Photo by Kristi Rubio

Mt. Eyak Ski Area is a family-oriented operation. The goal has always been to be able to offer affordable, healthy winter recreation for the community. Independence and confidence are key traits gained throughout the ski season for so many kids, said general manager Dave Branshaw.  

The chairlift operated for 30 days this ski season, two more than last year, says Branshaw. People and weather are key components that impact operation. More than 400 passes were delivered this season.  

“Spring break had some of the best snow of the season, with visiting skiers from Seattle, Anchorage, as well as heli-skiers, who renown it as ‘Eyak’ day,” said Branshaw.  

Although it is a short window for Cordova’s ski season, it is evident that locals are passionate about Cordova’s “community resort.” It is a collective community memory, says Branshaw. The ski hill is in the “mental health” business, Branshaw added, improving the quality of life to hopefully take the burden off for a few hours — building positive memories, where parents and kids get to play together. 

Branshaw has been involved with the ski hill for the majority of his adult life. Since the 1980s he has been a full-time resident, but spent childhood summers in Cordova. Branshaw says it is a “honor and privilege” to be a custodian to Mt. Eyak, to carry a vision forward, of those who came before. Branshaw has been the general manager since 2006. The ski hill is otherwise overseen by volunteers. 

On Dec. 2, 2023, an annual meeting was held to elect ski club board members for the Sheridan Alpine Association. The volunteer board, made up of 13 members, elected Dave Reggiani as president.  


Mt. Eyak was built in its current location in 1974 and is a 501c4 organization. Since the late 1980s the land has been owned by the state. The Sheridan Alpine Association has operated and maintained the ski hill for the community since 1988, through the city.  

Annually, the ski hill has a steady, fixed budget. During the annual meeting, the hill was able to avoid some of the “rental rush,” says Branshaw. Mt. Eyak offers the whole package; season passes as well as gear. Gear inventory has been building for the last five years for seasonal rentals — this was the first year there was a surplus.  

Next year cross-country ski rentals will be added to the inventory, and a kids ski club is in the works to keep the youth active in the winter.  

“We are losing our tween to teen demographic,” says Branshaw. The aim is to retain kids as they get older, with the hopeful intent to get skiing part of the school system’s P.E. curriculum. 

The hill also puts on other programming throughout the year. One of the most popular that the ski club has offered to help with funding in future years is “Disco Night Ski,” an event started by local resident James Honkola. The event happens during the annual Cordova Iceworm Festival. Honkola said he invested in a better disco light set up after he saw the enthusiasm the first year, which proved successful in the community.  

Improvements for next year’s ski season are already in the works. Every year engineers inspect both the rope tow and chairlift, and complete trail maintenance, brush removal, oiling cables, and replace chair seats. There are 16 towers with two terminals that are planned to get a paint upgrade. Other upgrade plans also include making the area handicap accessible in addition to more covered space, states Branshaw. 

After the announcement of the season’s closure, mother nature decided winter still was on the horizon. On April 2 Mr. Eyak Ski Area had an emergency opener, due to large snowfall.  

This story was originally published in the April 5 issue of The Cordova Times.