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Climax in Lake County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

Skiing on Top of the World

 
 
Skiing on Top of the World Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 28, 2017
1. Skiing on Top of the World Marker
Inscription.  In the 1940's and 50's, Climax not only had the highest post office and standard-gauge railroad in the nation, but also one of the state's premier ski areas. The trails of the first area in Colorado to be lit for night skiing were located on the slopes of Chalk Mountain just above where you're standing.

Climax Ski Area opened in 1937 with no lifts and only a few runs cleared by volunteers. The Continental Ski Club was formed by mine employees in 1941 (“Continental” referred to the Continental Divide; the area was also sometimes called the “Continental Ski Course”).

The ski club cut more runs in 1941, and installed a rope tow with the company's help. Equipment from light bulbs to hardware to the diesel engine that powered the rope tow found its way from the mine to the slopes.

Climax Ski Area drew as many as five hundred skiers on weekends, including 10th Mountain Division soldiers from nearby Camp Hale during World War II. The nation's only air defense warden to be assigned duty at a ski area served at Climax, prepared to douse the lights in the event of a blackout alert.

The
Marker detail: Glory Hole image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Glory Hole
Ski meets in the late 1930's drew hundreds of spectators. Downhill races were sometimes held across from the ski area on Bartlett Mountain. The course skirted the edge of the Glory Hole, visible in this 1958 scene just to the left of the saddle between Ceresco Ridge and Bartlett Mountain.
area was dismantled in 1962 when the buildings of the town of Climax were moved to Leadville, one year after a new ski area called Vail opened for business about thirty miles away.
 
Erected by Climax Molybdenum Company & the Federal Highway Administration.
 
Location. 39° 22.048′ N, 106° 11.32′ W. Marker is in Climax, Colorado, in Lake County. Marker can be reached from State Highway 91 11 miles south of Interstate 70, on the right when traveling south. Marker is located on the west side of Colorado Highway 91, at the summit of Fremont Pass, directly across from the Climax Molybdenum Mine, within a small park containing historical markers and mining exhibits. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Climax CO 80429, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. More Than Just a Mine (here, next to this marker); Top Secret (here, next to this marker); The Big Shot (a few steps from this marker); The Highest Compost Pile in the World (a few steps from this marker); Water Treatment Protects Downstream Users (a few steps from this marker); Highway in the Sky (a few steps from this marker); Life on the High Line (a few steps from this marker); Welcome to Climax! (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Climax.
 
More about this marker. Marker is a large composite plaque, mounted on a large boulder.
 
Related markers.
Marker detail: Jack & Dave Gorsuch image. Click for full size.
By Photos courtesy Dave Gorsuch & Family
3. Marker detail: Jack & Dave Gorsuch
Jack Gorsuch (left) Worked at Climax Mine in the 1940's. He founded the Continental Ski Club, and spearheaded the construction of the ski area's first rope tow in 1941. His son Dave (right), was born and raised at Climax. He won the junior national combined skiing championship twice, and represented the U.S. in the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. Both father and son are enshrined in the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Climax Historical Park
 
Also see . . .
1. Jack Gorsuch 1903-1987. During the 1940's, Jack worked at the Climax Molybdenum Mine on Fremont Pass. There, at Chalk Mountain, he started a ski club and saw to the construction of a 1200 foot rope tow in 1941. He continued to be the guiding spirit behind the activities which grew into the Continental Ski Area. A man who relished adventure, Jack passed the love of skiing on to his children, who grew up to be true champions of the sport. (Submitted on September 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Dave Gorsuch. He was a member of the 1958 World Championship Ski Team and a member of the 1960 Olympic Alpine Ski Team. This Colorado native has contributed greatly in building and defining the sport of skiing in Colorado and beyond for over five decades. Moving to the Vail Valley in May 1966, Gorsuch was one of the early leaders and personalities that helped map and establish Vail as a community and the world-class destination resort it has become. Dave and his wife Renie helped to build the hospital, Vail Mountain School, and Ski Club Vail. They were not alone in this effort, but theirs is a remarkable spirit that has inspired the Vail community to create a skiing ambiance unequaled in the world. (Submitted on September 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Skiing on Top of the World Marker (<i>wide view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 28, 2017
4. Skiing on Top of the World Marker (wide view)

3. Drilling, Blasting, and Skiing. The biggest natural recreational resource at Climax was fine powder snow–an annual average of 350 inches. Many miners enjoyed cross-country skiing, but in fall, 1936, Climax employees Scott Gorsuch and John Petty asked Resident Manager Tex Romig for permission to carve a few runs for a downhill ski area on the east-facing slope of Chalk Mountain, just north of the summit of Frémont Pass. Using wires and lights “borrowed” from the mine, volunteers worked nights clearing trees and burning and blasting out stumps. The Climax Ski Area opened in January, 1937. But with no tow or lift, only the most dedicated, conditioned, hard-core skiers would–or could–make more than three runs per day. Nevertheless, the little ski area became so popular that the first Climax Ski Meet, held on April 25, 1937, drew a crowd of 300, half from Climax, and the remainder coming from Leadville and the Tenmile mining camps. (Submitted on September 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. Notable PlacesParks & Recreational AreasSportsWar, World II
 
Climax Historical Park (<i>entrance from Colorado Highway 91 at Fremont Pass</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 28, 2017
5. Climax Historical Park (entrance from Colorado Highway 91 at Fremont Pass)
 

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Credits. This page was last revised on September 6, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 2, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 70 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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