WHAT IS THE DEAL?
Tailgate Alaska was founded eleven years ago with the idea of making the world's best mountains attainable to riders from all different backgrounds. Over the years the event has evolved with the growing Thompson Pass snowboard scene that the event helped ignite. Today the ten day event gives participants basic amenities - as well as a large group of riders who have gained real world experience in the area over the years. It is designed to provide both an affordable way to ride Alaska while providing the camaraderie of the diverse community that make up participants. 100% of ticket sales proceeds go to put on the event - permits, lot plowing, toilets, garbage service etc.
WHAT'S THE DOWNSIDE?
It is a far trip from just about anywhere and there are far fewer amenities than, say, Whistler. Most agree the unlimited terrain and powder make the trip worthwhile - even from across the planet.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
Most people choose to fly into Anchorage and get a rental car or RV there. The drive from Anchorage to Thompson Pass is about 5 hours. There is also direct service into Valdez by air.
HOW COLD IS IT?
Not very cold. Generally daytime temps are between 20-30 F (-5C).
When the sun is out, it feels much warmer. It is not so much the cold, but how long you are out in it. Many daily missions last 8-12 hours, so plan accordingly. Temperatures at night can drop below zero.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DRIVE?
From the lower 48 you are looking at about 50-70 hours behind the wheel (unless you drive from Maine, which one participant did and is much further). For the most part, the roads are good. However Destruction Bay lives up to its name with 250 miles of major frost heaves.
HOW MUCH WILL MY TRIP TO ALASKA COST?
It is up to you. Last year, we had a guy show up, build a snow cave and skin the mountains around camp. He only had to cover his food and travel. On the other end of the spectrum, you could easily spend 7-10k if you went heliing everyday.
AM I GOOD ENOUGH TO RIDE ALASKA?
This is probably the most misunderstood aspect of riding in AK. About 80% of the terrain is intermediate. With plenty of rolling terrain for even novice skiers and riders. There are definitely risks involved with riding here like any other place you would ride in the backcountry and some risks that are unique to Alaska e.g. glaciated terrain. The goal of Tailgate Alaska is to provide a starting point for all skill levels of backcountry users to access these mountains.
DO I NEED ANY SPECIAL GEAR?
You will need an avalanche beacon, shovel, probe, harness, and locking carabiner (for glacier travel). Airbags are also recommended.
For basecamp we recommend having a good pair of warm, waterproof boots and extra layers for the long hours outside.
DOES IT GET TRACKED OUT?
One year after 8 days of clear weather, there were less tracks than at Squaw Valley at 10am on a powder day. No matter what you hear Thompson Pass is never tracked out.
IF I BUY A TICKET, CAN MY BUDDY STAY IN MY RV?
No. Every person needs to have a pass to pay for things like WIFI, toilets, garbage, and entertainment.
SHOULD I STAY ON THE PASS OR IN TOWN?
This is personal preference. Town offers a ton of convenience - food, showers, supplies. On the pass, it is more challenging to dry your gear each day and showers are few and far between. The advantage of staying on the pass is no daily commute and waking up at 3am to the hoots and cheers that accompany the Northern Lights up at basecamp.