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Adak Ski Hill

1943 to 1950s / 1973 to 1983

Name of Ski Area: Adak Ski Hill
Location: Adak Island, on the southeast slopes of Mt. Moffett (north of the main base)
Type of Area: Ski Hill
Dates of Operation: 1943 to 1950's (with a rope tow) / 1973 to 1983 (without a rope tow)
Who Built It?: Army Air Corp
Base/Top/ Vertical Drop:

Base: ~1000' / Top: ~1500' / Vert: ~500'

Lifts: Rope Tow
Facilities: The "Ski Lodge" - a quonset hut built inside of a larger quonset hut.  Inside the lodge was a circular brick fireplace that burned WWII stockpiled coal or scavenged wood from old buildings.
Miscellaneous: The Navy would sometimes use a tracked vehicle to haul skiers up the slopes.
Sources of Information:

Joyce Robinette; Bob Rich; Dave Durrant; Rudd B. Thabes; Tony Feiza; Dave Brann

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

~  PHOTOS  ~

This is a very rare item - an Adak Ski Club patch.  Joyce Robinette of Homer owns this patch, a collectable from her skiing days while living on Adak Island.  Thanks Joyce!

 

This is a picture of the Adak "Ski Lodge", a quonset hut built inside a quonset hut.  This was the base lodge for the ski hill.  The ski slopes lead up towards Mt. Moffett, an old volcano, which can be seen in the distance.

(click on this picture to expand it)

[Photo credit:  Paul Roberts]

 

roberts_skilodge_2000.jpg (161721 bytes)

On occasion, the Navy would use a tracked vehicle like this one to haul skiers up the slopes of Mt. Moffett.  This photo is from 1944 when this vehicle was used for just that purpose.

[Photo credit:  Don Blumenthal]

 

 

"Skiing In The Aleutians" By Olav Ulland
1946 American Ski Annual

Click on images below to expand to readable size

1 2 3 4 5 6

 

1943 Adak Pictures Courtesy of Simon Feiza and son, Tony Feiza

 
  Simon Feiza Adak Base 1943 Simon Feiza  

 

US Navy Skiers at Adak - WWII

~  MAPS  ~

This map shows the avy ation of Adak Island in relation to the chain of Aleutian Islands.  This ski area on Adak would be the southern most lost ski area in Alaska (Adak is the southernmost city in Alaska)

(click on this map to expand it)

adak_aleutians.jpg (74223 bytes)

This topo shows Mount Moffett and the main base of the Adak Naval Station.  The ski lodge and rope tow were on the edge of town on the lower slopes of Mount Moffett.  The red cross indicates where it is believe the ski lodge is located, but the exact location is still being researched.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_zoom_adak.jpg (802221 bytes)

 

Research Correspondence 

[Joyce Robinette - 14 December 2003 email] 

Adak rope tow/x-c skiing, etc.

Army Air Corp (WW II days and some years later) had a rope tow running on lower slopes of Mt. Moffett (north of the main base).  An attempt by some Navy personnel was made to get it going again around 1973 (the poles and some rope were still there).  They had a generator, but never got the tow to operate.

"Ski Lodge" - was a quonset hut built inside and old quonset hut.  A circular brick fireplace was built inside the "lodge".  Fuel was from a nearby coal pile from World War II era and wood gathered from nearby junked bldgs.  This building was used regularly from around 1973 to 1983, mostly by skiers.  During the late 70's and the early 80's the Mt. Moffett Ski Club operated the "lodge" as a skiers' warming hut or a fairly snug haven for the non-skiers.  (Lots of food/snacks/hot buttered rums were consumed on those outings).  Mode of transportation to the "lodge" was to drive as far as the road was open and either ski or snowmobile the rest of the way.  Once a skier (John Martin, F&W) backpacked a portable B&W TV so football fans would not miss the Super Bowl.  One winter the Navy used a tracked vehicle to haul skiers from the "lodge" to higher up on the mountain.

