Featured - Best Northern Lights Adventures for Families

This week, Tordrillo Mountain Lodge has been featured by The Points Guy in their article on the Best Northern Lights Adventures for Families. Not everyone considers Alaska when planning a trip to see the Northern Lights, but viewing the  Aurora Borealis from a remote luxury wilderness lodge while soaking in your own private soaking tub is an experience that will stick with you for a lifetime.

The Points Guy is an American travel website that produces news and stories on travel, aviation, points and miles, and credit cards to help readers maximize their travel with hands-on travel advice, guides, reviews, deal alerts, and more.

Checkout the feature by The Points Guy here.


Great Heli-Skiing article featuring TML on howtospendit.com

Heli-skiing the ultimate wilderness in Alaska

From howtospendit.com

Deep in the Alaskan mountains is a lodge owned by a former Olympian downhill gold medallist, with a virtually exclusive claim on 1.2 million acres of snowbound slopes. It’s the gold standard of heli-skiing. Andy Isaacson drops in.

I charged after my guide into an untracked bowl that resembled all the other treeless slopes stretching out to the horizon. After a few turns, this giddiness morphed into a creeping sense of disappointment, my mood changing like a record that suddenly skips.

“I’m not liking this,” my guide said.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. In the powder hound’s imagination, Alaska skiing occupies an almost mythic space – the realm of ski movies: stunning panoramic landscapes, steep couloirs etched into jagged peaks, 1,500m descents. Alaska’s maritime coastal ranges receive over 15.24m of average annual snowfall – heavier stuff than elsewhere – that sticks improbably to rugged rock spines. In March and April, ski days can stretch well into the dinner hour. Everything here feels larger, more expansive; Alaskans often refer to contiguous America, below Canada, as simply “The States”, as though they occupy a different country. Up here is a wilder, boundless canvas for adventure.

Read full article on howtospendit.com


Best Alaska Heli Skiing

"Powder Playground" - TML Featured on Skimag.com

Light and Shadows Heli Skiing Alaska

“Powder Playground” – TML Featured on Skimag.com

It’s the first day of spring, deep in the Alaskan bush, and I’ve walked into a celebration. Sitting at a long dinner table inside a log cabin, 24 people clink wine glasses full of pinot noir and feast on wild-caught king salmon, kale, potatoes, and couscous, all of it swimming in a tomato-saffron sauce. The lights are dimmed inside the lodge and the glow from the star-shaped chandeliers reflect in the wine glasses, creating a sparkly galaxy along the length of the table. A Marvin Gaye tune plays over the speakers.

The revelers here, including an Internet tycoon and the owner of the largest horseradish producer in the United States, are on a seven-day vacation at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge (TML), the country’s swankiest and most remote heli-ski operation. TML, which is located about 60 miles northwest of Anchorage and is only accessible via a single- engine ski plane that lands on a frozen lake (just steps from the lodge we’re sitting in), is a campus of opulence, complete with spa-like amenities and five-star dining. The nearby Tordrillo Mountains are also flush with some of the world’s best skiing: a mecca of everything from mellow bowls to couloirs and classic Alaskan spines. But this crews’ first few days have been rough.

Read the entire article here.

 


All You Wanted to know about Alaska Heli Skiing

What is Heli-Skiing?

Heli-Skiing Definition: Heli-Skiing is off-trail, downhill skiing that is accessed by a helicopter. It's about skiing in natural environments without the effort that comes with hiking to these areas. Most heli-skiers are looking for powder snow, natural terrain features, long descents, smooth corn snow, old-growth tree glades and steep lines. Heli-Ski guides and operations offer skiers the opportunity to ski with minimal risk in the backcountry. You don't need to be an extreme mountaineer to find yourself on top of a huge mountain in the middle of the wilderness anymore. Heli-Skiing is NOT jumping out of a helicopter! The helicopter acts as your lift to the top of the mountain where the helicopter lands and skiers exit and put on their skis to start their descent.

Heli-Skiing History:

Heli-Skiing history began with Hans Gmoser, a mountain guide from Austria is generally credited to have started heli-skiing back in 1965 in British Columbia. Evidence also suggests that heli-skiing may have even taken place in the late 1950s or early 60s in Alaska, Wyoming or Utah based on old photos in ski books.

Years back, taking a helicopter to remote places for the chance to ski untracked powder runs was seen as something for only the most daring. Today Heli-Skiing has become a socially acceptable form of family fun. Ski movies often show heli skiers navigating only the most extreme terrain. Although those lines are accessible via chopper, the majority of heli-skiers are intermediate skiers looking to experience the backcountry in a safe environment. Whether it's the idea of riding in a helicopter through some of the most beautiful heli skiing terrain in the world, or skiing incredibly long runs of totally untracked powder, Heli-skiing is the perfect way to do it. Beside the fact that you can do all of this at your leisure without having to race people to get one line of fresh tracks for the day. This makes Alaska heli skiing the perfect option for your next family vacation.

