Alaska: Home to a can – do attitude & now new ski area on Hatcher Pass

At the ripe old age of fifteen, my parents took my brother and I on a road trip like none other. From the south side of Chicago, we drove 3,600 miles to the majestic lands of Alaska. It’s still to this day my favorite summer vacation of all time, but even then, I wanted to go back and visit in the snowy months. And now… next winter there will be another reason for all of us to visit: a new Hatcher Pass Ski Area!

Hatcher Pass Alpine Xperience Alaska Ski area

Hatcher Pass in the Talkeetna Mountains, Alaska – Image taken by: Leo Boudreau

Alaska’s do-it-yourself attitude helps bring a ski area into reality

The Matanuska-Sustina Borough has been trying to build a ski area on Hatcher Pass for nearly 40 years, but due to various reasons, it just didn’t happen. Then in 2015, the community joined up and said “Why not do it ourselves?” So… they created a non-profit called the Hatcher Alpine Xperience. Their goal was to provide safe outdoor recreation by grooming and clearing trails all FREE for public access. However, skiers and snowboarders had to hike up in order to use them.

Hatcher Pass Ski Area gets a “lift” from their friends at Mat-Su Health Foundation

We know what you’re thinking… even with dedicated volunteers, you still need money to get things like a chairlift at a ski area up and running. Well, we can thank the Mat-Su Health Foundation for helping with this one. Their goal to improve the health and wellness for people living in the region is making Phase 1a a reality. As of November 2017, they awarded the Hatcher Alpine Xperience a $500,000 grant! That’s more than enough to get the work moving forward.

What is part of Phase 1a?

Hatcher Pass Alpine Xperience Phase 1a Palmer Alaska Mat-su Valley Ski Area

Hatcher Pass Alpine Xperience – Phase 1a – Image courtesy: Hatcher Alpine Xperience

With the grant received, Phase 1a is on its way which includes the following:

  • A 2,400 sq ft maintenance shed to house a volunteer snowcat
  • Approximately 6 miles of trail clearing
  • Temporary warming facilities
  • Beginner Triple Chairlift running 1,250’ in length with a vertical rise of 300’

The next phase of the project, after Phase 1a is complete, is to add:

  • Parking Lot
  • Day Lodge
  • High Speed Quad Lift running approximately a mile in length with a vertical rise of 1,200’

As of the 2018-19 season, this new unnamed ski area will be the fourth in the greater Anchorage area, already including: Alyeska, Arctic Valley and Hilltop. I don’t know about you, but it’s exciting to hear about another resort becoming a reality.

For more information on how to donate and volunteer, the Hatcher Alpine Xperience has a number of ways the community can help including tasks as simple as liking the nonprofit’s Facebook page and telling a friend to becoming a member and volunteering. Get involved and enjoy the snow!

Thanks to our friends at Snowlife for giving us the scoop about this awesome news.

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