Timeline – North American Ski Mountaineering History


Chronology of North American
Ski Mountaineering and Backcountry Skiing
by Louis Dawson

This chronology is under constant revision. Note that the focus here is ski mountaineering and backcountry skiing that involves climbing mountains and skiing down. While less emphasis is placed on ski traverses, these are considered as well, provided such traverses cover mountain terrain and involve climbs and descents as an integral part of the route (this other than ski traverses included for context). One of the most important milestones in this list of events is the first time a particular mountain is skied down from the exact summit or near. While many mountains in North America were explored by people on skis in the early 1900s, the actual event of a person climbing to the top and skiing back down may have occurred at a date later than the first ski exploration. I’ve attempted to note both events when possible. Picks (after consulting with others in the sport) for the most important ski mountaineering events in North America are marked with a yellow background.

Overview of early history: In prehistoric times (dates before 1300 A.D. are prehistoric) Nordic peoples invent skis. Norse legends include Ullr (or Ull or Ollerus) and Skade (or Skada or Skadi), the god and goddess of skiing. The Viking Sagas include the first writings about skiing.
-5000 Primitive
native carves the Rodoy petroglyphs in a cave, depicting a skier
on two skis with one pole. Europe. 5000 B.C.
-2500 Oldest
ski extant is made by a Scandinavian hunter, to be later unearthed
in a peat bog near Hoting Sweden, now known as the Hoting ski.
-400 First written note
of skis made by Greek historian Xenophon.
1000 Canada. Norseman Leif Ericsson
discovers the Western Hemisphere when storms drive him westward
while he tries to return to Norway from Greenland. Landing on the
coast of what later will be either Newfoundland or Nova Scotia,
Canada — most likely Nova Scotia? Legend holds that skis possibly
first come to North America with Leif Eriksson and company. This
is probably apocryphal, and such should be noted.
1206 Norwegian military backcountry skiers carry
king’s baby Haakon Haakonson to safety over mountains during Civil
War, thus creating one of the most famous legends in backcountry
skiing history.
1555 Oldest lengthy written description
of skis and climbing skins written
by Olaus Magnus
1689 Austrian Valasavor publishes Die
Ehre des Herzogtumes Krain
. He writes of skiers near Adriatic
using short (5-foot) skis to turn on steep slopes. This may well
be the first time downhill skiing (rather than touring) was promulgated.
1716 Messenger on skis warns Norwegian
General of a Swedish attack. With warning, Norwegians surprise Swedes
and drive them from Norway. Success inspires Norwegians to list
all officers in the army who know how to ski. Use of skis in war
1739 U.S., Colorado, French explorers
Pierre and Paul Mallet reach the headwaters of the Arkansas River
and sight the Rocky Mountains for the first time.
1800 Europe, 1800’s, Norwegians begin
skiing to the Alps, where skiing had only been done in isolated
areas and not as recreation.Norway, Nordic military ski patrols
organize competitions. This is the foundation of modern Nordic ski
racing, and the origin of narrow nordic skis, which were designed for light
weight and glide on packed racing trails.
1820 Pikes Peak, Colorado, U.S., first
Anglo ascent, Edwin James, June.
1827 U.S., California, Sierra Nevada mountains, first non-native crossing, mountain man Jedediah Strong Smith, May, near Ebbetts Pass.
1830 Two ski poles instead of one in general use in Finland, but not popular elsewhere.
1835 Sondre Norheim and friends begin
to refine the skidded stop turns and the telemark turn, named for
Norheim’s home region, Telemark. Norheim and associates apply these
turns to to downhill skiing as sport. See 1850 for more Norheim
1841 First recorded
use of skis in U.S., Beloit Wisconsin.
1841 Time marker: Orizaba volcano,
Mexico, first ascent by soldiers led by William F. Reynolds.
1849 California U.S., gold rush, Norwegian
’49ers bring Norwegian snowshoes to California’s Sierra mountains.
Most famous Norwegian skier is John ‘Snowshoe’ Thompson.
1850 Sondre Norheim of Morgedal, Telemark,
makes a binding heel strap out of a twisted willow root, thus
more lateral control, and allowing his group of skiers from Telemark
Norway to make powerful turns with both stem (Christiania) and
technique. Pop culture tends to credit Norheim with only
telemark technique, reality is that he and his contemps used whatever
worked, including stem turns. (Source: Skiing
Winter 1996, and numerous other references.)
1854 Alfred Wills makes early ascent
of Wetterhorn (Switzerland), and begins golden age of European mountaineering,
many first ascents follow in European Alps.
1854 Mount Adams, Cascade Mountains,
U.S., first ascent of peak by A.G. Aiken, E.J. Allen, A.J. Burge,
B.F. Shaw.
1856 Snowshoe Thompson skis 118 miles
round trip, between Genoa and Placerville California, to begin
20 year career as mail carrier on skis.
1857 The Alpine Club formed in London,
England. This club drives the development of recreational mountaineering.
1857 Guide Jim Baker carves skis with
knife & tries to lead starving Marcy military expedition to
safety in Colorado, U.S., first documented use of skis in Colorado.
(Baker fails, Mexican guide Miguel Alogna saves party, leads them
over Cochetopa Pass).
1859 Colorado, U.S., gold rush, many
miners bring knowledge of skiing to state.
1860 First ski (then known as snowshoe)
races in California, U.S.
1861 Sondre Norheim begins experiments
with ski side-cut — skis begin the evolution from transport devices
to turning tools.
1863 Colorado U.S., mail carrier John
Armstrong dies in avalanche on Mosquito Pass near Leadville Colorado.
He was probably on skis.
1864 Methodist minister
John Father Dyer contracted to carry mail across Mosquito Pass,
near Leadville Colorado. Dyer uses skis, is Colorado version of
Snowshoe Thompson.
1865 British mountain-climbing party
led by Edward Whymper makes the first ascent of the Matterhorn in
the Alps. Four members fall to their deaths while doing the descent.
1865 Most recent volcanic eruption of
Mount Hood, Oregon, USA.
1865 Time reference: end of U.S. Civil

Sondre Norheim and other skiers from the Telemark region of Norway
demonstrate the Christiania skidded stop turn (could be called
a "parallel" turn), and what is later called the telemark
turn, in an exhibition competition. In regard to backcountry skiing,
it’s important to note that both the Christiania turn and the
Telemark turn were used and developed at the time, contrary to
the myth that the Telemark is the original ski turn. ("Christiania"
is the name then of the Norwegian capital, now Oslo. "Telemark"
is a county-like region in Norway.) (Skiing Heritage, Winter

