• Looking out at the face of Pyramid behind Thompson Pass, in the Chugach Mountains near Valdez.
  • An A/T skier makes his way through the Alaska backcountry of the Chugach Mountains, toward Pyramid outside of Valdez.
  • Looking out as the Sunsets on Pyramid while doing a Valdez Alaska glacier ski camp.
  • Skinning out to Pyramid from the glacier ski camp.
  • Looking out at Pyramid in Chugach/Valdez zone.
  • Looking out at Pyramid in Chugach/Valdez zone.

Overview

Home to the ultra-famous Pyramid Peak, The Cleave Glacier is host to a myriad of different riding styles and sports lines on almost every aspect. With clean landings and easy glacier travel, you can fly in and make your base camp anywhere from 5,000 to 5,800 feet, meaning this place has a longer season than most other areas in Valdez. Because this zone is higher and more exposed, it can be subject to more weather and high winds, but if that’s the case, don’t be discouraged.

The lower glacier can be completely wind swept while Pyramid and couloirs on the upper glacier can be holding undisturbed powder. With lines like the north face of Pyramid rocking one of the most beautiful high-speed panels in the Chugach, it’s tough to pass up a visit to this iconic place. Just make sure you bring your Verts and negotiate the bergschrund with care! Another excellent reason to ride here is the fact that after you’re done tracking out the whole zone, there’s no need to fly out.

You can keep the adventure going by skiing out to the highway, with mostly downhill terrain. Following the shortest path, Cleave Creek, is not recommended as it lies in a major terrain trap with extreme avalanche hazard. In contrast, you can ski down the Cleave Glacier from base camp for two miles, take a left onto the drainage heading west and continue downhill for five miles before ascending a moderately steep hill that deposits you in the high alpine lakes above the Tsaina Lodge. Skin through the flats until the angle increases and you’re skiing again, often side hilling. You will eventually come out of the steep walled canyon to a glorious powder descent to the highway. If time and weather allows, there are plenty of additional lines to bag along the way as well!