It was in 1959 when ambitious developers leased land from the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and opened a two-person chairlift on the southern flank of Mount Shasta. The lift began at a lodge at 7,800 feet and topped out above the timberline at 9,200 feet.
The Mount Shasta Ski bowl became the first form of developed skiing on the mountain and was one of the world’s more impressive skiing areas during it’s nearly 20 years of operation.
When the Ski Bowl opened, advertisements bragged of the largest ski bowl in the United States. Although the area was popular, boasting that 6,000 people visited the lodge in one weekend in it’s first month of business, the resort had financial issues throughout its existence. Its only recorded profitable year was 1962-1963, when it recorded over 40,000 visitors.
New ownership took control of the mountain in the early 1970’s, with goals of making the resort profitable. Unfortunately for the owners and visitors of the Mt. Shasta Ski Bowl, money was the least of their worries.
In 1971, a fire destroyed the impressive lodge at the base of the resort. Desperate to keep the fledging business afloat, the new ownership built a much smaller lodge at the base. Even under financial hardships, the resort stayed open for nearly seven more years. Until mother nature delivered its final blow.
In January of 1978, a massive avalanche destroyed the Green Butte Chair Lift, ending all developed skiing in the area.
The Mt. Shasta Ski Park opened in 1985, in a location down the mountain in order to avoid catastrophes like the 1978 avalanche. The ski park has been run successfully for nearly three decades since, switching to local ownership in the summer of 2017.
Today, the Mount Shasta Ski Bowl can be accessed by hikers in the summer and mountaineers/backcountry skiers in the winter. The old Mount Shasta Ski Bowl represents a simpler time, when ski resorts were small chairlifts up a raw mountain, compared to the over-developed resorts of today.
With increases in snow technology and resort development, could a ski lift go there today? One can dream…
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine