Snowmass history: Ski area origins | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass history: Ski area origins

Local ski patroller Don Rayburn circa winter of 1963-64. He is on skis talking into a radio somewhere on Snowmass Mountain (before the ski area was developed).
Aspen Historical Society |

Snowmass ski area originally started with a commercial touring permit issued to Janss Investment Co. in September 1962. Guided touring operations commenced during the 1962-63 winter season and would last for several years while plans and permits for the larger ski area operations were in process.

The first guides included Aspen Mountain patrollers Hal Hartman, Tom Marshall and Don Rayburn. The patrolmen brought clients up to 12,000 feet of elevation, just above the top of the “Big Burn” area, via Trackmaster snowcats.

Paul Hauk, a retired Forest Service employee and ranger, recalled a fun story in a “Snowmass Ski Area Chronology” he wrote in early February 1965, when six training groups conducted “feasibility studies” on Snowmass.

“During the excellent lunch provided by the (Aspen Skiing Co.) at the touring cabin just south of Sam’s Knob, previously mentioned Corporation employees Tom Marshall and Don Rayburn, with some encouragement from Jim Snobble and Hal Hartman, waxed my skis with peanut butter as ‘punishment’ for skiing the ‘Big Burn’ powder too fast with a group of trainees. Hence, the ‘Peanut Butter Ranger’ tag given to me” by Marshall and Rayburn. Rayburn later became the mountain manager at Buttermilk Mountain. A run on Aspen Mountain is named in Rayburn’s honor.


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