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Rainbow Mountain Troop Training Area

1950's to 1960's

Name of Ski Area: Rainbow Mountain
Location: Mile 206 of the Richardson Highway.  To the east of the Richardson Highway, north of Isabel Pass, south of Black Rapids and the Northern Warfare Training Center.
Type of Area: Ski Slopes
Dates of Operation: 1950's to 1960's (estimated)
Who Built It?: Natural ski slopes
Base/Vertical Drop:


Lifts: None
Facilities: None
History: According to Hank Dube, the area was once used for military ski training operations.  Near Rainbow Mountain is the Canwell Glacier where an overnight cross country skiing event called the Canwell Glacier Stampede used to be held (more information below).
Sources of Information:

Hank Dube; Judy Ferguson; Tim Kelley; Chuck Johnson; Lance Parrish; Sam Chapman


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

~  PHOTOS  ~

Hank Dube, left, instructs Sgt. Brooks SFC RC POW on snowplow technique in 1959.

[Photo credit and copyright: Hank Dube and Judy Ferguson]


October 2006 Site Pictures

[Photo credits: Tim Kelley]

This shot shows the naturally open slopes of a ridge end to the south of Rainbow Ridge.  You can see an old roadbed cut along the base of the hill.  This road provided easy access to the ski-able slopes.  According to Chuck Johnson, this roadbed is likely part of the Old Valdez Trail or Wagon Road.
Rainbow Ridge can be seen stretching out to the north of the ski training area.  Rainbow Ridge and Mountain names are based on the colorful talus slopes in the area.


"Great Glacier Ski Rush", September 1969 Alaska Sportsman magazine article by Ginny Hill Wood

(Click on page images below to expand to readable size)

Just north of Rainbow Mountain is the Canwell Glacier.  The Great Glacier Ski Stampede was held here from 1969 to 1983.  This was an 8 mile "race" to the Alaska Alpine Club hut on the edge of the Canwell Glacier, a campout and then a "race" back out to the highway the next morning.


Eielson Times 1971 "Glacier Tour" article, courtesy of Sam Chapman

(Click on page images below to expand to readable size)


"Canwell Glacier Stampede" Pictures From the Early 1970's

Courtesy of Chuck Johnson

  Lower Canwell Hut Margaret Looking towards the Richardson Highway Looking across the Canwell Glacier
Margaret Chuck cooking Margaret Chuck, Eddie Denbow Chuck, Jane Parrish, Jamo Parrish, Margaret
  View of Canwell Glacier Stampede encampment  


1967 Fairbanks XC Skiers Trip To The Thayer Hut on the Castner Glacier

Photos by Lance Parrish and Chuck Johnson


This is Thayer Hut on the Castner Glacier just north of the Canwell Glacier.  This hut was built by the Alaska Alpine Club in the early 60's.  This was in the spring of 1967 I think when a group of us from Fairbanks Skied the 8 miles up the Castner Glacier to stay in the hut and play in the area.  Standing left to right are Jim (Whizzy) Whisenhant Ski Coach Lathrop High School and myself (Chuck Johnson).  Front row: Jim Mahaffey, Coach UAF, Mike Wild, UAF, Jeanne Ostness, Lathrop, Tim Quintel, Lathrop, Rose Marie Ernst, Lathrop, Lance Parrish, Lathrop, Mike Selee, UAF, Diane O'Conner, Lathrop.  Photo by Lance Parrish.


~  MAPS  ~

This large scale topo map shows the location of the Rainbow Mountain troop training ski area at Mile 206 of the Richardson Highway.

(click on this map to expand it)

Research Correspondence 


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