The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 7

first ski ascents of California mountains. In January
1929, Otto Barkan and his wife Margit spent a week
exploring the terrain above Fallen Leaf Lake and
spent 15 minutes on top of windy, icy Mount Tallac,
likely the first ski ascent. In February 1931, a small
group of Sierra Club members and Pomona College
students made the first ski ascent of Southern
skiers and fans flocked to the events to watch
jumpers launch themselves 100 or more feet into the
air. In its heyday, California was home to eight
major ski jumps: Olympic Hill, Cisco, Truckee,
Mount Shasta, Lassen, Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead,
and Big Pines. Big Pines was a regular stop on
the professional ski jumping circuit and a number
These were two of California's first ski tows and
would soon lead to an historic shift in skiing. By the
end of the 1930s, ski tows were installed virtually
anywhere there was an open slope and ample snow,
leading to the transition from ski jumping to lift
served skiing. The advent and proliferation of ski
tows ushered in Alpine skiing, while at the same time
leading to a decline in the popularity of ski jumping.
But
skiing faced a daunting obstacle to further
growth - access to ski fields.
Roads to the best ski grounds,
equipped with nearby hotels and
lodges, needed to be kept clear in
order for skiing to advance. Snow
removal was the key to the progress
of winter recreation and commerce.
Through the efforts of WenABOVE:
Winter fun became popular in Southern California, as well. In 1931,
a small group first ascended the slopes of San Gorgonia - the highest peak in
Southern California. RIGHT: The Big Pines Ski Jump was a popular stop on the
professional ski jumping circuit. Jumping stadiums - like this one above the Los
Angeles Coliseum - drew enormous crowds adding to the popularity of skiing to
the masses.
California's highest peak, San Gorgonio. These and
many other first ski ascents throughout the state can
be attributed to Sierra Club ski mountaineers. And,
once World War II broke out, many Sierra Club
members, because of their mountaineering and skiing
expertise, were instrumental in the war effort.
They were enlisted to teach 10th Mountain Division
recruits the skills they needed for mountain warfare.
In the 1920s, Californian's knew little or nothing
about skiing, but a drastic change had taken
place by the end of the 1930s. The attention and
publicity that resulted from the Lake Placid Olympics,
the National Ski Championships at Lake
Tahoe, and the many winter carnivals staged
throughout the state awakened Californians to the
prime winter terrain right in their own backyard.
From Mt. Shasta to San Diego skiing surged in popularity.
There
were no ski tows in California until
1934, so skiing in the 1930s was centered around ski
jumping. It was ski jumping, the featured event of
the winter carnivals, that drew throngs of spectators
and made front page headlines in local newspapers.
Winter carnivals and ski meets were held throughout
the winter, drawing national and international
jumpers. The carnivals became all the rage and
of record-breaking jumps were made there.
The Mount Shasta Snowmen hosted the California
State Ski Championships three times in their
heyday. Jumping proved to the masses that California
had the climate and potential to be a winter
sports mecca. The rosters of 1930s ski clubs were
filled with Class A jumpers and some of the clubs
hosted special events to attract new fans to the sport.
The Lake Arrowhead Ski Club sponsored ski jumping
meets at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1938 and
1939 and the Auburn Ski Club hosted ski jumping
meets on the slopes above the University of California,
Berkeley in 1934 and 1935.
And, they
hosted a ski jump on Treasure Island during the
1939 World's Fair in San Francisco. John Elvrum
and the Los Angeles Ski Club hosted ski jump meets
on slopes at the Hollywood Bowl in 1934 and 1935.
The Yosemite Winter Club was formed in
1928 and under the leadership of Dr. Donald Tressider,
became California's first ski area. Its up-ski, a
sled tow, was built in 1935. The Auburn Ski Club
was founded in 1929 and immediately advanced the
growth of skiing and access to ski fields through the
efforts of its founder Wendell Robie. They built a
sled tow at Cisco in 1934, but it operated intermittently
until all of the bugs were worked out in 1935.
ABOVE: Early 20th Century innovation!
Boats on snow certainly beats walking
up the slopes!!! Auburn Ski Club
members ride a sled tow.
photo courtesy of Western Skisport Museum
dell Robie and the Auburn Ski Club, Highway 40
was kept open year-round for the first time in the
winter of 1932-33. By 1934, so many ski areas lined
Highway 40 from Emigrant Gap to Soda Springs,
the area was dubbed " Winter Sports Supreme " .
Wolfgang Lert once wrote that " Transcontinental Highway
40, with its string of tows, lifts and lodges from Auburn
FWSA 90th Anniversary Booklet / 1930 - 2020 7

The Far West Ski Association Turns 90

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Far West Ski Association Turns 90

Index
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Cover1
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Cover2
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 1
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 2
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 3
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Index
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