‘Old timers’ celebrate 50-year anniversary of Boreal ski area | SierraSun.com

‘Old timers’ celebrate 50-year anniversary of Boreal ski area

Roughly 60 former employees and family gathered at Donner Lake to celebrate 50 years at Boreal on Sept. 12.
Courtesy Parky May |

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Sixty or so former employees (and spouses) of Boreal Ski Area attended an Open House/Reunion at Jay and Paula Price’s beautiful Donner lakefront home on Sept. 12.

The “Old Timer” celebration commemorated Boreal’s early years and the 50 years of successful operation.

It was also an occasion to honor John Booth’s 40-plus years of continuous (and ongoing) employment at Boreal.

Jay made a special presentation of a custom sterling silver pin of the original Boreal logo to John for his many years of service and devotion to Boreal, and to the thousands of skiers and boarders who have visited Boreal over the years.

Former employee attendees included: Bill Sim (traveled from Baja), Judy Price Pollock, Julie (Quist) Akers, Molly Beucus, Gail Cosmo, Chris and Parky May, Kathy Bender, Alice and Norm Nicholls, Fred Anderegg, Elek Lindner, Carol Dooly, Bob Sherwood, Don Salem, Betty Baker, John Shaffer, Betty Diepanbrock, Mike and Leslie Sim, Dana Kingsbury Kelly, Heide Kingsbury, Stephany (Elkins) Cosgrove (traveled from Palm Desert), Mike and Mary Ann Hinrichs, Ray Lawrence, Bobby Sherwood III, Carol and Terry Longobardo, Paul Spencer, Monica Duffield Ehm, Debbie and Peter Gerdin, Dave Baker, Heide Kingsbury, Diane and Charlie White, Robert Bender, Bill and Laura Clark, Roxanne Duffield, Gi (Klump) Danielsson (traveled from Sand Point ID), Justin and Tami Fiddyment, Jim Adams — and others who were too shy to sign in.

Norm Sayler also attended with his albums of old ski pictures that brought back a lot of memories of the past.

THE EARLY YEARS

Boreal (“Boreal Ridge at Castle Peak”) officially opened on Dec. 12, 1965.

Jay Price, general manager from 1965 to 1987, points out that, “Boreal has been the only ski area built since 1960 strictly as a family winter sports recreation area.”

“All other ski areas built since then have been built with the intention to sell real estate and to promote related commercial endeavors,” he said.

Although Boreal was, and still is, relatively small compared to the major ski areas, it is located in a very visible location with easy freeway access and an abundance of parking.

The original marketing promotions for Boreal included getting groups of kids, ski clubs, church groups, etc., to come up on buses.

“Some weekends we had over 100 buses daily and we promoted packages that included lift tickets ($5 in 1965), rental equipment and ski instruction,” Price said.

The buses would arrive in the morning and leave in the afternoon.

“The idea was to get these skiers (especially kids) hooked on skiing and Boreal … and soon their parents, grandparents and friends would follow,” said Price.

PIONEERS OF NIGHT SKIING

In 1970, Price decided that the introduction of night skiing would be a perfect way of attracting attention to travelers and skiers who were crossing the Sierra on I-80 at night.

“We were able to operate with approximately 10 employees,” he said. “We figured if we sold 30 or so lift tickets, we would break even.”

The popularity of night skiing has grown ever since, and the night lights have attracted the attention of thousands upon thousands of travelers ever since.

Another milestone for Boreal was, and continues to be, snow making.

“On Christmas Day 1976, I was walking down the hill kicking dirt clods,” said Price.

His thoughts included not only the absence of skiers, but also his concern for the employees who had signed on for the season but had not yet worked a day.

Several months earlier, he had talked to Fred Rogers of Squaw Valley about the concept of snow making.

“I called Fred on Christmas Day, wished him and his family a Merry Christmas, and asked Fred if he could come up the next day to talk more about snow making,” Price sad.

“Fred said, ‘I’ll be right up,’’ he recalled. “Fred and I talked about putting together a system using pipes, couplings, pumps, etc. using the same materials used in the mining industry and readily available in Reno.”

The next day, they went down to Western Nevada Supply and loaded several trucks with the materials they figured they would need.

Jay called in several employees and friends and they worked day and night piecing the system together.

“We didn’t know what we were doing, but it WORKED, and Boreal was open before New Years,” he recalled.

The next season (1977/78), Boreal was the first ski area to open and the tradition has pretty much continued to this day.

“It was a great reunion,” Price said of the Sept. 12 event, “and every attendee, in their own way, contributed to the solid foundation of Boreal and its many successes over the years.”

Visit rideboreal.com to learn more about Boreal Mountain Resort.