The History of the National Ski Patrol

In March 1938, while officiating the National Downhill ski race at Mount Mansfield in Stowe, Vt., Roger F. Langley, then president of the National Ski Association, had an industry-changing idea. Langley was impressed by the “super patrol” for the race that Charles Minot “Minnie” Dole had created from members of the Mt. Mansfield, Pittsfield, and Burlington patrols. Langley asked Dole if he would organize a national patrol like the one in use at the race. “Minnie” accepted the challenge, and today the National Ski Patrol is the largest winter rescue organization in the world, and the only volunteer group in any country that has been selected to patrol the Olympic Winter Games.

Over the years the patrol has helped out whenever and wherever accidents have occurred. Ski Patrols in the Rocky Mountains were of assistance in locating army air corps planes that crashed during training missions, leading to Ski Patrol incorporation into air force groups in two states, and the Ski Patrol became an official branch of the Army Air Corps search and rescue.

During WW2, Ski Patrollers provided the leadership to form the U.S. Army famed 10th Mountain Division. At the start of the war, Charles “Minnie” Dole, founder of the National Ski Patrol, lobbied the War Department to include specially trained ski troops for the pending action in mountainous Europe and to defend the snowy northern U.S, border if necessary.

Veterans of the 10th Mountain Division returned to the States at the end of the war and formed the backbone of the postwar ski resort industry boom in America. Ed Link (from Sahalie) and Duke Watson, developed Crystal Mountain. Nelson Bennett built up White Pass. Walter Hampton created Mission Ridge. Bill Healey established Mount Bachelor. Other 10th vets were responsible for developing Aspen, Vail and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, Jackson Hole in Wyoming and Sugerbush in Vermont, to name but a few of the sixty ski areas founded or assisted by these vets.

As the leading authority of on-mountain safety, the NSP is dedicated to serving the public and outdoor recreation industry by providing education and accreditation to emergency care and safety service providers. Members work on behalf of local ski and snowboard areas to improve the overall experience for outdoor recreationalists.