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Ravenwood Ski Area at Eielson AFB
(now called Iceman Falls)

Mid 1950's to Mid 1990's / 2004 to present

Name of Ski Area: Eielson AFB Ski Area, Ravenwood Lodge; Ravenwood Ski Area, renamed to Iceman Falls
Location: North Pole, on Eielson Air Force Base
Type of Area: Ski Hill, Ski Trails
Dates of Operation: 1960's ? to Mid 1990's / 2004 to present  (still researching initial start date)
Who Built It?: U.S. Air Force
Base/ Vertical Drop:

Base: ~550' / Vertical: 300' (lower slopes) - 450' (upper slopes)

Lifts: 2 Rope Tows, then 1 Rope Tow and 1 Pomalift
Facilities: On the Eielson Air Force Base.
History: This site is NOT considered a lost ski area.  It operated unnamed for many years, and then as Ravenwood Lodge until the mid 1990's.  It then was inactive for 7 years and reopened in September 2004 with a new name: Iceman Falls.

When Bill McBeth came to Eielson AFB in 1956 the ski area did not have a name.  Bill took cared of the ski area "Lodge", operated the ski hill tow, rounded up ski equipment for the base personnel, gave ski lessons, and cut the first cross country trails for a "skifire" (biathlon) event.  He was also involved in forming an Eielson AFB ski team on which he raced downhill events.  Also, he was the first president of a base ski club that called themselves the Ptarmigan Skiers.  Read more of Bill's account of skiing in the 50's at Eielson in his email below.

To see a web page Eielson has for this ski area, click here.

Sources of Information:

Rodney Crews, Eric D. Hilsinger, Connie Storch; Bill McBeth; Sam Chapman; George Ferree; Jen Rhuda; Larry Zentner

Photos: Does anyone have old pictures of skiing at the Eielson Ski Area that they would like to contribute to ALSAP ?

~  PHOTOS  ~
1971 to 1974 Photos courtesy of George Ferree
Pat Ferree skiing at Eielson AFB Ski Area
John Ferree skiing at Eielson AFB Ski Area


Photos courtesy of Sam Chapman, whose father was stationed at Eielson from 1970 to 1974
The Eielson Ski Area patch can be seen at the top of these 4 Fairbanks area ski patroller patches. This is a Skiland flag that was given to Sam Chapman's father - who was the head ski patroller at the Eielson ski area and also ski patrolled at Birch Hill, Skiland and Cleary Summit. This is a good shot of Sam Chapman at 16 - airborne off a jump at the Eielson ski area.
Sam Chapman doing a sidekick off a jump. Chapman family, 1973 Eielson Winter Carnival And Sam doing a daffy !
Ravenwood Lodge in the early 1970's The Swanson Brothers, 1971-72 Eielson Winter Carnival article
Eielson ski slope from the air Ski run Upper slope poma at Eielson ski slope
Eielson ski lodge Eielson ski lodge Eielson ski lodge
Cliff jumping above the top of the upper lift

Anchorage Daily Times, February 27, 1971
"A rope tow ticket for the beginners hill costs 25 cents and a Pomalift ticket costs 75 cents."

(Click on article to expand it to readable size)


Here is a shot of the Ravenwood Lodge at Eielson Air Force Base.

[Photo credit: Eielson Air Force Base Services]

A vintage "Ptarmigan Skiers" patch from Eielson Air Force Base.


Here is a shot from the Richardson Highway of this ski area.

