Eaglecrest season ends with memorial run

The Eaglecrest ski and snowboard season ended Sunday with a memorial run for long-time ski patrolmen Ron Dippold and Bob Janes.

“The symbolic empty sleds for Janes and Dippold will go first, followed by today’s patrollers and the alumni patrollers,” said Bob Janes’ son Bill, as skiers of all ages came from Ptarmigan and Black Bear lifts to join the crowd at the top of Easy Bowl on Eaglecrest’s east side.

Empty Sleds - Gathering

Current and past Juneau Ski Patrollers gather with family and friends at the top of “Easy Bowl” for a memorial run at Eaglecrest Ski Area on Sunday. (Photo by Mikko Wilson/KTOO)

Bill Janes used a bull horn to address them.

“Both were patrollers, one for over 50 years, one for just under 50 years,” he said.

Dippold died in January at the age of 78; Janes passed away in March at age 92. They started volunteering with the National Ski Patrol at the old Douglas Ski Bowl called Third cabin near Dan Moller trail. It was replaced by Eaglecrest in 1975, which is now owned by the city and borough of Juneau.  A lot of community toil has gone into the ski area, and Janes reminded the crowd of several others who had been part of building it.

“Think about all the old timers, the Pittmans, the Tom Stewarts, Sig Olson, many others that I have not thought of that have left us already,” Janes said.

Pittman’s Ridge at Eaglecrest is named for Tom Pittman, who skied at Third Cabin along with Tom Stewart and Sig Olson. Stewart was secretary of Alaska’s constitutional convention and a superior court judge; Olson, a wildlife biologist. In World War II, Stewart and Olson were members of the skiing infantry of the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army. Both died in 2008.

“And think about, too,” Janes said, “those that have left us far too early, the Bill Tugmans, the Helen Davies, Peter Barretts and Matt Brakels.  They also deserve our attention on this run.”

Bill Tugman taught skiing at Eaglecrest in the 1980s and died in a boating accident in 1987. Snowboarder and professional photographer Peter Barrett died in 2005 in a kayaking accident off North Douglas.  Skier, snowboarder and ski race coach Matt Brakel died in 1999 in an avalanche on Mt. McGinnis. Avid skier and CBJ accountant Helen Davies died of cancer in 2011.

Empty Sleds - Sourdough

Ski Patrollers lead a group of about 200 down “Sourdough” on Sunday. (Photo by Mikko Wilson/KTOO)

Davies’ husband and Eaglecrest Director of Snow Safety Brian Davies started the procession with the two empty sleds, followed by current and former patrol members. More than 200 other skiers followed, including members of the Janes’ and Dippold families.

Most of the skiers were friends who had known these gentlemen for decades, some for just a few years; all were a part of the community ski area that fosters loyal users.

The slow procession seemed a fitting end to the 38th season at Eaglecrest.

Janes came to Alaska with the US. Forest Service. A celebration of his life will be held on April 20th. Dippold worked for the Forest Service and was a Southeast Region Director for the American Red Cross. A celebration of his life is May 31.

Recent headlines