Kings & Corn, an Alaskan summer camp that never grows old.
Think of Kings & Corn as an over-the-top summer camp for adults seeking a true Alaskan adventure.
Kings & Corn at Alaska’s Tordrillo Mountain Lodge takes place each June during the summer equinox, just as the snow in the Tordrillo Mountains is passing through an annual freeze-thaw cycle that produces easy to carve corn snow, and just as Alaska’s glacier-fed waters are filling up with king salmon. Think of Kings & Corn as an over-the-top summer camp — a week-long alaska heli-ski adventure that combines mornings of smooth skiing in corn snow with afternoons on the edge of Alaskan lakes and streams, fishing for 50-pound, hard-pulling and hard-biting king salmon.
All five species of Pacific Salmon, rainbow trout, Arctic char and more, fill the remote streams and rivers
SNOW Magazine sent pro skier Amie Engerbretson to experience how to be a kid again at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge or ‘Camp Kings & Corn‘, trying her hand at every activity.
Tordrillo Mountain Lodge is a short floatplane ride from Anchorage, offering spectacular views of the Alaskan wilderness. The lodge blends rustic local architecture with a homey atmosphere. After arrival, guests hang out in the kitchen to watch the chef prepare dinner, or seek out a spot on oversized leather couches for a rare moment of downtime.
There really is no such thing as an average day at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge. You and your group may choose to ski in the morning, fish in the afternoon, then ski again in the evening. As June is the land of the midnight sun, you go to sleep and wake up to light shining over pretty Judd Lake, snow-capped glistening peaks in the distance. A breakfast buffet is followed by the firing up of a waiting helicopter.
Then it’s off to sample some spring snow. If you are unfamiliar with corn snow, it is a varietal not to miss — surrender to the call of the corn. Baked in the sun and refrozen multiple times, corn snow, when ripe and ready to ski, allows you to carve perfect “S” turns on its blank canvas. Your superhero powers take over and you execute one beautiful turn after another.
Landing your first king salmon is a life-changing experience. Tordrillo Mountain Lodge supplies high-tech waders and fishing gear, then it’s time to hook up. All five species of Pacific Salmon, rainbow trout, Arctic char, and more fill the remote streams and rivers accessed via helicopter. Next, try heli-hiking, exploring some of the biggest glaciers in Alaska, and discovering ice caves and crevasses with crampons and ropes. Water sports are also available: On Judd Lake you can waterski and SUP, or paddle through some challenging whitewater to keep you on your game.
In the evenings: more heli-skiing. It’s crazy that at Tordrillo at this time of year, it is light at 10:00 p.m. The magic hour starts close to midnight, as the light softens and a surreal glow bathes the Alaskan peaks. Your connection to nature is intensified as you share ski turns, laughter and maybe even a glass of Dom Perignon or a Macallan 30-year-old whisky while seated on a mountain peak with friends.
All this comes with fine dining. Tordrillo’s chefs specialize in local cuisine, from Alaskan king crab and salmon, to locally sourced wild game. Open one of the excellent vintages from Tordrillo’s wine list, or ask the bartender to mix you a martini with glacial ice gathered daily nearby.
Tordrillo Mountain Lodge’s chefs specialize in local cuisine, from Alaskan king crab and salmon, to locally sourced wild game.
Many a day finishes with live music performed by the staff; guests are always welcome to get into the act.
The experience takes one right back to sitting around the glow