Mountain bikers and skiers sometimes maintain a symbiotic relationship. This summer, Alyeska Resort launched its first season of lift-assisted mountain biking. In turn, this winter's skiers and riders will get more glades to explore, thanks to the development of the new mountain bike trail system.

This summer mountain bikers at Alyeska were able to hop on the aerial tram and three other lifts for the first time to reach bike trails tucked into nooks and crannies of the ski area.

"The response from bikers has been overwhelmingly positive," Spokesperson Amy Quesenberry said. "A common refrain from riders was 'That was as much fun as a powder day, but on dirt!'"

Last spring, the resort's trail crew cleared brush and trees from the Race Trail area of the mountain. The clearing served a dual purpose—it opened up bike trails and also resulted in new gladed terrain for skiers and riders.

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Alyeska's new trail map shows the location of the new glades. Map Courtesy of Alyeska Resort.

"The newly gladed areas will be accessible to intermediate level skiers and riders that possess decent backcountry and decision making skills," Quesenberry said. "Not every turn will require advanced skills, but some sections are pretty steep and tight and accessibility to the different glades will depend on snowfall."  

The new glade skiing areas are in four pockets of forest. Three can be accessed below the Chair 1 midway station and the fourth sits adjacent to West Line below the Aerial Tram.

"Tree-skiing glades are at a premium here. Half of Mt. Alyeska is above tree level, and the runs that fall below tree line tend to get buried under heavy snowfall or are too heavily forested to navigate," Quesenberry said.

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Alyeska has had very few glades to ski due to deep snowfall and thick trees. Photo Courtesy of Alyeska Resort.

Alyeska has scheduled Nov. 23 for their opening day this winter. The season is set to run through the end of April with the lifts running for spring skiing and riding in May, if conditions permit.