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Wendler Jr. High / Alaska Community College Ski Trail

1969 to 1973 / 1982 to ????

Name of Ski Area: Wendler Jr. High School Ski Trails, Alaska Community College (ACC) Ski Trail
Location: Anchorage, to the east and south of Wendler Jr. High School which is on the southeast corner of Northern Lights Boulevard and Lake Otis Parkway.
Type of Area: Ski Trails
Dates of Operation: ACC / Wendler Trail: 1969 to 1973; New Wendler Trail: 1982 to ????
Who Built It?: Unknown


Facilities: Nearby collegiate institutions: the University of Alaska, Anchorage and the Alaska Community College.  Kids would ski from the Wendler Jr. High School.  UAA's first ski team, started the winter season of 1970/71, would often train and race here.
History: In the late 60's Jim Burkholder spearheaded building a short horseshoe shaped trail for use by skiers at the Wendler Jr. High School.

Shortly after Edmund Schuster started the UAA ski program in 1970.  Edmund was the first ski coach at UAA and had a team of 12 skiers including US national champion Barbara Britch.  Edmund and volunteers put many hours of sweat equity into making a 3.85 kilometer trail system between UAA and ACC that connected to the Wendler Jr. High School trails.

This ski trail system was on lands belonging to the University of Alaska.  These trails were lost due to the expansion of UAA, the sports center in particular.  Later, in 1982, a .75 km trail was resurrected in the upper part of this area (north of Mallard Lane) for use by Wendler Jr. High School skiers.  This trail operated for a short time.

Sources of Information:

Edmund Schuster; Jim Burkholder; Gloria Thiele; Leo Hannan; Brad von Wickman


Does anyone have pictures of cross country ski training on the Wendler Jr. High / ACC Ski Trails that they would like to contribute to ALSAP ?


Documents and News Articles from Edmund Schuster, UAA's First Ski Coach and Architect of the ACC Ski Trail

Edmund Schuster's History of the ACC Ski Trail (1971 to 1973)

(Click on the pages to expand them to a readable size)

Page 1

Page 2




Page 3

[Left] This Anchorage Daily Times article from March 2, 1972 shows UAA skiers training on the ACC Ski Trail.  The woman in the foreground, Gloria Thiele, is wearing likely the first ever UAA ski team jacket ... as this was the 2nd year of the UAA ski team and they were training for their first "stateside" race.  Skiing towards Gloria is Tom Wellman and Bob Johnson.

[Right] Here are two 1971 news articles announcing the newly established ACC Ski Trail.

(Click on these articles to expand them to readable size)


In the November 2, 1972 issue of the ACC "Spectrum", Edmund Schuster wrote a eulogy to the passing of the ACC Ski Trail.  The trails died a death by bulldozer.

(Click on this article to expand it to readable size)




1973 "X-C Ski Trails" by Leo Hannan

In 1973 Leo Hannan wrote an Anchorage area ski trails guidebook entitled "X-C Ski Trails".  Leo's guidebook was republished in 1982, when it was called "A Guide to Cross Country Skiing in Anchorage".  This later "Subaru World Cup Commemorative Edition" was published by the Nordic Ski Club of Anchorage as a fund raising tool for the FIS World Cup cross country ski race that was held at Kincaid Park that year.  Below are pages from this out of print guidebook that describe the ACC Trails.

(Click on page or map below to expand to readable size)

[Text and map credits: Leo Hannan]

Trail description (1973) Trail map (1973)

~  MAPS  ~

Here is the Anchorage Community College Ski Trail map that was made by the UAA Engineering department in the early 1970's.

This map was provided to ALSAP by Edmund Schuster.

(Click on this view to expand it)

This 2002 aerial view of mid-town Anchorage shows the general area where the Wendler Jr. High / ACC Trails were located.

(Click on this view to expand it)

terra_wendler.jpg (117496 bytes)

A zoomed in aerial view shows the area the Wendler Jr. High /ACC Trails once existed.

(Click on this view to expand it)

terra_zoom_wendler.jpg (117637 bytes)

Research Correspondence 
[Dave Brann - 27 January 2005 email excerpt after talking to Edmund Schuster]

He [Edmund] told me he started the ski program at the University of Alaska, Anchorage about 1970.  He designed and got built a 3.85km cross country trail between the Univ. of Ak. and the Anchorage Community College.  The college engineering department surveyed and mapped it.  It was north and west of Providence Ave., just west of the South Fork of Chester Creek.  It was south of Mallard Lane and East of Anchorage Community College.  He has a map of the trail and is getting it reduced to send me a copy, I will give him your address and ask him to mail you a copy also.  He said they even had a race or two there and there were some articles in the student newspaper at the time.  He said it was built in 70-71 and lasted two years before campus development took over, the trail went through where the P.E. building is now.  He said it didn't have a name but I noticed on the map it was called the Anchorage Community College Ski Trail.

[Tim Kelley - 03 February 2005 notes from conversation with Edmund Schuster]

Though Edmund was not officially titled as "coach", he was indeed the first coach of the UAA Ski Program.  Edmund started the UAA Ski Program in 1970, with the support of Lou Haines.  He had a dozen skiers on the first team, including Barbara Britch, who won a US National Championship when she was a skier at West High in Anchorage.  Edmund organized and planned the building of a trail system between UAA and ACC.  This trail system connected with the Wendler Jr. High School trail.  Stan Sears, of the UAA engineering department, surveyed and mapped the trails.  After the first year a section of the trail was lost to a UAA parking lot.  The next year the trail was closed down due to the construction of the UAA sports facility building.  While the trail was operational races were held there.  Thursday night race series were held in conjunction with the Nordic Ski Club and Jim Mahaffey's Alaska Methodist University ski team.

[Brad von Wichman - 02 March 2011 email]

I was actually out on what is left of the ACC/Wendler JHS trail yesterday. I seem to recall that Betsy Hainse's brother, Chris, who was a PE coach at Wendler did a lot of work on those trails. That would have been early/mid 70's. I remember the old green wooden skies they/we had!



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