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Salmonberry Ski Hill

1984 to 1986 / 2012 to Present
(This site is NOT a lost ski area)

Name of Ski Area: Salmonberry Ski Hill
Location: Valdez, at Mile 5.2 of the Richardson Highway.
Type of Area: Ski Hill
Dates of Operation: 1984 to 1986 (possibly to 1991) / 2012 to Present
Who Built It?: The City of Valdez 
Base/Vertical Drop:

Base: ~100' / Vertical: ~225'.  2011 reopening: 320' vertical

Lifts: Original lift: Harusch Model 1000 surface lift.  Current lift: 1,100' Multi-Lift Wire Rope Tow, 12.5 hp Bottom Drive
Facilities: Small shack for the lift operator at the top of the ski area, Piston Bully groomer
History: As of December 2011, and the pending reopening of this ski hill, this site is NOT considered a lost ski area.  This area was once closed due to a lawsuit involving an injured skier.  The lift for this ski hill was originally at a site near Thompson Pass just north of the ADOT&PF Maintenance Station, at mile 27.5 Richardson Highway.  The original lift was moved in 1983 from Thompson Pass to Salmonberry Ridge east of Valdez.

The Valdez Snow Authority, a community based skiing and snowboarding advocacy group, reopened this ski hill for the 2011/2012 season.  A 1,100 foot surface tow was installed by the VSA.

Sources of Information:

Chris Mishmash; Pete Bellezza; Donna Schantz; Chris Moulton; Sarah Carter

Photos:

Does anyone have pictures of skiing at the Salmonberry Ski Hill (or current pictures of the vicinity) that they would like to contribute to ALSAP ?

~  PHOTOS  ~
 
Valdez Vanguard article - January 22, 1986
To see the full PDF document of the article, click here.

 
Sarah Carter Pictures - Spring 2012, Salmonberry Hill Back In Operation
These pictures show the new Salmonberry Hill ski slope in operation the first season upon re-opening.

~  MAPS  ~

This large scale topo map shows the location of the Salmonberry Ski Hill relative to the City of Valdez.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_salmonberry.jpg (189658 bytes)

This zoomed in topo map shows location of the Salmonberry Ski Hill at Mile 5.2 of the Richardson Highway.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_zoom_salmonberry.jpg (88911 bytes)

Research Correspondence 

[Chris Mishmash - excerpt from 09 March 2004 email to Dave Brann] 

Salmonberry Ski Hill was built and operated by the City of Valdez.  It was open from 1984 to 1991.  The only facilities at the site were the Harusch Model 1000 surface lift and a small shack for the operator at the top.  It had a vertical drop of approximately 225 feet and was groomed regularly with a Pisten Bully snowcat groomer.  The area was closed due to a lawsuit involving an injured skier.

In 1995 the lift was sold at auction to Tom Moe Sr. (father of Tommy Moe, Olympic gold medalist) DBA Alaska Extreme.  A bid of $50 was accepted with the stipulation that the lift be put back into service privately in Valdez within two years to promote winter recreation.  This stipulation was not met and the bidder was forced, under a sales agreement, to pay $3.300, which was the amount a second bidder offered.

The lift was allegedly sold to a local Valdez resident in 1996 but its whereabouts is unknown.
 

[Pete Bellezza - 07 October 2005 email] 

I grew up in Valdez, and graduated from Valdez High School in 1984. As I recall, the rope tow at Salmonberry Ski Hill was the one originally installed at Thompson Pass, just north of the ADOT&PF Maintenance Station, at mile 27.5 Richardson Highway.

I do not know when the Thompson Pass rope tow was installed, but I skied there in 1982. My dad believes that Owen Johnson, a local Valdez contractor (now passed away), may have been involved in originally constructing the rope tow.

Once the rope tow was relocated to Salmonberry Ski Hill, which I believe was in 1983, I skied there a couple of times, and I do remember that the ski area was closed due to a lawsuit involving an injured skier, as previously mentioned by Chris Mishmash.

 

[Donna Schantz - 07 March 2011 email] 

Greetings!  I was searching the internet for photos of the old Salmonberry Ridge Ski  Hill in Valdez and I ran across your site.  I thought you might be interested in this old newspaper clipping of photos of when that site first opened up.  Note that the article claims the site opened in 1986 not the 1984 date that you have listed on your site.  I am working with some folks in Valdez to try to get to get this site re-opened but we are in the initial stages of putting together a proposal and so who knows where it will go.   

I hope that you find the attached useful!  I really enjoyed looking through the old photos on your site!!!
 

[Chris Moulton - 07 December 2011 email] 

Thought I would drop a line about Salmonberry. I had seen this site in the past and am pleased to see Donna had already gotten in touch concerning the reopening of the hill.

Where to begin. It feels like a lifetime ago we got together at Donna's house to discuss the project. So, I'll keep it short.

About the time the Donna emailed you, we were in the planning stages of forming a grassroots team to find a way to open the hill again.

We, as a loose group of winter-minded Valdez residents, proposed our plan to reopen the area and called ourselves the Valdez Snow Authority. We put together a plan for the City of Valdez for help to purchase a surface lift from Sam Geise and secure land for us to operate. The Parks and Recreation Dept decided to run with the project and become the operator. As an organization, the VSA held multiple work days, logistical planning to assist the City in the area's reconstruction.

There have been many bumps along the way: drainage and earth issues, funding problems, delayed construction, extreme winds, and lost equipment. Despite these problems, we're very close to opening for the 2011-2012 season.

I will provide another update and some pics when we get the public moving up the hill!

New Stats:
Length of Surface Tow: 1,100 ft (2,200 total ft of cable)
Vertical Drop: 320ft
Lift Type: Multi-Lift Wire Rope Tow, 12.5hp Bottom Drive

Besides the Rope Tow, our goal is to promote and grow Winter Activities in Valdez, AK. This is a great place to start as it is building new skiers/snowboarders!

facebook.com/valdezsnowauthority
valdezsnowauthority@gmail.com

Cheers,

Chris Moulton
Volunteer Coordinator, VSA

[Sarah Carter - 29 March 2012 email excerpt] 

We are very excited about our Salmon Berry Ski Hill! Young and old alike, Valdez is loving the opportunity to make some turns without needing to hike for it.
Here are a couple of recent photos.

 

 

Do you have further information, stories or pictures that you would like to contribute about this ski area?