Top 5 Alaskan Heli-Skiing Myths:

We took a good look at some common myths about Alaskan heli-skiing, that are just not true.

Myth Number 1: In Alaska you have to jump out of the helicopter to start skiing.

Top 5 Alaska Heli Skiing MythsContrary to popular belief, the helicopter will make a secure landing. This allows you to get out of the helicopter calmly, where you wait for the heli to lift off and fly away. Most of the time the helicopter will be using an LZ (Landing Zone) that they have used many times before. Hollywood and James Bond have their own versions of what heli-skiing is really about but we can assure you that you will not be jumping out of the helicopter at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge and your landings will safe and effortless.

Myth Number 2: You may be chased down the run by Moose or Bears while skiing.

Top 5 Alaska Heli Skiing MythsThough you are very likely to see Moose and Bears while in Alaska, the Moose and Bears will not be found trying to steal your first tracks or eat you for a pre-dinner snack. Your guides are always looking out for wildlife from the heli and will often point them out to you as you fly over them. They are mostly found in the lower elevations and viewing them from the heli is really the best vantage point. When you get to the lodge make sure to ask Lodge Manager Bret Gilleland about her "close encounters of the bear kind".

Myth Number 3: Heli-Skiing in Alaska is super rustic and it's hard to find nice accommodations.

Top 5 Alaska Heli Skiing MythsYes, there are a number of heli operations that look like they stage out of a Motel 6-like hotel, but Tordrillo Mountain Lodge is not one of them. The lodge is your perfect home away from home. It is clean and cozy and you are just as welcome to hang out in the kitchen as you are the living room or bar.

Myth Number 4: Isn't Heli Skiing in Alaska just for crazy "huckers" trying to ski spines and outrun avalanches?

Top 5 Alaska Heli Skiing MythsYes, Alaska is where the first World Extreme Ski Competition took place, but at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, they have terrain to suit all skiers, from an intermediate skill level to someone looking to push the envelope. The guide team at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge has spent years skiing, guiding, and pioneering new runs in their heli terrain and they tailor every trip to the desires and skill levels of their guests.

Myth Number 5: You have to catch or shoot your dinner and eat wild game or burgers for every meal

Top 5 Alaska Heli Skiing MythsYes, Alaska is the last frontier, and you do have opportunities to eat local, but you will not have to shoot your own Dall Sheep for dinner, cause your guides have done that for you over the summer months. Since you work up quite an appetite heli-skiing in Alaska, Tordrillo Mountain Lodge's Executive Chef Brendan Nolan has a week of dining ecstasy planned for you. Make sure to tell him your favorite dishes and don't be surprised when you walk down to breakfast and are handed your favorite omelet cooked exactly how you like it.

 

 

Why Alaska? Because it's the best snow on earth!

Many States and resorts in the United States try to make the claim of having the best snow on earth, but you'd be hard pressed to find better snow quality anywhere on the planet than Alaska. Many people think powder skiing is challenging because their only experience in powder is at their local ski resort when it is cut up with lots of tracks. This gives a very irregular surface and makes it more challenging to ski. No one can guarantee snow conditions, and mother nature is always mixing things up. Perfect snow can get wind affected and go from lightweight fluff into wind scoured Sastrugi.  For those of you not familiar with that term, it is a condition that puts grooves and ridges into the snow and makes skiing a bit more challenging. What many people don't realize about powder is that it is much easier to ski when it is fresh and un-tracked. This is really the whole point of  heli skiing, to ski virgin un-tracked snow and make your own fresh tracks. There is another key snow term that is illustrated in the attached photos and it's "Blower". This is when the snow is so light and fluffy it billows up and blows up around you.

Best snow on earth - heli skiing alasak

On days where the conditions are not epic, the guides always have ways of finding the best snow on any given day.

Heli-Skiing in Alaska vs Resort Skiing:

  1. Create lifelong memories with friends and family. There is no place like Alaska for rediscovering what is meaningful in life. A luxury private wilderness lodge means no distracting hustle and bustle from a crowded resort full of strangers.
  2. Alaska has more snow than any U.S. Ski Resort offering endless perfect powder descents.
  3. Ski untracked powder without crossing any tracks.
  4. Heli-skiing means never waiting in a lift line or sharing a lift with a stranger.
  5. Don’t spend your time making dinner reservations, when Heli-skiing in Alaska at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, a private chef prepares gourmet cuisine for you at any time you desire.
  6. Stay warm and cozy. When heli-skiing, you finish your run and the Helicopter picks you up and whisks you away to your next perfect run...you stay warm and dry.
  7. Heli lunches rival any ski resort cafeteria. Dine on top of the world and enjoy a fabulous meal with spectacular views.
  8. Ski with world-class guides who plan and watch your every move.
  9. The powder is so much easier on your body and knees than hard pack.
  10. Life is short, live large, go Heli-Skiing in Alaska NOW!

 

How Good do You Have to Be to go Heli-Skiing in Alaska?

