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Thompson Pass Rope Tow

Late 1970's to 1983

Name of Ski Area: Thompson Pass Rope Tow
Location: Thompson Pass, east of Valdez, at Mile 27.5 of the Richardson Highway, just north of the Alaska DOT&PF Maintenance Station.
Type of Area: Ski Hill
Dates of Operation: Late 1970's to 1983
Who Built It?: Possibly Owen Johnson, a local Valdez contractor (now deceased)
Base/Vertical Drop:

Base: ~2700' / Vertical: Unknown

Lifts: Rope Tow
Facilities: Unknown
History: In the 1970's a group of Valdez backcountry skiers proposed to the City of Valdez to build a ski are at Sugarloaf Mountain across Port Valdez from Valdez.  As part of a feasibility study this rope tow at Thompson Pass was funded and built.

The rope tow for this ski hill was moved in 1983 to the Salmonberry Ski Hill at Mile 5.2 of the Richardson Highway.

Sources of Information:

Pete Bellezza; Chris Mishmash; Peter Stahley; Devon O'Neil

Photos:

Does anyone have pictures of skiing at the Thompson Pass Rope Tow (or current pictures of the vicinity) that they would like to contribute to ALSAP ?

~  MAPS  ~

This large scale topo map shows the location of the Thomson Pass Rope Tow relative to the City of Valdez.

(click on this map to expand it)

This zoomed in topo map shows the estimated location of the Thompson Pass Rope Tow at Mile 27.5 of the Richardson Highway.

(click on this map to expand it)

Research Correspondence 

[Pete Bellezza - 07 October 2005 email] 

I grew up in Valdez, and graduated from Valdez High School in 1984. As I recall, the rope tow at Salmonberry Ski Hill was the one originally installed at Thompson Pass, just north of the ADOT&PF Maintenance Station, at mile 27.5 Richardson Highway.

I do not know when the Thompson Pass rope tow was installed, but I skied there in 1982. My dad believes that Owen Johnson, a local Valdez contractor (now passed away), may have been involved in originally constructing the rope tow.

Once the rope tow was relocated to Salmonberry Ski Hill, which I believe was in 1983, I skied there a couple of times, and I do remember that the ski area was closed due to a lawsuit involving an injured skier, as previously mentioned by Chris Mishmash.
 

[Chris Mishmash - 31 October 2005 email] 

Hi Tim, Unfortunately I donít know much about the rope tow being on Thompson Pass.  I have heard about it, but it was definitely before my time.  Also, I never heard of the study for the ski area on T. Pass but I have heard tale of an Asian group (Japanese?) that looked at putting one on Sugarloaf Mountain, which is just east of Solomon Lake here across the Port of Valdez.  Urban legend?  Iím not sure.  Iíll ask around and see what I can learn.  Good luck. - Chris
 

[Tim Kelley - 03 January 2012 note] 

The history of the Thompson Pass rope tow is mentioned in the article "Can Skiing Save Valdez, Alaska", by Devon O'Neil, which appeared in the November 2011 issue of "Skiing" magazine.

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