Creston Shaw won’t pass you on the ski runs anymore, but you know his name if you spend much time at Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort.
Bert Vanderwall, too.
And Alice Trindle.
Shaw, 100, skied into his late 90s at Anthony Lakes, in the Elkhorn Mountains about 35 miles northwest of Baker City.
These days when he heads to the mountain his destination is the lodge, to hear music from a favorite band.
But skiers and snowboarders will see his legacy when they pass Creston’s Yurt at the top of the chairlift.
Vanderwall passed away in 2014 at age 86. But his name carries on with Bert’s Run and Bert’s Report, which describes the daily conditions on the mountain.
As for Trindle, her name now graces Alice’s Wonderland, the learning area near the lodge featuring the Caterpillar Conveyor, Mad Hatter Handle Tow and the Rabbit Hole Terrain Park.
The name is a nod to Trindle’s dedication as a ski instructor for about 45 years.
That trio — along with many, many others — dedicated countless hours to creating the Anthony Lakes that still draws skiers and snowboarders today.
This month the ski area celebrates 60 years. The first official day for Anthony Lakes Corp. was Jan. 12, 1963.
But that wasn’t the start of skiing in these mountains.
In the 1920s, locals skied the foothills outside of Haines, as recounted in Stan Ingram’s book “Anthony, A Tale of Two Skis.”
By the 1930s, those seeking more powder were hiking up to an area known as Little Alps, a few miles east of, and below, the present-day ski area.
This group included Vanderwall, said his daughter, Rhea Patton.
“They used to hike up from the bottom,” she said.
In 1936, the Civilian Conservation Corps built the Anthony Lakes Road, which was improved into the current paved two-lane highway in the late 1960s.
The Anthony Lakes Playground Association formed in April 1938 with members from across the region.
Development began in earnest, and the first rope tow was built in 1938.
The area closed in 1942, but the Baker Jaycees revived interest in 1946, after World War II. Operations continued until 1949 when thieves stole and wrecked Olaf Rodegard’s rotary snowplow. With no way to keep the road open, he closed the area.
According to Ingram’s book, “Only hardy skiers who were willing to hike in were able to enjoy its many slopes until January 12, 1963.”
That was the day the area officially opened under the Anthony Lakes Corporation.
Today, Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort is owned and operated by the Anthony Lakes Outdoor Recreation Association, a nonprofit organization.
Over the decades the ski area had several private owners as well. In 2010 the last private owners transferred the resort, which is on public land managed by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, to Baker County, which then turned over ownership to the nonprofit.
A new era
Jim Patton, 77, married Rhea Vanderwall in 1968 and became part of the skiing Vanderwall family.
When he broke his leg in a logging accident in October 1968, Patton was put to work at Anthony’s ski shop, which was operated by his father-in-law, Bert Vanderwall. Bert’s father, Roy, was also a mainstay at the ski area. Patton wasn’t a skier — and never did take to the winter sport.
“I didn’t know one end of the ski from the other,” he said.
But he worked in the ski shop for four years, then became the snowplow driver to keep the road open — starting at 4 a.m.
“If it was a heavy snowfall, we’d work all day to keep the road open,” he said.
He used an ingenious rotary snowplow assembled from various parts by Champ Bond, who plowed the road for years with his wife, Lois.
“That rotary worked good, for a bunch of car parts. Ninety percent of the time it worked perfect,” Patton said. “It scooped a blob of snow and threw it — you could make one pass down the mountain and back up and have the road open.”
That snowplow is now on display at the Eastern Oregon Museum in Haines.
While Patton stayed off the slopes, his wife, Rhea, did not.
She started teaching lessons when she was in high school, and served 24 years on the volunteer ski patrol.
“We’ve been there forever, it seems like,” she said.
Although she doesn’t ski much now, she still takes the 15-minute drive up the mountain from her house to see friends.
“It’s locals and it’s fun,” she said.
Shaw didn’t grow up on the ski hill — he first tried the sport at age 46 in 1968, and joined the Anthony Lakes Ski Patrol soon after.
“I was a beginner skier when I joined the patrol,” he said. “I had to learn pretty fast.”
Shaw, who lives near Cove, served on the ski patrol for 43 years. He retired at the age of 89, then continued skiing for several more years.
“I figure if you get into your late 90s, you don’t want to fall,” he said.
Members of ski patrol, he said, were expected to respond to emergencies, whether they were scheduled for the day or not.
“If you weren’t on duty, you were still on duty,” he said.
He officially patrolled about 35 days each season. His favorite time of day was early, when patrollers made the first tracks to check the conditions.
“I always enjoyed the first run,” he said.
Although he’s not skiing now, Shaw still makes the trip to Anthony every so often with his fiancee, Donna Barnes, who spent 17 years with the ski patrol.
“We still go up occasionally for lunch,” he said. “We miss our friends.”
Learning to ski
Trindle started skiing in 1961 at Little Alps. She was 4.
Her family owned a cabin near the ski area, so they spent time in the area both summer and winter.
“I certainly remember the old road from Little Alps to Anthony Lakes,” she said. “There were two big switchbacks that were as scary as all get-out.”
She started teaching lessons in 1978 and is now teaching a third generation of skiers — a fact she realized when she heard someone tell their child “she taught your grandmother how to ski.”
Trindle said she’s happy to see an expansion of the learning area.
“I’m so honored by them developing Alice’s Wonderland,” she said. “It’s a real tribute to all those who saw the importance and had the joy of teaching.”
She looks forward to more years of teaching and skiing.
“I’m really fortunate that I have such wonderful memories,” Trindle said. “It’s a combination of the spirit of the place and the people — it does my heart so much good to see those two things are still valued. That’s a big part of what makes Anthony Lakes so special — it’s like no other place.”