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Harriet Hunt Ski Area

Late 1970's to Early 1980's

Name of Ski Area: Harriet Hunt Ski Area
Location: Lake Harriet Hunt, about 18 air miles north of Ketchikan, about 9 miles northeast of Ward Cove
Type of Area: Ski Hill
Dates of Operation: Late 1970's to Early 1980's
Who Built It?: Ketchikan Winter Sports (See James Dahl email below for more information)
Base/Top/ Vertical Drop:

Base: ~600' / Top: ~750' / Vert: ~150'

Lifts: Mighty Mite handle tow and a rope tow.  Towers for a T-bar were installed, but this lift was never completed.
Facilities: Caretakers cabin, small day lodge, lights and rental skis
History: The original rope tow at this site likely came from a small ski site nearer Ketchikan called Ski Corner (Rope Tow).
Sources of Information:

Bob Utterback; Erik Christianson; Gilbert Aegerter; Van Browne; Robert Gustafson; James Dahl

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

~  PHOTOS  ~

Thanks to John Tribuzio of Reno, NV - we have these great 1999 shots of the Harriet Hunt Ski Area rope tow towers.  If you zoom in on these shots you can notice some interesting points:  The towers are rough hewn logs, not telephone poles.  The tripod support is lashed together - spikes only rust in wet climates, like Ketchikan!  You can see sphagnum moss hanging off a rope on the first tower (so you know this place is wet!)  And it's interesting to see the 2 pulleys that are 90 degrees perpendicular to the rest of the pulleys that follow the rope line. 


tribuzio_1999_harriethunt2.jpg (84883 bytes)


tribuzio_1999_harriethunt1.jpg (105898 bytes)

(click on either photo to expand)

[Photo credits:  (left and above) John Tibuzio, Reno, NV]

~  MAPS  ~

This large scale topo map shows the location of the Harriet Hunt Ski Area relative to Ketchikan.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_harriethunt.jpg (246018 bytes)

A 1955 topo map shows no sign of the current road to Lake Harriet Hunt.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_zoom_1955_harriethunt.jpg (124245 bytes)

However, a 1977 topo map shows a road to the west side of Lake Harriet Hunt.  And uphill from the end of this road seems to be a new clearing could be the ski slopes.  At this point this is a guess, confirmation of the ski area location is still needed.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_zoom_1977_harriethunt.jpg (188889 bytes)


Research Correspondence 

[Bob Utterback - 14 November 2004 email ] 

Good afternoon,

I read with great interest, Medred's article concerning you guys today. Thanks so much for your effort in this regard! I might have a minor contribution.

A resident of Anchorage since November of '77 and a military brat, I learned to ski on the military side of Arctic Valley. I fell in love with skiing and was heartbroken when at the tender age of 15, my parents moved us to Ketchikan in '86. Imagine my elation when I found there was an extinct ski area in the hills above K-Town. An ancient rope tow operated by the Forest Service, a waxing shed, lights, and (GASP) rental skis!! The area was an hour back along old logging roads, high enough to get to snow. By the time I got to Ketchikan, the place had been shut down for quite a while, but the runs were still clear and I used to hike for turns there every chance I got. Unfortunately, I have no idea of the years of operation. I do know that now the area is heavily used for snowmachining. Apparently Ketchikan has become kind of a snowmachining mecca. I left Ketchikan in '89 never to return and haven't heard of anyone skiing there. Perhaps Harriet Hunt Ski Area will see the operations again someday.

Thanks again for all your hard work!!

Bob Utterback

[Eric Christianson - 18 October 2005 phone conversation with Tim Kelley ] 

Erik said that the Harriet Hunt ski area started out as a rope tow, but it was upgraded to a T-bar.  A group of Ketchikan residents in the mid-1990s considered moving the lift to a place with more vertical, on Mahoney Mountain.  A weather station was placed in the area to help determine the feasibility.  Avalanche danger would have been a concern at the new site.  A reason for shutting down the lift was that parts were needed for the T-bar and the manufacturer had gone out of business.  The land the ski area was on was originally US Forest Service land.  But the property was transferred to the Cape Fox Tribal Corporation.  Erik also said that skiing was still done on Deer Mountain, by hiking or skinning up and skiing back down.

[Gilbert Aegerter - 04 November 2005 email excerpt] 

I grew up in Ketchikan and learned to ski there -- but not at the Harriet Hunt site.

The first skiing was done way, WAY back when on Deer Mountain above town.  When she was a girl my mom and her friends would go up there. There was a log cabin set on a shoulder of the mountain overlooking the town, and folks would go up there, ski and spend the night. Eventually the cabin burned down -- not sure exactly when, but it was well before the 60s. You can still see traces of the foundation, though, just off the Deer Mountain trail.

