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Mt. Pingo Ski Hill

Late 1970's to Mid 1990's

Name of Ski Area: Mt. Pingo, Mt. Prudhoe
Location: Prudhoe Bay, 200 yards to the south of Spine road between British Petroleum's (BP) Base Operations Center (BOC) and Gathering Center 1 (GC1)
Type of Area: Ski Hill
Dates of Operation: Late 1970's to Mid 1990's ????
Who Built It?: Natural ski slope.  No trees for 100 miles.  This hill is a pingo - a mound found in arctic regions that consists of soil covering a bulging cell of permafrost (ice).
Base / Vertical:

Base: ~15' / Vertical: ~15'

Facilities: Oil production facilities are nearby that support the largest oil field in the United States.

[Tim Kelley] When I first went to the North Slope of Alaska in 1986 (the oil fields between the north slope of the Brooks Range and the Arctic Ocean) I was working at BP's Base Operations Center (BOC).  The BOC had a sundries shop and I noticed they sold T-shirts with a skier descending a small hill and the logo: "Ski Mt. Pingo" !

While running along the Spline Road that summer I noticed a sign placed on a pingo out in the tundra about 200 yards south of the road.  The sign said: "Mt. Pingo Ski Hill".

In 1993 I was again working on the North Slope.  This time I was working a week on/ week off schedule during the months of December through early February.  Being a diehard skier ... I was not going to be denied my constitutional right to ski.  So I shipped some cross country skis to the North Slope.  Most every night after I got done a 12 hour work shift, I would bundle up and head out skiing across the tundra and lakes in this area.  I would use the lights of the oil facilities as navigational beacons while skiing the mostly pancake flat terrain.

Of course one of my North Slope skiing objectives was to ski Mt. Pingo.  The first time I skied Mt. Pingo was on what I called a "30 30" day - 30 below zero F. and 30 mph winds.  These are typical mid-winter ski conditions on the North Slope.  In these conditions you could have the wind blow you to the top of Mt. Pingo, and then drop into a tuck and blast down the other side.

My North Slope skiing back in 1993 was just barely acceptable.  Security folks thought I was nuts, but they didn't say I couldn't ski.  Today safety and security concerns are much more rigid.  And if you were caught skiing at night now - you would likely find yourself on the next plane to Anchorage and out of a job.  So - this fact now makes Mt. Pingo a likely lost ski area.

Sources of Information:

Tim Kelley; BP

~  PHOTOS  ~

The following shots were taken by Tim Kelley in 1993.  The shots were taken in a wind storm ... so you have to look really closely to see the skier in the first two shots.

TK_Pingo_1993_Lights.jpg (36188 bytes) TK_Pingo_1993_Sign.jpg (34898 bytes) TK_Pingo_1993_Frost.jpg (56038 bytes)
In this photo, the camera is on the top of Mt. Pingo.  The flash is illuminating snow from a ground blizzard (it's clear from 20 feet above ground on up).  The lights from BP's BOC and Gathering Center 1 show in the background.  You can just barely see the skier in the red jacket with white shoulder stripes on the far right.  Another ground blizzard obscured self-portrait shows me with my hand on the "Mt. Pingo Ski Hill" sign.  Really! Standard head gear for "30 30" skiing (30 below zero F and 30 mph winds).
When you are skiing on the North Slope you are rarely alone.  Artic foxes escort you frequently.  These little guys are very territorial.  They run along at your side until they reach their territory boundary.  Then a new set of foxes will greet you and tag along to their boundary.  Etc. TK_Pingo_1993_Fox.jpg (41639 bytes)  
November 2007 shots of the legendary Mt. Prudhoe Bay (aka Mt. Pingo), taken from a crew bus on the Spine Road (by Tim Kelley)


Picture from BP's 2007 mailer booklet "Prudhoe Bay Oil First Flowed 30 Years ago ..."
"CONQUEST OF MT. PRUDHOE: Information Services Coordinator Bob Hartzler and climbing team reach the summit of 30-foot-high Mt. Prudhoe via the North Face, without supplemental oxygen and only macaroon cookies to stave off hunger."


This topo map shows where the Mt. Pingo Ski Hill (also known as Mt. Prudhoe) is located relative to the Deadhorse airport and the Arctic Ocean.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_pingo.jpg (156613 bytes)

A zoomed in topo view shows the location of the infamous pingo referred to as the Mt. Pingo Ski Hill or Mt. Prudhoe.

(click on map to expand it)

topo_zoom_pingo.jpg (122249 bytes)



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