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75 Year Celebration of
Snowsport History
in the
Far West region!

Photos Are Here!


History of Skiing in Southern California

Ski areas continue to be developed as the number of recreational skiers increases.

1950s

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1950   Elizabeth "Schatzi" Wood was appointed section chief of the National Ski Patrol. Elizabeth was the sixteeth woman to be named to the National Ski Patrol and the second in Southern California.
    First chairlift was installed at Holiday Hill (later a part of Mountain High) by Joseph "Sepp" Benedikter and John Steinmann The chair was a mile long with a vertical of 1,600 feet.
    Joe Diener, Andy Hauk, Corty Hill, and Fay Lawrence were some of the members of the San Gorgonio Ski Club that scratched Kratka Ridge (Snow Crest) out of the mountain.
1951 January The first junior ski school in Los Angeles was opened. The lessons were free and taught by Far West Ski Instructors at Griffith Park.
  September Pacific Southwest Summer Ski Jump Tournament was held at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona. The take off rose 225 feet high and sloped downward for 500 feet. At the time this was the world's largest man-made ski jump using artificial snow.
1952   Morgan Adams Jr., along with J. Stanley Mullin, Bob Crary, Bob Cheesewright and Southern Skis members became investors in the Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts enabling the first two chairlifts to be added to Mt. Baldy by Herb Leffler and Jim Chaffee. Thunder Mountain was opened.
    Tommi Tyndall opened Snow Summit with a one mile-long double chairlift with a vertical of 1,300 feet, two major ski runs and several rope tows.
    By petition of its residents, Camp Baldy name was legally changed to Mt. Baldy
1953   Herb Leffler and Jim Chaffee sold Mt. Baldy Tows to the corporation, where it became an adjunct to the main area.
    Rebel Ridge Ski Area opened in Big Bear City spearheaded by Chuck Smith.
    Bob Engelien, an amputee & WWII vet, starts first handicapped skier program in southern California. The American Amputee Ski School continued at Snow Summit after Bob's death in 1954.
1954   Kratka Ridge gets first chair lift.
1955   San Gorgonio Primitive Area became San Gorgonio Wilderness Area protecting it from any ski area development.
1956 Summer Mt. Baldy hosts its first summer ski jumping tournament.
1958   Chuck Smith began experimenting with making snow on a small rope tow called "Rebel Ridge" near Big Bear City.
1959   Holiday Hill (Mountain High) sold to a corporation made up of some of John Steinmann's sons, Heinz, Hans and Kurt.
    Far West Ski Association runs a charter flight for their members to Europe. This was the brain child of Sutter Kunkel.

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Skiing is a Dance in which the Mountain always Leads