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Southern California Ski History Timeline

This timeline is based upon hundreds of hours of research while working on Pray for Snow: The History of Skiing in Southern California and Lost Ski Areas of Southern California. It has been copied, pasted, and cannibalized on other websites.

Please link to this page rather than copying to another web-site.

A more complete history of the people and places in this timeline can be found in Pray for Snow: The History of Skiing in Southern California and Lost Ski Areas of Southern California.

History of skiing in Southern California

1873 February 3—First recorded account of skiing in Southern California. Joseph B. Tyler diary.

1921—Edi Jaun, ski pioneer and promoter, arrives in Lake Arrowhead. He was one of the first people in Southern California who was a skilled skier.

1922 January 16—First ski ascent of the summit of Mt. San Antonio (Mt. Baldy) by George O. Bauwens.

1924 February 24—First ski jumping meet held in Big Bear Valley.

1924 September 1—Big Pines Park, summer and winter playground operated by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, officially opens.

1927—First Annual Midwinter Carnival is held in Lake Arrowhead.

1928—Edelweiss Ski Club is formed. One of Southern California’s earliest clubs.

1929—First ski jump in Southern California is built at Big Pines.

1930 February—First world record ski jump to be made at Big Pines. 137.5 feet set by Halvor Bjorngaard.

1930 October 7—California Ski Association is created. Becomes the Far West Ski Association in 1949.

1930 December—Walter E. Kruckman forms the Rim of the World League to promote winter sports in the San Bernardino Mountains.

1931 February 3—First ski ascent of the summit of San Gorgonio by Murray Kirkwood, Bill Cover, George Gibbs, and Loyd Cooper.

1931—Southern California Winter Sports League is formed to organize and promote winter sports.

1931—Van Degrift’s Ski Hut becomes the first store in Los Angeles to sell ski equipment.

1931—Halvor Halstad designs and constructs the first ski jump at Lake Arrowhead. It is christened Halstad Hill. Halstad was a well-known jumper and a member of the United States Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.

1932—Walter Mosauer, father of Alpine skiing in Southern California, arrives in Southern California.

1932—Les Salm, Lake Arrowhead’s first fire chief, builds Southern California’s first rope tow at Fish Camp (later renamed Snow Valley).

1932 January 2—Fourteen skiers organize the Big Pines Ski Club.

1933—Walter Mosauer starts a ski team at UCLA.

1933—February—California State Ski Championships are held at Big Bear Lake.

1934 January—First slalom race in Southern California is held at the Camp Seeley Snow Carnival.

1934 October 6,7—Edelweiss Ski Hut is built on the slopes of San Gorgonio.

1934 November 7—The Ski Mountaineers section of the Sierra Club is formed by Walter Mosauer. He and thirteen others made up the inaugural group: Leland Curtis, Frank “Tug” Richardson, Stanley Allen, Robert Frampton, Louis Turner, Eric Varney, Seth Blakeman, Miles Werner, Dick Jones, Mac Salter, Louis Simon, Glen Dawson, and Murray Kirkwood.

1934 December 29,30—The Hollywood Ski Club and Viking Ski Club conduct their first ski jump meet at the Hollywood Bowl.

1934—On Skis Over Mountains by Walter Mosauer is published. This is the first instructional ski book to be published in Southern California.

1935 January 20—The Hollywood Ski Club and Viking Ski Club hold their second ski jump meet at the Hollywood Bowl.

1935 March 16—First San Antonio Downhill Race is held. The race began on the summit and the course covered two miles.

1936 January—San Antonio (Mt. Baldy) Ski Hut construction completed.

1936 September—San Antonio Ski Hut burns to the ground. A new hut is finished by winter 1937.

1936 September—Ethel Severson Van Degrift becomes the first female member of the Sierra Club Ski Mountaineers.

1936—Clarita Heath Bright, a South Pasadena native, becomes a member of the first United States Women’s Olympic Team. She competed in the 1936 Olympics at Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

1937—Harlow Dormer and Craig Wilson install the first rope tow on Table Mountain (Ski Sunrise).

1937—Les Salm installs Green Valley Lake’s first rope tow.

1937—Fish Camp is renamed Snow Valley. Les Salm began referring to the area as Snow Valley, so with the encouragement and backing of Sverre Engen, who became involved in running the ski operation, the Forest Service formally changed the name to Snow Valley.

1937 April—First attempt to develop San Gorgonio into a downhill ski resort.

1937 August 10—Mosauer dies of a form of plant poisoning contracted on a reptile hunting expedition in Mexico.

1937 October 29—Ski slope built on the roof of May Company’s downtown Los Angeles store.

1937 Fall—San Diego Ski Club is formed. It is the second oldest continuous club in Southern California.

1938—Sling lift, modeled after the Fish Camp lift, is installed at Big Bear Lake. This is Big Bear’s first lift.

