November 14, 2019
The holiday season is upon us, which for adrenaline-seeking ski hounds means the powder hunt begins. Western resorts have been blessed with ample early snowfall, and as gift-giving approaches, why not treat that special someone (and yourself) to a round of heli-skiing? A visit to Alaska’s Tordrillo Mountain Lodge (TML) is sure to kick off 2020 in just the right style. Here’s your inside track.
STAY: This luxe, multi-sport lodge has it all: a lakeside retreat (a 40-minute flight from Anchorage) that glimpses views of two 11,000-foot volcanoes and North America’s massive Denali (the continent’s highest peak at 20,320 feet). Private cozy cabins hug scenic Judd Lake, while over-the-top amenities include a 500-bottle wine cellar and, our favorite, heli-skiing from your backyard. What has us most excited, however, is the new-ish Winterlake Lodge. Tordrillo expanded its Alaskan footprint and scope of heli-ski terrain to include this haute hideaway, encircled by Finger Lake (where you’ll land via ski plane). Now able to take heli guests further north into the Alaska Tordrillo Range and the Neacolas, this massive range is one of the most remote areas in the world for heli skiing. What’s more, you can also ski from Denali to Lake Clark National Parks. Winterlake lives like a private heli-ski resort, with a stylish main cabin for group gatherings and five ultra-private guest cabins, in addition to a sled-dog lot and sauna cabin.
PLAY: Our favorite part of TML? The access to endless (read: panoramic steep and deep), non-stop, cold-smoke powder heli descents. And it all starts with Tordrillo’s team of veteran heli guides (each has at least 15 years tackling daunting terrain), including such ski legends as Chugach Powder Guides founding partner Mike Overcast (an owner at Tordrillo) and Olympian Tommy Moe. And, if you’re heli-obsessed but your travel partner is not, don’t fret. There are miles of skate skiing, traditional cross-country skiing, plus scenic snowshoe treks, fat biking, and plenty of unplugged, copper hot-tub inspired afternoons. Yoga classes are also held daily— say namaste to a serious Alaska view.
SAVOR: What to eat while sipping on a bottle from the incredible wine cellar? Choices are many, yet also highly curated. Dinner features Alaska seafood, and regional game dishes (elk, lamb and pheasant), with seafood standouts including fresh Kachemak Bay oysters, white king salmon, Alaska king crab, halibut, black cod and scallops. An added bonus is that you’ll most likely spend mornings and afternoons tackling the backcountry, so dessert is a daily indulgence, too.
SAY, SUMMER: If the warm months are more your speed, but you still have a serious taste for alpine adventure, the heli still beckons. Come summer months, the Alaska terrain has something for nearly every type thrill seeker, including heli-biking, heli-fishing, heli-hiking, and heli-rafting. And, if wanting a more mellow pace, the lodge also features all sorts of water sports, plus sporting clays and range shooting. The piece de resistance, however, is arguably Alaska’s first via ferreta, concepted by Tordrillo Mountain Lodge. After arriving by helicopter, climbers use iron rungs,1,200 feet of cable, and suspended bridges between arêtes to scale the course’s 900 vertical feet of climbing, all with massive views across the Triumvirate Glacier to the Tordrillo Mountains. Yes, please!
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