Matt, Courtney, and Mark Cowan, military dependents, posing in front of the lodge sometime during the winter of 1988/89

~  MAPS  ~

This large scale topo shows where the Ravenwood Lodge / Iceman Falls ski area is located relative to Eielson Air Force Base - 4 miles to the southeast.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_ravenwood.jpg (86465 bytes)

A zoomed in topo view shows the area around the layout of the Ravenwood / Iceman Falls ski area.  Notice that the Trans-Alaska Pipeline passes close to the base of this ski area.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_zoom_ravenwood.jpg (72161 bytes)

Research Correspondence 
[Erik D. Hilsinger - 14 November 2004 email]

There was a ski area at the air force base in Fairbanks (Eielson).  I worked there one summer on an archaeological survey project where there was some concern about whether it was a historic site.  It was an interesting area in that there were winter cabins hidden in the woods right off the trails, with bread wrappers and other junk that indicated it was in use in the 70s.  Cabins covered with c ration boxes and other oddball things.  There was a chairlift, lodge, and some rope tows, and a nice view of the Alaska Range.  I'm not sure if it was working then (late 90s) but it looked functional.  Cheers, Erik

[Rodney Crews - 15 November 2004 email excerpt]

Outdoor winter entertainment can be found at the Ravenwood Lodge. Located four miles southeast of the main base, the lodge has ski areas for both the novice and advanced skier, cross country ski trails, a sled hill and an ice rink. The lodge boasts a T-bar lift and rental equipment for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and sledding.

[Connie Storch - 16 November 2004 email excerpt]


Yes the hill is still in operation, along with the lift. The resort area was renamed "Iceman Falls" in Sept 04.  If you require additional information, Mr. Hinch, the Outdoor Recreation Director has considerable knowledge of the area and its operations, he's the definitive expert. He may be reached at ****@****.** 

Good luck with your project.
Connie Storch, 354th Services, Eielson AFB, AK

[Bill McBeth - 10 December 2005 email]

Hi Tim,
         The story began long before I got to Alaska.  I was born and raised in Atlantic City, NJ which is FLATLAND USA. The only slopes were there little rolling curves in the grass landscaping around the local high school, Atlantic City HS which had an elevation of about eight feet.  Skied that at about age six.10 years years later I ended up with some friends for some long weekends in the Pocono MT.s of Eastern Pennsylvania where I spent more time in the lodges chasing girls that I did on the slopes skiing.  Being an avid surfer and having taught water skier downhill skiing came easy to me. 5 years later I was sent to Ft. Lewis, WA after basic training at Ft. Dix in NJ and ended up in the 9th Inf Regt.  As part of the 2nd Inf.Div which was scheduled to be gyro-scoped (Rotated-Move troops only no equipment) with the troops presently serving in Alaska which was still a territory at the time.
        I was assigned to the HQ&HQ  BN as a medical corpsman MOS 911.0 As you can see we were yet untrained in our MO's. We were being trained by our own cadre as there was not time in the scheduled troop movement to send us to FT. Houston.
        I was bored with the program and volunteered to become an instructor having spent two years on the drinking team in college before being asked to leave. Anyway I met the Medical Service Corps Officer for our unit, a Capt. Theodore Stone. Thru him I found out they were looking for people with skiing experience. Again I volunteered my services and  was assigned to teach our cadre officers & noncoms the rudiments of downhill skiing at nearby ski resorts.  So I got exposed to Snowqualime Pass Ski Area and 23 feet of snow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Nevertheless I did my assignment taking 2.5ton Truckfulls up there on the weekends for about ten trips in the spring of 1956. When our BN was assigned to guard Eielson AFB when we arrived that summer there was an old sergeant in charge of keeping the building at the on base ski hill (it had no name then) who had no clue about skiing.  I was assigned to replace him early that fall before the full ski season started.
        The ski hill was on the base about three miles from the Army Barracks we were housed in.  I was later told the MOUND was the top of the Nuclear Bomb storage site. (IT was COLD  WAR time then.) Eielson was a SAC Base with B-36's,B-52's and the B-29 Polar weather flights. The fighter aircraft were most test work.
        One of my first objectives was to obtain loaner ski equipment  for use by the base personnel and dependents. So special services supplied me with some WWII "White Bear" wood skis, a bunch of old style reverse throw cable bindings with toe irons. Installed those  suckers with a hand drill and manual screwdriver.  Say no more..................
        The hill had a rope tow powered by a six cylinder truck motor mounted on a sled arrangement to allow for adjustment of the rope tension. The bull wheel pulley at the top was and old aircraft nose wheel. The rope just dragged in the snow.( IT was a bitch to get out of the grove when I started things up in the morning. The Lodge as it was know was heated only by the big fireplace and a huge old kerosene stove.  But it worked
        There was one Air Force Col. who had a large family and really promoted the place for dependent family fun so we had lots of ski parties with pot lock food, etc.  Taught many people how to ski including hundreds of Army with 90lb Rucksacks on their backs.
        So we decided to start a ski club which was called the Ptarmigan Skiers. I had the honor of being the 1st president. It was a great success.
        We also formed a base ski team to represent Eielson AFB and participated in the military races, ALCOM Championship and other besides our own little club races, kids included. I recall many exciting days at Birch Hill at Ladd AFB outside Fairbanks and two weeks TDY to ski in the races down at FT. Richardson, Anchorage, Artic Valley SKI BOWL. WHAT A TERRIFYING DOWNHILL RACE IN A WHITEOUT CONDITIONS.  Also remember weekends at Cleary Summit north of Fairbanks with the reversed hill setup.
        I forgot to mention that Captain Stome was a NATIONAL SKI PATROLMAN at the time so we started a Local Patrol of the N S S P under his guidance.  My skiing hero at the time was Stein Ericson and his famous reverse shoulder ski technique. Boots were HENKE's, skis were 6'9" with reverse cables and SKI-FREE "B" toe pieces.  That Spring myself and a fellow army PFC Casper Bye cut the first cross-country ski trails for a "skifire" exercise being developed which later became the OLYMPIC Biathlon Event.  This was done on the old WWII White Bear downhill skis with the old US Army issued Biloted leather bindings and black rubber MICKY MOUSE BOOTS. Remember to ask me about the MYSTERIOUS MOTOR REPLACEMENT EPISODE.
                                                                        More later,
                                                                        Bill McBeth
                                                                        A "MANCHU"