1867 First ski club in U.S. formed,
La Porte California, Alturas Snowshoe Club. Alturas Club organizes
annual tournament, perhaps North Americas first downhill ski championships.
1868 Public debate in Norway because
telemark and parallel turns are used in competition.
1868 Sondre Norheim amazes spectators
at Christiania (Oslo) with his skill and ski gear.
1868 Mount Baker, Washington, U.S.,
1st ascent by Edmund T. Coleman, David Ogilvy and another. Ogilvy
wrote: "The party traveled up the Lummi and Nootsac Rivers
by canoe 80 miles, then 20 miles through a desperate country to…the
foot of the mountain"
1870 Mount Rainier, Washington, U.S.,
first ascent.
1873 February, first record of skiing
in Southern California, in Joseph B. Tyler diary (From Riverside
Community College ski timeline)
1873 Mount Whitney, California, U.S.,
first ascent of Mountaineers Route by John Muir. He stated: ‘soft,
succulent people should go the mule way,’ in those days his route
was a fairly hard snow climb — these days its most elegant use
is as a ski descent.
1876 Snowshoe Thompson dies two years
after the railroad replaced him in U.S., California, Sierra. For
20 years he’d carried the mail twice a month.
1876 34 climbers start the Appalachian
Mountain Club (AMC) and publish the first Appalachia, the
club publication. At end of year AMC has 92 members. New England,
1881 Rogers Pass, Canada, discovered
by Major A. B. Rogers (railway built through pass in 1885, and road
completed in 1962).
1882 First eastern ski club in U.S.
formed, Berlin New Hampshire, later named Nansen Ski Club after
Fridtjof Nansen.
1883 Silverton, Colorado, mail carrier
Swan Nilson dies in avalanche while on skis.
1884 Two Norwegians & two Englishmen
make the first recorded intentional ski ascent of a European mountain:
the Brocken in Germany.
1886 Ski races held in Crested Butte,
Colorado, U.S, according to _Outing_ magazine of the next year.
These may have been the first documented ski races held in North
1888 Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen
completes 310 mile ski crossing of Greenland using skis and dragging
sleds, interest in skiing is stimulated by Nansen’s expedition.
1890 Fridtjof Nansen’s The First
Crossing of Greenland (Paa Ski Over Grønland)
, published.
book is popular; adds greatly to the sport. Nansen also promulgates
skiing as a deeper devotion, ‘something that develops not only the
body but also the soul…’.
1890 Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Locals prove
that Teton Pass works as mail route by carrying the mail on skis
for a season.
1892 Inspired by Nansen’s book, Austrian
‘hermit’ Mathias Zadarsky takes up skiing, starts first ski school
in Europe teaching his own method called the Lilienfield technique,
(after his town of Lilienfield).
1892 John Muir, enamored to the beauty
and spirituality of the Sierra "’range of light" founds
the Sierra Club, U.S.
1892 F.A. Merriam mentions Utah miner’s
use of skis in her book, My Summer in a Mormon Village.
1893 Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen,
32, tries drift across the polar basin in icebound ship Fram. (also
see 1888). He will drift 18 months in Fram. He’ll then travel with
companion by skis across ice to farthest north point to date.
1893 America the Beautiful by
Wellesley College professor Katharine Lee Bates, 36, will be set
to the music of Samuel A. Ward’s ‘Materna’ in 1895 and become unofficial
national anthem. Climb up Pike’s Peak, Colorado, 1893, inspired
Bates to write poem.
1894 Mount Hood, Oregon, U.S., Mazamas
mountain club formed at first meeting at summit of Mount Hood. 105
sign in at summit to become charter members. First of the great
North American alpine clubs.
1894 ‘Toe irons,’ the precursors to
modern ski bindings, produced by Fritz Huitfledt, allow greater
control of skis.
1894 Arthur Conan Doyle makes second
traverse on ski from Davos to Grindelwald over Furka Pass, writes
widely read article, An Alpine Pass On Ski, that’s become
somewhat of an anthem for the present day backcountry crowd.
1895 First ski race in Western Canada
at Red Mountain, Rossland, B.C., organized and won by Olaus Jeldness.
1896 First recorded fatalities in "modern"
North American mountaineering. Mount Hood, Oregon, U.S., Fredric
Kirn is swept over cliff by rockslide, July 12. Philip Abbot falls
on Mount Lefroy, Canadian Rockies, August 3.
1896 Demonetization of silver in the
United States. Mining towns such as Alta, Utah and Aspen, Colorado
go bust, eventually become ski areas because of mountain terrain,
existing infrastructure, and locals desperate for business.
1896 Mathias Zdarsky’s Lilienfelder
Skilauf Technik
book published in Austria, Europe. Documents
his method of control on steep snow using stemming and wedging with
a single pole for turning and braking. (Book may be called Lillienfeld
Skilaufer Technik
1897 First true alpine ski traverse
in Europe, Wilhelm Paulke crosses the Bernese Oberland, Switzerland.
This was a seminal event that started modern ski mountaineering
as we know it.
1898 Grand Teton, Wyoming, U.S., most
likely first ascent of peak by Spaulding and Owen. Some controversy.
1899 First recorded use of skis on Mt.
Washington, U.S., by Dr. Wiskott of Breslau, Germany.
(from New England Ski Museum
1899 Canadian Railway Company brings
two Swiss Guides to Glacier House, Eduard Feuz and Christain Hasler,
climbing in Canada enters a ‘new era.’
1899 First European ski mountaineers
killed in an avalanche, North American mail carriers on skis had
died previously (see 1863 & 1905).
1901 Arlberg ski club founded at St.
Christoph, Europe.
1902 First ascent Mount Columbia, Canada,
James Outram & Christain Kaufmann, July.
1902 American Alpine Club founded in
U.S., spun off from AMC, does not cover ski mountaineering in other
than minimal fashion.
1904 Carter Notch Hut built by AMC,
New Hampshire U.S., perhaps oldest all-season mountaineering hut
still in use in U.S. (Hardly a hut, more of a lean-to shelter.)
Source: AMC Outdoors, November 1994
1904 Hermit Hut built, Canadian Rocky
Mountains, Canada, built by Swiss Guides & owned by Glacier
National Park.
1905 First English ski how-to book published.
The Winter Sport of Skeeing. ???
1905 First recorded fatal North American avalanche triggered by skiers. Two die at Irene Mine, Silverton Colorado, U.S. (mail carrier avalanche deaths may pre-date this — we’ll never know if they triggered the avalanches that killed them).
1906 The Mountaineers (Seattle U.S.)
mountaineering club official start. They promote much early skiing.
1906 Alpine Club of Canada (ACC), inaugural
meeting and start, Winnipeg, March 27. ACC is spun off of American
Alpine club, which was spun off of Appalachian Mountain Club. ACC
will do much to support and report ski mountaineering.
1906 The world’s first ski course is
laid out in Europe by Vorarlberg skier Viktor Sohm whose pupils
include Hannes Schneider.
1907 Irving Langmuir (Nobel Prize, chemistry ,1932)
skis Northeastern U.S. mountains winter of 1906/1907, including
The Wittenberg (Feb. 23) and Slide Mountain in the Catskill Mountains
of New York State, and Mount Greylock in Taconic Mountains, Massachusetts.
Langmuir was the first ‘mountain’ skier in North America. He had
attended graduate school in Germany where he presumably had improved
his ski skills to European standards. (Sources: Various publications,
and email conversations with historians.)
1907 Alexander Addison "A.A."
McCoubrey moves to Winnipeg Canada and begins to ski. He becomes
one of the most influential ski mountaineers in the formative period
of Canadian ski alpinisim, when skiing was virtually unknown to
most Canadians.
1907 World’s first permanent ski school
opens at St. Anton, Austrian Arlberg, European Alps. Under direction
of Hannes Schneider, who will develop one system for teaching
tourists and one for future instructors who will then evangelize "Arlberg
1907 First AMC White Mountain Guide
& first Appalachia Bulletin (now AMC Outdoors)
published, New England, U.S.
1907 Mount Greylock, U.S., first ski
ascent and descent by Irving Langmuir. New England, Taconic Range
of Appalachian Mtns.
1908 Hannes (Johannes) Schneider begins
refining the ‘Christiania’ (stem christy) turn, possibly a better
technique for handling unwieldy wooden skis on steep terrain. St.
Anton, Austria, Europe. This is the continued founding of the Arlberg
Technique (see 1907).
1909 Fred Harris and 60 other Dartmouth
College students form the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC), with emphasis

on winter sports. Harris may have been influenced by a winter carnival
already held in Montreal. Some sources give this date as 1910,
is perhaps simply the confusion of winter overlapping years. (Sources:
New England Ski Museum Timeline,
book Forest and Crag says first meeting was in January of

1909 Using two ski poles instead of
one has achieved universal acceptance by this year.
1909 Shackelton (1874-1922) does not
use skis while attempting the South Pole, he fails as a result.
1910 Largest avalanche accident in North
America, 96 people die when train is hit by avalanche, Stevens Pass,
Washington, U.S.
1910 Brighton, Utah, U.S., lineman E.R.
Wright has job of skiing power lines to check for problems.
1910 Swiss downhill ski championships
at Grindelwald. Hannes Schneider competes for his first time in
a form of giant slalom. All but Schneider still using telemark turns.
Schneider uses fall-line stem-christie turn and beats everyone by
several seconds.
1911 Stem christy turn described
in writing by Carl Luther. U.S.???
1911 Mountaineer and Guide Conrad Kain
founds a ski club in Banff, Canada, and makes the longest jump
50 feet. (Source: Where The Clouds
Can Go
, Conrad Cain, American
Alpine Club, 1935.)
1911 Enos Mills (Colorado, U.S.) publishes
account of racing an avalanche on skis.
1911 John S. Apperson skis Killington
Mountain, VT, at the time the highest mountain in Vermont. A resurvey
of the Green Mountains subsequently reveals that Mount Mansfield
is higher. Apperson plans to ski Mansfield, but it never
comes to fruition. (Sources: email with historian Dick Tucker.)
1911 Mount Marcy, Adirondack Mountains,
Northeastern U.S., first ski ascent and descent, John Apperson,
Jean Canivet and one other mountaineer.
1911 First car reaches Paradise area
on Mount Rainier, Washington, U.S.
1911 Amundsen uses skis on the first
expedition to reach the South Pole.
1912 First ski ascent of
Mt. Moosilauk, White Mountains, New Hampshire, by Carl Shumway and
Eric Foster.
1912 Utah, U.S., Directed by Brigham
Young University coach Charles T. Stoney, several friends and his
two sons start creating a casual group of people to focus on outdoor
recreation. This was the start of the Wasatch Mountain Club.
1912 Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) founded,
1913 Possible first ski descent, Mount
Washington, New Hampshire, U.S., March 10, (Road used for ascent
and presumably
most of descent, this group may not have taken skis to and from
the summit, and thus may NOT be the first ski descent.), Fred Harris
with Dartmouth Outing Club group, including Carl E.
Y. Cheney.
(Sources: book Forest and Crag, email
with historians Mort Lund and Dick Tucker.)
1913 First ski lift in U.S., Truckee
Calif (was not a chair lift, see Sun Valley for first chair lift.)
1913 First skiing of record in Tuckerman Ravine
on Mt. Washington, U.S., 9 March: Plans for climbing Mount Washington
(by the Dartmouth Outing
Carl E.
were delayed
by a furious storm raging on the mountain. Prudence dictated an
alternate plan: a safer excursion into Tuckerman Ravine instead.
Therefore, a large Dartmouth Outing Club party of snowshoers and
skiers hiked and skied into Tuckermans Ravine. Those on skis were
Carl E. Shumway, Joseph Y. Cheney, E.S. Bidwell, G. L. ‘Eric’ Foster
, F.H. Weed, and G.M. Rundlett. (Source
and Reference: Research reported by Dick Tucker via email., Tucker,
Richard E., "Skis in Tuckerman Ravine," Journal of the
New England Ski Museum, No. 57, Winter ’02-03, pp. 1, 4-15, 32.)

Early skiing in Tuckerman
Ravine on Mt. Washington, U.S., March 8, John S. Apperson, Irving
Langmuir, and Fred Harris lead a group of DOC members into Tuckerman
Ravine. Among the DOC on skis were Dartmouth students and alumni:
Harold Goddard Rugg, ’06, Dartmouth librarian; Joseph L. (Larry)
Day, ’14, president of DOC; Philip Durant Smith, ’15, vice-president
of DOC; Arthur J. Conley, ’16, Class Treasurer; and Charles H.
Dudley, ’16. (History books call this the ‘first’ ski tour
in Tuckermans, but research shows it was at least the
second, see first above.) (Source
and Reference: Research reported by Dick Tucker via email., Tucker,
E., "Skis
in Tuckerman Ravine," Journal of the New England Ski Museum,
No. 57, Winter ’02-03, pp. 1, 4-15, 32.)

1914 Probable true first ski descent of Mount Washington
U.S., March 9, John Apperson and Irving Langmuir. Judging from
the fact that Apperson and Langmuir were incredibly accomplished
skiers (Langmuir having learned ski mountaineering in Europe and
by this time with at least 7 years of ski mountaineering in the
Northeastern U.S.) it’s likely that both men took their skis to
the summit and
skied back down.) (Source and Reference:
Research reported by Dick Tucker via email. Tucker, Richard
E., "Skis
in Tuckerman Ravine," Journal of the New England Ski Museum,
No. 57, Winter ’02-03, pp. 1, 4-15, 32.)
1914 World War 1 begins in Europe,
lasts until 1918. During war years, ski mountaineering was relatively

dormant in North America.