When I was in high school in the 70s, a group of dads led by a guy whose name I'll have to dredge up later, put together a rope tow at what became known as Ski Corner, which was at the last turnoff before the final road into Harriet Hunt Lake. I can't believe there was more than 50-60 feet of vertical, but man we thought we were in the big time! On a good weekend, there would be a couple hundred people there! so it was extremely crowded.  People would be sledding on the road -- there was a long hill just before Ski Corner -- and snowmobilers would tow skiers back into Harriet Hunt Lake on long tow ropes. You didn't want to fall off halfway in deep snow!

The best year at Ski Corner was probably 72-73 -- just perfect snow and weather that year. Unfortunately, I broke my leg that February there going off a jump.

After that there was considerable pressure to provide a little safer area. The Ketchikan Ski Club moved the tow engine all the way out to Harriet Hunt and tried to set up a tow rope out there. I never skied in Ketchikan again -- college intervened. I think the area operated extremely fitfully in the late 70s, and I'm not sure which year it finally went kaput.

You might get more info from the Tongass Historical Museum in Ketchikan.


[Gilbert Aegerter - 06 November 2005 email excerpt] 

Ed Browne, Mac Doiron: They were log scalers who had a hand in setting up the rope tow in the Harriet Hunt Lake ski area. I'm not sure if they were primary people, but they were involved.

Partway up the road to Harriet Hunt Lake you'll see a couple of ponds on the right. When the weather was right -- hard freeze without snow to cover the ponds -- we would skate up there. Also, when Harriet Hunt Lake itself was frozen over, the snowmobilers would pull us on skis across that huge expanse of ice. Those were the days.

[Robert Gustafson - 22 November 2007 email] 

In the winter of 1995 we took some of the last remaining grooming equipment to Juneau from Ketchikan on the USCGC Planetree to Eaglecrest Ski Area. I do believe the equipment was from Harriet Hunt and was in usable condition. The old Log Cabin at Harriet has since been demolished and a smaller cabin that was there had been remodeled for the people that are part of a Snowmobile club here.

[James Dahl - 05 August 2008 email] 

My name is James Dahl and I came to Ketchikan in 1979 to work for the Cape Fox Corporation, a village corp. for Saxman a small Tlingit community south of Ketchikan.    Cape Fox Corporation as part of it's Native Claims selections made a selection called the Ward Creek Tract.  It was land above Connell Lake and included land that touched Lake Harriet Hunt  and included the "old" Ski Corners.
Malcom Doiron, Ed Brown and Duane Sinclair we involved in handling the Boy Scout Troops in Ketchikan at that time.   They approached  Cape Fox Management and proposed to lease and operate a small community ski area northwest slope from the Lake.  They organized a community group known as  "Ketchikan Winter Sports".  The main organizers were Doiron and Sinclair and gathered some of the following people, Aubre Stevens, George Tanino, Paul Jarve, Mark and Christine Bergoyne were the major organizers of this effort. David Benson did some engineering work and Ken Eichner flew volunteer helicopter support for the group.  I was assigned as the Cape Fox Management representative. (James Dahl).  This was in the winter of 1979. 
The group went to the State of Alaska and procured a recreation grant for $100,000 to purchase safety equipment and a sno-cat.   The City and Borough of Ketchikan was approached for a funding grant for rope tow lift engine with supporting donation from local Caterpillar dealer.  A rope tow was installed and operational in 1979.  The Cape Fox Corporation funded a caretakers cabin and the group built a small day lodge with donated timber and volunteer help the summer of 1980.  The area operated for a short time in 1979 and for most of the winter of 1980. The area operated a Mighty Mite handle tow and a rope tow that exceeded 400 feet, with a rise of approximately 150 feet.  It was a gentle slope and beginner hill.  The area did not operate in 1981 due to lack of snow.   The winter of 1982 was also light on snow fall.
During the winter of 1980 there were plans in place to erect a T-Bar and a surplus unit was secured but was short of spring boxes.  Towers were erected summer 1980 and the volunteer project stalled.  With no to light snow conditions the group flagged.  Money ran short and the land owner required  liability insurance, which became unavailable.
The area was abandon by the Club and disposed of  equipment to cover costs and nature has claimed back the land.  The Cape Fox Corporation owns the land and has made some attempt to trade it for other parcels, however none of those trades have taken place and so the defunct ski area known as "Ski Corners"  and "Ketchikan Winter Sports" is only a memory.
Thanks for the opportunity to share this information.
Jim Dahl
Mr.Doiron still resides in Ketchikan, carpenter, fisherman
Paul Jarve has a jewelry business in Ketchikan
George Tanino is a retired school teacher
James Dahl is an Investment Advisor in Ketchikan



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