[Sam Chapman - 16 June 2006 email]

I was very pleased to have found the ALSAP site.  My dad was stationed at Eielson from 1970-1974 and all of the five kids in my family learned to ski at Eielson.  The ski area had no official name during that time.  My dad was head of the Eielson ski patrol and my older brother and I were on the Jr. Patrol.  Dad also set up the winter carnivals held at the ski area for three years. 

At Eielson, there was a lower slope, an upper slope and the beginner hill.  The lower slope was served by a poma lift and was open weekends and Wednesday afternoon and evenings when temps were above -20.  The upper slope was served by a poma lift and was awkward to ski as it dropped off to the left all the way down.  A short rope tow served the beginner hill.  My guess is the vertical drop was around 400’.

Many of us banded together to ski Cleary Summit, Birch Hill on Ft. Wainwright and Skiland.  In addition, we sometimes had someone truck us up Pedro Dome and we would ski sown to the Steese Hwy.

Attached are some pictures you can use on your site if you feel they are appropriate.  The flag flew at Skiland.  The Ski Patrol there gave it to my dad.  There is a close-up of the patches.  The top patch with the E was Eielson’s.  The rest are easy to figure out.  The photo of the jumper was me at age 16.  We had built a jump on the steep side on the lower end of the hill just to the right of the poma lift.  One of the Ferree brothers took the photo – George, I think.

[George Ferree - 26 December 2007 email]

The Ferree Family (Dad, Mom, and 5 brothers:  Dave, George, Steve, John & Pat) lived at Eielson Air Force Base between 1971 and 1974.  All 5 brothers enjoyed the Eielson AFB Ski Hill -- especially the youngest 2:  John and Pat.  The Air Force ran a free Shuttle Bus from the housing areas to the ski hill every day after school, and the ski hill stayed open until 8 or 9 PM -- with skiing under the lights, of course.  Several winters during our stay at Eielson John and Pat managed to get in almost 100 ski days during a season.  Their constant companions on the ski hill were the Swanson brothers (Jim, John, Jerry & Jeff) and the Chapman family (Cal, Sam, and several younger siblings whose names escape me).  I recall that the price of a Season Pass for the entire family was $50.  I had my first ski experiences on the Eielson AFB Ski Hill -- on rented, 200 CM Head Standard Skis (black, of course), with Cubco Bindings, leather, lace-up boots, and heavy, steel ski poles!  I rented all of the equipment for about $2.00 per day.

