Epic Heli-Skiing In Alaska’s Backcountry

Skiing the backcountry is an ideal way to enjoy this sport, and avid skiers are seeking out Alaska as the top place to heli-ski. Tordrillo Mountain Lodge offers travelers the ultimate Alaska heli-ski adventures, complemented with remote, rustic-modern lodges, private cabins and luxury lifestyle amenities just a 40-minute flight from Anchorage on the banks of the Talachulitna River and their own Judd Lake.

Some of the best big mountain riders in the world like Travis Rice have rode and filmed on this epic terrain. The top guides at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, including Olympic gold medalist Tommy Moe, can take intermediate skiers to the next level in the backcountry of Alaska. And given the current environment, an extensive array of health and safety precautions/screenings are in place at the Lodge.

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Heli-skiing is a sport that you don’t need to be an extreme mountaineer to find yourself on top of a huge mountain in the middle of the wilderness. Contrary to popular belief, heli-skiing doesn’t mean you have to jump out of a helicopter. The helicopter acts as your lift to the top of the mountain. From here, the helicopter lands, skiers exit, put on their skis and start their thrilling descent down the powdery mountain. Heli-skiing is off-trail, downhill skiing that is accessed by a helicopter. It’s about skiing in natural environments without the effort that comes with hiking to these areas. Most heli-skiers are looking for powder snow, natural terrain features, long descents, smooth corn snow, old-growth tree glades and steep lines. Heli-ski guides and operations offer skiers the opportunity to ski with minimal risk in the backcountry. Ten runs is average and as many as 30 depending on how many groups are in the field and the guest appetite and fitness level.

“While many film companies do segments of professional skiers and snowboarders in Alaska on extreme terrain this has intimidated a lot of people about Alaska,” explains Moe. “At Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, we have terrain to match everyone’s capabilities. If you like big open cruisers down glacier bowls we have a lot of variations of terrain in our backyard.”

Moe and heli-ski pioneer Mike Overcast co-founded Tordrillo Mountain Lodge in 2006 to share their passion for the outdoors in the stunning Alaskan wilderness. Overcast says, “The Tordrillo Mountains are unique for the snow quality which is light and dry and the variety of slopes we ski. The mountains can provide great steep and deep skiing for experts who are looking to ski panels, spines and couloirs, as well as wide open glaciers and bowls for those that prefer less steep terrain and confinement. The skiing in Alaska is relatively low altitude. The average drop is at 6,000 feet. The Tordrillo Mountains have peaks as high as 11 thousand and glaciers down to 1,000. A wide range of options exist.”

Heli-skiing at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge is available for week long experiences from February through April with their Kings and Corn (Fishing and Skiing) experience available in June and July. Rates begin at $15,000 per week and include seven days of heli adventures, and transportation from Anchorage International Airport, safety equipment and ski/snowboard demos and gourmet meals. After a day of exploring the alpine surroundings, guests can take off their ski boots and enjoy an in-room spa treatment, a wine tasting and an indulgent Alaskan gastronomical experience.

The lodge, run by Triumvirate LLC, an Alaskan outfitting/operating company, owns and operates its own helicopters and hires expert guides to provide guests with world-class helicopter-based adventure experiences. The five-star resort offers an array of luxury amenities and lodging options, including gourmet cuisine prepared by private chefs and a curated wine list from a 500-bottle cellar.

“Our goal, as a culinary team at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, is to make sure the food is as memorable as the Tordrillo Mountain experience,” says Stewart Rhodes, Chef at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge. “The proteins we serve are the highest quality. Whether it’s Wagyu Beef, Alaska King Crab, various wild game or locally caught Alaskan King Salmon, we take pride in serving the best selection of food we can source. One night guests can enjoy elk loin with roasted root vegetables and duck fat confit potatoes with a toasted pine nut and asparagus chimichurri, the next night, fresh Alaskan king salmon with a reindeer sausage and roasted sweet corn succotash and a tomatillo salsa. Guests can feast on king crab legs and enjoy the sweet, succulent taste paired with wines from our wine cellar.”

According to Moe, one of the biggest changes over the years is the new wide powder skis that have more surface area underfoot, thus allowing skiers to literally surf through powder. Also if you have any varied snow surfaces they really allow you to charge through the mixed conditions. He says, “Intermediate skiers can absolutely learn to heli-ski, and we can find terrain to make sure they feel safe and confident. We gradually progress through different areas with lots of epic terrain. We go through a thorough safety briefing on traveling in Avalanche terrain and have transceivers, shovels and probes and airbags and make sure everyone knows how to use them before we go into the mountains. It also really helps if you are in good physical condition.”

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