1890 Langille brothers skied the north side of Mount Hood to check on the Cloud Cap Lodge.
1903, the Mazamas, a Portland mountain climbing club, tested 10’ long skis near Government Camp and found skiing a good comparison to flying.
1904 Portlanders form the Snowshoe Club: they would use snowshoes to reach their cabin at Cloud Cap and then ski down on 20 foot skis imported from Norway (sometimes referred to as Norwegians, or skis spelled skees, skeys, shees).
The sport of skiing grew each year in the 1900’s as equipment became available commercially. These skiers were tough and determined. They would travel from Portland to Mount Hood’s south side as far as the snow depth would allow them, then put on skins and ski uphill to Government Camp and shuffle around for the day.
1923 We have wonderful movies of the Oregon City Ski Club driving open sided cars to Government Camp in 1923. Dressed in fur coats and all manner of get up, they would climb on skis to the vicinity of the present Timberline Lodge. They would shuffle around, boot pack little runs and jumps and have a lot of fun.
The popularity of skiing on Mount Hood really took off with the arrival of the Jumping Norwegians to Government Camp. They built a jump hill southeast of Government Camp on a south slope. There were two problems with this hill: first it faced south and the snow would get soft, and two, it was two miles from the end of the road!!! They soon moved to Government Camp, built a good jump hill on Multorpor Mountain and started forming clubs and hold jumping tournaments. These tournaments would attract jumpers from all over the west. More importantly for the economy, these jump events would attract huge crowds of spectators. We have black and white photographs of these events. You can see a ribbon of snow from the jump platform and down the landing area. Surrounding this snow is all black. We tell visitors to look closely at these photographs, as the black is hundreds of observers, standing shoulder to shoulder to watch these crazy Norwegians jump. Why would 800 to a 1000 vehicles travel 80 miles on questionable roads in 1920’s automobiles to watch a ski jump? The only rational reason we can comprehend is that ski jumping was the most exciting spectator sport available. There was no NFL, NBA, NASCAR, and no TV, so watching ski jumpers was a big deal.
1927 Soon the common people wanted to enjoy recreating in the snow, but were not ready to try jumping. Summit Ski area in Government Camp opened in 1927 with the only improvement being a restroom and a warming hut that served food. Skiing on Mount Hood was here to stay! It would only grow each year, still expanding, even today with no sign of waining in popularity- just evolving with technology.
1930 Skibowl was developed with rope tows in the early 1930’s. Oregonian’s began to dream of a large ski area and a large lodge where they could maybe stay overnight. I will not attempt to cover the history of this lodge, but suffice to say, the development of Timberline put Mount Hood skiing on the national ski map. This lodge, celebrating it’s 75th anniversary this year, provided the base for most of the skiing related advances that Mount Hood contributed to the skiing world.
1939 The second ski chairlift and the first with steel towers was built just outside this lodge in 1939. Hank Lewis was asked to organize the first Ski Patrol right here on Mount Hood. Hank’s model was soon adopted by other ski patrols and lead to the formation of the National Ski Patrol. A Forest Service employee developed a SNOW KITTY here just for use in the ski area. Otto Lange, a ski hall of famer started a ski school here. Another ski hall of famer Harold Hirsch of Portland White Stag company began sewing the first real ski clothing. Hjalmer Hvam, one of the local Norwegien jumpers and a ski racer, developed the world’s first safety release binding, and is also in the hall of fame. Fred McNeil and Barney Macnab, local skiers that worked tirelessly to promote skiing, earned their place in the National Hall of Fame. Gretchen Fraser and her husband Don both sided here during this early era and of course are in the hall of fame.
1955 There seems to be a little age gap in the hall of fame, but along came Richard Kohnstamm in 1955 and saved this wonderful lodge and began making improvements that forever changed skiing on Mount Hood. His vision to create summer skiing drew many famous skiers from around the world to Mount Hood. One hall of fame ski racer that spent time here in Erick Sailer. Mount Hooder’s would like to think that training on Mount Hood contributed to the success of Oregon racers and hall of famers: Kiki Cutter, Debbie Armstrong, Jean Saubert; and we count the Mahre Brothers as our friends and see them often here on the slopes of Mount Hood.
I think that is all the Oregon connections to the Hall of Fame. We have no doubt that Mount Hood will contribute more hall of famers from the list Mount Hood skiers in the future. They might recognize such people as ski racer Bill Johnson, or Bill Koch and Mike Devecka, local Nordic skiers, or coaches like Lee Englesby and Bill Gunesch, Duane Bridge, Matt Greenslade, Ron Kipp who have coached hundreds or even thousands of young ski racers. Mount Hood will most definently produce some snowboarding hall of famers from the snowboarding summer camps like Windells and High Cascade. Chris Klug and Shaun White are potential Hall of Famers for snowboarding with connections to Mount Hood.
All this ski history was deemed worthy of inclusion in a Mount Hood Museum proposed in 1998.