1914 Mount Mansfield, U.S., Northeast,
first ski by Nat Goodrich.
1915 Informal ‘Rough Neck Ski Club,’
a group of college and high-school students from Salt Lake City,
Utah, U.S., make headlines with their ski adventures in the Brighton
1917 Wasatch Mountain Club organized,
ski trips scheduled in foothills near Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
1920 By now Hannes Schneider has created
a formalized instructional system based on the stem turn (christy)
turn, subsequently known as the Arlburg technique. Schneider advocates
not using the telemark turn.
1920 Skiers in Lake Placid Club, New
York state, New England, U.S., form Sno-birds ski club. By 1922
have 500 members.
1921 Pikes Peak, Colorado, U.S., first
ski descent, Grame McGowan.
1921 First ‘ski movie’ made by German
Filmmaker Dr. Arnold Fanck, _The Ski Chase_, featuring Hannes Schneider
and his buddies in Austria’s Arlberg, Europe.
1922 Haystack Mountain, Adirondack Mountains,
U.S., first ski ascent and descent Jackrabbit Johannsen & John
Apperson. February 26. Reference from R. Tucker email: "From
records found in the John S. Apperson Papers at the Adirondack Research
Library here in Schenectady [N.Y.], I have discovered that the trip
was organized by John Apperson, Irving Langmuir and Fred Stone.
Along with their friends, Claude Huston, L.D. Jones and F.S. Bennett,
all of Schenectady, they recruited H. Smith-Johannsen of the Lake
Placid Club to come along with them. In the event, only Johannsen,
Apperson, Huston, Jones and Bennett summitted." This event
is dated wrong in Wild Snow, both editions, due to the book
Forest and Crag promulgating the 1920 date.
1922 In Europe, Arnold Lunn organizes
world’s first timed slalom ski race with international flavor.
1922 Mexico, Club de Exploraciones de
Mexico A.C. founded (CEMAC).
1922 California, U.S., Mount Shasta,
Shasta Alpine Lodge built by Sierra Club.
1922 Southern California, Mt. San Antonio
(Mt. Baldy), first ski ascent, George O. Bauwens (from Riverside
Community College ski history timeline)
1922 Mount Rainier, first winter ascent,
Jacques Bergues, Jean & Jacques Landry. Skis used to just below
Anvil Rock on Muir Snowfield.
1923 Carl Blaurock and William Ervin
first men to climb all Colorado fourteeners (counted as 46 at that
1924 First Winter Olympics, Chamonix
France, Europe, nordic ski events only.
1924 First skiing in the Pacific Northwest,
U.S., again by Norwegian immigrants.
1924 Possible first use of train by
organized skiers: Wasatch Mountain Club, Utah, U.S., starts
regular organized ski trips via train through Parley’s Canyon out
of Salt Lake City, where riders debark at Parleys Summit and backcountry
ski, snow play, etc. This was not a specially chartered train (but
rather a regular scheduled run used by skiers), so may not count
as the first North American "ski train." (Source: Skiing
in Utah
, by Alexis Kelner. Page 20, Chapter 1.)
1925 The Wonders of Skiing
(Wunder des Schneeschuhs) published by Hannes Schneider and
a Dr. Frank, book sells upwards of 100,000 copies on release, is
perhaps best selling skiing book ever, translated into English in
1925 Mount Logan, Canada, first ascent
by Captain A.H. MacCarthy & party.
1925 John Hart’s _Fourteen Thousand
Feet_ published, guide to Colorado Fourteeners (Hart was a past
president of American Alpine Club).
1926 Katahdin, Maine, U.S., first ski
ascent by Arthur Comey, with Robert Underhill on crampons. Unknown
if Comey skied from exact summit, he certainly skied down most of

the peak and thus can lay claim to the first ski of Baxter Peak/Katahdin.
New England.

1927 Second ‘ski train’ in North American
run by Canadian Pacific Railroad, transports ski enthusiasts from
Montreal to the Laurentian Mtns. (See 1924 for first ski train).
1927 Bend, Oregon, U.S., Skyliners ski
club formed, lodge built at Windy Ridge on McKenzie Highway.
1927 Mountains of Youth published
by Arnold Lunn, describes joys of ski mountaineering. ‘You glory
in the sense of control…,’ he wrote, ‘…You are playing with
gravity. You are master of snow.’
1928 Rudolph Lettner invents and patents
the steel edge, Salzburg Austria. Europe.
1928 Englishmen Lord Roberts and Arnold
Lunn challenge Hannes Schneider and the Arlberg club to ski race,
perhaps first modern organized races.
First alumnium ski was likely developed this
year. According to email from ski historian Seth Masia: "In looking
over the collection of the Musee Dauphinois in Grenoble, I see
they have an aluminum ski dating from 1928, and a more sophisticated
aluminum ski, designed for randonee, manufactured in 1934 by M.
Vicky.  The Vicky ski has a pattern of gripper wedges milled
into the bare metal base, to serve as a sort of prehistoric waxless
kicker pattern."
1928 Erling Strom and the Marquis d’Albizi
lead a group to Mount Assiniboine near Banff and innugurate backcountry
ski touring in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
1928 Orland Bartholomew solo skis 200+
mile Muir Trail through Sierra Nevada, California. Route not repeated
until 1970. During trip, Bartholomew makes near summit ski descent
of Mount Whitney (from 14,000-foot level), plus Mount Tyndall and
Mt. Langley.
1929 First skiing on Canada’s Columbia
Icefield, Joe Weiss, winter.
1930 Skoki Lodge built in Canadian Rockies,
completed in September, first guests arrive in Spring of 1931.
1929 First ski descent of Mont Blanc, France. Marguette Bouvier and famed guide Armand Charlet. This was quite early in the development of skiing for such a descent, but Bouvier and Charlet were as good a skiers as any of the time, and Mont Blanc does have a fairly moderate ski route available. Details are thin, our research couldn’t ascertain if the pair began skiing at the true summit, and stayed on skis 100% or not. That being said, in Chamonix alpine culture Charlet and Bouvier’s descent is considered the first and that alone legitimizes it. See 1953 for the first ‘modern’ style descent of the mountain’s steeper northern reaches. Source, email from Europe relating interviews with Chamonix locals.
1929 Auburn Ski Club formed in Tahoe
California area, club is influential in promoting skiing of all
1930 First winter ascent, Mount Resplendent,
British Columbia, Canada, Pete L. Parsons. Skis used for most of
1930 Invention of Cougar Milk drink
causes burst of Canadian ski exploration.
1930 Utah, U.S., Wasatch Mountain Club
completes the Wasatch Mountain Club Lodge at Brighton. Lodge is
underused due to access problems and the economics of the depression
erra. Popularity increases in 1938.
1930 Birth of ski exploration in Coast
Mountains, Canada, Mr. & Mrs. Don Munday report in Canadian
Alpine Journal on ‘Ski-climbs in the Coast Range.’ Including first
ski ascent of Mount Munday. This CAJ (1930) is first Journal to
cover ski mountaineering.
1930 200 mile ski traverse from Jasper
to Lake Louise, January. Canada, Canadian Rocky Mountains. F. Burstrom,
V. Jeffery, A. L. Withers, D. Jeffery, J.A. Weiss. 15 days. This
represents birth of ski exploration in Rockies.
1930 Don and Phyllis Munday make ski
climb of Mount Munday, Canadian Coast Mountains.
1930 First ski ascent/descent, Mount
Baker, Cascades, U.S., Ed Loness, Robert Sperlin (May).
1931 Mount Washington,
U.S., Tuckerman Ravine, first descent of headwall, Charles N. Proctor
and John Carleton.
1931 Snow Dome, Columbia Icefield, Canada,
First ski mountaineering ascent and descent, Joe Weiss, Clifford White, Russell
Bennett, March 19.
1931 ‘Ski Section’ added to table of
contents in 1931 Canadian Alpine Journal. Small amounts of skiing
covered before then.
1931 First (non summit)
ski ascent/descent of Mount Hood, Oregon, Andre Roch, Hjalmar Hvam,
Arne Stene, April 26. While there is little probablity that the
three men skied down from the summit, their ascent/descent set
the speed record for the day, 8 hours and 49 minutes from downtown
Portland, Oregon, round-trip. The group drove from Portland to
a point near the mountain. (From various sources, including book Mount
Hood, A Complete History
1931 2nd edition of John Jerome Hart’s
Fourteen Thousand Feet, guide to the Colorado 14,000 foot
peaks, published by the Colorado Mountain Club, combined with
Elinor Kingery’s Climber’s guide to the High Colorado Peaks.
1931 Northern Presidential Range ski
traverse (White Mountains, New Hampshire, U.S.), by Fritz Wiessner
and Milana Jank, a female German alpinist, January.
1932 Zealand Falls Hut, New Hampshire,U.S.,
built (one of only several ski huts in New England).
1932 Mount Resplendent, Canadian Rocky
Mountains, U.S., first ski descent, Rex Gibson & Joe Weiss.
See Parsons in 1930 for first winter ascent and partial ski descent.
1932 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid N.Y.,
U.S., radio narration by Lowell Thomas makes skiing a fad that lasts.
New England.
1932 Erling Strom leads successful
ski expedition on Mt. McKinley, Muldrow Glacier, Alaska, U.S.
(Source: The Ski Book, edited by Morten Lund, has a complete
account written by Strom)
1932 Alan Carpe and Theodore Koven die
in crevasse fall on Mt. Mckinley, accident discovered by Erling
Strom. Carpe falls in crevasse unroped, Koven falls in with skis
attached, breaks his skis, survives and climbs out, but dies of
exposure without skis for travel.
1932 First ski exploration of the Wapta
Icefields, British Columbia, Canada, Alex A. McCoubrey, Roger Neave,
Ferris Neave, Campbell Secord.
1932 First ski exploration of Yoho Valley,
British Columbia, Canada, A. A. McCoubrey, Roger Neave, Major H.
1932 First rope tow in N.A., Shawbridge
Quebeck, Canada, opens Jan. 2. Proletariat engineering uses an automobile
for power, the design is easily imitated. Once people got a taste
of skiing without climbing up, they wanted more.
1932 Fred Brown ‘Tarzan of the Tetons’
and Allyn Hanks make the first known backcountry ski trip in Grand
Teton National Park.
1932 Mount Adams, Cascades, U.S., First
ski ascent/descent, Hans-Otto Giese, Hans Grage, Otto Strizek, Walter
Mosauer, Sandy Lyons.
1933 United States Civilian
Conservation Core (CCC) created by President Franklin Roosevelt.
CCC employs 3 million people in public works projects. Work included
cutting hundreds of ski trails through the timber and brush of the
Northeastern U.S., New England.
1933 Mount St. Helens, Cascade Mountain,
U.S., earliest ski ascent and likely ski descent of record, Hans-Otto
Giese, Otto Strizek, June. (Source: Lowell Skoog correspondence
reference to Mountaineers Monthly Bulletin.)
1933 ‘I suppose we could have been called
ski bums, but we tried not to behave like… bums,’ explained Ted
Ryan about the rowdy crew of American ski racers he traveled with
in the early 1930s, including Dick Durrance. (Source, video.)
1934 Coast Range, Canada, first crossing
of Waddington Range on skis, Sir Norman Watson, E.B.King, Clifford
White, guide Camille Couttet, and Beauman. Trip covered in book
Round Mystery Mountain.
1934 Carl Blaurock and companions ski
Mount Bierstadt, Colorado, U.S., starting from Guanella Pass, Jan
Possibly first dedicated aluminum randonnee
ski made in Europe. According to ski historian Seth Masia: "In
looking over the collection of the Musee Dauphinois in Grenoble,
I see they have…aluminum ski, designed for randonee, manufactured
in 1934 by M. Vicky.  The Vicky
ski has a pattern of gripper wedges milled into the bare metal
base, to serve as a sort of prehistoric waxless kicker pattern."
1934 First rope tow in U.S. at Suicide
Six, Vermont. Beginning of split between resort skiing and backcountry
skiing, helped along by the fact that you didn’t have to climb for
your turns anymore.
1934 November 7, Ski Mountaineers Section,
Sierra Club, formed by Walter Mosauer. He and thirteen others
make up the charter group that includes ski and mountaineering
legands such as Glen Dawson, who went on to be with the 10th Mountain
Division and skied the Trooper
from Leadville to Aspen, Colorado. (Source: Riverside
Community College, Southern California Ski History timeline).

