50 Years on Brundage Mountain
By Eve Chandler
The townspeople of McCall had a passion for skiing and ski jumping, dating back to the early 1900s.
Fortunately, two businessmen and a former Norwegian Olympic ski champion shared the same passion for the sport. In 1959, businessman Warren Brown and Norwegian ski champion Corey Engen began discussing the need for a steeper and larger ski mountain for the residents of McCall and the surrounding region. After initial discussions and preliminary scouting trips with the local US Forest Ranger Wally Lancaster, they asked Jack Simplot to join the venture of opening a new ski area on Brundage Mountain.
In two short years the founders selected an ideal location for an Idaho ski resort, developed a master plan, arranged for financing, and assembled the manpower to build a ski lodge, installed a chairlift, and cleared two runs that were called North and South. Today they are known as Main Street and Alpine. On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1961, Brundage Mountain Ski Resort opened to the public.
For the last 50 years, skiers and boarders have been coming to Brundage for the light, deep powder and a family oriented atmosphere. Today the ski area is owned by the DeBoer family, descendants of founding member Warren Brown. Judd and Diane DeBoer work diligently to preserve the family friendly environment, and they have also expanded and improved the area in recent years.
In 1965, Mary Alice Willson tried the new ski area called Brundage Mountain, based on the recommendation of Seattle KING-TV weatherman Bob Cram,who hosted the show Ski Nanny. “Our fate was sealed,” said Willson. “We had a marvelous week, staying at the Shore Lodge, of course. As I recall the cost for five nights lodging, five breakfasts, five dinners, five days lift tickets and five days of lessons was $87.50 a person. It might have been less than that. It was our first experience with the inimitable John Edwards, Shore Lodge manager, and with Corey Engen, head of the ski instructors. This was the first of about 25 ski vacations spent at Brundage, many of which included our children, and groups of friends with their children. Corey and his instructors taught our children well and they became very good skiers. I remember Corey’s special technique. He would say,‘“Ve go now,”’ and take off in perfect form, with the class trying their hardest to look half that good!”
Many local skiers remember the first year of operation; the triad ski lodge, the red double chair lift running up the mountain, and no grooming machine, which meant the slopes were packed by skiers side-stepping up the mountain. Retired US Forest Service Ranger Earl Dodds skied the first year at Brundage and is still an enthusiastic skier. He is continually on the lookout for new powder shots and has even been known to carry a chain saw on skis, so he can cut brush to improve a powder run.
Would You Like to Learn More About Brundage Mountain?
Our delightful history book, published during our 50th Anniversary, takes you on a visual tour of the most interesting parts of Brundage Mountain history. Learn the story behind Brundage Mountain Resort’s origin and meet the colorful characters who shaped the resort into what it is today. This beautiful book will earn a permanent place on your coffee table.