Scout your next climb in Idaho
In a Big Hole Rick Baugher

View SW to the upper part of 7227' Mahogany Snow Bowl in the Arco Hills, Lost River Range, by Rick Baugher

A Lost River Range ski area?

The student of American ski history will take note of the period from the late 1930's thru mid 1950's as a time when rope tows proliferated, some in the most unusual locations. Typically, a light truck would be jacked up and the rear wheel would provide motive force for the rope. Assuming the skier's grip was strong enough, he could get pulled up 100', maybe 150 vertical feet.
Well known rope tows in our area were located on the east sides of Teton Pass, and Pine Creek Pass. Less well known are the ones constructed by farmers and ranchers in rural east central Idaho.
The motivation for someone to construct such a mom and pop rope tow contraption probably wasn't financial. Perhaps the rationale was best summed up by Bud Johnson (1919-2009) who founded the Kelly Canyon Ski Resort in 1957. The Eastern Idaho Ag Hall of Famer said he just needed something to do in winter. Skiing was and is a great way to get thru an Idaho winter.
There may have been a rope tow that operated in Idaho's Lost River Range. Remains of wheels and cables can be found on the north side of Hill 5720' in the Arco Hills segment of the range, a six mile drive NE of the town of Arco by way of Arco Valley.
Although I know nothing more of this particular operation, on 4/18/93 I was intrigued enough to ski a north facing bowl of an adjoining 7227' peaklet which I reference as Mahogany Snow Bowl. It was possible to motor right to snowline at the 6000' base of the bowl. After hiking up I cautiously skied directly off the top. The hard slippery crust tested the limits of my 3 pin gear and leather boots. In fact, in my log I admonished myself to 'take ice axe next time, as a fall would have meant a long slide.' Despite this, and threatening weather, the final entry note consisted of one word: Fun!


Article by
Rick Baugher
Feb 11, 2010


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