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Ptarmigan Valley Resort

1967

Name of Ski Area: Ptarmigan Valley Resort
Location: Chugiak, At the end of the Ptarmigan Valley Trail, on the west facing slopes of Roundtop Mountain 
Type of Area: Ski Hill
Dates of Operation: 1967 (Operated only 1 year)
Who Built It?: Ray Beam and his sons.  Gail Travis and his son Rick Travis.
Base/Top/Vertical Drop:

Base: ~2400', Top: ~3200, Vertical: ~800

Lifts: Two rope tows, longest was 2000 feet.  Mike Jonrowe described the rope tows in an email to ALSAP:

"There were two rope tows powered by Dodge power wagons that had been driven to the top of the slopes. The trucks were blocked up and one of the rear wheels was rim only; to provide a pulley for the rope. The safety gate was wired to the truck ignition so one didnít wind up in the wheel.  One rope tow was close to the A Frame and the other was a then long traverse across a creek to the next ridge up the valley. This tow was the longest and had a support pulley in the middle. Even so, the rope still cut into the snow and it was all us kids could do to hang on and keep the rope out of the snow."

Facilities: A-frame lodge, ski rental shop
Miscellaneous: The frame that the car engine was mounted on is still on the mountain.  The A-frame lodge no longer exists.

This ski area was closed due to conflicting land claims and financial trouble.  This land became part of the Chugach State Park.

Sources of Information:

Mike Jonrowe; Mike Hansen; Tim Kelley; Marjorie Cochrane - "Between Two Rivers"; Thane Fisher; Rick Travis; Mike Reid; Rick Steeby

Photos:

Does anyone have pictures of skiing at the Ptarmigan Valley Resort (or current pictures of the vicinity) that they would like to contribute to ALSAP ?

~  Site Photos  ~
 

March 2008 Site Photos
[Photo credit: Tim Kelley]

The ski hill area was on the west slopes of Roundtop Mountain (behind the skis).  A large alder patch to the left indicates where soils were disturbed by bulldozing.  That is likely where the lodge and lift base was.
The old ski area access road is now a multi use trail in Chugach State Park Dense alders at the base of the ski hill area could be where the lodge and lift base where located Looking back down the old road, now trail, from hear the ski hill base If the access was the same route as today - the climb to this site would be a steep drive.

~  Maps  ~

This large scale topo shows where Ptarmigan Valley Resort was located relative to Anchorage, Eagle River and Chugiak.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_ptarmigan.jpg (157325 bytes)

This 1995 topo map shows the Ptarmigan Valley Trail, which was once the road that accessed this ski area, leading from Chugiak up the Little Peters Creek valley to the site of the Ptarmigan Valley Resort.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_zoom_100k_ptarmigan.jpg (109300 bytes)

Zooming in further, the general location of the Ptarmigan Valley Resort is depicted on the west slopes of Roundtop Mountain.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_zoom_recent_ptarmigan.jpg (107344 bytes)

Research Correspondence 

[Rick Steeby - 13 February 2012 email] 

My brother Gary was a broken leg story at the Ptarmigan Valley Ski Resort. This is a picture with a family friend who injured his leg somewhere else. After watching my brother go through the ER visit I decided to give up on skiing until girls talked me into going to Alyeska in High School.  Gary is the shorter one on the left [Melvin McGregor is on the right].

[Mike Reid - 01 May 2010 email excerpt ] 

Mike Reid here. Rick Beam and I used to ski the Ptarmigan Valley area before Ray Beam started to develop it.  We had to climb up and over the mountain behind our homest

ead at mile 18 on the old highway.  Here are 2 pictures of Rick on our way back from Ptarmigan Valley. In the first picture we are very near the big white rock that is visible from the old highway. I would guess they were taken about 1960.  Guess I didn't take any pictures back near where the rope tow was later located.  Thanks for all the work on your site.
Later, Mike
 

[Rick Travis - 02 November 2009 email excerpt ] 

My Dad Gail Travis and a friend of his with the last name Beam tried to get a ski area going in Ptarmagain Valley. I helped clear trees for a road up to the ski area when I was a Teenager somewhere in the early sixties. Mr Beam was retired army at Fort Rich and used to be the manager I think for the military at Artic Valley.

[Thane Fisher - 28 June 2007 email ] 

I lived in a house on this road when I was 11. Probably 1974 we lived in the last house on the left up the road from the Old Glen before you take the right up the hill. I remember going way up the road to the right, then you would go left and the road got narrower and steeper. I remember going way up there with my Dad and Brother in Law on a snow machine and finding remnants of an old rope tow. To me at 11, it felt like we were up on top of a pass and there was snow everywhere. I seemed windy and remote and a little scary.

P.S. I remember the people that owned the house we rented there also owned and operated The Halfway House bar on the Old Glen. I pretty much lived at the bar with my parents, learned how to shoot pool there etc. Ah, the old times!!

[Mike Jonrowe - 20 April 2005 email ] 

I was talking to Kevin Keeler at BLM the other day and he gave me your link about the Ptarmigan Valley Ski Resort. The resort was built by family friends, I worked there as kid labor (for free skiing), and the road to the area ran very close to our house in Skyline View Subdivision. The highway access point was at mile 20.5 on the now old glen hwy (top of the hill on the Glen, north of the Rural Discount Center and not behind the old post office). There were two rope tows powered by Dodge power wagons that had been driven to the top of the slopes. The trucks were blocked up and one of the rear wheels was rim only; to provide a pulley for the rope. The safety gate was wired to the truck ignition so one didnít wind up in the wheel. One rope tow was close to the A Frame and the other was a then long traverse across a creek to the next ridge up the valley. This tow was the longest and had a support pulley in the middle. Even so, the rope still cut into the snow and it was all us kids could do to hang on and keep the rope out of the snow. I do seem to remember that the area was open for more than one year but couldnít tell how many. Ray Beam also ran the Armyís ski runs at Arctic Valley and the boat rental at Seward as a civilian.  This area holds many fond childhood memories for me, thanks for the website. Mike Jonrowe

[Mike Hansen - 10 December 2003 letter to Dave Brann ] 

Dear Dave Brannn,

In reference to your request for lost ski areas in the Alaska Nordic Skier I do know of another one.   The location is in the Chugach State Park between Birchwood and Chugiak.  It was accessible off a road behind the old post office - now blocked by private land.  But a new trail has been cut behind the Rural Discount Center to the ski location which is in Little Peters Creek or Ptarmigan Valley.  It was just one rope tow operated in the 50's I believe.

Good Luck,  Mike Hansen

[Tim Kelley - late 1990's - memories ] 

In the late 1990's I was running with my dogs up the Ptarmigan Valley Trail and on to the top of Roundtop Mountain.  On the way up Roundtop I stumbled across an earthen bench that had been dug out, and a car frame and pulley were nearby.  I realized that this was likely the site of an old rope tow power station.

 

 

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