Have you ever wondered how good do you have to be to go heli-skiing in Alaska? You will be surprised by the answer. If you can ski blue terrain comfortably, you are good enough to go heli-skiing. Now in the old days, this was not true, but due to the invention of fat skis, most all solid intermediates can go heli-skiing. In the ski movies, Alaskan Heli Skiing is often portrayed via "sick descents" with snow sluffs all around, but in reality, there is a huge variety of amazing blue heli-skiing terrain available.

Heli Skiing in Alaska

I'm sure you are wondering why fat skis make such a big difference? First of all, the fatter the ski, the more likely you are to stay on top of the snow, if you are skiing on a ski with a narrow sidecut or waist, the ski will sink into the snow and make it harder to start and finish a turn. You can even skid in powder on fat skis! Fat skis also allow skiers to go much faster and still feel confident and in control. Often you ski on a longer ski in the powder as well, so you have both length and width working for you.

If you ski somewhere that has a cat skiing operation as a part of the ski area, take advantage and spend a day out on the cat skiing powder on fat skis. It will be a great way to increase your confidence and skill on the fat skis in the powder.

Something to remember, heli-skiing is ALWAYS better than resort powder experiences where you are skiing across multiple tracks. AND, you don't have to fight for a line heli-skiing. Heli-Skiing is very orderly and calm. The guide usually skis first and you are instructed where to lay your tracks in relation to the guide's tracks.

If you are ready to experience the crème de la crème of powder skiing, its time to book your first heli-ski trip!

 


sophisticated lodge dining

Alaska on the Menu – Sophisticated Lodge Dining in the Heart of the Wild

Be it superb river to table dining, fresh seafood, or garden vegetables - you can’t beat the sophisticated lodge dining of Tordrillo Mountain Lodge.

“You know what’s cool about Grayling?” asks guide and co-owner Mike Overcast, raising his taught rod high into the cerulean blue sky, “It makes great sashimi.” This is true sophisticated lodge dining.

The frisky Grayling was one of more than a dozen catches of the morning, effortlessly pulled from the shimmering rivers that snake through spectacular big-mountain terrain at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge. Straight from the door of the rustic-chic lakeside camp, from July through September it’s all about five-star Alaska heli-fishing, heli-hiking, a full menu of multi-sport adventure -- and some top-drawer hospitality and dining.

Lodge guest catching a big one with co-owner Tommy Moe

After a scenic 40 minute float-plane flight from Anchorage - Denali, North America’s tallest peak in the distance - we set down gently on Judd Lake. The long clear lake makes a serene backdrop for the luxurious Alaskan lodge - outfitted with all the best outdoor adventure toys. All the top-quality gear for fishing is provided but that’s only the beginning: there are rooms full of rafts, skis and bikes, SUP, canoe and kayak paddling, Jet Skis, wake and foil boarding, ice climbing and rock climbing. All activities are accessible from the door and from your own private helicopter.

alaska remote fine dining
Lunch at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

Appetites run high in such wild climes and Tordrillo’s superb sophisticated Alaska river to table dining and Chef prepared cuisine does not disappoint. Freshness is built in: herbs and vegetables come straight from the lodge’s own gardens. The day begins with fresh fruit, home-made granola as well as hot dishes. Lunch – whether it’s riverside, mountain top or perhaps part of a deliciously lazy afternoon with a book and a massage at the lodge – is a treat of homemade soups, tasty sandwiches, and loaded brownies and cookies (and there’s a help-yourself policy to anything in the refrigerator or pantry).

Gourmet Food Alaska Heli Skiing at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge
Gourmet Food Alaska Heli Skiing at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge

After a day of Alaskan backcountry fly fishing, we additionally took in a bit of heli-hiking and sky trekking, flying low over craggy peaks and sprawling icy glaciers straight out of National Geographic – evenings kick off with cocktails round the bar. Not only does lodge manager Jennifer Cornell make a mean Negroni, this fishing guide is one of most talented fisherwomen in the country.

alaska cuisine
Dining at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge is superb.

Alongside aperitifs, each day there’s an embarrassment of delectable nibbles – from juicy Kachemak Bay oysters to tender king crab. The wine cellar is over 500 bottles strong, including Italian greats such as Sassacaia, Ornellaia and Gaja, alongside award winners from Bordeaux, Napa Valley and Pacific Northwest pinots. Dinner arrives with veggies fresh from the garden and one night it’s fresh halibut with coconut jasmine rice, another is local wagyu tenderloin with roasted mushroom risotto and blueberry beurre rouge.

Scallop dish in the Alaska backcountry
Scallop dish in the Alaska backcountry

Fresh white king salmon, black cod and scallops are among other delights to cross our table. And, while King fishing is release, keeping and eating your catch is a true treat – be it roasted, baked or sliced raw with wasabi and soya. In this remote idyll where you can float downriver for three days without seeing another soul, it’s sinfully easy to do.