A long-planned new ski area for Alaska may be gaining momentum. Known as East Peak the resort could eventually become the state’s largest, overtaking Alyeska – not that Alaska currently has may large developed ski areas, although it has vast swathes of heli-ski and back country skiing.

The resort could be developed in the Chugach Mountains about 6 miles east of Valdez, a location world-famous for its extreme skiing and also North America’s snowiest town, receiving an average 24 feet (7.3 metres) of snowfall annually.

The planned resort is being pushed by three local skiers, one of whom is reported to have conceived the resort more than two decades ago. They now though have preliminary approval to begin to more detailed development planning from the Alaskan state government.

The project was conceived by former extreme snowboarder Ryan McClune, who says the time is now right as the number of cruise visitors looking for things to do grows (the area would offer mountain biking, zip wires and gold planning in the summer) and the traditional oil business fades.

Initial plans are fairly modest, the three backers say they have spent around $1m so far buying around 200 acres at the base of the slopes where they plan to build property to sell as part of the financing of initial resort infrastructure, including an access road and ideally a three-mile (5km) long lift carrying both chairs and gondola cabins. The state’s initial approval gives access to another 800 acres via a 20 year lease.