Celebrating 111 years of skiing, Red Mountain Resort is Western Canada’s original ski resort.
In the Beginning
The story of Red Mountain Resort, and how a mining territory was converted into one of the great undiscovered ski destinations in the world, is a story about teamwork and community support. In short, it’s about an avid group of skiers who drew from their own community’s resources and used good old-fashioned initiative and elbow grease to forge a new way of life.
In 1890, deposits of gold-copper ore were found on the south side of Red Mountain in Canada ‘s Monashee Mountain Range. The discovery led to a major gold rush, which in turn filled Rossland with miners, mostly Scandinavians but also gold-seekers from countries around the world.
The Scandinavians brought with them their knowledge and love of skiing and soon organized the Rossland Ski Club, which held the first recorded ski competitions in Canada . The first downhill race was held on Feb. 15, 1896, from the top of Red Mountain down the south side to the present location of the Rossland Historical Museum .
The race was organized and won by Olaus Jeldness, a Norwegian mining engineer who was the leading early advocate for snowsports in Rossland. He also created and donated the elaborate Jeldness trophy for future winners of the race. The trophy is now on display in the Ski Wing of the Rossland Historical Museum. In subsequent years, annual tournaments were held in conjunction with the Rossland Winter Carnival, an event that attracted competitors and spectators from all over Western Canada and the United States.
Red Mountain Ski Club Parade Float, circa 1940
As skiing technology improved, local skiers were able to experience a wider variety of the terrain around Rossland. On Red Mountain , skiers began to explore old mining and logging roads. They enjoyed skiing on trails and hills that had been packed by climbing and descending skiers over the years. In 1929, the Trail-Rossland Ski Club was founded with about 20 original members.
In 1933, another ski club, the Rossland Ski Club, which had been formed and disbanded years earlier, was formally re-organized. During the summer and fall of 1934, volunteers from the club cleared a jump hill, built a jump, and constructed a cabin on Red Mountain . Many competitions were held on the Rossland Ski Club hill, including the Western Canadian Amateur finals. A few years later, the two local clubs worked together to install a gas-driven rope tow at the base of Red Mountain . This tow, which significantly increased the amount and the number of downhill runs a skier could make in a day, was used extensively by members of both clubs for several years.
The Red Mountain Ski Club and the Trail Ski Club combined in 1947 to form the Red Mountain Ski Club. The organizations pooled their resources to build a lodge (that still serves as the main lodge in the base area today) and a chairlift to the top of Red Mountain where the rope tow previously existed. The lift was officially opened Friday, Dec. 26, 1947. Later that season Red hosted the annual Triple I International Intercollegiate Invitational ski meet.
The 1950s were years of steady growth both in membership of the club and visitors to Red from areas outside of Rossland. To keep up, additional terrain was cleared for ski runs including the back trail on Red Mountain . The former Trail Ski Club rope tow was moved to the west side of the slope and electrified (it was later replaced by a T-bar lift). Also in the 1950s, the lodge was completed and the ski patrol was organized at Red Mountain .
During the ‘60s, ski lessons were arranged for the general public, along with special instruction for promising youngsters. This was the start of the Red Mountain Racers. In 1960, the Red Mountain Ski Club installed a Poma detachable chairlift from the lodge all the way up to Back Trail. In 1961, a full-time manager was hired, and in 1965, the Granite Mountain chairlift – twice as long and twice as high as the Red Mountain chairlift – was built.
The lift more than doubled the accessible terrain at Red. The year 1968 was a big one for the Red Mountain Ski Club. In March, the club hosted the first-ever World Cup in Canada , which attracted every major racer from around the world. Rossland native Nancy Greene won her second World Cup championship at this race.
In 1971, a T-bar was installed, and in 1973 the old Red Mountain lift was finally replaced with a Mueller double-occupancy chairlift. In April 1976, the club authorized the borrowing of money for a triple-occupancy chairlift to be built in Paradise Basin , located on the west side of Granite Mountain .
As Red kept expanding throughout the years, its facilities needed continuous improvement. By the fall of 1987, the Red Mountain Ski Club’s debt totaled $1,105,000 and it became obvious that a major injection of capital was required. Thus, in 1988, the club was put up for sale. On May 3, 1989 , the club accepted an offer from Eric Skat-Peterson (‘Skat’), who led a group of six Canadian private investors in the purchase.
In 1991, the new ownership group financed the construction of the Paradise Lodge. And, four years later, Skat and his partners replaced the Granite chairlift with the Silverlode and Motherlode triple chairs.