Shellabarger Pass

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Quick Facts
  • Location: 62 ° 31' 38" N, 152 ° 46' 52" W
  • Region: Matanuska-Susitna
  • Elevation: 3,287 ft / 1,002 m
  • Parent: Alaska Range


at head of Dillinger River, 86 mi. NW of Talkeetna, Alaska Range

Shellabarger Pass has an elevation of 3,300 feet and lies at the head of the Dillinger River, 86 miles northwest of Talkeetna.

There are no roads or trails in the area. Properly equipped aircraft can also land in the broad valley at the headwaters of the Dillinger River. The Federal Aviation Agency maintains a 5,000-foot gravel runway at Farewell. The nearest major source of fuel and supplies is Anchorage.

Shellabarger Pass can be a sketchy flight as sometimes a low ceiling will hang in the pass.


Massive fine-grained copper and zinc-bearing pyritiferous sulfide

deposits occur north of Shellabarger Pass.Although the deposits may not be commercially exploitable at present, they are considered to be of special significance because such deposits have not previously been known in this little-prospected part of the Alaska Range and they have many similarities with economically important massive sulfide deposits elsewhere in the world.

The deposits were discovered in 1967 ; but because of inclement weather, they could not be examined in detail then. In 1968 the authors spent 10 days sampling and mapping the deposits; they examined them again briefly in late August of 1969 when the snow had melted, better exposing the rocks.

The exposed deposits are between 4,450 and 4,650 feet altitude on the west edge of a small north-flowing glacier. Some of the rocks show a range in distribution of copper and zinc from 1.1 to 1.3 and 1.1 to 1.7 percent, respectively, silver content of around 1.55 oz per ton, and gold content of up to 0.15 oz per ton.


Shellabarger Pass is a mountain climbers' name published in the late 1940's. Named after Max Shellabarger Alaskan bush pilot and father of another Alaskan pilot Leon Shellabarger. Max Shellabarger homestead with his family along the Skwentna River. Max died when after taking off from the frozen river by his house he encountered engine problems. He landed safely and son Leon and friend John Swiss helped install a new engine in the plane. While letting the engine warm, with Leon and John on board, Max ended up in the propeller, dying instantly.

Fossil corals, cephalopods, and brachiopods collected from a thin unit of the gray limestone at Shellabarger Pass are considered to be of Late Devonian age (C.. W. Merriam, written commun., 1970).

Video Notes:

"Mission Impossible" by Forrest McCarthy

Photographer Michael Christopher Brown documents 45 miles of Andrew Skurka's Alaska-Yukon Epedition. Starting at the Rohn Roadhouse in the western Alaska Range, Michael followed Andy for 2.5 days through a whiteout over Shellabarger Pass and into the Dillinger River.

Mountain climbers' name published in the late 1940's.



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