The attached files [see above] are photos of 13-year old John Ferree and 11-year old  Pat Ferree.  They were all taken in 1974 at the Eielson AFB Ski Hill by oldest brother Dave Ferree -- as a project for his photography class at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  I suspect that the previously posted photo of Sam Chapman (contributed by Sam in June 2006) was also taken by Dave Ferree on the same day as these photos.

I recall that several times the Ferree's, the Swanson's and the Chapman's all journeyed "en masse" to terrorize the Birch Hill Ski Area on Fort Wainwright, and the Cleary Summit and Skiland ski areas near Mile Post 20 on the Steese Highway.

The Eielson AFB Ski Hill was a great (and cheap!) place to learn to ski and it holds many fond memories for all who enjoyed it.

[Sam Chapman - 22 July 2010 email excerpt]

Back when we were at Eielson, the ski area did not have a name that I can recall. We just called it the Eielson ski slope. I think Bill McBeth must have been there before my family was because when we got there the area had a Poma Lift for the main lift, not a rope tow. There were Poma Lifts for the lower and upper slope and the bunny hill had a rope tow. Regarding Captain Stone, that name is unknown to me.

Regarding being on the Jr. Ski Patrol, I think my brother and I both did that to ski free. We would join the adults on weekends and on Wednesday afternoons and evenings. The adults would assign us times on where on the hill we should be. Neither of us saw a lot of dramatic accidents, but we did help get injured people off the hill in the toboggan a time or two.

We also got to patrol at Skiland, which is now Mt. Aurora. That place had more vertical and better terrain than Eielson and we loved skiing there. Skiland also had 2 1,500 foot long rope tows that were just brutal on gloves and mittens.

Dad organized the Eielson Winter Carnivals. The carnivals eventually included slalom, giant slalom and downhill races for various age groups from kids all the way up through the older skiers. The kids also had distance and hot dot ski jump contests. The Chapmans and Ferrees and others were happy when the Swansons left because those guys cleaned up on just about every skiing contest.

The last Winter Carnival we participated in also included hot dog skiing, cross-country ski races and speed skating races. We also had a costume day and many people got very creative for this one. Dad has miles of 8 mm and Super 8 mm film of these, but the condition of the film is very bad and he no longer has a projector. I would love to be able to see the films again. After the carnival was over, Dad would splice together reels and have a show for the kids at the base Teen Club.

For the last several Carnivals we had some kids from Ft. Wainwright, the Army base in Fairbanks, come out. In turn, we went to their Carnivals. One of the families had a group of very good skiers and we became friends. The Chapman kids and other Eielson kids usually did well at the Ft. Wainwright as there was only one really good skiing family that I can remember.

Skiing at Eielson was always subject to snow conditions and temperatures. Central Alaska does not get a lot of snow so Eielson never seemed to open very early. When the air temperature was minus 20 or colder the slope was closed. When it was cold, but not lower than 20 below, we often experienced temperature inversions. We would literally break through the layer of cold air toward the top of the lower lift. There would often be a temperature difference of up to around 20 degrees.

The inversions also created optical illusions. We could sometimes see Mt. McKinley even through it was normally way out of sight. The temperature inversion bent the light in strange ways, making objects from afar look near. Not only did McKinley look near, the image was also magnified and it looked huge.

[Jen Rhuda - 14 May 2011 email]

When I was 5-6 yrs old, our family was stationed at Eielson in 1964-1966. I learned to ski at the base's ski area. I remember it being quite busy and lots of fun.

[F. Larry Zentner - 29 March 2016 email attachments]

Ravenwood / Ski Patrol documents:



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