1935 Wasatch Mountain Club completes
construction of lodge at Brighton, Utah, U.S., which becomes ‘ski
center of Utah.’
1935 Grand Teton, Wyoming, U.S., first
winter ascent by Fred Brown, Paul Petzoldt, Eldon Petzoldt.
1935 Amstadt springs invented; these
attached skiers heel to ski, but allowed a lifted heel under tension.
Skier could achieve a forward position (verlage). In essence this
was a precursor to modern fixed heel boots with articulated cuffs.
1936 Andre Roch and Dr. Guenther Langes
come to Aspen at the behest of the Highland Bavarian corporation.
They survey ski potential, and Roch makes the first ski descent
of Ski Hayden (which he names), and skis it three times that winter
(in 1937). Colorado.
1936 Otto Eugen Schniebs makes major
trip to Colorado’s Elk Mountains, spends a month skiing peaks between
Aspen and Crested Butte, uses original Tagert Hut. Publishes adventure
in subsequent book American Skiing.
1936 First Alpine Club of Canada Ski
Camp held at Lake O’Hara in the Canadian Rockies. These ski camps
are influential in teaching ski skills and promoting the sport.
1936 Winter Olympics include downhill
ski events for the first time. American Dick Durrance is 8th in
slalom and 10th in downhill. Norwegian Berger Ruid (spelling?) wins
jumping and downhill, he uses christiania/arlberg technique to win
downhill.With downhill skiing in the Olympics, downhill equipment
begins to diverge from previous designs that worked well for both
turning and downhill. This change is hastened by the proliferation
of rope tows and ski lifts.
1936 Sun Valley Lodge ski resort opens
near Ketchum, Idaho, where Union Pacific chairman W. Averell Harriman
has built it to compete with the Canadian Pacific’s Banff-Lake Louise
resorts. First chairlift in the world built at Sun Valley.
1936 San Antonio Ski Hut built, San
Gabriel Mountains, California, U.S., by pioneer Walter Mosauer with
backcountry ski chapter of Sierra Club. Subsequently burns and is
rebuilt in 1937.
1937 Mount Field, Yoho Natonal Park,
Canada, first ski ascent and descent (partial) by A.A. McCoubrey
& Norman Brewster.
1937 Timberline Lodge dedicated by President
Franklin Roosevelt, Mount Hood, Oregon, USA. Disgruntled reactionary
skier/mountaineer attempts to steal the President’s toilet seat,
so he can ‘frame a picture of the President.’
1937 Otto Steiner ski traverses California
Sierras, U.S., from west to Mount Whitney then back to Mineral King,
in 10 days.
1937 WPA workers make Badger Pass in
California an all-season road, area becomes center for California
skiing, with much backcountry activity.
1937 WPA workers, led by Ab Coleman
and Charles Lot, cut ‘Toll Road’ ski trails on Mount Mansfield,
Vermont, U.S. New England.
1937 Coast Range, Canada, first ascent
of Mount Sir Richard, Franklin Glacier region, including ski ascent
and descent. W.A. Don Munday, Mrs. Don Munday, Philip H.G. Brock.
1937 Ketchum, Idaho, U.S., Pioneer Cabin
ski touring center built by Union Pacific Railroad (UP Board Chairman
Averell Harriman). Instructors Florian Haemmerle, Andy Hennig and
Victor Gottschalk pioneer hundreds of ski routes. (see 1948).
1938 First Canadian chair lift, Mont
Tremblant, Quebec.
1938 Alta, Utah, U.S., ski lift built
and operated. First in Utah, soon followed by rope tows at Brighton
and Parleys Canyon.
1938 United States National Ski Patrol
established, Minot ‘Minny’ Dole first chairman.
1938 First ski ascent/descent, North
Star Mountain, Cascade Mountains, US; Ralph Eskenazi, Sigurd Hall,
Dwight Watson, via Phelps Creek Basin (Reference: Beckey Alpine
1938 Brighton Utah, U.S., Wasatch Mountain
Club Lodge popularity increases. ‘Anyone who skis is welcome to
make our lodge his headquarters,’ states Mountain Club president
Charles Pfeiffer.
1938 Southern California.
In March of 1938, after Walter Mosauer’s death at an early
age from plant poisoning, the Sierra Club Ski Mountaineers (founded
by Mosaur) 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. The hut was completed
that same year.
1938 Norway, Thor Thorgeson invents
the aluminum ski, but his marketing is not successful. (see 1944
for false claim of first).
1938 First ski ascent/descent Glacier
Peak, Cascades, Canada, via Kennedy Glacier, Sigurd Hall, Dwight
Watson (July).
1939 World War II begins in Poland,
September 1.
1939 Hannes Schneider, inventor of Arlberg
technique, comes to New Hampshire Feb 9. Is welcomed with a gleeful
1939 Toni Matt shusses Tuckermans
Ravine during third and last American Inferno ski race organized
by Joe Dodge.
1939 Otto Schniebs’ American Skiing
published. Includes chapters on high mountain backcountry skiing
in Elk Mountains, Colorado.
1939 Europe, Andre’ Tournier, famous
French mountaineer, makes ski descent of the Aiguille Argentiere
glacier; cutting edge for the gear and standards of the day.
1939 First safety binding with mechanical
release, ‘Safe-Ski’ bindings designed and marketed by Hjalmar Hvam
of U.S., Beaverton Oregon. Binding used a cable for heel hold, and
thus allowed either a free-heel or fixed heel use.
1940 Yosemite, California, U.S., Ostrander
ski hut completed October 26 near Badger Pass. Hut built by Civilian
Conservation Corps as part of an experimental hut & trail system.
1940 Alta, Utah, U.S., Dick Durrance
devises "double dipsy" powder turn. This quick heel thrust
turn with independent leg action works better for Alta’s steep trees
and chutes, is basically the invention of modern powder skiing.
1940 Primitive Lake Louise/Jasper road
opens in Canada (replaces pack trail).
1940 Ruth Mountain, Cascades, U.S.,
early ski ascent/descent by Fred Beckey and 3 others.
1940 Eldorado Peak, Cascades, U.S.,
early ski descent by Fred Beckey, Lloyd Anderson & Dwight Watson.
1940 Frenchman Emile Allais’ powerful
‘parallel’ ski technique gains popularity, is based on unweighting
and using no no stem. The technique required a solid boot/ski connection,
and the long-thong heel lashing system ensued, as did steeper skiing.
1940 Emile Allais & Etienne Livacic
ski north face of Dome du Gouter on Mount Blanc, France, Europe;
this is a pioneer extreme descent.
1941 Start of the war years of WWII
for the United States, (Canada had declared war along with Britain
and the rest of the Commonwealth in September 1939. Japanese attack
Pearl Harbor, December 7.
1941 Fort Lewis, Washington, U.S., 87th
Mountain Regiment is formed, will become 10th Mountain Division.
1941 James Laughlin of Alta Utah proposes
ski huts to Forest Service. ‘Until we have them, … American skiers
will never know what it means to tour … touring is the real cream
of skiing.’ Fourteen huts are planned, three are built (in 1948).
1941 Utah U.S., first avalanche death
of ski tourer in that state, January 1.
1941 Minot Dole appointed to work with
the U.S. Army to create ski troops.
1941 November 15, 1941, the 87th Mountain
Regiment created to specialize in mountain and cold weather warfare.
The tyro infantry begins training at Fort Lewis, Washington. They
do several trips on Mount Rainier and in Olympic Mountains.
1942 87th Mountain Infantry (to become
10th Mountain Division) moves to Camp Hale (Pando), Colorado. U.S.
1942 Manual of Ski Mountaineering
published by University of California Press. This is first North
American how-to book on back country skiing. U.S. Mostly written
by David Brower.
1942 Fred Beckey and partners make summer
ski traverse from Mount Waddington to Tiedemann Glacier, Canada.
‘Our teen-age success was shocking news to the Canadians.’ wrote
Beckey about making the second ascent of Waddington just after his
ski trip.
1943 Canadian mountain troops train
in Canada, trips are done on the Columbia Icefield, first winter
ascents made of Mt. Kitchener, Mount Andromeda, and Nigel Peak.
Many men were trained in mountain skiing. American Army instructors
from Camp Hale help.
1943 Mount Elbert (14,433 feet), Colorado,
U.S., Colorado’s highest peak, first ski descent by John Ambler
and friends.
1943 Volunteers from Canadian Division
of 8th Army use skis to carry supplies to snow-stranded soliders
in Europe.
1944 Trooper
from Pando to Aspen, Colorado, U.S., by 10th Mountain
Division soldiers. (Source: Denver Public Library and Dawson archive.)
1944 10th Mountain Division moves from
Colorado to Camp Swift, Texas, June 22. U.S.
1944 The Lovat Scouts (Scottish Troops)
train for winter warfare in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
1944 Early (have been claimed to be
first, but see 1928 and 1938) all metal skis made at Dow Chemical,
Northeast, U.S., by M.M. Moyle and tested by Sepp Ruschp at Stowe,
Vermont and at several other ski areas.
1945 Circa 1945, Utah, Norwegian ski
jumpers and racers Alf and Sverre Engen refine Durrance’s single
dipsy (see above) powder turn and use both skis as a solid platform,
it’s called the "double dipsey" and is simliar to technique
used by most modern powder skiers.
1945 10th Mountain Division of U.S.
Army ships to Italy, battles of Riva Ridge, Belvedere, Po River
offensive, 10% casualties in heroic combat. Skis used for several
patrols around and on Riva Ridge and other areas of Apennine Mountains.
Europe. Skis never used in combat.
1945 Japanese surrender Sept. 2., End
of World War II.
1946 10th Mountain vet Fritz Benedict
and Jay Laughlin fix up John Stubaggr’s old dam tender’s cabin
above Ashcroft, Colorad. Hut burns several years later and
is rebuilt as Tagert Hut. U.S.
1946 Birth of first hippie that would
eventually telemark.
1946 Jackrabbit Johannsen (Shawbridge
Mass.) ghost writes new edition of the Sweet
Caporal Skier’s Books
,a series of 80 booklet
guides to skiing in the Laurentian
mountains and possibly areas in the Northeastern
U.S., sponsored by Sweet Caporal cigarettes.
1947 Skiing above Aspen Colorado, first
is inspired by community and is taken over by Walter Paepcke when
he forms the Aspen Skiing Corporation. Corporate skiing initially
benefits the community, then drives the devolution of Aspen.
1947 Alpine Club of Canada builds log
‘A. O. Wheeler Hut’ on Rogers Pass, Canada, near Glacier train station.
Skiers use hut, but not in great numbers until Trans-Canada highway
is built through the pass in 1962.
1947 Howard Head makes his first metal
composite (combination of plastic and metal) ski. ‘They all broke
that winter at Stowe,’ he said.
1947 Mount Shasta, California, U.S.,
first documented summit ski descent by Fletcher Hoyte and 4 other
men, December 30.
1947 Last adult x-c races for two decades
held in Utah, winter of 1947/1950. Citizens races at Park city
again in 1970’s. This is an interesting marker that validates the
common wisdom that x-c skiing went through a stagnant period in
the 1950’s.
1947 Vic Hasher (Nordic and alpine ski
champion) and others log 1,168 miles backcountry skiing exploring
Mineral King California area, survey for ski resorts, winter 1947/48
and 48/49. Hasher lived in Forest Service cabin below Mineral King
Village. U.S.
1948 Mount Rainier, Washington, U.S.,
first ski descent of peak. Route used is Northeast Side, Emmons
Glacier and Glacier Basin. Kermit Bengtson, Dave Roberts, Cliff
Schmidtke, Charles E. Welsh.
1948 Wasatch Mountains, Utah, U.S.,
three backcountry ski huts completed, only one (Point Supreme hut)
currently exists. Aparently, these were huts when huts weren’t cool.
1948 Vic and Bea Hasher host notables
such as Otto Steiner, Lowell Thomas, and Andre Roch at their Mineral
King cabin in California.
1948 Idaho, Sun Valley, _Sun Valley
Ski Guide_ published by Andy Hennig, is complete guide to alpine
tour skiing in the greater Sun Valley area (Pioneer & Smoky
Mountains). This is North America’s first guidebook for high mountain
ski touring.
1949 Mad River Glen ski area, Vermont,
U.S., established by Roland Palmedo, remains one of few lift served
areas in U.S. with a preponderance of natural snow.
1949 Alta, Utah, U.S., Norwegians Alf
and Sverre Engen refine powder skiing using both skis as one platform
in the fall-line.
1949 Steve Bradly (director of Winter
Park ski resort, Colorado, U.S.) invents the Bradly Packer Grader
(a gravity powered slope groomer) and the demise of natural snow
1950 Howard Head invents functional
metal/wood sandwich ski, U.S. Skis are tested at Tuckerman Ravine.
‘I wound up making 39 unsuccessful models… the fortieth was the
one. So in spring of 1950 I went into production…it really was
a success…’
1950 Cubco spring-loaded latched-heel
binding introduced. First release binding with semi step-in; precursor
to modern step-in bindings. Invented/manufactured in U.S. New Jersey.
Followed a few years later by the Miller step-in binding.
1951 Artifical snow making patented
by Milton Pierce.
1951 First stretch ski pants by Bogner
of Germany. ‘Back in the early days, my pants were baggy and my
face was smooth, and now my pants are smooth and my face is baggy,’
says Fred Iselin a few years later.
1951 Colin Wyatt’s Call of the Mountains
published, covers worldwide backcountry ski odyssey.
1952 Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., backcountry
ski pioneer and guide Victor Gottschalk killed in avalanche on Lookout
Bowl. Avalanche on Bromaghin Peak destroys Owl Creek sk cabin. These
events end the operation of the Sun Valley ski touring school.
1952 Sir Arnold Lunn knighted by Queen
for ‘services to British skiing and Anglo-Swiss relations (on Jul.
8). First knighthood for anything related to skiing or mountaineering.
1953 Mount (Mont) Blanc, France, July 21. While perhaps not the first, this ‘first’ modern style steep (north side, first time for sure) ski descent by American Bil Dunaway and well known French mountaineer & guide Lionell Terray. Pivotal event in the history of ski mountaineering and extreme skiing. The well documented climb and descent were filmed for the movie "Skis Against Mont Blanc." Sources, Bil Dunaway interview and Terrray autobiography. More information.
1955 _Summit Magazine_ begins publication
in Bishop California. First widely distributed North American mountaineering
magazine, has ski mountaineering and backcountry skiing articles.
1955 First buckle boot, Henke Speedfit.
First skis with modern plastic bases.
1955 New ski technology allows tighter
continuous turns in the fall line, known as ‘wedlin.’ The wedlin
becomes popular and is taught by most ski schools; is another powerful
technique that helps backcountry skiers to gracefully handle difficult
1956 Mount Whitney, California, U.S.,
first ski descent from summit. Paul Arthur and Larry Yout.
1957 John Herman is killed while making
the most famous avalanche footage ever filmed, Berthod Pass, Colorado,
U.S., Dam Slide.
1957 Bob Lange, U.S., introduces the
first plastic ski boots, soon to be known as ‘plastiques fantastiques,’
by appreciative French ski racers.
1959 Bugaboos to Rogers Pass, Canada,
ski traverse completed by Bill Briggs, Bob French, Sterling Neale,
Barry Corbet. (Source: Briggs interview. Note: This may have been done in 1958, but most probably ’59)
1959 First fiberglass ski designed,
built, and tested by Fred Lagendorf. Rave reviews by testers, but
didn’t go to market until 1966.
1959 Mountain Club of Alaska members
Lois Willard, Tony Bockstahler & Helga Bading make ski climb
of ‘Peak behind the Ski Bowl.’ (Rendezvous Peak?). Alaska, U.S.
1960 Hans Gmoser leads group on Canadian
Continental Divide Traverse from Kickinghorse Pass Columbia Icefield
(1/2 the trip to Jasper).
1960 ‘If you remember the 60’s you weren’t
there,’ said comedian Robin Williams many years later.
1960 Anchorage, Alaska, U.S., ski descent
of Flattop Peak by MCOA members Chuck Metzger, Helga Bading, Paul
Crews, Andy Brauchli.
1960 Metal sandwich skis become popular
with racers, allow French to develop ‘Christiania leger,’ a more
natural style with the body square over the skis, precursor to efficient
style used by today’s ski mountaineers.
1960 Squaw Valley Olympic Winter Games
exposes skiing to North America.
1961 Paved and redesigned Icefields
Parkway opens, Canada, Aug. 3. Highway yields access to the heart
of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
1961 Hans Gmoser writes article in 1961
CAJ, about 1960 ski traverse, inspires more backcountry skiing.
1961 Austrians Gerhart Winter and Herbert
Zacharias do figle descent Pallavicini Couloir on the Grossglockner, July 7.
Europe. This is probably not a ski descent, as common wisdom is that the figle (a short nearly boot length gliding device) is not a ski, and the technique used is not skiing but rather controlling descent through braking. Source 2012, author Bernhard R. H. Scholz. See July 1971 for first ski descent of Pallavicini.
1961 Ingraham Glacier, Mount Rainier,
first ski descent of Ingraham Glacier, connects to upper Emmons
Glacier, June 18; John Ahern, Bill Briggs, Roger Brown, Gordie Butterfield,
Joe Marillac, Roger Paris, Jim & Lou Whittaker.
1961 Buck Mountain, Wyoming, Teton Range,
U.S., first ski descent by Barry Corbet, Sita Culman and Elliot
Goss, May 29. ‘Barry didn’t think much of the descent…having skied
it with his boots unbuckled,’ writes Tom Turiano in Teton Skiing.
1961 Ski Club of Great Britain publishes
Handbook of Ski-Touring & Glacier Skiing, 2nd edition,
this is first modern promulgation of the body of knowledge for ski
1962 Rogers Pass, Canada, Trans-Canada
Highway is completed and pass becomes destination for backcountry
1962 Mount McKinley, Alaska, U.S., first
skied to summit by Helmut Tschaffert and Willi Schmidt, they ski
from summit down to 16,400 feet. They did not do ski descent of
complete peak and do not claim it. Nonetheless, by today’s standards
they may have.
1963 Great Cairn Hut, Columbia Mountains,
Canada, built by Bill Putnam, Ben Ferris, family, friends.
1963 First snowboard of record made
by Tom Sims for eigth grade project in New Jersey, U.S., he called
it a "skiboard."
1963 Heini Holzer (South Tyrol,Europe)
becomes famous extreme skier in Alps, later falls to his death in
1977 skiing Piz Rosegg north face in Switzerland, an easy descent
he’d done many times. (Legend holds he tripped on a ski pole.)
1964 First high-level ski traverse in
the Canadian Coast Mountains, Bert Port’s trip takes a horseshoe
route through the Spearhead Range, May. Three others on trip
1964 Fritz Stammberger, of Aspen, Colorado,
U.S., skis from 24,000 feet on Cho Oyu, Himalaya, April 21. This

