A great example is one of Sun Valley from the top of Dollar Mountain
when there was nothing there except the lodge. It looked lonely out there in the middle of that wide valley.
There are also some photos of the lodge under construction before there was a chairlift on Dollar.
I have a great photo of Mt. Baldy in the background with my car and trailer in front of the lodge. This was back when there were only two runs down from the Round House—Canyon and Exhibition—and both of them had Volkswagen-sized bumps on them. One of my favorite shots is of a still cameraman with a four-by-five-speed graphic at the ready riding down the hill on the back of a ski instructor.
Ruud Mountain was a different place back then, as there was sometimes a 15-minute lift line where megabuck homes are now instead. If the lift on Ruud still operated, it would still be a great place to ski. I carved a lot of powder snow turns there in 1947 on a pair of very flexible skis that I somehow acquired. It had such a great fall-line and often I had that whole mountain virtually to myself, except when the snow on Baldy was thin and all employees had to ski on Ruud.
There is also a shot of the Squaw Valley Ski School when there were only five of us to give lessons in the new “French Ski Technique.”That was when the old number one chairlift stopped at the bottom of the headwall because no one could ski well enough yet to handle the terrain.
I have several still photos of Pete Siebert in knee-deep powder at Vail when it opened in 1962. There was only a gondola, two char lifts and a Poma lift... and no lift lines at all. As a matter of fact, there were a lot of days where there were only 50 people on the mountain. One day, the mountain only sold eight lift tickets.
Then there’s a photo of Snowbird before there was a Snowbird. It was created by the imagination of Ted Johnson and the money of Dick Bass. And there is a shot of a French poodle standing up on his own skis. Dutch Gunderson, who was the manager of the Dollar Mountain restaurant, had trained the poodle to turn his skis. When he whistled twice the poodle looked to the left and when he whistled once he looked to the right. That would put its weight on one ski or the other and the skis would turn.
Unfortunately, the poodle died before I started making ski movies. I know that dog would have been a great hit with my audiences.
Another picture is of where I loved to ski: Zurs, Austria, when it only had two T-bars and lots of untracked powder snow. I was always guaranteed a powder snow sequence whenever I went there.
Herbert Jochum developed my favorite Inn there and I loved going back to see him. The snow banks in Zurs in those days were 90 feet high every year I went there.
Since 1924 (the year I was born), this country has seen a lot of wars, and the world has gone from ice delivery wagons being horse-drawn (as they made their way down the street where I lived for
a while) to an almost literal “instant anything.”
What changes will my grandchildren see? Fortunately, for them and a lot of other people, I have a photo record from when I first started making ski movies.