Posts Tagged ‘we found the beer’

Skiing at the Golf Course

Wednesday, January 17th, 2024

Skiing at The Golf Course

Skiing in Nelson has a surprisingly long history. I am not totally aware of all of it but I do know large parts of it especially the years when our hill was located above the golf course partly up the slope of Morning Mountain. Those were in the 1950’s – the years I started to ski. My first skis were a Christmas gift in about 1953. I dug them out a few years ago and was surprised they were still serviceable. Small and skinny but usable. Of course skiing is as much about looking hip and up to date with the latest and most expensive gear as it is how fast you can get down. So I just couldn’t use the old beat up boards. They were so old that you had to paint a base on them and apply wax. No steel edges and the harnesses were of the bear trap variety. The boots were old rubber gum boots.

The next year brought safety harnesses that snapped your foot right down and leather boots that did not wander but were hard and clunky to walk in. Indeed.

My uphill friends were among the first kids to use the new hill: Tom Ramsay, Gary Kilpatrick, Gary Higgs and Clare Palmer were in the first bunch. We would get up early and ski to the hill. Before it opened we were so ready to go that we sometimes skid up to the Silver King Mine so we could ski down the winding and super narrow road. We stopped for lunch and to feed the Camp Robbers half way up. One time we went into the cook house and I found a big jar of frozen peanut butter on a shelf above the stove. I tried to edge it down but misjudged and it fell on the stove top. The jar did not break but the stove top did

the stove I wiggled it to the edge and it fell on the stove. I cringed thinking of the mess it would make when it broke. It did not break or crack, the stove lid did.

We cleared out after that and braved the road down. The early skis were not so easy to turn so we simply crashed into most of the corners as we scooted down the hill. The best skiing was in the farm fields of Rosemont. In those years that’s largely what Rosemont was along with frequent patches of forest.

The ski hill was small but very interesting for young learners. The lift was a rope strung around the rim of a model A which sat on blocks at the bottom of the hill. The rope ran up to another rim in a tree some 500 m up the hill. From the tree, there was a narrow track that led to the main hill which featured a steep downhill pitch that climbed up to a flat where the Model A was situated. If you were fast enough on the downhill, you breezed up to the flat and right into the lineup

Since my pals and I were often the first skiers to arrive we sometimes had the hill to ourselves early in the day. We would ski down to a barn where the gas was stored, fill up the Model A then fire it up.

Next came a wild ride to the top. It was sometimes a more exciting ski up the rope than it was down the hill. If Gary Kilpatrick was running the Model A it was all one could do to hang on because he floored it. Eventually John Fink got hung up on the tree rim and we had a hard time getting him loose. That pretty well ended our manning the tow.

We started exploring around the golf course buildings poking our noses into places that were off limits. Eventually we found the beer.

If you reached into a crack in the building door you could feel open cases of beer. You couldn’t drag anything out or grab bottles but you could get a tenuous finger grip on the tops of some bottles. So we fished a few out from time to time and drank them in the woods on the way home. Gary Higgs drank a bunch one time and started doing flips off stumps. He was celebrating with vigor but no harm was done except perhaps to a few thirsty golfers in the summer

Skiing in Nelson has always been a quest for more reliable snow. It started in the Fairview Gravel Pit operated by my grandfather and great grandfather. This was OK for a few years but the club moved to the golf course and the lower slopes of Morning Mountain next. This was great fun but could not last as the weather became more unstable. By the late 1950s, it started to rain in the winter. I was shocked but it was by n means a common occurrence happening perhaps once or twice a year. But it was enough to spook the ski club into seeking higher ground. We started clearing Silver King, a densely forested slope off Ymir road. The forest was thicker than hair on a dog’s back and there was little merchantable timber in the mix. Most of the wood was stacked and burned.

I remember the first day we started. How discouraging it was to work in the thick cover of small hemlocks and Douglas fir with lodge pole pine. It seemed an impossible task but the stalwart skiers of Nelson soldiered on. Danny and Dee McKay, Fred and Edna Whitely, Walt and Naida Palmer, Bill Murphy, Bill and Buddy Ramsay and their kids. What seemed impossible happened in a couple of years there was a cleared hill and a T Bar.

I remember hauling up a part for the lift . It was a large square part that I hung around my neck. I walked up one of the old California Mine Roads and dropped the part at the top of the lift. To walk or ski down was the next question? It was getting dark and a long haul back down the road. I knew I would not be able to maintain control on the very steep and unpacked hill but went down anyway. The first idiot to schuss the Silver King. I fell about a third of the way down. It was a real tumble but no damage was done.

I skied at Silver King a fair bit more but we moved to California in 1958 there was excellent skiing there at places like Squaw Valley, Heavenly Valley and Mount Rose. I was not to ski in Nelson again until Whitewater came on. It was a crown land project and Al Raine (Provincial ski co-coordinator), myself (biologist) and Ross Lake (Nelson Ski Club) went up to finalize the Crown Agreement.

Finally Nelson had an alpine hill with enough elevation to stay above the mild, rainy days that now plague all the ski hills on this warming planet.