South Bay Ski Club

I think it must be rare that you can trace your existence to a time and a place that is still in existence. And I don’t mean the hospital where you where born but the place where your parents met and started a relationship which led to your appearance in the world.

For my genesis, it can be firmly placed in a certain location: Norden, California and a building: the South Bay Ski Club cabin on Historic Highway 40.

The cabin is a short drive to one the oldest ski areas in the Lake Tahoe Region: Sugar Bowl (1939), where the first ski lift in California was erected. To this day, Sugar Bowl remains my favorite ski resort in the Tahoe Area. Mammoth Mountain, where my parents honeymooned, will always be my favorite ski area in the Golden State.


The “cabin of my birth”, the South Bay Ski Club cabin in November 2017. The snow on the deck is from an early November storm. In late November, there was not enough snow to open the ski resorts in the area.

In 1965, my mother returned from teaching in Germany and joined the South Bay Ski Club in 1966. At the time the president of the club was Jack Perry.  They both loved to ski, no matter what the weather and went up to the snow every weekend of the season. They fell in love and in 1968, they were married. A few years later, I was born on August 31. And I was on skis four years later.

My parents gave to me the love the mountains and skiing. I have snapshot memories from the South Bay Ski Club. I remember one summer night in the upstairs dorm as a violent thunderstorm passed over. Being a coastal Bay Area native, these metrological dramas where very rare and I always remember my first Sierra Summer thunderstorm hiding under the bed with a pillow covering my head.

On another summer visit, we watched as a helicopter flew in the towers for the chair lifts at Soda Springs ski area.

On this day I was heading back from the railway tunnels of the Transcontinental Railway at Donner Summit. And I came back along Highway 40 looking for the large rocks on the right that signaled the driveway of the South Bay Ski Club cabin. On the day after Thanksgiving, there was no cars in the driveway and not much snow on Soda Springs and Sugar Bowl but this building was full of memories of my father, the Sierras, and the South Bay Ski Club.

A photograph from the early 1970’s. My father up in the Sierra snow. Me in one hand and his trusty Nikon in the other. He is wearing his ski hat that he wore for many years on the slopes of California: an engineer’s cap with the South Bay Ski Club pin in the middle.

One of my father’s South Bay Ski Club pins.

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