Outdoors

As Bogus Basin enters its 75th year, longtime skiers reflect on its community value

Bogus Basin ski racers from the 1948-49 season.
Bogus Basin ski racers from the 1948-49 season. Courtesy of Glenn Compton

Think you love Bogus Basin? Ask yourself whether you’d go through what the first guests did to ski.

That two-lane road that so many dislike? It started out as one lane, with uphill traffic in the morning and downhill traffic in the afternoon.

Want to ski down the mountain? First you had to sidestep up the run to pack down the snow — a little human-powered grooming.

“Can you imagine taking 20-30 people and getting them to sidestep from the bottom ... to near the top of the bowl?” said Keith Taylor, who began skiing at Bogus in 1943-44, the ski area’s second season. “It just wouldn’t happen.”

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, a nonprofit ski hill 16 miles north of Boise, turned 74 years old Tuesday. Management plans a yearlong celebration of the ski area’s 75th year beginning Jan. 1 and culminating with a birthday party on Dec. 20, 2017.

To kick off our coverage of the anniversary, we spoke to two of Bogus Basin’s earliest guests — Taylor and T.J. Jones, who are both 87 years old — and the Bolinder/Richards family, an example of Bogus’ multigenerational impact.

AN ORIGINAL SKIER

Jones began skiing at Bogus during the first season. He still lives in Boise but stopped skiing two years ago.

“I’d like to ski,” he said, “but I’m getting to that age that I’d hate to fall.”

Jones had skied a couple of times in the McCall area, so he took an intense interest in the community effort to open Bogus Basin. He helped with the rope tow when it broke down. He was co-captain of the local race team with Taylor.

“I enjoyed it,” Jones said. “Then I started racing, and it progressed from there. ... Skiing back then was pretty primitive compared to what it is now. We had longer boards and bamboo poles.”

He has five boys, all skiers. Two of his grandchildren have been ski racers, too.

“They all started here,” Jones said. “It’s amazing, utterly amazing. I had no idea that it would take off like it has. ... It’s a great outlet for the children.”

‘YOU HATE TO GIVE UP’

Taylor didn’t make it to Bogus Basin until its second season, but he’s still skiing at 87, visiting Bogus six to 10 times a winter.

“You hate to give up just because once you give up, it’s tough to come back and do it,” he said. “That means there’s one more thing that your life is coming to an end on.”

His dad took Taylor and a friend skiing for their first trip to Bogus. Taylor doesn’t remember why, or where the skis came from.

“There’s a little slope there that goes down to where the Ski Patrol building is,” he said. “We just tried to stay alive going down that.”

Like Jones, Taylor passed his love of skiing to his family. All four of his children raced at Bogus. All nine of his grandchildren ski or snowboard, too — and they are tied to Bogus even though they don’t all live here.

“I buy ’em all ski passes every year,” Taylor said. “That’s a little expensive, but it gets them here so they can ski.”

Taylor has skied around the Northwest and Canada, from helicopters and from backcountry huts. He takes it easy these days.

“I just mosey down the hill,” he said.

He was a lot more daring in the early days. On the drives down Bogus Basin Road, he and friends would tie a rope to their car and grab on like water skiers.

“They’d tow us down the road and we’d ski on the banks on the right and left sides,” Taylor said. “That was kind of crazy, but it was kind of fun.”

A FAMILY’S PASSION

Tina Richards has skied at Bogus for 48 years. Her mom, Trudi Bolinder, was born and raised in Germany, but she raised her eight children in Boise.

“She didn’t have the means to ski, so she taught herself in the hills in her neighborhood on homemade wood skis,” Richards said. “So when she discovered Bogus Basin, she was just thrilled to pieces. ... She knew it would only benefit our family to have all our little kids on the mountain playing, so they would be out of her hair.”

Bolinder died when a plane she was piloting crashed in January 1997. She was trying to help people get out of McCall, which was isolated by mudslides and flooding.

“She just left an amazing legacy,” Richards said. “We try to fill her shoes and try to fill her ski boots. It always has made for some amazing memories and a really fun, adventurous lifestyle.”

Five of Bolinder’s children still live in the Boise area. Most ski.

Richards, 52, has six children, and they all ski. Last winter, for the first time, she was able to ski all over Bogus Basin with one of her grandchildren — 4-year-old Ruby. Skiing is such a critical part of Richards’ life that “good skier” was No. 1 on the list she compiled of attributes she wanted in a spouse.

“It’s been great for our family,” she said. “I remember the youngest, who is now 14 ... someone said, ‘What if he doesn’t like skiing?’ That’s not even an option. It’s what we do. It’s in our blood. And he absolutely loved it.”

Richards enjoys the rides to the top of the mountain as much as skiing down.

“As (the kids) get older and get an attitude, that’s the one place you can spend time with them that they’re happy to be going and happy to be with you,” she said. “And those chairlift rides are priceless because they’re stuck on the chair with you and they have to talk to you.”

Through all of the growth and improvements in her nearly five decades on the slopes at Bogus, the place still feels the same to her.

“It’s a family place,” Richards said. “That’s what they want it to be.”

Celebration begins Jan. 1

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area had its 74th birthday Tuesday. The nonprofit will begin a yearlong celebration of its 75th year on New Year’s Day. Here’s the plan:

▪ Noon: Anyone who rides every lift at Bogus Basin from noon to 7:30 p.m. will receive a 75th anniversary memento. The promotion is called 360 Degrees of Bogus.

▪ 3:30 p.m.: A DJ will play music in the base area until 7:30 p.m. Local retailers will offer ski demos.

▪ 6 p.m.: Free cookies and hot chocolate in the base area, compliments of Albertsons.

▪ 6:30 p.m.: A torchlight parade will begin from the top of the Deer Point Express chairlift. General Manager Brad Wilson will lead the parade with a commemorative 75th anniversary flag that will hang outside Simplot Lodge the rest of the year. About 120 people will participate in the parade, including representatives from many Bogus Basin-related organizations such as Ski Patrol and Recreation Unlimited.

▪ 7 p.m.: A professional fireworks display will be visible from the base area.

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