When the Yosemite Park and Curry Company established the Yosemite Winter Club in 1928, the immediate result was the creation of a small ski hill and ski jump near Tenaya Creek Bridge. After the Wawona Road and Tunnel opened in 1934 and Glacier Point Road to Badger Pass opened in 1935, Yosemite’s first ski lodge was built in Monroe Meadow, and by the end of the season Badger Pass had welcomed 30,000 skiers. The West’s first ski lift, called the Upski, was installed in 1936. Nicknamed the “Queen Mary,” it was a large sled that moved up and down the hill on a cable, carrying six skiers at a time up 280 vertical feet (85 m). By 1938, Yosemite was becoming a bustling winter mecca for the elite. Curry Concessions invited a young skier named Charley Proctor to head Yosemite’s Winter Sports Program. Proctor had skied on the 1928 U.S. Winter Olympic Team in St. Moritz and was the first American to race in the Arlberg-Kandahar in Austria. His experience included designing East Coast ski areas, and he was the first to descend Tuckerman’s Ravine, a 1,000-foot drop down a 55-degree slope on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. Proctor continued to develop the existing downhill slope at Badger Pass, and explored the surrounding Yosemite region closely. Because of his strong Nordic skills, Proctor had a hand developing the cross-country area at Yosemite, including the construction of the Ostrander Ski Hut at Ostrander Lake. Today, the North American Snowsports Journalists Association honors Proctor’s dedication to skiing by presenting an award in his name to others who have made significant contributions to the sport. Not much has changed at Badger Pass since it’s inception. The lodge has been remodeled and more lifts have been added, but the Forest Service is slow to approve any change that will affect the natural setting, and for good reason. Talk of removing Badger Pass Ski Area entirely was squelched when an environmental study showed that removing the lift towers would cause more damage than just leaving them and continuing to allow snowriding. Badger Pass Ski Area is one of the most scenic beginner areas in California, as the runs are short, the lifts and lift lines are diminutive, and the snow is skiable even with a six inch base. The adjacent 350 miles (563 km) of cross-country trails, only 30 miles (45 km) of which are groomed, provide serious links to and breathtaking views of backcountry regions most people don’t even explore in summer. And if you’re a snowboarder, riding is allowed on 100 percent of the downhill mountain and anywhere else within the Park that you can find a slope. This eTrail contains a thorough description of the resort including driving directions, mountain statistics, trail profiles, extensive lodging & dining information, travel tips, and much more.
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