Deep in the Wrangells.
Tebay Lodge sits on a chain of lakes in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, surrounded by 13 million acres of true wilderness. These mountains are big, wild, and remote. This is possibly the best opportunity for lodge-based ski touring in all of Alaska — with access right out the back door to 5000 vertical feet of relief. Each day we have the option of ski touring right from the lodge, or the ultimate — ski plane accessed ski touring.
We meet near the tiny rural town of Chitina, Alaska on the afternoon of day 1. Getting here is a scenic 4.5 hour drive from Anchorage on paved roads and most groups opt to rent a car for the journey. Here we load up the planes, and enjoy a spectacular 15 minute flight into the lodge. Upon arrival there is time to look around and settle in, followed by an orientation and welcome dinner.
A TYPICAL DAY in the WRANGELLS
Each morning, the guides and pilots plan options based on the weather and snow conditions, discussing these with the team over breakfast. On a given day, we might load up the Super Cub ski planes, and fly to a high alpine glacier paradise — adventure skiing in a spectacular wilderness setting. Or we may choose to tour from the lodge, exploring one of the numerous glacier-carved valleys that drain into the Tebay Lakes. After a full day out in these dramatic mountains, we head back to the comforts of the lodge for après-ski relaxation.
The prime ski season for the Wrangells is mid-March through the end of April. This time of year is known for sunny days, cold temps, and high pressure. This is also when the best balance tends to exist between great snow conditions, good stability, and extended daylight hours — opening the doors for exploration.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the size of Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Switzerland combined. In the Wrangells, we have access to more terrain than any ski operation in North America. Tebay Lodge sits within the park on the banks of a 7 mile long chain of lakes, the Tebay Lakes, in the Eastern Chugach Mountains. The lodge elevation is only 1800', however altitude takes on a new meaning in Alaska, where you can literally ski to the ocean. Peaks in the vicinity rise to 7000', with higher peaks a short flight away.
The terrain here is inspiring. The sheer magnitude and scale is difficult to put into words. High alpine glaciers. Perfect ski peaks. Steep ramps. Beautiful ridgelines. Aesthetic couloirs. Slot canyon drainages. Featured moraines. Classic ski traverses.
Alaska is known for steep skiing, and when conditions allow, the Wrangells have amazing steep skiing opportunities. This is not our sole focus at Tebay however, as there are so many other incredible ski touring experiences to be had in these mountains. We approach the terrain here with open minds and a high degree of respect. One of the best features of Tebay is low light terrain options behind the lodge. When the weather is not flyable, there is still plenty of adventure to be had right out the back door.
Built to a beautiful rustic modern standard, Tebay's guest accommodations are comprised of the main lodge, two warm and cozy yurts, and a beautifully renovated original hunting cabin. The state of the art sauna is stoked and ready for when you get back from a big day of ski touring – and also has an excellent integrated shower. Bathrooms consist of washrooms in the main lodge and sauna, and simple but nicely kept outhouse buildings. Considering how remote this is, and the fact that everything has to be flown in, the quality of life at Tebay is high.
standard week: 7 days
DAY 1: Meet at the Chitina Airport at 3pm, about a 4.5 hour drive from Anchorage. We recommend arriving 20-30 minutes early to have time to organize your personal gear for the flight in. Meet the pilots and load up the planes for the 15 minute flight in. Lodge tour, companion rescue review, welcome slideshow and dinner.
DAY 2-6: Full days of ski touring in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, utilizing the ski planes on three of these days.
DAY 7: Mid-morning flight back to Chitina. If you are flying out of Anchorage this evening, we recommend scheduling flights no earlier than 8pm.
In partnership with
Ultima Thule Outfitters
The Tebay Lodge Ski Week is offered in partnership with our friends at Ultima Thule Outfitters. Legendary mountain pilot Paul Claus has been called "King of the Bush Pilots" by Outside Magazine, and the Claus family runs Ultima Thule Lodge, Tebay's parent lodge, in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Son Jay Claus carries on the tradition as our host at Tebay. Jay is a pilot, skier, climber, and craftsman — Jay built Tebay Lodge by hand with the help of a few friends; true Alaskan ingenuity. Learn more at ultimathulelodge.com.
We welcome skiers from a wide range of backgrounds, ages, and experience levels. For the safety and success of the group, as well as your own enjoyment, it is important that you come to the Wrangells physically and mentally prepared for adventure skiing in a big mountain environment:
You should be a solid advanced skier, confident skiing ungroomed black diamond terrain at the ski area, and capable of getting down double black diamond runs.
You should be proficient skiing in a variety of backcountry snow conditions across different types of terrain. We seek out high quality snow whenever possible (cold powder, smooth corn), but quite often a day of touring in the big mountains requires travel through trickier conditions for parts of the day (wind board, refrozen snow, breakable crust, etc).
You should be experienced and proficient with uphill ski touring skills: skinning, kick turns, transitions, efficiency, booting with skis on your pack, etc.
Excellent physical fitness is required. A typical day of touring at Tebay Lodge involves 4000-5000+ vertical feet of ascent, mostly in the form of skinning, often with additional total descent on ski plane days.
At Tebay, skiing a half day or catching an "early bus" back to the lodge is generally not possible under normal circumstances, especially on ski plane days due to logistics, terrain, etc.
Previous mountaineering experience is not required for this trip.
standard 7 day cost includes:
Round trip flights to/from the lodge from Chitina
6 nights at the lodge in bunkroom style accommodations
5 days of guided skiing, including 3 ski plane accessed days**
High quality meals at the lodge
Flights to/from Anchorage
Lodging in Anchorage
Additional ski plane days are available for $350 per person per day with group consensus
**No-fly policy: On rare occasions, weather conditions may prevent being able to fly on one or multiple of the included ski plane days. Should this happen, a credit will be provided at the rate of $350 per day.
Fly into Anchorage Int'l Airport. We recommend arriving one day prior to the start of the trip. There are numerous hotels in close proximity the airport. From Anchorage it's a 4.5 hour drive to Chitina, where the trip begins. Renting a car is the best option for getting from Anchorage to Chitina.
It is also possible to fly into Valdez, which is 2 hours from Chitina. Being a small airport, Valdez is more prone to flight cancellations due to weather. The drive from Valdez to Chitina also requires driving over Thompson Pass which has potential for weather/avalanche closure.
"The trip left me almost speechless. It exceeded my expectations and everything I have experienced so far by a factor of 1000 on all dimensions - whether it be the expansive, endless and breathtaking beauty of the Wrangells, the quality of the runs, the orchestration and flow of our touring days, the communication with and from the guides, pilots, staff... It was truly a trip of a lifetime!"
— Wolf R.
"One of the greatest trips of my life."
— Michelle Parker