This is not a true lost ski
area, though much of this former skiing terrain has been lost
due to glacial melting. There are accounts of commercial
fly-in skiing operations on Portage Glacier in the 1960's to
1980's range. These ski trips were based out of Girdwood.
See the 'Sources' section below for more information.
Excerpts from "True Tales from
the Top of Mt. Alyeska", by Loverne Bercee, pages: 32-34:
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Herman "the German" and "Polka
Dan" used to take Japanese groups on Ski Tours. One night
Herman shows up at the [Double] Musky [Inn], all charged up and
elated! - "Today we made twelve Japanese skiers real happy about
their trip here", he said.
"We took them to Portage
Glacier, and they all fell into a twelve foot crevasse!" Then
Herman related the story. --
"Al Curtis landed the group of
about fifty Japanese skiers on the top of Portage Glacier, where
Polka Dan and I proceeded to guide them down. I went out
ahead to check the terrain, and about half way down, I spotted
this deep crevasse! I hollered up to Day - "Keep to the
Left!" Dan responded - "Right, I'll keep to the Left!"
"But, sure enough, he got it
wrong! He thought I meant MY left, when I meant HIS left!
Naturally, twelve of the skiers
landed right into the deep crevasse! Well, we scrambled
around and lowered down ropes to get them out!
Fortunately, no one was injured or hurt!"
Al Curtis was waiting below on Portage Lake, a rope tied to his
small plane, and when we got down, the skiers grabbed onto the
rope and stood firmly, hanging on as the plane ferried them
across the Lake. The bus was waiting there to take them
back to Alyeska."
"We were invited to be big
celebration party at the Nugget Inn - the skiers presented Polka
Dan and I with gifts and hugs and cheers - a real happy group!"
"The 'unlucky twelve' that fell
into the crevasse turned out to be the luckiest after all - they
had an exciting experience to take back and talk about for the
rest of their lives, when the reminisce about their Ski Trip to
In the early beginning days of
the Resort Era, there was a daredevil glacier pilot, Jim
Cassidy, who would land the skiers at the top of the many
glaciers around the area.
Loverne [Bercee] recalls - "One
time, Jim invited a group of about ten skies on a trip the top
of Portage Glacier. ... It was a sunny Sunday morning in
early April. Jim hauled the skiers to the top of Portage,
two at a time.
When everyone was up there, we
started the long ski down, taking a route around the crevasses
that was generally safe.
...everything went well, and it
took about three hours to read the Lake. Jim was there
waiting. Jerry Bernas was our guide, and he tied a rope
securely behind Jim's plane.
The skiers line up one in front
of the other, grabbed hold of the rope with both hands, and the
plane started slowly across the lake.
Suddenly, we could feel the
water building up under the thawing ice and it got rougher and
Then someone at the front of
the rope lost his footing, - down he went into the cold watery
ice, with everyone behind him falling one by one like dominos!
Of course, our guide was at the very back, and stepped aside,
only getting his feet wet, - but us novices were soaked!
We got back up on our skis, and
Jim coasted very slowly to the far side of Portage Lake.
We were all soaking wet as we piled into our cars and headed
straight for the Double Musky [Inn]!"