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The Aspen of Alaska

Posted: December 30, 2011 - 1:09am

We are Eaglecrest.

We are not Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in California, or Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine, Mount Bachelor in Oregon, Alta in Utah, Heavenly Mountain Resort in Nevada, or posh Lake Tahoe or piney Vermont, or Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, etc. etc. in Colorado.

And we don’t try to be.

But what do we have that they don’t?

Well, snow, for one thing.

It seems ski areas across the country and beyond are feeling the pinch of Jack Frost in other areas besides the cheek. Miserly weather conditions are making Juneau the “hot spot” of skiing.

Okay, we got a brief sentence in some back eastern paper saying our snow is white and on the ground or something like that; and a photo of some buff ski dude flailing through angel flakes of powder was in the recent Powder Ski Magazine or Upside Down In A Tree magazine or some ski magazine.

We are not Whistler. We don’t have the Canada’s nightclubs like Tommy Africa’s, Maxx Fish, or The Dubh Linn Gate.

Nor are we Zermatt. We don’t have the horse drawn sleighs that clip-clop “the fabulous in-crowd” along Switzerland streets in full view of the Matterhorn.

We are not Courmayeur. We don’t have cobbled medieval streets running with mink and gold lame ski-suits that are hot off the runways of Milan or Turin.

We are not Courchevel 1850. Nope, not the most expensive resort in the French Alps where the only stars at night are the lights of private jets flying in the best brands of champagne and caviar for Russian oligarchs.

We are not the Swiss or Austrian Alps or Northern Sweden’s Are alpine.

We are Eaglecrest.

We have wooden stairs. And a coffee shop the size of a phone booth. And two bathroom stalls in the men’s room that don’t allow much wiggle room if you are in full Norsk or Sviege woolens (I don’t know what space the women’s hovel has).

We have smiles. Not the bovine collagen injected kind either. Our smiles start in the parking lot when the turn-of-the-century Volkswagen nestles in along side the medieval all-wheel-drive Chevy Tahoe.

Our smiles are in the rental shop as the elementary and middle school classes pour among the benches like termites. The grins are on the lift operators, the avalanchers, the patrollers, the work skippers, the visitors, the lifers, the first-timers, the old-timers, the brash youth and the wised Nordic thruster.

Our slopes are for beginners and number twos and number threes, and either of the groups will lead you to a run you have never tried before if you ask.

Our noses aren’t up in the air because of bank accounts, they point to the sky as our bellies erupt with laughter and glee of our vast wilderness and companionship.

We are Eaglecrest.

No Leer jets have landed at Juneau International Airport yet, no stretch limos have driven on to the tarmac to whisk the trendy and chic from afar to our little hill under Pittman Ridge.

Yet.

We are still Eaglecrest.

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