James Wood Temple passed away at the Doak Walker Care Center on Feb. 8, 2009. He was 82.
Jim was born on Jan. 10, 1927, to Lucy and Shorty Temple, of Slater. He grew up in Colorado, a third-generation Colorado rancher, riding horses, putting up hay and feeding cows on the family's Focus Ranch along the Colorado-Wyoming border. Jim loved skiing, and as a child, he would hike up the hill behind the ranch house and ski down on his wooden skis. At age 17, Jim joined the Navy V-5 Pilot program and was a World War II veteran. After the war, he was 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. Jim joined the ski patrol in Sun Valley and trained as an avalanche forecaster under Monte Atwater in Alta, Utah. He was the assistant director of the Sun Valley ski patrol under Nelson Bennet for six years. But he always came home to Colorado for the summers.
In 1955, Jim decided he wanted to build a ski resort back home on Storm Mountain in Steamboat Springs. During the next three years, he took many individuals by jeep up to the top of Storm Mountain to convince them how great a ski area the mountain could be. In the winter, he hiked up the various drainages and skied down with hardy skiers, including Buddy and Loris Werner, Marvin Crawford, Gates Gooding, Lloyd and Ty Lockhart and Jere Elliot.
All the while, he was planning the trails and location of the lifts. Some of Jim's fondest memories were of the snowcat trips to the top of Storm Peak accessed from the top of Rabbit Ears Pass, with groups of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skiers making tracks in the powder down Storm Mountain.
Jim always was ready to talk to people about the prospect of a ski area on Storm Mountain - he was totally obsessed with the idea. He was looking for people who wanted to ski and be involved in the mountain. In January 1958, Jim founded Storm Mountain Ski Corporation and was president and chairman of the board.
Permits were obtained, and groundbreaking for the Storm Mountain Ski Area occurred on July 6, 1958. Trail clearing had begun, and the actual clearing was done by Jim Temple and his D-7 Cat skinner, Jess Brenton.
Unlike what would be allowed today, trails were cleared and the trees piled and burned right on the trails. Jim planned and cut all the trails on Bear Claw, now known as the Christie lift. He also planned the trail system on the upper mountain, and the plans he laid out largely were followed. Jim opened the ski area the winter of 1960-61 with a lift on the Headwall portion of the mountain. The first lift ticket sold for $2. That winter, the first chairlift was under construction.
During this time, Jim painstakingly assembled parcels of ranch land at the base of the ski area, eventually owning 827 acres at the base of the fledgling resort. One rancher resisted Jim's efforts to purchase, until Jim added a new Ford tractor to the deal. Later, Jim would develop the subdivisions Ski Ranches, Storm Meadows, and Leisure Meadows, and he was a co-founder of the Scandinavian Lodge with Sven Wiik.
A true visionary, Jim put together a master plan for the entire base area and envisioned flying in destination skiers from throughout the United States. He was a true visionary and often way ahead of his time. In 2006, Jim was inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
Jim is survived by his wife, Audrey; sons, Jeff and Jamie; daughter, Lisa; grandsons, Parker and Brandon; and sister, Pat Sandefur. He was preceded in death by his daughter Kristin.
A celebration of his life is at 2 p.m. today at Storm Mountain Ranch, Awapa Lodge. All are welcome. The family requests that in lieu of flowers or gifts, donations be made to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Checks made out to the club and referencing the Jim Temple Memorial Fund may be sent to P.O. Box 774487, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477, or call Rick DeVos at 879-0695, ext. 103.