Jim Temple talks about the early days of the Storm Mountain Ski Area during a 2007 interview at his home outside of Boulder. Temple died Monday at the Doak Walker Care Center.

File Photo

File Photo

Jim Temple talks about the early days of the Storm Mountain Ski Area during a 2007 interview at his home outside of Boulder. Temple died Monday at the Doak Walker Care Center.

Ski area pioneer Jim Temple dies

Temple cleared the first trails at Steamboat's Storm Mountain in 1958


Read more about Jim Temple

Read more about Jim Temple

Steamboat Springs' Jim Temple has been written about in many newspaper and magazine stories. Here are links to some of the highlights.

Looking back: The history of a ski town

Some people said there will never be a ski area there," Jim Temple recalls. "Some ranchers bet me a case of whiskey I couldn't do it. One rancher watched me every day through the telescopic sight of his 30-06" rifle."

Read the story here.

Ski area founder named to state Ski Hall of Fame

Steamboat Springs ski pioneer Jim Temple, the primary founder of the Steamboat Ski Area, has been named to the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame.

Read the story here.

Museum offers opportunity to wear Levi's, lace

The Tread of Pioneers Museum honored Jim Temple, who was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 2006 for his role in the founding of the Steamboat Ski Area.

Read the story here.

Movie to tell Jim Temple's life story

A film celebrating the life of Jim Temple was shown at the Chief Plaza Theater in downtown Steamboat Springs in September 2008.

Read the story here.

— James Wood Temple, the single-minded dreamer who built the first ski runs at the base of Storm Mountain and who first visualized what would someday become the modern Steamboat Ski Area, died early Monday morning at the Doak Walker Care Center in Steamboat Springs. He was 82.

Temple's son, Jeff, said his father enjoyed attending the Cowboy Downhill at the ski area Jan. 20 and was later pleased at being received in Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond's office with a gathering of ski area executives and managers.

Temple grew up on a ranch on the Colorado/Wyoming border and returned from serving in the Navy to become a longtime ski patrol director in Sun Valley. He assembled a few men to form the Storm Mountain Ski Corp. in January 1958 and became its president and chairman of the board. That summer, with a single bulldozer, Temple and a few helpers began felling trees and clearing the first trails beneath the future Bear Claw Chairlift, now known as the Christy Chairlift.

Diamond, who has presided over the construction of many trails and lifts in the modern era, put Temple's undertaking in perspective.

"It was a different world in a lot of ways," Diamond said. "When you consider what the challenges must have been, you realize the single-mindedness it would have taken to pull something off like that. They were making everything up as they went along. That's what is so stunning."

With the first chairlift under construction in the winter of 1960-61, Temple opened the ski area's first lift on the Headwall portion of the mountain. The first lift ticket sold for $2.

Skiing on the ranch

Jim Temple grew up on his family's cattle ranch north of Steamboat, where he rode horses, put up hay, fed cows and represented the third generation of the family on the Focus Ranch. When the chores were done, he would hike up the hill behind the ranch and ski down on his wooden skis.

At age 17, he joined the Navy pilot program and served in World War II.

Upon his return, he worked as a ski instructor at the Jack Reddish Ski School in Brighton, Utah.

Jim married Audrey Light on July 1, 1951, in Steamboat Springs, three weeks after she graduated from the University of Arizona.

He joined the ski patrol in Sun Valley and was trained as an avalanche forecaster under Monte Atwater in Alta, Utah. He rose through the ranks and became assistant director of the Sun Valley Ski Patrol under Nelson Bennet. But he always came home to Colorado for the summers.

In 1955, Temple resolved to build a ski resort on Storm Mountain, later to become known as Mount Werner, home to the Steamboat Ski Area, in Steamboat Springs.

During the next three years, Temple spent much of the summers taking ski enthusiasts and U.S. Forest Service officials on Jeep trips to the mountain's bald summit in an effort to convince them of the mountain's potential to become a major resort.

In winters, he organized trips to the highway shop on Rabbit Ears Pass, where Marvin Elkin's Tucker Snowcat was relied upon to pull skiers clinging to ropes part of the way to the mountain's east face.

From there, they skied down the drainages with Temple plotting the best courses for trails and lift lines.

One of Jeff Temple's favorite stories told by his father happened on a beautiful powder morning when the snow was dry and light.

"Dad and Jack McElroy, from Kremmling, were skiing and getting face shots on every turn," Jeff Temple recalled. "Jack said, 'The snow is tickling my nose like champagne bubbles,'" and that was the day the term "Champagne Powder" was coined.

Temple's nephew, Ty Lockhart, was invited along on one of the ski outings as a 12-year-old.

"I remember getting towed across and then skiing down. It was a big adventure," Lockhart said.

Lockhart visited his uncle's basement to see his plans for trails on the upper mountain.

"He had created three-dimensional topographic maps by cutting the shapes in wood and gluing the layers together," Lockhart said. "It was beyond me."

Lockhart and his cousin, Bruce Cardy, worked as surveyor's assistants, carrying the tools when their uncle plotted the switchbacks for the original road up the Bear Claw liftline.

One of Steamboat's best ski racers, Loris Werner, made many of the trips along with brother, Buddy, Marvin Crawford, Gates Gooding and Jere Elliot.

In spring, the men rose early, when the crusted snow was still frozen hard, and made a frontal assault on the mountain, trudging with skis over their shoulders or with climbing skins of seal fur.

"We'd get up by 3:30 or 4 a.m., hoping the crust would stay strong enough to hold us," Werner said. "We'd go up where Christy and Heavenly Daze are now, working our way through the brush."

Even the best skiers took their share of tumbles making their way down the mountain.

"If you didn't have bark and twigs hanging off your clothes at the bottom, it wasn't a successful trip," Werner said.

Werner, who later began his tenure as vice president of operations for the Steamboat Ski Area in 1984, said the skiers who accompanied Temple on the adventures up Storm Mountain could grasp the potential the terrain held for creating a special ski area. However, it was Temple who had the determination to make it happen.

"We knew it was a hell of a mountain, but we didn't know how to go about it," Werner said. "Jim Temple was pretty serious about everything. He had the guts to go out and pull things together. He was the man."

Jim Temple was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 2006.


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