The ski club became defunk around the mid-80's due to rotation/retirement/off-island jobs of most of the active members.  About then the Navy took over the "lodge" for their recreation services and later it became an abandoned building.

A few people would x-c ski up to the higher slopes of Mt. Moffett (carrying their downhill skies on their backs) then switch skis and downhill ski as far down the mountain as they could go.

Around the mid-80's snowboarding began there when a few intrepid young people would carry their boards on their backs, ski to a good steep hill, leave their skis, climb the hill and snowboard down.

Most years the open countryside of Adak Island was a great place to x-c ski, usually from late Jan. into April.  There were lots of wide open spaces - up hills, down hills, across lakes, over passes, around gullies, around and down to sea level.  Ski conditions were always changing depending on how the wind moved the snow from day to day.  It was a common experience to be out skiing on a great day, have a williwaw come up, turn your back to the wind, stand still and watch while the wind scoured your skis of snow, then the williwaws was gone and off you'd go again.  The limiting factors were snow conditions, daylight hours and stamina of the skiers.

I was there [Adak] from Sept. 1975 until late May 1994.  Most of the info (above) is from the memories of Jim Bills and George Eischens - with some of my additions.

Current Homer area residents who once skied on Adak are Jim and Josie Bills, Bob and Sue Schulmeister, John and Donna Martin, and Joyce Robinette.  Former snowmobilers - Jim Bills and George Eischens.

I'm sure I have slides of some of the skiing around there and at least one or to prints (mostly showing the area).

Joyce Robinette
 

[Bob Rich - 03 August 2004 email with a link to his Adak blog, this is an exerpt from http://navstaadak.blogspot.com/

PARTYING [at the old ski cabin, when Bob was stationed there in 1973]

Friday nights the cases of beer stacked to the ceiling. More than once I stood watch, found a guy passed out in the head that was laying face down in his vomit. I was kind enough to turn the guy over so he could breath.

There was a lot of dead time on the island and not a lot for young guys to do. Some hung out every night in the bar. Some were into drugs. One night a bunch of us guys were picked up by an Amtrack and we were driven through really deep snow to the top of a mountain, which I believe was Mt. Moffett. In the middle of nowhere there was a quonset hut all lit up with loud music coming from it. Inside it was filled with guys, and most were high on something. They had a blazing fire in the middle of the tower in an oil drum stove, and they were heating batteries on top of it, trying to give life to their flashlights and tape players. I remember walking outside to get away from the crowd and lying on my back in the snow. I looked up and saw the clearest sky I had ever seen. There was an intensely bright full moon and a sky filled with stars. The air was just so pure and clean. I remember thinking that it was like being on another planet.
 

[Dave Durrant - 19 April 2006 email ] 

Rudd Thabes was Search And Rescue [SAR] officer/helo pilot at NavSta Adak back in late 60s through early 70s. I bet he has some interesting tales to tell about the area. I was a SAR watchstander working for Rudd for about one year. During that time I visited Mt Moffett a few times and tried some skiing there as well as a bit of crosscountry in some other areas.
 

[Rudd B. Thabes - 21 April 2006 email ] 

I was stationed on Adak from December 1965 until March of 1969. As Dave mentioned, I was SAR officer and a helicopter pilot. I was also base Wildlife Conservation Officer and at that time was very familiar with the entire island. I remember the rope tow on Mt Moffitt. It was in a complete state of disrepair during my tenure on the island. The snow conditions on the ski slope varied from almost non-existent to poor.

I was a skier but in my mind it just wasn't worth the effort out there. My only skiing experience on Adak was on a night search and rescue mission to the Bay of Island. I group of people had hiked over Husky Pass to the Bay of Islands, the weather closed in and they were reported overdue. The weather was such that we could not fly or send a harbor tug around to look for them. The Marine Barracks had a ground search and rescue team that we sent in to find them but they too were turned back by the weather. It was not a pleasant evening to go for a walk on Adak. About 2030 or 2100 the storm began to let up a bit. The operations officer, Cdr. Charlie Snyder, the weather officer, W2 Roger Atchison and I were all experienced skiers.  There was a bit of a trail that went thru Husky Pass that ran along the south side of Mt. Reed. We strapped on our skis and proceeded into Husky Pass where we met the missing group as they were returning to base. They were a little cold and wet not non the worse for wear. That is my sole skiing experience on Adak.
 

