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Whatever happened to ... Blue Mountain ski area?

First Published      Last Updated Feb 25 2017 08:02 pm

Skiing » Small San Juan County resort’s steep run drew enthusiasts from around the region.

Editor's note • In this regular series, The Tribune explores the once-favorite places of Utahns, from restaurants to recreation to retail.

The two runs that made up one of Utah's tiniest ski resorts remain visible more than 25 years after Blue Mountain ski area folded.

They are a reminder of when the Blue Mountain Ski Club tried to create southeastern Utah's only lift-served ski area. It consisted of a Poma lift, one main run and a small side hill.

Longtime Monticello resident Victor Schafer said work began on cutting the runs near town in the late 1950s. A uranium miner bought the Poma lift that whisked skiers up the mountain.

"It was a community effort," he said. "The locals got together and cleared it."

The nonprofit operation formed the ski club to operate the little resort. Victor's brother, Gene, was a mechanic, and when the diesel engine that operated the lift broke down, he worked to get the thing running.

"We all grew up skiing there," said Schafer. "It was five miles from town and the greatest fun. It was very steep and had a lot of moguls."

He recalls that the cost of a lift ticket was "change in your pocket. It was less than five bucks."

Schafer said he started a rumor when he was in high school that school ended early on a Wednesday afternoon so kids could go skiing. It wasn't true.

"All of us were sluffing," said Schafer.

Mary Cokenour, a San Juan County historian and newspaper columnist who works in the Monticello welcome center, said the motto for the resort was, "If you can ski Blue Mountain, you can ski anywhere," largely because the main slope was so steep.

"The resort had a small lodge with a fireplace and a desk," she said. "Hot beverages and grilled food would be available to skiers."

She recently visited with former Blue Mountain manager David Krouskop, who told her that his sons didn't like the resort much because the bunny run was not so steep.

A poster advertising the ski area is on display at the Frontier Museum in Monticello, she said. Skiers came from Moab, Blanding and Cortez, Colo., to ski at Blue Mountain.

Writing on a forum called epicski.com in 2005, Rick Cahoon said he worked at the resort when he was younger. He remembers both the Poma lift as well as a T-bar.

The north run was steep and provided excellent powder runs after a snowstorm, he wrote. The south run consisted of several tracks split by a mature aspen forest, he added.

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