HoliMont Ski Area prides itself on having a deep-rooted sense of tradition while also keeping a strong focus on the future. On Saturday, February 16th, 350 HoliMont Members and friends came together to celebrate HoliMont’s storied fifty-year history at the 50th Anniversary Gala. The story of how HoliMont got to this point is long and very interesting.
In 1961, after a small handful of gentlemen decided that they wanted to start a ski hill where they could take ownership of the logistics of the area, bring their families and friends, and watch their children grow up on the slopes, Holiday Mountain Ski Club was formed. The name Holiday Mountain was soon merged to make HoliMont so as not to create any confusion with our neighbors, Holiday Valley.
Bill Merk, Jack Swanson, Ted Tarbell, and Walt Brownell (the Club’s first President) worked tirelessly on the daunting task of getting a ski area up and running. Even in the days before high-speed detachable quads, terrain parks, Piston Bully groomers, and Pole Cat snow making machines; the planning that was involved in starting up a ski area was more than any of the men originally imagined. However, through much determination and tenacious planning, the plans to get HoliMont up and running began to take shape. The goal was to create a place that valued good, safe and economical skiing where families would want to spend their winters.
The first trail was cut in 1961 and then in ’62 seven more were added. And just like that, the history of HoliMont officially began.
With eight slopes primed for skiing, the small group of Member’s were thrilled to finally have a place to get their skiing desires filled. Originally, all skiers had to take their skis off at the bottom of the hill and put them in on a sled that was attached to the back of a newly acquired Tucker Snow Cat. The Snow Cat would then take the people and their gear to the top of the hill where they could begin their descent back to the bottom again. Clearly, a ski lift was in order.
The Club decided to finance the purchase of what would become the original Exhibition lift, through Buffalo Bank. Financing was available at the time only because the original investors used their personal credit to secure the loan.
Construction of the lift towers began in 1963 and the lift began to operate in February of 1964. This made for a much easier means of transportation up the hill and established HoliMont as an area that was looking towards the future.
Eventually, more property became available and HoliMont began the process of expansion. The funding for expansion was made possible by opening the Club up to new Member’s. As more people began to join the Club, the main Chalet was expanded along with the parking lot.
At that time, and still to this day, après ski parties were and are an important part of the HoliMont lifestyle. For just $2 a person, Member’s enjoyed drinks and homemade hors d’oeuvres. This get-together, festive mentality was put on full display at the 50th Gala.
This sold out, formal attire affair turned out to be the party of the season at HoliMont as Members and their guests showed up to the Chalet dressed to the nines and looking to have a good time.
As soon as the ski day ended, HoliMont Social Committee, along with the great staff at Dina’s at the ‘Mont and HoliMont employees transformed the Chalet into a place worthy of a black tie affair.
Decorated with a gold theme, the Chalet provided a relaxed atmosphere where people were able to eat, drink, dance and socialize throughout the entire evening.
From a nostalgic standpoint the opening ceremonies were done by longtime Member’s Evan and Joyce Evans, who have seen the Club evolve over the duration of its existence. Scotty Lavtar and Pete Widger, both former HoliMont General Managers, were introduced by the present General Manger, Dave Riley and the two gentlemen gave speeches about their time running HoliMont. Current Club President Al Mahar spoke about his history with the Club and how excited he is for the future. The history of HoliMont was on full display every time these men took to the microphone.
In terms of entertainment, The Party Squad, complete with a brass horn section, absolutely rocked the Chalet. The tunes spanned the ages in their diversity and at one point or another everyone was out on the dance floor. The grand finale, so to speak, of the entertainment was an explosive display of fireworks that lit up the brisk night sky and could be seen from miles around.
The event could not have gone better and was a testament to the strength and dedication of the HoliMont Membership. The past 50 years have obviously had their ups and downs but through it all the ski area has continued to evolve. The WestMont Ridge expansion project auction that is taking place on February 23rd is a prime example of this. So a HoliMont celebrates its 50th it is doing so with excitement for what the future will bring.