1938—Edi Jaun and John Elvrum build a sling lift on the hill behind the Lake Arrowhead Village School where the fire station is now located. This is the first mechanical tow built at Lake Arrowhead.

1938 January 29—First issue of The Mugelnoos, official newsletter of the Sierra Club Ski Mountaineers, is published.

1938 February 27—First Annual Southern California Open Ski Meet is held in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Sponsored by the Lake Arrowhead Ski Club.

1938 March—After Walter Mosauer’s death, the Sierra Club formed the Walter Mosauer Memorial Lodge Committee. To honor their founder, the Ski Mountaineers sought approval from the Forest Service to construct a hut on the slopes of San Gorgonio. When it was realized that approval would not be granted for construction on San Gorgonio, the funds were used to build the Keller Peak Ski Hut.

1938—First ski tow installed on Mt. Baldy by Fuzz Merritt for Pomona College students. The tow was located on Movie Slope

1938—Keller Peak Ski Hut, located across the highway from Snow Valley, is completed. It was built by the Sierra Club Ski Mountaineers.

1939 January 6—Harlow “Buzz” Dormer receives the first permit to build a ski tow and warming hut on Table Mountain.

1939 January 22—Second Annual Southern California Open Ski Meet is held in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

1939 June—Sepp Benedikter opens the Pine Needle Ski Slope in North Hollywood at the present site of the Sheraton Universal Hotel.

1939 November 28—Ethel Severson Van Degrift begins the first regular ski column, “Ski Slants,” in the Los Angeles Times. Her last column appeared on April 13, 1954. Ethel became one of the first female ski writers for a major metropolitan newspaper.

1939—Lynn Newcomb installs the first rope tow on Mt. Waterman.

1939—Southern Skis club is formed.

1939-40—Les Salm, Lake Arrowhead’s first fire chief, installs a 300-foot rope tow on “Suicide Hill” in Green Valley Lake.

1940—Master ski jump at Big Pines is removed.

1940 April—First San Gorgonio Downhill Race is held.

1940 Spring—Southern Section of the National Ski Patrol is formed by Walter Clemmons.

1940-41—Bob Wubben installs a rope tow about 150 yards east of Les Salm’s tow at Green Valley Lake.

1941 November—John Elvrum purchases Snow Valley from the Arrowhead Springs Corporation.

1942 January 16—Dorothy McClung, member of the San Diego Ski Club, is named the first female member of the National Ski Patrol.

1942 January—First chairlift in Southern California and the second in the state opens at Mt. Waterman.

1943—Loris Cady installs the first ski tows at Moonridge, the Upper and Lower Moonridge tows.

1944—Herb Leffler and Jim Chaffee install a rope tow on Movie Slope at Mt. Baldy.

1940s mid—Les Salm installs a rope tow at Lake Arrowhead, the Lodge Hill Ski Tow.

1940s—Howard Martin operates a 1,000-foot ski tow just outside of Running Springs.

1945 January 30—Howard More receives a Special Use Permit to assume ownership of Table Mountain Ski Area.

1945-46—Larry Ferguson, Joe Fox, and Ernst C. “Doc” Vawter open Green Valley Lake Snow Bowl.

1945-46—Tom Preston founded O-Ongo Ski Tows. The area closed in 1957.

1947 March—First chairlift is built on Blue Ridge (Mountain High West) by Frank Springer and Tom Triol. This is Southern California’s second chairlift.

1947—John Webster and John Sipe install rope tows at Upper and Lower Mill Creek Ski Bowls.

1947—Southern California Intercollegiate Ski Union is formed.

1947—Walt and Wynne Harmon open a winter sports center at Lake Arrowhead. It was short-lived due to lack of snow.

1947-48—Les Salm conducted the first attempts in California to manufacture snow for skiing.

1948—A rope tow begins operation in Blue Jay. This operated until 1959.

1949 January—Tommi Tyndall starts Southern California’s first training program for ski instructors.

1949—The Lynn Lift is constructed in Big Bear. This is Big Bear’s first chairlift.

1949—First chairlift at Snow Valley begins operation.

1949-50—Two tows begin operating in Running Springs. During the 1955-56 season, the area becomes known as Wintergarten.

1950—Elizabeth “Schatzi” Wood is appointed section chief of the National Ski Patrol. She is among the earliest women National Ski Patrol members.

1950—First chairlift is installed at Holiday Hill by Sepp Benedikter and John Steinmann.

1950—Kratka Ridge is developed by the Angeles Winter Development Association, a group of San Gorgonio Ski Club members.

1950s-mid—Lloyd Soutar operates an 800-foot ski tow in Running Springs.

1951—Elizabeth “Schatzi” Wood is awarded the Yellow Merit Star by the National Ski Patrol for her outstanding patrol work.