is world’s highest ski descent at the time, and the first Himalaya
expedition to include an emphasis on skiing.

1964 U.S. Congress passes Wilderness
Act, thus possibly preserving much backcountry ski terrain,
but in turn making access difficult.
1965 Fairy Meadow hut built, Columbia
Mountains, Canada.
1965 Balfour hut built, first of backcountry skiing huts
on Wapta Icefields, Canadian Rocky Mountains, project led by Peter
1965 First helicopter ski trip in Canadian
Bugaboos led by Hans Gmoser.
1965 First ski ascent and probable
descent of record, Silver Star Mountain, Cascades, U.S., Fred Beckey
& Michael Borghoff.
1965 First modern backcountry ski guide
service in U.S., Utah, part of Alf Engen Ski School at Alta directed
by guidebook author Alexis Kelner. Brochure lists ‘Alta Ski-tours’
the Alta-Brighton-Alta trip.
1965 First ski descent, Whymper Couloir,
Aiguille Verte, Sylvain Saudan. Europe.
1965 First complete ski traverse of
the Alps (from Innsbruck to Grenoble) 600 miles, 22 days.
1965 Anchorage, Alaska, U.S., in mid
1960’s MCOA members ski mountaineer many times from the top of Alyeska
resort lifts to summit of Mt. Alyeska.
1966 Fiberlass alpine skis go on market.
‘I fought it, of course, because I didn’t want to believe that anybody’s
ski was as good as mine, but it turned out to be better,’ said Howard
1967 Sylvain Saudan skis Spenser Couloir,
Aiguille de Blaitiere, (average 51 degrees with 55 degree sections)
Chamonix France, as self proclaimed ‘skier of the impossible,’ he
spearheads evolution of extreme skiing, becomes an infamous self
promoter. Europe.
1967 Coast Mountains, Canada, first
British Columbia Mountaineering Club (BCMC) ski trip uses a ski
plane to access the Manatee areas near the Lillooet Glacier.
1967 Canada, first Great Divide Traverse,
an expedition style route covering 190 miles of high ground from
Lake Louise to Jasper. (Don Gardner, Neil Liske, Charlie Locke,
Chic Scott.)
1967 Spring ski tours from Jackson Hole
ski lifts start to gain popularity.
1968 Mount Moran, Wyoming, Teton Range,
U.S., first ski descent of peak via Skillet Glacier, Bill Briggs,
June 2.
1968 _Northwest Ski Trails_ by Ted Mueller,
published; is first comprehensive guide to alpine ski tours in Washington,
U.S., and perhaps second backcountry ski guidebook in U.S. (see
1948 for first).
1968 Bow Hut constructed, Wapta Icefields,
British Columbia, Canada (replaced in 1989 by improved hut).
1968 Bugaboo Lodge built, the first
building of the Canadian heliski empire that was backcountry skiing
— but then again was not…
1968 Hotlum Glacier, Mount Shasta, U.S.,
first ski descent by Fletcher Hoyt, Alan Steck, Gorden Thomas.
1968 Diller Canyon, Mount Shasta, U.S.,
first ski descent by Gordon Thomas, Kirt Brown, Phil Holecek.
1969 Sierra Club plays major roll in
refusal of huge Mineral King ski resort, California, U.S.; beginning
of movement to limit ski area expansion.
1970 In 1970’s, Alpine touring equipment
is heavy and functions poorly since simple cable bindings have fallen
out of favor. This makes way for use of Nordic equipment for ski
alpinism, especially for tours with more emphasis on mileage. Canada
& U.S.
1970 Yuichorio Miura stages the most
famous clown act in ski mountaineering history when he skis from
near the South Col on Mount Everest, tries to stop by deploying
a parachute, then falls most of the way down his chosen run, May
1970 First recorded ski descent of peak with enough continuous skiing to be known as a ‘true’ ski descent, Mount McKinley (Denali), West Buttress, Tsuyoshi Ueki, July 5.
1970 Wilson & Lederer publish _The
Complete Cross Country Skiing and Ski Touring_ (out of print). This
book sells well, and portends the re-birth of backcountry skiing
in North America.
1970 Climbing Magazine, North America’s
first ‘commercial’ mountaineering magazine, first issue published
by Harvy Carter and Bil Dunaway, May.
1970 Doug Robinson and Carl ‘Peanut’
McCoy repeat the Muir Trail ski traverse first done in 1928, Sierra
Nevada, California.
1971 First public sales of Skadi avalanche
rescue transceiver, created in 1968 by a research team headed by
John Lawton, at Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory in Buffalo, New
York. Original idea for Skadi should be credited to Ed LaChapelle.
See Skadi article WildSnow.com. (Note: first Skadi sale might
have been 1970.)
1971 First ski descent, Mount Hood East
Cliffs, "Wy’east route," Oregon, U.S., Sylvain Saudan,
Mar 1.
1971 First ski descent of peak, Grand Teton, Wyoming, U.S., Bill Briggs. Same effect as Stammberger’s North Maroon descent (see below), influence is perhaps less widespread at first, though the Briggs descent eventually becomes the more well known of the two. (June 15). Bill Briggs bio.
1971 First ski ski descent, North Maroon
Peak, Colorado, U.S., Fritz Stammberger, June 24. This impresses
Colorado mountaineers and starts spate of extreme descents. Is covered
in magazines and newspapers.
1971 First ski descent of Pallavicini Couloir on the Grossglockner, Austria, as opposed to the figle boot glider descent done in 1961 (see above). This first real ski descent was done 10. July 1971 by Albrecht Thausing and Manfred Oberegger. Two days later Michael Zojer skied it alone and published his descent. He didn’t know of the other two. Everyone believed he was the first to ski it until the truth came out around 2010. A dairyman of an alpine cabin had written down the exact dates in his journals. Source: Author and historian Bernhard R. H. Scholz.
1971 Dimitrije Milkovich granted a patent
for snowboard design. He does not enforce patent.
1971 Lito Tejada-Flores’ Wilderness
published, emphasizes use of skins over wax, includes
information about extreme skiing.
1971 Teewinot Peak, Wyoming, Teton Range,
U.S., first ski descent of peak, route used is East Face; Dean Moore
and Jim Bellamy, spring.
1971 H.J. Burhenne and Norm Wilson publish
Sierra Spring Ski-Touring. This is North America’s first
modern guide to true ski mountaineering descents.
1971 Mount Logan, Canada. First ski
descent of peak (from exact summit), Arno Dennig, Gerwalt Pichler,
Bruno Kraker, Hanns Schell.
1971 Early reference to snowmobile assisted
backcountry skiing, in Canadian Alpine Journal 1971, pp 69, ‘a snowmobile
took us the last seven miles to that beautiful (Diamond Head) lodge.’
1972 Fischer ski company imports Fischer
Europa aluminum sandwich fiberglass nordic backcountry ski with sidecut and
aluminum edges, grey plastic base. Nordic style backcountry skiers struggling with wooden skis embrace
the new technology and this ski is especially useful for lengthy alpine ski traverses. Using the telemark turn for backcountry skiing
begins to gain popularity in United States, partially due to the introductin of skis such as this.
1972 First ski crossing of Ellesmere
Island in the Canadian Arctic. Don Gardner, Chris Devries, John
Calvert, Chris Shank. (all from Calgary). 400 miles.
1972 Denali, Messner Couloir, first
descent by Sylvain Saudan. He claimed to have skied from the summit,
which was untrue, and thus tainted an otherwise fine descent.
1973 Ski traverse from Denver, Colorado,
U.S., to Aspen Colorado, Jim Ward, Lars Larson, Gus Gustafsen, Roger
Pickel, Trish Nice, Dick Arnold, Steve Kentz.
1973 Powder Magazine, U.S., first issue
published: _Powder 72/73 — Annual Portfolio of the Other Ski Experience_.
Powder’s 1st issue included a backcountry ski article _Touring_
by Frank Cutler. Describes a kinky ski tour, with simulated sex
on skis.
1973 Coast Mountains, Canada, John Clarke
does huge three week solo ski traverse of Klinaklini icefields,
largest icefield in Coast Mountains.
1973 Rick Sylvester
ski jumps off El Capitan, Yosemite, U.S., and parachutes to the
base of the cliff. Did he one-up Miura’s stunt on Everest?
1975 Fritz Stammberger (Colorado alpinist
and ski mountaineer, see 1971) dies while attempting a solo climb
of Tirich Mir in Pakistan; his body is never found. Rumours persist
that he was actually working for the CIA or involved in some other
covert activity.
1975 Rossignol ski company introduces Haute Route model ski. This bright red ski, built with metal sandwich construction and a high turned-up tip was designed for ski touring and skiing natural snow. It became very popular with everyone from heli guides to ski mountaineers. Source: Seth Masia, SKI Magazine September 1975.
1975 Ski traverse from Crested Butte
to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, 3 weeks, Bill Frame, Randall Udall,
Jerry Roberts. (this is second time this route is done, see Sibley).
1976 Kelner & Hanscom’s Wasatch
published, covers high ski routes in Utah, U.S.
1976 First production Ramer alpine touring
binding sold by Paul Ramer of Boulder Colorado, U.S., with features
such as heel-lift and light weight eventually copied by Europeans.
1976 Baffin Island, Denny Hogan and
Randall Udall ski traverse for 5 weeks, 200 miles from Broughton
Island to Pangnirtung on Baffin Island. They encounter polar bear
tracks the size of dinner plates, and spend the whole trip "scared
shitless," said Udall.
1976 Jackson Hole, Wyoming, U.S., Victor
Gerdin skis ‘Once is Enough’ exteme run in Cody Bowl, southwest
of the main ski resort.
1977 Mount of the Holy Cross, Colorado,
U.S., first ski descent of Cross Couloir, Tom and Jim Carr. (Source:
Interview with Tom Carr, and article in Vail Trail newspaper.)
