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Eagle Valley Resort

Proposed in 1987, never built

Name of Ski Area: Eagle Valley Resort
Location: Eagle River, on the south side of the Eagle River, on the north, west and southwest facing slopes of Little Teton Mountain.
Type of Area: Ski Hill
Dates of Operation: Never built, proposed by Rogner Touristik on 1987
Who Built It?: Never built
Base/ Vertical Drop:

Base: ~600' / Vertical: ~4000'

Lifts: Never built
Facilities: A four season resort was proposed.
Miscellaneous: The Rogner Touristik corporation of Austria proposed this four season resort and got permits from the State of Alaska to build it.  Once the permits were in place Rogner asked the State of Alaska for a 100 million dollar loan to built this resort.  The state consulted tourism groups and consultants around the country to see if they thought this ski resort was a viable venture.  The lower 48 tourism contacts said that there would be no way many people would fly past Whistler Mountain and similar destinations to ski in a cold, mostly north facing valley that had very little daylight.  So the State of Alaska's decision on the loan was: No.

At the same time this proposed resort was being promoted as an 0lympic skiing venue in Anchorage's bid to gain the 1994 Olympics.  Lillehammer, Norway ending up winning the bid for the 1994 Olympics.  Due to no Anchorage Olympics and the fact that the State of Alaska would not supply the 100 million dollar loan, Rogner decided to abort their Eagle Valley four season resort venture.

Sources of Information:

Anchorage Organizing Committee 1994 Olympic Bid Packet; Bruce Talbot of the State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources; Anchorage Daily News / Municipality of Anchorage Loussac Library Alaska Collection "Vertical Files"


Below are copies of three pages from the Anchorage 1994 Olympic bid packet.  The image on the left is a cover shot for the alpine skiing bid, showing a picture of Alberto Tomba.  In the center is a topographical view of the race courses and proposed Eagle Valley Resort lifts that would be in place on Little Teton Mountain.  At right is the proposed bobsled, luge and jumping venue that would have been just to the west of the Eagle Valley Resort (near the Hiland Road exit of the Glenn Highway).

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OlyBid94_cover.jpg (113824 bytes)

OlyBid94_alpine.jpg (126119 bytes)

OlyBid94_bobjump.jpg (125531 bytes)

Olympic bid post cards.

Anchorage Daily News clippings from the Municipality of Anchorage Loussac Library Alaska Collection "Vertical Files"

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February 1, 1984 November 13, 1987 March 9, 1988

~  MAPS  ~

This large scale topo shows the general vicinity the proposed ski area of the Rogner Eagle Valley Resort would have encompassed.

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topo_eaglevalley.jpg (162664 bytes)

A zoomed in topo view shows the general vicinity the proposed ski area of the Rogner Eagle Valley Resort would have encompassed.

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topo_zoom_eaglevalley.jpg (183543 bytes)

This map shows the proposed ski area layout, and where different ski-ability terrain would be found.  This map is from a 1987 Alaska Department of Natural Resources document entitled: "A Comparison of Potential Alpine Ski Areas in Chugach State Park".  For more info on this study, click here.

(click on this map to expand it)

Articles and Research Correspondence 
Eagle Valley Resort: The ski area that never was

For The Star

A sketch shows what downtown Eagle River may have looked like had Eagle Valley Resort become a reality in the 1980s.
Illustration courtesy of Rogner Touristik International
You've seen the bumper stickers: "Eagle River: My Home Town," "I (Heart) Eagle River," and "Eagle River: The Aspen of the North."

The Aspen of the north? Say again?

Once upon a time, Eagle River dared to picture itself as one of the world's premier ski destinations. Back in the 1980s, when excitement was high about bringing the Winter Olympics to Anchorage, an Austrian developer named Robert Rogner began planning a huge project. The Eagle Valley Resort would sit on and below Harp Mountain, just out Hiland Road (and inside Chugach State Park). Rogner envisioned a place with nine ski lifts, two hotels, 900 condo units, an indoor pool and athletic center, a convention center, a movie theater and even a Russian Orthodox church.

The developer constructed a mock-up of the resort, and people streamed through the Eagle Center to get a look at it. "It was a standard ski resort arrangement with the lifts on one side and down below would be a village that would be patterned on a gold rush theme," said Lee Jordan, founder and former publisher of the Chugiak-Eagle River Star, now the Alaska Star.

The state's economy had bottomed out, and the Eagle Valley Resort would reportedly provide employment for 2,000 residents. "The promise of local jobs was one of the most exciting parts of the project," said Eagle River real estate agent Eva Loken. "That and the idea that Eagle River could be a good place for a ski resort."

