Guided Ski Mountaineering in Valdez, Alaska
Valdez has incredible terrain and snow, but it is the mechanized skiing capital of Alaska. If you want true backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering, consider the Anchorage area first.
Join Joe Stock in the world venue for big mountain free skiing
Valdez is a dramatic town tucked into the Chugach Mountains on the edge of Prince William Sound. The economy depends on oil, but during the spring months the city comes alive with skiers from around the world, seeking the legendary steep and stable powder.
Each day we will commute to Thompson Pass to ski. Options range from 4,000-foot runs from summits along the highway, tackling long backcountry tours with an emphasis on downhill skiing, multi-day tours with a base camp for skiing peaks, heli skiing or heli-access touring. Most of the touring in the Valdez area is on glaciers, but the glaciers are relatively benign.
Over the years I have spent months skiing and leading guided trips in the Valdez and Thompson Pass area. These trips range from easy day tours, legendary runs such as the Cherry Couloir and day tours that involve 9,000-vertical feet of ascent and descent. In 2005 we completed the 185-mile Chugach Crusher that originated in Anchorage and finished in Valdez 18 days later.
Read other Valdez posts from:
- Midwinter 2009/10 with Cathy and Max
- April 2010 with Dan & Nik
- April 2011 with Todd, Steve & Kurt
- Hokkaido Powder Guides
Return to Skiing Overview.
- Advanced alpine skiing ability
- Previous backcountry skiing experience
- Endurance for consecutive full days in the mountains
December through early May. March and April have the ski best conditions.
Day 1: Meet in Anchorage, drive to Valdez.
Day 2: Ski Thompson Pass. Stay in Valdez or optional camping.
Day 3: Ski Thompson Pass. Stay in Valdez or optional camping.
Day 4: Ski Thompson Pass. Stay in Valdez or optional camping.
Day 5: Ski Thompson Pass. Stay in Valdez or optional camping.
Day 6: Ski Thompson Pass. Stay in Valdez or optional camping.
Day 7: Ski Thompson Pass, drive to Anchorage.
Cost (2013 rates)
- 1:1 $4,000 per person
- 2:1 $2,300 per person
- 3:1 $1,800 per person
- 4:1 $1,600 per person
- IFMGA* guide Joe Stock. A second guide will be added over four customers.
- Six days of backcountry skiing.
- Six nights lodging in Valdez.
- Six days of breakfast and dinner in Valdez
- Navigation, first aid and repair kits
- Emergency shelter and communication
- Bookings in Valdez
*Joe is the only internationally certified mountain guide living and working in Alaska.
Does Not Include
- Travel to Alaska and to Valdez.
- Guide transport to Valdez. Either drive with you or fly (additional $400)
- Travel within Alaska. Valdez to Thompson Pass and back each day is around 80 miles round trip
- Backcountry food or drinks.
- Personal gear. See Alaska Backcountry and Ski Mountaineering Gear List.
- Rescue insurance
- Trip insurance. See Booking for details.
- Camping. Highly recommended. Will reduce total costs by $50-100 per person.
- Heli skiing: ~$925 per person per day
- Heli drop: $500-$1,000 for one lift with four skier seats. Ask about availability.
- Snowmachine taxi: $150 per person per ride. Ask about availability.
Max Kaufman skiing the lower glacier on Girls Mountain (6,134') on December 27. Read a post from this trip. Girls is a prize descent above Thompson Pass that begins with an optional 50-degree shot to smooth glacier and rolling hummocks.
Dylan Taylor climbing Stairway to access a run near Diamond Peak.
Skiing toward the 45-degree powder face on Girls Mountain (6,134').
Heading back to basecamp on the Hoodoo Glacier after skiing three summits.
A one-lift heli bump is a great way to access the deep backcountry for a remote tour.
Erik Leidecker at the head of the Worthington Glacier after touring from the Hoodoo Glacier.
Last tracks of the day.
Cracked Ice: A Valdez backcountry favorite above Thompson Pass.