1977 Winter of 1976/77 is the great
western U.S. snow drought.
1977 Heini Holzer dies skiing Pitz Roseg. Europe. (Legend holds he tripped over a ski pole.)
1977 First ski descent, Pikes Peak North
Face (Colorado, U.S.) via Railroad Couloir, Brian Becker & Larry
1978 Steve Barnett’s _Cross Country
Downhill_ published, book shows how to ski downhill on lightweight
nordic touring equipment, supports popularity of free- heel skiing
in North America.
1978 Pyramid Peak, Colorado, first ski
descent of peak, via East Face, Chris Landry, May 15. Pyramid is
a 14,018-foot arete, so steep and riven that climbers fall off frequently
— and body recovery is done with trash cans. Landry descent was very ahead of its time for North American steep skiing, and has since become iconic. His route is now known as the "Landry Line."
1978 Cameron Pass, Colorado, U.S., paved
all-season road opens, allows access to spectacular ski mountaineering
in Never Summer mountain range.
1978 Grand Teton, Wyoming, second ski
descent by Steve Shea from Aspen Colorado. (Shea also makes third
descent in 1979). Shea was working on the movie Fall Line and being
paid, he was perhaps the first paid extreme ski movie talent in
North America..
1978 Elk Mountains, Colorado, first
high ski traverse (12-days), Louis Dawson and John Quinn.
1978 Wind River Mountains, Wyoming,
U.S., late February ski traverse from South Pass to Dubois, three
weeks, Mark Udall, Randall Udall, John Isaacs.
1978 Sierra Nevada, California, Bill
Nicolai and Pam Kelley do long version of Muir Trail ski traverse,
55 days from Carson Pass to Whitney Portal.
1979 Patrick Vallencant
skis Yerupaja, Peru. South America. At a sustained 60 degrees is
possibly the continuously steepest mountain ski descent ever done.
This ski descent is publicized in movie: "El Gringo Eskiador".
1980 Jean-Marc Bovin makes ski descent
of the Matterhorn East Face. This landmark feat in extreme skiing
is one of the first to link discontinuous patches of snow with jumps
and precision skiing on slopes steeper than 60 degrees.
1980 Patrick Vallencant skis from 25,000 feet on Broad Peak,
Pakistan. This early skiing on an 8,000 meter peak may be historically significant because Vallencant skied all but the top 1,400 vertical feet, but was not complete enough to qualify as a ski descent of the peak. (Source: American Alpine Journal, 1981.)
1980 Mount Rainier, Washington, U.S.,
first ski descent of Liberty Ridge by Chris Landry (assisted by
Doug Robinson). They witness spectacular avalanches probably triggered
by earthquakes from Mount St. Helens. This is probably the most logical extreme descent line off Mount Rainier, Mowich Face is another. (Sources: Common knowledge, personal interviews of Landry, Doug Robinson book.)
1980 Mount St. Helens, Washington, U.S.,
major explosive volcanic eruption removes 1,300 vertical feet from
the summit and devastates 235 square miles of land, May 18.
1980 Canada, Southern Caribou Mountains
ski traverse, Tony Daffern, Allan Derbyshire, Alf Skrastins, Murray
1980 Canada, Coast Mountains, Wedge
Mountain, West Couloir. First descent by Peter Chrzanowski, Bart
Ross, Chris Clark. The first death in North American extreme
skiiing occured during this descent when Gerhart Singler fell down
the route after loosing footing while standing on skis to take
photograph. (Sources: Email and phone with Chrzanowski and Rob Martineau.)
1980 The movie Fall Line features
then Aspen resident Steve Shea skiing the Middle Teton and Grand
Teton. Movie features one of the most famous falls on film, and
fall clip is shown late 70’s and early 80’s during intro to ABC
TV’s _American Sportsman_.
1981 First descent, Mount Andromeda,
Canadian Rockies, Peter Chrzanowski.
1981 Ptarmigan Traverse, Cascade Mountains,
Washington, U.S., Cascade Pass to Bachelor Creek, first time done
on skis, Brian Sullivan, Dan Stage, Dick Easter.
1981 R.J. Secor’s Mexico’s Volcanoes
published, written for climbers but used for occasional ski exploration.
1981 Mount Foraker, Alaska, US; first
ski descent via Southeast Ridge, Pierre Beghin, May.
1981 Paul Ramer publishes Alpine/Nordic,
Journal of Unconventional Skiing
, includes informative article
about extreme skiing.
1981 Powder Magazine publishes
articles on Patrick Vallencant’s ski school in France and cliff
jumping in Squaw Valley U.S. First major feature covering cliff
jumping as a sport? Layed the foundation for cliff jumping to be
called ‘extreme skiing’.
1981 Ski Magazine publishes Truman Capote’s
memoirs of 44 years of skiing, Irwin Shaw and other skiing literary
pundits comment that they’d never seen Capote on skis.
1981 Chris Landry skis Mendel Couloir,
Sierra Nevada, California. U.S. Locals are impressed, but preocupied
with skiing downhill on nordic gear. Local pundit Doug Robinson
later states: "We were playing a different game," when
he was asked why the locals didn’t just get beefy alpine gear and
ski first descents like Chris. (Sources: Interview with Doug Robinson.)
1982 At 43-years-old, Sylvain Saudan
skis Hidden Peak, Pakistan.
1982 Colorado, 10th Mountain Trail huts
started, McNamara and Margy’s Huts built.
1982 Dakobed traverse done from Glacier
Peak to Clark Mountain, Canada, Cascades, U.S., Gary Brill, Joe
Catellani, Brian Sullivan.
1982 Patrick Vallencant attempts ski
of then unskied Wickersham Wall, Mount McKinley, Alaska, U.S. Plan is
poorly conceived — too ambitious. After spending a fortune on dogsled
expedition to base of the face, he looks up and says, ‘it is not
right.’ (Sources: Jon Waterman book.)
1982 Dan McKay dies (July 11) while
climbing Grand Teton for a ski attempt. For unknown reasons, he
was off route and fell down east face slabs, to tragically die of
exposure while lying alone and helpless on the Teepe Glacier.
1982 Making dubious statement of minimalism,
or showing he had four cajones, Rick Wyatt skis Grand Teton, Wyoming,
U.S., on true nordic ski equipment: low-top boots and aluminum edged
skinny skis.
1982 Niagara Falls, New York, U.S.,
first (and last?) ski descent, Joe Meegan.
1982 Elk Mountains, Colorado, second
ski traverse of Elks adds Castle Peak to route, Lou Dawson, John
Quinn, Peter Kelley, John Isaacs (14 days, winter).
1982 John Muir Trail, Sierra Nevada,
Brad and Randall Udall ski complete 230 mile trail in 7 1/2 days
on nordic racing equipment.
1983 Richard DuMais’ 50 Colorado
Ski Tours
published (out of print). This is one of Colorado’s
first guidebooks for mountain ski touring.
1983 Rick Wyatt, Chris Noble, Kelly
McKean and Evelyn Lees attempt ski descent of Wickersham Wall, Mount
McKinly, much of the route skied, but Lees is injured in fall and
the descent becomes a rescue.
1983 Longs Peak, Colorado, U.S., first
ski descent of peak, John Harlin, via North Face Cables route, May.
1983 Sierra Nevada, California, Allan
Bard, Tom Carter and Chris Cox do high-route version of Muir Trail
traverse; call it ‘Redline Traverse.’
1983 Sierra Nevada, California, Mount
Whitney, first descent of North Face extreme route by Allan Bard
& Tom Carter during Redline Traverse. See Paul Arthur, 1956,
for first descent from summit.
1984 Friends Hut, Colorado, Elk Mountains,
U.S., built with volunteer labor.
1984 Longs Peak, Colorado,
U.S., first descent of peak, John Harlin Jr. via North Face.
1984 U.S. Congress passes Utah Wilderness
Act, thus protecting areas of the Wasatch mountains from resort
skiing, and creating lands that, in the winter, are effectively
reserved for one activity: backcountry skiing & snowboarding.
1984 Cross-Country Ski Routes of Oregon’s
Cascades, by Klindt Vielbg, published. Includes the most wry of
guidebook dedications: ‘For…my sons, who share some of my visions
and tolerate my idiosyncrasies, and for Elizabeth, who didn’t.’
1985 Paul Ramer and companions complete
‘Colorado Grand Tour,’ civilized high traverse linking Colorado
ski areas and luxury lodging. Tour has failed to achieve popularity
because of difficult logistics and expensive lodging.
1985 Lou Dawson’s Colorado High Routes
published, covers backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering in central
Colorado, is first complete guidebook for 10th Mountain huts.
1985 Mount Fury, Cascades, first ski
descent of East Peak, Lowell Skoog, Carl Skoog, Jens Kuljurgis.
1985 Insurance prices for ski resorts
leap as much as 300 percent, rising lift prices continue. More skiers
begin to see earning their turns by climbing in the backcountry
as an attractive alternative.
1986 Katahdin, Maine, New England, U.S.,
first descent of Chimney Couloir by Dick Hall, Winslow Ayer, Gary
Faucher, Roger Simmerman, Dean Mendell.
1986 Rainer Burgdorfer’s Backcountry
Skiing in Washington’s Cascades
1987 Canada (Quebec) & Northeastern
U.S., New England, ski pioneer Jack Rabbit Johannsen dies at 111-years-
old. Said: ‘I have been after adventure, always having a wonderful
time. That’s the reason I’m still alive.’
1988 October, Couloir Magazine
Volume 1, Number 1, published in southern California. Is a simple
Zerox with trip reports from the local Sierra Club ski mountaineering
1988 Lou Dawson’s Colorado 10th Mountain
first edition published, official guide to 10th Mountain
backcountry ski huts and trails in central Colorado.
1989 David Goodman’s Classic Backcountry
Skiing; Ski Tours in New England
1989 Litz & Lankford’s Skiing
Colorado’s Backcountry
published, covers backcountry skiing
in east-central Colorado.

