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Alaska Lost Ski Patrols
(Information compiled by Bob Janes)

Juneau Ski Patrol History
by Bob Janes, with information from Dean Williams


HELLO ALL SKI PATROLLERS:  On September 10, 2008, the ALSAP Update Log carried an announcement that there was going to be a new section added to the overall ALSAP project.  It was to be  called :Alaska Lost Ski Patrols.  When I proposed the idea to Tim Kelley and Dave Brann they gave me their blessing and said, “go ahead”!…….So here I am., the contact person for anyone to reach (rjanes@gci.net), if there’s anything to report.  I’m hoping that some interesting related history will be added to the sport that we all love so much!

In submitting the following account of what was going on here in southeast Alaska, I focused in on the Juneau Ski Club which was organized in 1935. At that time the ”rope-tow-heaven” era was just beginning throughout the country. I was a teen-ager from Southern California, and I cut my teeth (and a few other places) with the Eastern Sierra Ski Club’s rope tows in the Bishop Owens Valley area that would ultimately turn into the great Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort that exists today.. The National Ski Patrol System was founded in 1938, so in the beginning many ski areas operated with volunteer patrols, often related to safety committees that were part of a ski club’s operation. So it was with the Juneau Ski Club. When I transferred to Juneau in 1965 I had been a Forest Service employee for twenty years in California. The winter sports scene was going strong here in Juneau – right up my alley! I began to meet some great skiing enthusiasts, one of them, Dean Williams, a close friend who I have known for 43 years. Dean grew up here in Juneau, and his specialty as a downhill skier is the slalom. Here’s a photo of him “on course” earlier this year, at a 3rd Cabin Reunion celebration. Believe it or not, Dean took First Place in the Age 90 and over category!

Since I knew that Dean headed up the Safety Committee for the Juneau Ski Club back in 1935, I asked if he would share a few of his patroller memories with us. The National Ski Patrol System began to officially operate at 2nd and 3rd Cabin areas on Douglas Island in 1954. Here’s what Dean gave me:


Dean Williams organized the first patrol in the year of 1939, by having four members at the very first year consisting of himself, Leon and Bill Alexander, and Joe Werner. Our equipment consisted of one toboggan and one litter basket plus a various assortment of splints and bandages.

This activity was taking place at the Dan Moller Ski Trail on Douglas Island. This little group was very dedicated and had to handle some accidents requiring using just the litter basket when snow conditions were insufficient on the lower portion of the trail. One such incident was when a 220 pound Swedish skier broke his leg at the Upper Ski Bowl (3d Cabin) and snow was not available below the Treadwell Ditch, about 1 ½ miles from the trailhead. His name was Nels Anderson and he felt so sorry for us that he wanted to get off and try walking, which of course we would not permit.

By the year of 1943 we had four more skiers join our group, including Tom Stewart and Axel Neilson. The U.S. Forest Service purchased more equipment which was badly needed and we were able to position some on various locations on the trail. After an accident the patrollers always had the task of taking equipment back up the trail, which was quite a task by itself. This all took lots of dedication by the patrol members.

One of the worst days was when a downhill race was held on the Crookes Trail located above the 2nd Cabin and Tom Stewart and I were the only two patrollers to handle two broken legs off the icy slopes on this trail. We actually had planned to race ourselves, but canceled out when observing the bad conditions.

A rather interesting situation took place several times at an accident scene, when Doctor Joseph Rude would be on hand and announced that he would ski down ahead and get to the St. Ann’s Hospital and get organized to handle the surgery. In most cases he was not the family Doctor for the victim, but it worked out OK. Another interesting event was when young Peter Wood broke his leg and Bill Alexander and I took him to St. Ann’s Hospital. The Catholic Sisters asked whose little boy he was, and I said it was Peter Wood, Senior, who had a very bad credit rating at that time and the Sisters hesitated on his admission. I just said, “if there is any problem I will take care of it”. However, it all turned out OK.

The coming of OOLA, the Tucker Snow Cat, was a welcome addition in the mid 1950’s, and now at our new ski area, Eaglecrest which opened in 1975, all ski patrol operations are first class!

More from Bob Janes on Dean Williams:

"From 1935 until 1975 three rope tow areas and Jump Hill  on Douglas Island operated.  See our ALSAP listing.  We lost them when Eaglecrest replaced them in 1975.  Dean Williams was truly one of the first pioneers of alpine skiing in the Juneau locality.  He was just a few months old when his parents came to Junea in 1918.  Dean's Dad was Jay P. Williams, a Forest Service man who worked with Dan Moller and the CCC's in 1933, building the Dan Moller Ski Trail and Jump Hill.  Dean began to ski there when he was a teenager in the Juneau-Douglas High School.  At 2nd Cabin he had his own Dean Williams Ski School going strong in the early 1940's.  He loved to race, and the slalom was his specialty.  It was natural in those days to be active in both the Juneau Ski Club and the Juneau Skli Patrol  at the same time.  

During the early 1980's the Juneau Ski Club started having "Old Timers" or "Pioneer" commemoration events at Eaglecrest.  This most recent one, called the "3rd Cabin Reunion" on April 12 was about the 4th one to date.  The Platter-pull Slalom was a dedication to all "Cabin skiers" and their families in years gone by, along with honoring Dean on his 90th Birthday!  There were well over 100 skiers who attended the Day Lodge festivities, and 53 racers in the slalom.  We had age categories for both men (Dudes) and women (Chicks) .  The youngest skier was an 8-year old Chick., Ella Rohweder.l The oldest Tough Dude was Dean Williams, age 90!  I'm sure this great comradely spirit will continue in the years ahead , and Event #5 will be on the drawing board eventually!

For more information on the lost ski areas mentioned above, see the following ALSAP web pages:
The Dan Moller Trail, 1st Meadow and 2nd Meadow Ski Areas
Douglas Ski Bowl
West Juneau Jump Hill


Do you have further information about the history of old Alaskan Ski Patrols that you would like to contribute?