1951—First junior ski school in Los Angeles opens.

1951 January—A rope tow begins operation at Grout Creek in Fawnskin.

1951 September—Pacific Southwest Mid-Summer Ski Jump Tournament is held at the Los Angeles County Fair, Pomona. The ski jump was the brainchild of Sepp Benedikter.

1952 December—First two chairlifts open at Mt. Baldy.

1952—Tommi Tyndall opens Snow Summit with a 1,300-foot long chairlift.

1953—First American amputee ski school is started at Snow Summit by Bob Engelien.

1954—Two rope tows begin operation at Stillwell’s in Big Bear Lake.

1954—First chairlift at Kratka Ridge is built.

1955 Fall—Chuck Smith opens Rebel Ridge Ski Area in Big Bear.

1956 Summer—Mt. Baldy stages summer ski jumping exhibitions and tournaments.

1958—Junior Skiers of Southern California is founded by Betty Morning.

1959—Permanent ski jumps built at Mt. Baldy.

1959—First annual Tyler Van Degrift Memorial Race held at Mt. Baldy.

1961—Rebel Ridge is the only ski area west of the Mississippi operating during Christmas.

1961. Chuck Smith devises a successful snowmaking system.

1961-62—Lake Arrowhead Ski Bowl opens. Another short-lived operation due to limited snowfall.

1963 April—Dave and Dan Platus buy the Lynn Lift area and rename it Snow Forest.

1963 July—Stu and Liese Hirsh purchase Rebel Ridge Ski Area.

1963 September 12—Palm Springs Tramway opens.

1965 January—Ski the Rim opened in Running Springs with one 600-foot rope tow.

1965 December—Sepp Benedikter buys Rebel Ridge Ski Area.

1966 June 25—Ski Villa, the first and only year round ski resort in the United States, opens in Carbon Canyon.

1969—Moonridge is under new ownership and is renamed Goldmine.

1969—After 25 years of operating tows at Mt. Baldy, Herb and Jane Leffler sell Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts to the Western Resorts Corporation.

1971—After 30 years of ownership, John Elvrum sells Snow Valley.

1972—Don and Anne Howe become partners in the Green Valley Lake Corporation. Ann Howe renames the ski area Ski Green Valley.

1973—Howard More sells Table Mountain Ski Area to Tamount, Inc.

1974—Rebel Ridge closes permanently.

1975—Table Mountain Ski Area is renamed Ski Sunrise.

1975—Dick Woodworth buys Blue Ridge Ski Area and renames it Mountain High.

1977 September—Ken Lieb buys Snow Forest.

1979—First chairlift is constructed at Ski Sunrise.

1979—Terry Tognazzini purchases Holiday Hill.

1980—Bob Boothe purchases Snow Forest.

1980 February—Green Valley Lake Cross-Country Ski Center is opened by Dave and Sara Williams.

1981—The Lynn Lift, Big Bear’s first chairlift, is removed.

1986—Lloyd and Catherine Peake purchase Ski Green Valley. They install Ski Green Valley’s first chairlift.

1988—Goldmine is purchased by S-K-I Ltd. And is renamed Bear Mountain.

1992—Snow Forest closes permanently.

1992 February—Kerry and Bev Brown open Rim Nordic Ski Area.

1993—Howard More regains ownership of Ski Sunrise.

1993 December—Ski Green Valley becomes Big Air Green Valley, the nation’s sole snowboard-only area.

1994—John and Jacqueline Steely become the owners of Kratka Ridge. They rename the area Snowcrest.

1997—Oaktree Capital Management purchases Mountain High from Terry Tognazzini.

1998—Big Air Green Valley is renamed Big Air Winter Park, signaling the return of skiers to what had been a snowboard-only area.

1999—Kerry and Bev Brown, owners of Rim Nordic Ski Area, purchase Green Valley Lake Cross-Country Ski Center from Dave Williams.

2004 November—Mountain High purchases Ski Sunrise.

2005 Fall—Randy Pattison and Ron Bigelow purchase Big Air Winter Park and rename the area Trinity Mountain Resort.

2007 Fall—The Slide Fire burns through Trinity Mountain Resort, originally Green Valley Snow Bowl. The area closes permanently.

2011-12—Ski Sunrise closes permanently and is converted into the North Pole Tubing Park.

This timeline is based upon hundreds of hours of research while working on Pray for Snow: The History of Skiing in Southern California and Lost Ski Areas of Southern California. It has been copied, pasted, and cannibalized on other websites.

Please link to this page rather than copying to another web-site.

A more complete history of the people and places in this timeline can be found in Pray for Snow: The History of Skiing in Southern California and Lost Ski Areas of Southern California.

California Ski Jumping History Timeline
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