Ski movie Blizzard of Aahhs released by
Greg Stump. Shows a newer style of skiing that is much more youth and adventure
oriented, and purports to show state-of-art "extreme skiing."
While the skiing in the movie is far from state-of-art ski alpinism
of the time, and most is not "extreme" skiing in the
traditional sense of skiing fall-you-die terrain on big mountains, Blizzard
of Aahhs
nonetheless has a HUGE influence on all aspects of the sport, as is showcases the attractive adventure
and fun of skiing steep natural snow, and doing such skiing in
a dynamic and camera friendly style that includes aggressive
jump turns and larger cliff drops. A whole generation of younger
skiers grow up with this film, and it starts the trend toward
cliff "hucking" (think of a human being on skis behaving
as if spit from the mouth of a giant, frequently with just as
unpleasant results…) as a substitute for other types of ski
adventure. More, the movie is the debut of modern ski film stars
Glen Plake and Mike Hattrup. Plake (known for his towering mohawk
hair style) went on to become an amazingly effective youth ambasador
for all things skiing, and Hattrup has since traveled a productive
career in the ski equipment industry.

At first, Blizzard and dozens of similar films that came
after represented a split in the family tree of backcountry
skiing, with "skiing for the camera" style descents (usually
helicopter powered) making up the bulk of what the "new schoolers"
came to call "footie." Yet by the late 1990s and turn of the
century, youth who grew up with Blizzard were now in their prime
as adults, and many blended the influence of Blizzard with a
more real world sense of backcountry skiing, to begin a new generation
of ski mountaineering and big mountain extreme skiing. Meanwhile,
the genre of movies that came to be known as "ski porn" continued
at full throttle — as is seems there always teenage boys up
for another ski movie that "has lame jokes and hardly any plot
— but you can’t stop watching, and when it’s over it leaves
you wanting more, preferably of the real thing."

