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Red Dog Mine Ski Hill

1990's ("Lost" because it was never finished !?!)

Name of Ski Area: Red Dog Mine Ski Hill
Location: Adjacent to the Red Dog Mine.  55 Miles from the coast of the Chukchi Sea.  90 miles north of Kotzebue,  East of Kivalina.
Type of Area: Ski Hill
Dates of Operation: 1990's to present (not really a LOST ski area, because in was never in operation)
Who Built It?: Cominco employees purchased rope for a rope tow in the mid-90s.  Tow not built.
Base/Top/ Vertical Drop: Base ~1000', Top: 2990', Vertical: ~1500'
Lifts: Snowmobiles, otherwise by skiing up.
Miscellaneous: World's largest zinc mine.
Sources of Information: Jean Corbin; Neil Christensen
Photos: Does anyone (Cominco employees?) have any pictures of people skiing at Red Dog Mine that they would like to contribute to this site?


 ~  MAPS  ~

Red Dog Mine is in far northwest Alaska.

(Click on this map to expand it)



Research Correspondence 
[Jean Corbin - October 2004 conversation with Tim Kelley]

I talked to Jean Corbin on the phone.  Jean worked at the Red Dog Mine during the 1990's up until 2001.  He said that in the mid-90's Cominco bought rope for a rope tow. But as of the time he left, 2001, the rope tow had not been constructed.  The tow rope likely still sits in their warehouse.  Jean, an alpine skier, said that they would use snowmobiles to travel up nearby hills and then ski down them.

[Neil Christensen - 07 January 2016 email]

I work up at Red Dog Mine and a coworker directed me to your site.  I've done some skiing while at work and have a few pictures (and probably a video or two) of activity at the site I can send your way.  They're all from the last few years, so not quite in keeping with the rest of your site.  Red Dog Mine's elevation is around 1000'.  The tallest peak in the area (I've skied off the top) is Deadlock Mountain, 2990' with runs of 1500' possible in ideal conditions.  (My longest runs have probably been in the 1000'-1200' range.)

As Jean Corbin mentioned, there was (is?) rope tow equipment on site, but it has not been set up.  The gear came to site in December 1990 and appears to have been purchased from the Kachemack Ski Club, described as "1950 Used Rope Tow".  Not sure when it last saw the light of day, so who knows if it is still collecting dust, 'stored' in the dump, or somehow migrated off-site.  My understanding is there were some unresolved liability issues associated with installing the rope tow.

There is a history of skiing at the site, though.  When I arrived there was a collection of personal cross country skis in one of the common areas.  About 3 winters ago some community gear was purchased and has been in fairly regular use since.  (It was purchased in conjunction with a program to introduce cross country skiing to the villages around the NW Alaska region; hopefully there are new ski areas popping up around here!)  A few hardy individuals make it a point to get outside in the dark of December and January.  From late February through early April the conditions have been the best - more light in the evenings after work and the temperatures aren't quite as cold.  We don't have any designated trails or grooming, so there is the freedom to travel (almost) any direction we want - as long as it is away from the active work areas.

Downhill skiing is also available, although snowmobiles aren't approved for uphill travel as they (maybe) were for Jean.  Supposedly there was also a group of geologists in the early-early days that utilized a helicopter to access a peak or two.  I've toured on telemark skis and skins during the winter, but the fun really kicks in come spring once the snow sofetns up a little.  Winters up here are windy, especially on the exposed (and universally treeless) steeps.  My first ever hike-and-ski day was too early in the season; wind sculpting left the slope looking like a staircase of 18" steps the whole way down.  Needless to say I didn't link too many turns.  Deadlock (the tallest peak within hiking distance) takes 2 hours to hike up and maybe 5 minutes to ski down followed by a 20-30 minute hike out, so doing it takes some dedication.  Only one other guy has joined me in these efforts so far (mul.  Luckily it is positioned so the runs (3 distinct gulleys) catch plenty of snow during the winter and corn up well for after-work evening skiing in the spring.

I've enjoyed reading about some of the old 'way out there' sites where guys used lace-up boots and skis.  My stories and pictures, I'm afraid, pale in comparison to some of theirs.

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