accessible only to the super wealthy. They would fly in on private jets, deplaning to gold-plated platters of caviar before hopping into a helicopter to whiz them up to the top of their gated log mccabins atop private mountains. While that isn’t an entirely incorrect perspective, what I have since learned is that it is most certainly not the only option. And that is what I’m here to say: if you don’t have $1200 to drop on a day of skiing, don’t fret. The Chugach Mountains are not only filled with the echoes of whirring helicopter blades, but with swishing climbing skins as well.