1989 Improved Bow Hut built, Wapta Icefields,
British Columbia, Canada.
1990 Canada, Coast Mountains, Eric Pehota
skis from summit pyramid of Mount Waddington for first descent of
peak. Steve Smaridge, Trevor Petersen, Beat Steiner, and Peter Chrzanowski
had skied from near the summit down the Angel Glacier in 1985. Many
mountaineers expressed doubt about Pehota’s exact summit descent (ESD),
but we’ll let it stand for now, since difficult descents are sometimes
in better condition for skiing than most people realize they can
be. More, in the case of a summit that’s never in skiable condition, a ski descent of such a peak is most certainly bonafide if made from the highest skiable point.
1990 French extreme skier Jean-Marc
Bovin dies in parachute accident. Bovin’s ski of Matterhorn East
Face (1980) was landmark feat; one of the first major descents to link discontinues
patches of snow with jumps and careful skiing on slopes steeper
than 60 degrees.
1990 Clair Yost sells first "Mountain
Noodle" fat skis for backcountry. Trumps major ski makers by
years and shows nordic "telemark" downhillers that they don’t need to ski on
1990 Backbone Ridge Traverse, Cascades,
U.S., Little Devil Peak to Eldorado Peak, Lowell & Carl Skoog
(June). (Source, personal correspondence from Lowell Skoog.)
1991 First ski descent, Little Bear Peak, Sangre
de Cristo Range, spring, last unskied Colorado Fourteener, Louis
1991 Louis Dawson
completes his project
to be first person to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000 foot peaks.
1991 Couloir Vol. IV, Number
1, first article by Louis Dawson "Skiing Colorado’s Fourteeners,"
and first article by John Moynier "First Tracks."
1991 Couloir Magazine, first
national distribution is the first of a magazine specifically
for backcountry skiers.
1991 Pierre Beghin (first ski descent
of Mount Foraker) dies on Annapurna, October 11.
1991 Dynafit Tech binding/boot system
in use in Europe, soon to be imported to North America, makes
alpine touring equipment as light weight or lighter than free-heel
telemark equipment.
1992 Paul Ruff killed trying
world record 160 foot ‘extreme’ cliff jump in backcountry
near Kirkwood ski resort, California, U.S.
1992 John Moynier’s Backcountry
Skiing in the High Sierra
published. California, U.S.
1992 Mount Everest, first nearly complete ski descent
(within 250 feet of summit), Pierre Tardivel. See 1996 for first
descent from summit, and 2000 for first complete descent that should
be called the "First" with a capital F.
1992 First plastic free-heel ski boots:
Black Diamond Terminator introduced to public in November. Revolutionizes
free heel "telemark" skiing but also begins trend to
heavy telemark equipment that obviates weight advantage over other
types of ski gear.
1992 Couloir Magazine, Vol. IV,
No. 3, first snowboard cover.
1992 Couloir Magazine, Vol. IV,
No. 4, fist color cover (only cover to feature the publisher his
self, you can tell by the gloves.)
1993 Denny Hogan and Randall Udall
ski the high line traverse from Silverton to Wolf Creek Colorado,
5 days, 80 miles. U.S.
1993 Couloir Magazine, Vol. V,
Number 4, first cover girl, Stephanie Subak on Primus Peak, North
1993 Wasatch Tours, Volume 1,
published by Alexis Kelner and David Hanscom, begins the process
of updating their pioneering Wasatch ski guidebook first published
in 1976.
1993 Couloir Magazine, Vol.
V, Number 4, covers 10/10/10 Tenth Anniversary of 10th Mountain
1993 Couloir Magazine, Vol. V1,
Number 1, first magazine to review fat skis for the backcountry.
1994 Silcox Hut, Mount Hood
Oregon, U.S., Cascades, renovation completed.
1994 Chic Scott’s Summits and Icefields
published, details a mix of hard-core and moderate Canadian ski
mountaineering routes, covers huts and ski touring centers.
1994 Louis Dawson’s Guide to Colorado’s
Fourteeners Vol. 1
published, covers ski descents of Colorado’s
54 highest peaks (Colorado, U.S.).
1994 First ski descent of route, Wickersham
Wall, Mt. Mckinley, May 5 – May 25, Tyson Bradly & John Montecucco.
In new style for expedition skiing, they ‘stage ski’ route while
climbing, several rappels are used. Route awaits complete-continuous
descent. U.S.
1994 Coast Mountains, British Columbia,
Canada, _Exploring the Coast Mountains On Skis written and published
by John Baldwin (second edition). This is the seminal guide to glisse
alpinism in the Coast Mountains.
1994 October. Back Country Magazine
premier issue. North America’s second magazine to specifically cover
backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Articles include Sierra High
Route, gear reviews, British Columbia.
1995 July 8, Fritz Benedict dies, principle
founder of 10th Mountain Hut Association (Colorado U.S.), 10th Mountain
Division Veteran, and pioneer of Colorado ski industry.
1995 Teton Skiing, published,
covers history of ski mountaineering in Teton Mountains of Wyoming,
U.S., by Thoms Turiano.
1995 Dawson’s Guide to Colorado’s
, Vol. 2, published, covers Colorado ski descents.
By Louis Dawson.
1995 Mount Robson,
Canada, first ski descent of North Face, Troy Jungen & Ptor
1995 Mount Foraker, Alaska. Sultana
Ridge fist ski descent of route by Tyson Bradley and Julie Faure.
Their companion John Montecucco took a near-death fall and was rescued
off the route.
1996 Couloir Magazine, IX-2,
Controversial "S" rating system for ski descents first
published in North America, as of 2004 this had not become popular.
1996 United States adopts European standard
avalanche beacon frequency of 447 kHz, thus making this the international
standard and doing away with original beacon frequency of 2.235
kHz started by John Lawton, creator of Skadi
circa 1968.
1996 Mount Everest, first ski descent
from summit (with downclimbing for small part of route), Hans
1996 February. Well known inspirational extreme
skier Trevor Peterson dies in avalanche in Europe. Trevor became famous throughout North America because of his highly active ski mountaineering lifestyle as well as his success in photos and movies that portrayed his progressive and dynamic skiing style.
1997 Spring. Colorado realizes it’s
had its first winter free of avalanche deaths since the winter
of 1968-69. The winter snowpack in the state was the most solid
in decades, and skiers all over the state nailed amazing lines
in midwinter.
1997 January, Colorado. Lawsuit against
A-Basin ski area dismissed, a victory against those who would
profit by blaming deep pockets for people’s mistakes, and a plus
for backcountry skiing because ski areas can open their borders
with less fear of litigation.
1997 Denali, Alaska. Jean-Noel Urban
and Nicolas Bonhomme ski the Wickersham Wall from top to bottom,
with one night spent for descent.
1997 Wild
by Louis Dawson
published by AAC Press. First book to cover the history
of North American ski and snowboard mountaineering, as well as
covering 54 classic ski mountaineering routes on the continent.
This chronology originated from the outline for Wild
1997 July, Mount Rainier,
Washington state, Mowich Face. First descent by Armond Debuque,
Doug Ingersoll, Andrew McLean, Carl Skoog. One of Mount Rainier’s
most continous and logical extreme descents.
1997 July 5, well known backcountry
skier, guide, and writer Alan Bard dies from fall while guiding
on the Grand Teton, Wyoming.
1997 January. Beloved Canadian guide
Art Twomey dies in helicopter crash in British Columbia.
1999 Washington, Mt. Rainier, David
Presson falls and is killed while attempting to ski Liberty Ridge.
(Source: Lowell Skoog’s chronology).

Mount Everest, first complete ski descent, Davo Karnicar, October
7. Karnicar designs special 168cm skis for the descent so he can
keep his skis on for the narrow sections of the route. In ski
alpinism, it is considered the supreme accomplishment in a ski
descent if you can start at the exact summit, keep your skis on
for the whole route, and not descend by rappell (sliding down
a rope). Karnicar accomplished this on Everest, thus eclipsing
earlier efforts when individuals made noble, but incomplete descents
of the mountain. (Source: expedition
website and numerous media reports.)

2000 Pyramid
Peak, Colorado, first descent of east face climbers left, known
as "Gendarme Face," huge continuous snow face leading
to small saddle a few hundred feet south of exact summit. Frank
Konsella and Jay Prentiss, April 28. They name their ski descent
"Frank’s Angst." (Source: Dawson personal correspondence
from Konsella.)
2000 Re-creation
and documentation of 10th Mountain Division Trooper
(see 1944), Colorado, Pando to Aspen, Louis Dawson,
Brian Litz, Chris Clark. (Source: this author.)
Mount St. Elias, Alaska, first ski descent of peak by James Bracken, Lorne Glick, Andy Ward. Mira Face route, May. This is a milestone event in modern ski mountaineering history, as St. Elias is a huge mountain but nonetheless has plentiful skiing — provided the weather cooperates, which it rarely does. More, the group’s descent totaled 11,000 vertical feet of skiing! Rated VII D-19 R5. In 2002, Reid Sanders and Aaron Martin slid to their deaths off the icy summit of St. Elias while trying to do the second descent. (Sources: American Alpine Club Journal and correspondence with Lorne Glick).
2002 Mont
Blanc du Tacul, Gervasutti Couloir, Tardivel entrance, France, May
8, 2002. Well known American ski mountaineer Hans Saari falls down
couloir and is killed. Reports say he entered couloir from top,
rather than climbing it first, thus encountering unknown ice conditions.
He lost edge control on the ice and fell. (Sources: web and print
2002 Wyoming, Mount
Moran, first descent of CMC route on Mount Moran. Doug Coombs, Hans
Johnstone, Bill Dyer, Kent McBride. This 5,700 vertical foot route
is perhaps the longest continuous extreme ski descent in North America
(excluding Alaska). It is extremely technical, and includes a difficult
over-water boat approach. The route included 2 short rappels. (Sources: A
full account of this terrific descent is available in the Jackson
Hole News archives at http://www.jacksonholenews.com.)
2003 Alaska, Mount
Hunter, first complete ski descent. Andrew McLean, Lorne Glick, John Whedon, Armond Dubuque. VI
D17 R4
(Sources: McLean interview
and web media.)
Washington, North Cascade
Range, U.S., Mount Fury Northeast Face, first ski descent. Sky
Sjue, Jason Hummel, Ben Manfredi. Route includes and intimidating
glaciated face with 60 degree skiing. Multi-day approach with scrappy
bushwack adds spice to this incredible descent. V
D19 R4
(Sources: personal correspondence and website.)
Capitol Peak, Colorado, first descent of East Face by Chris Davenport and Neal Beidelman, April. Davenport is one of the most accomplished skiers in the world, and Beidelman is not only an expert extreme skier but is well known as a world class alpinist. Davenport say the line is "the steepest and scariest line I have ever done on skis." Such a statement coming from this team causes one to take pause. V D21 R4 (Sources: interviews, correspondence and website.)
2011 Denali (Mt. McKinley) Alaska, North America. First ski descent of South Face, May 23,24, by Andreas Fransson. This is one of the most compelling extreme ski routes in the world, and no doubt one of the hardest and most dangerous. V1 D22 R5 (Sources: numerous via internet.)
2015 May 27, Christy & Ted Mahon along with Chris Davenport are first to ski the 100 highest peaks in Colorado (Sources: numerous via internet as well as personal correspondence with participants. See this blog post.)

Several other ski chronologies are available on the web. Lowell Skoog has published an excellent effort that covers Northwest United States backcountry skiing, while the International Ski History Association has one that’s biased towards the ski industry and alpine racing. I realize that my chronology above would be better if it mentioned more sources (I left them out when I was using it as a rough timeline for my writing). I continue to add sources and events, as well as comparing my notes with those of others and making necessary corrections. Any bias or slant other than that for backcountry skiing in North America is unintentional.

Thanks for your interest. ‘best, Lou Dawson

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's personal website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners.

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Ski Touring and mountaineering are dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information, news and opinion on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of LouDawson.com as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive LouDawson.com owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.