home updates map photos alsappers contact about  
               

Raven Glacier Fly-In Skiing

1960's - 1970's

Name of Skiing Area: Raven Glacier
Location: Raven Glacier and Crow Pass area north of Girdwood, AK in Chugach National Forest
Type of Area: A glacier, one that has receded immensely since the days fly-in skiing was done here.
Dates of Operation: 1960's - 1970's.  Operated by Ted Huntley
Lifts:

A Piper Super Cub with wheel-skis

Elevation:

Landing Areas: ~4200' and ~5350'.  Skiing done from ~5350' elevation on down to Girdwood 14 miles away.

Facilities: None
History: This is not a true lost ski area, though much of this former skiing terrain has been lost due to glacial melting.  All that is currently known about skiing at this location is from a post card that showed up on eBay and was bought by Tim Kelley, and from memories of Andy Simasko (see email text below).  The narrative on the back of the post card said that landings were done at 4200 feet on the Raven Glacier and that skiers skied back to Girdwood after skiing the Raven Glacier.  The picture, taken by Dr. Jim Frazer, on the postcard also shows ski tracks descending from what appears to be the north slopes of Summit Mountain. No fixed-wing skiing operation operates on the Raven Glacier presently (2008).
Sources of Information:

Tim Kelley / post card bought on eBay (see below); Andy Simasko; Jim Isbell

~  PHOTOS  ~
 
Alyeska Ski Resort Post Card with Picture of Skiers and Super Cub with Wheel-Skis on the Raven Glacier

[Photo Credit: Dr. Jim Frazer]

This topo map indicates the approximate location of where the plane is in the postcard picture above.  The postcard picture was taken looking east-south-east up the glacier.

This satellite map shows the location of the Raven Glacier relative to Anchorage and Girdwood, AK.

Research Correspondence 
[Andy Simasko - 24 November 2010 email]

Ted Huntley operated Alyeska Air Service and to my knowledge he founded it.  I also knew Dr. Frazier.  Both men and Tedís family were personal friends of our family when I was growing up.  I donít remember Dr. Frazier being married. Knowing Tedís profile as I do, I suspect he is the second person from the right in the photo.  When Ted wasnít flying folks up to the Chugach Mountains he was a pilot for Alaska Airlines flying jets from Anchorage to Seattle.

Although I never got the chance to ski with Alyeska Air Service my brother and I did get to fly with Ted and his son Ben from Merrill Field to Girdwood one weekend.  It was in the Super Cub in the photo on the ALSAP web site.  It was probably around the 1968 Ė 1970 time frame and turned into a scouting mission to check out landing sites around Girdwood.  First we sort of bounced landed on Raven Glacier.  The wind had been blowing and there were ripples of windblown snow, probably 12 to 18 inches high, that we landed perpendicular to so we could land into the wind.  If my memory serves me it seemed we landed tail wheel first in order to drag it to shorted our landing distance.  After bouncing to a stop and a quick check on the snow conditions we had to pack out a strip to take off since the ripples prevented us from getting enough speed before we were bounced silly.  Next spot that day was to buzz the top of Maxís Mountain.  I donít know if Alyeska Air Service ever landed there.  Finally we headed over to Portage Lake and landed on the ice.  That one was pretty uneventful.  Ted eventually got my brother me and to Girdwood where my parents met us at the airport to take us to our cabin.

Dr. Frazier was an anesthesiologist in Anchorage and when he wasnít working or skiing he did manage to make it a habit to climb mountains.  He stayed at our cabin in Girdwood a few times, always sleeping on the porch in his sleeping bag.  It was too hot in the cabin for him.

 
[Jim Isbell - 09 February 2012 email]

Also just got a glimpse at the article on Raven Glacier.

I skied it twice.  Once with Keith Tryck as a part of a promotional film that was being done for Alyeska.  The second time was with John Dillman.  The first time we only skied the glacier and flew out.  John and I skied all the way back down to the Double Muskey.  I remember that day, the road was hard packed and we just cruised along, never polling and ate lunch!

I'm pretty sure both times, Al Curtis flew the Alyeska Air Service Super Cub.  The landing was challenging to say the least. The landing site was on top of a small knoll (in the postcard, it's right under the word "Alyeska").  As I recall, it was a full-power landing, uphill with a requirement to stop exactly on the top of the knoll.  As you can see in the postcard pic, there's a significant cirque behind the knoll with almost no room to go around.

The first time, with Keith, we landed and unloaded (you can imagine two of us, 6 feet plus, crammed in the back of the Cub with skis).  We had to help Al turn the Cub around in the deep snow and then shoved him off downhill.  We expected him to firewall the engine to get off but to our surprise, he kept it at idle as he disappeared down the slope!  Moments later he appeared putting along just fine.

The camera crew was flown in to the base of the headwall and when the signal came, Keith and I started off in the most glorious deep power.  It got so steep that he and I were literally getting airborne on some turns and pushing gigantic amounts of snow with each turn.

We could hear the film crew screaming up at us in delight at what they were seeing.

Later, when the film guys had been flown out, it was Keith's and my turn.  The only problem was that the poor Cub didn't have enough power to haul all of the weight off the glacier.  So Al and Keith decided it would be best if I got out and pushed....!

That worked out pretty well until it was time for me to get back into the plane.  I distinctly remember being glad I had a strong belt on since that's how Keith got me crammed back into the back seat.....

We've always wondered where the film ever got to.  VIA (Visual Interpretation Assistance) out of Seattle somehow blew out of the contract with Alyeska before the film was completed.
 

Do you have further information, stories or pictures that you would like to contribute about fixed wing fly-in skiing on Raven Glacier?