Visit with any longtime skier in the Wenatchee Valley and you’re likely to turn up stories about the Squilchuck Ski Area, an area that shaped the sport in our region along with the style of many skiers you still see on the slopes of Mission Ridge today.
Bud Weeks grew up skiing there and later managed the ski area for Washington State Parks. State Parks Ranger Mike Barry talked with him in 2008 about some of his early memories as part of the Gathering Our Voice project, “Homegrown Ski Areas of North Central Washington.” Excerpts from the full interview transcribed by volunteer Diane McKenzie follow:
Mike Barry: What do you remember about your early days of skiing in this area?
Bud Weeks: With the equipment we had, you couldn’t make turns, you know. You just skied up and down the hill and that’s why jumping was so “in” then. Leavenworth had a big jump. We’d build jumps and do jumps. And then after World War II was over with, why they had a lot of surplus skis from the Army. And they had decent bindings on them where you could turn. So that’s when people started to make turns. And then they improved the bindings, and they’ve improved the skis and shape skis and everything since then. So it’s much easier to ski now than it was in the early days.
Mike Barry: I remember a story you told me about making skis at school.
Bud Weeks: Yeah. There was a guy by the name of Ollie Klausner, a shop teacher. He would cut skis out on a band saw. He used mostly ash then, sometimes hickory. And then the school was heated by steam and so he’d put them skis in the steam boiler and he’d boil them till they was flexible, and then he’d put them in this form that he’d built and he’d leave them all summer. And he’d take them out in the fall and they’d hold their shape.
Mike Barry: Who was behind getting the Squilchuck Ski Area started?
Bud Weeks: Frank Cumbo was the coach of the ski team at Wenatchee Valley College, and he talked my dad into letting them ski up there. He had a toboggan with a motor on it that they used for a while. It would only haul a couple of people up. And finally they brought a jeep up, and they jacked it up and run the rope around the wheel of the jeep, and that would pull a few more up the hill. And so that’s how it started, you know.
To read the whole interview, learn more about Gathering Our Voice and how you can get involved, visit www.gatheringourvoice.org. To purchase a copy of the DVD, “Homegrown Ski Areas of North Central Washington,” visit the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center and other local museums or contact the IRIS office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-7374.