[Information about Adak - from the Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs web site
 

Adak is located in the Andreanof Islands, 1,300 miles southwest of Anchorage and 350 miles west of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, in the Aleutian Island Chain. Flight time to Anchorage is three hours. Adak is the southern-most community in Alaska.

History

The Aleutian Islands were historically occupied by Aleuts. The once heavily-populated island filled with many Aleut villages was eventually abandoned in the early 1800s as the Aleut hunters followed the Russian fur trade Eastward and famine set in on the Andreanof Island group. However, they continued to actively hunt and fish around the island over years, until World War II broke out. Adak was developed as a Naval Air Station after the War, playing an important role during the Cold War as a submarine surveillance center. Large earthquakes rocked the Island in 1957, 1964 and 1977. At its peak, the station housed 6,000 naval personnel and their families. In 1994, severe cut-backs occurred, and family housing and schools were closed. The station officially closed on March 31, 1997, and currently houses approximately 30 Navy personnel and 200 civilian caretakers. Space Mark, Inc., a subsidiary of The Aleut Corporation, is the contracted caretaker of the Adak facilities while environmental remedial work is being completed. Adak Reuse Corporation, the designated local reuse authority, is coordinating and implementing economic adjustment efforts to make Adak a viable economic center of commercial activities. The community has petitioned the Local Boundary Commission for incorporation as a second class city.

Culture

Since World War II, the U.S. Navy developed outstanding facilities and recreation opportunities at Adak. Facilities include a movie theater, roller skating rink, swimming pool, ski lodge, bowling alleys, skeet range, auto hobby shop, photo lab, racquetball and tennis courts. Some facilities, such as the pool, are currently closed. The Adak Reuse Corporation and Aleut Corporation are the facility's new owners. In September, a school will reopen for approximately 50 students living on the island.

Economy

Navy land holdings on the Island have reverted to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The Adak Reuse Corporation and Aleut Corporation are the facility's new owners, and they are soliciting for new commercial ventures at Adak. Additional information on this opportunity is available on the Internet, at http://www.adakisland.com. Seven Navy personnel and 200 to 300 civilians are now employed and live on the Island. Half work for SpaceMark, an Aleut Corp. subsidiary that maintains the facilities, and the other half work for contractors performing environmental cleanup. Families and children of employees were allowed to relocate to the base in September 1998, and the school was re-opened.

Facilities

Water is derived from Lake Bonnie Rose, Lake De Marie and Nurses Creek, stored in 10 water tanks throughout the station, and piped to all facilities and housing units. The wastewater treatment system discharges through a marine outfall line to Kuluk Bay. There are two landfills, one for hazardous wastes. Refuse is burned or baled before disposal in the landfill. The family housing units, measured in the 1990 U.S. Census, are no longer occupied.

Transportation

Approval for entry to the island must be obtained in advance from the Adak Reuse Corporation, at 907-561-4300. Adak has two 7,800' paved runways at 19' elevation, and a control tower. Commercial jet service is currently available three times a week from Anchorage. There are three deep water docks. There are approximately 16 miles of paved roads, and other gravel and dirt roads.

Climate

Adak lies in the maritime climate zone, characterized by persistently overcast skies, high winds, and frequent cyclonic storms Winter squalls produce wind gusts in excess of 100 knots. During the summer, extensive fog forms over the Bering Sea and North Pacific. Average temperatures range from 20 to 60, but wind chill factors can be severe. Total precipitation is 64 inches annually, with an average accumulated snowfall of 100 inches, primarily in the mountains.

 

 

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