Making A Name For Schweitzer Runs
by Lisa Gerber
What’s in a name? Often, in Western cultures, children are named after living or dead family members, or they are given names of characteristics their parents hope they acquire. Interestingly, a similar naming philosophy was used in naming many of the 62 ski runs at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Here is a primer on how some of the runs got their names something to think about the next time you drop into your favorite ski run.
A number of runs were named after the founding “family” of Schweitzer. Jack Fowler was the man who envisioned the ski resort when he first saw the snowy basin from the valley floor. Next time you take a run down Jack’s Dream, shout out “Thanks, Jack!” Schweitzer’s first general manager, Sam Wormington, just loved the little shot from the top of Chair One to midway, Sam’s Alley. The first two ticket purchasers in 1963, Margaret and Jim Toomey, have their own piece of Schweitzer in the back bowl, called Toomey’s Trail. Dr Merritt Stiles was on the original board of directors back in 1963. His run drops off the top of the Great Escape Quad.
|On a less “fortunate” note, Misfortune was named for Tom Fortune, who, upon his arrival to become the new general manager at Schweitzer, took a run there and blew out his knee in 1999. D Chute was renamed in 2003 to K-Mac’s in honor of Keith McCaw, partner in Harbor Resorts (Schweitzer’s owner) who passed away in 2002. New this year is Grant’s Nosedive, found off Ridge Run, named in honor of Grant Groesbeck, the architect of the original lodge.
How often do skiers and boarders hoot and holler on their way through the trees of Kathy’s Yard Sale? That spot was a favorite of Kathy Pelland, a long-time employee at Schweitzer who was tragically killed in a 1997 car accident. She had a passion for yard sales, and she loved to ski the trees.
photo by Ross Hall/Hallans Collection
When the South Bowl opened to the public, Ski Patrol named each of the chutes for shot points for setting avalanche bombs. The small, square signs were installed at the top of the ridge so the patrol would know where they were in the fog. The South Bowl runs were thus named A, B, C, D and so on. The rock chutes in the middle were named R1, R2 and R3.
Once Chair 6 opened, Patrol had to dig down deep for new names because they had already used the letters. Each patrolman was given naming rights in order of their seniority. For example, Pucci’s Chute is named for Ski Patrol Director John Pucci, at the far end of the North Bowl. Poland is the area past Toomey’s Run and was named for the Polish member of the patrol, Denny Gorup.
From the top of Kohli’s Big Timber, one can see into the Cabinet Mountains where Ken Kohli’s fatal plane accident occurred in 1996. This run was named in his honor for his work with Schweitzer Alpine Racing School. The name also recognizes his role as a spokesman for the timber industry.
When the patrol wasn’t naming runs, the Brown family, who formerly owned the resort, was busily coming up with colorful names for everything opening up in the backside. “It was a big, open bowl with so many different lines, it was very challenging to come up with interesting names for each run,” said Bobbie Huguenin, daughter of Jim Brown. The family would sit around the campfire and let the creative juices flow. It was there that they came up with names like Kaniksu, Snow Ghost, The Great Divide, Cathedral, Outback, White Lightning, Abracadabra and Quicksilver. If you’ve heard the saying “falling ass over teakettle,” it gives Teakettle Trail a whole new meaning. Jim Brown insisted on that one. Nicole Huguenin, his granddaughter, liked Musical Chairs for the bunny hill. She thought about all the kids weaving down the run between the chair lift poles.
Back to the front side, JR was named for the Junior Racing team. Back then, there wasn’t a chairlift to take the racers up, so they hiked up the first steep section, set the course and then hiked back up to run the course. “That’s why I never became a racer,” says Duane “Blackie” Black, long-time ski patrolman. “That looked like too much work.”
Knowing a little bit more about the heritage and the culture of Schweitzer can certainly change one’s perspective. What might be next in the naming trend as parents try to get more creative with their kids’ names? How about naming our children after Schweitzer ski runs? “R1 Chute! Dinner is ready!” OK, well, maybe not.