New Frontier: Fly-in Backcountry Skiing in Alaska

Ultimate Adventure Bucket List 2014: Snowboarder Jeremy Jones' new frontier trip is fly-in backcountry skiing in Alaska. Plus: his must-have gear pick.

View Images

Jeremy Jones free-falls through a turn on a steep section of his line on "The Tooth" in Wrangell St. Elias National Park

Alaska has 302 million acres of public land and a mere 730,000 residents to share it with. Those are pretty good odds, says Jones, which is why backcountry skiing in Alaska is a must-do for any avid snowboarder or skier.

“Get a plane drop somewhere in Alaska and set up a base camp for 10 to 20 days,” he says. “There are so many unridden mountains in Alaska, and a plane is a great way to get into them. You get dropped off on these high glaciers where first descents and dream lines are totally achievable for midlevel backcountry snowboarders.”

With such an abundance of mountains and snow, the problem, of course, is choosing where to go. Recently, Jones arranged to fly into the eastern part of the Alaska Range from Delta Junction, Alaska, near Fairbanks. But for those who prefer the safety of a guide service, he recommends Ultima Thule Lodge, located on an island of private land within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the country’s largest national park.

Between March and May, bush pilot Paul Claus flies guests and local guides to ski the giant bowls, couloirs, and glaciers of four converging mountain ranges. At the end of the day, everyone returns to the cozy log lodge for a homegrown meal and an evening drinking beers and gazing over the wide valley of the Chitina River.

“I’ve gone to a bunch of ranges, and in each range, you could spend a lifetime and ride a first ascent every day,” Jones says. “Alaska truly is skier and snowboarder paradise.”

Alaska Alpine Adventures guides backcountry ski trips in Lake Clark National Park and in the Chugach Range near Valdez, Alaska. Ultima Thule Lodge offers fly-in lodge-based ski trips in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

Jeremy Jone
Jeremy Jones became the king of big-mountain snowboarding by riding gigantic, drool-worthy lines in Alaska with the aid of a helicopter. Then he changed his career—and the sport—by taking a different strategy. Now, Jones uses mountaineering techniques and a splitboard to haul himself up some of the remotest peaks on the planet, film it all for documentaries like Deeper and Further, and, along the way, inspire a generation of backcountry snowboarders.
Jeremy Jone's Gear Pick: O'Neil Jones Packable Down Jacket
"Jeremy Jones spent years perfecting the Packable Down Jacket with O’Neill, one of his sponsors. Now, he stashes it in his bag on every trip. “For how much warmth you get out of it for the weight, it’s just a good thing that’s always with me,” he says."

Comment on This Story