Jordan agrees that residents initially were thrilled by the idea. "The big thing was the potential for putting Eagle River on the map," he said.

Rogner planned ski runs that would meet Olympic standards and attract World Cup races, particularly early in the season when other locations lacked snow. And residents hoped the area would bolster Anchorage's bid for the 1992 and later the 1994 Winter Olympics.

State officials worked quickly to grant a concession allowing the ski operation to exist within Chugach State Park. One official promised the state would be supportive and suggested the resort could transform Eagle River into "the Aspen of the North."

Flies in the Ointment

As Rogner moved ahead, costs mounted. His $170 million estimate mushroomed to $250 million. A year into the project, Rogner asked the Alaska Industrial and Economic Development Authority to guarantee $150 million in loans.

Loken says this was Rogner's mistake, and it marked the beginning of the end for the Eagle Valley Resort. Before the state would agree to guarantee loans, it required a feasibility study to determine if the resort could succeed. A Seattle consultant conducted the study and in March 1989 announced the project was not economically viable, and there was no international market for Alaska skiing.

Loken contends the study was deeply flawed. Specifically, she says, European travel agents were polled about how many clients had requested a ski vacation in Alaska. "But we didn't yet have a place to go skiing in Alaska," she said.

But others in the community saw an entirely different scenario. Pete Panarese, Chief of Field Operations for Alaska State Parks at the time, felt it was Rogner's development plans that were flawed. The project had the potential to leave the state with long-term operational and infrastructure costs, he says. "It went from being one of, 'Give us permission to proceed and we will bring $150 million of investment into your community,' to one of, 'Guarantee our $150 million investment and we will build a ski resort and condominium project for you.'"

Panarese also saw the project as a real estate speculation deal. "The ski area development was secondary," he said. "The developer brought us lots of drawings of buildings like condos and shopping malls at the base of the ski area, but had no knowledge of property ownership or snow conditions." Soon after Anchorage lost the Olympic bid, Rogner and his staff pulled up stakes, Panarese said.

Termination Dust

Had it become a reality, Eagle Valley Resort would have challenged skiers of all abilities.
Illustration courtesy of Rogner Touristik International
Rogner's representative, Klaus Ressman, stayed in Eagle River for about four months after the state declined to guarantee the loans. His aim, he reported to The Star, was to work toward increasing international demand for Alaska skiing. But Rogner soon summoned him back to Vienna to work on other projects. In July 1989, the state canceled its agreement allowing the developer access to Chugach State Park. The project was officially dead.

Imagine ...

How would Eagle River differ today if the resort had been built? It depends on who you talk to. Many people feel the state's feasibility study was valid. Some point to the poor snow conditions we've had in recent years and wonder if the resort could have stayed open long enough each season to turn a profit. Perhaps the Eagle Valley Resort would be our town's white elephant.

Others feel more positive. "It would have been the biggest snowmaking operation in the world at the time," concedes Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susan Gorski. "But there was a good water source, so that didn't frighten away the developer."

Loken believes the resort would have helped create a more vibrant downtown. With the expansion of Alyeska in the 1990s and the potential for development at Hatcher Pass, the Eagle Valley Resort would have been ideally situated within driving distance of both and would have attracted international visitors to the area, she says.

Eagle River is unlikely to see another project like the Eagle Valley Resort. Land status has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. But our neighbors to the north may have better luck as hopes for a Hatcher Pass ski resort live on.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Thursday, November 9, 2006.


Humble predecessors of Eagle Valley Resort

Alaska Star staff

At least two other local ski spots predate the Eagle Valley Resort, according to the Alaska Lost Ski Areas Project Web site. The first, from around 1953-54, was located on the hillside east of the Old Glenn Highway in downtown Eagle River, behind Tips Bar. A rope tow powered by someone's car engine pulled skiers to the top of the slope. Skiing was free.

Chugiak's Ptarmigan Valley Resort operated in 1967 on the west-facing slopes of Roundtop Mountain (at the end of Ptarmigan Valley Trail). It included a lodge and a ski rental shop as well as two rope tows run from Dodge Power Wagon trucks. One of the ropes spanned 2,000 feet and sagged in the middle despite a support pulley, forcing skiers to hold the rope up out of the snow. Owner Ray Beam closed the area after a year because of conflicting land claims and financial trouble. See the Alaska Lost Ski Area Project Web site at www.alsap.org for more information.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Thursday, November 9, 2006.



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