Hawaii Ski Club roots go back to 1936 when the first local people skied Mauna Kea, the highest volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.

In 1937 Dudley Lewis, writer for Paradise of the Pacific, predecessor to Honolulu Magazine, wrote, “Two recent skiing parties, which explored the snow-covered slopes of Mauna Kea on different sides of the mountain, demonstrated that skiing in Hawaii is more than a mere fantasy.” Lewis was part of the exhibition led by Jackie Bryan, the first person to ski on the Big Island volcano, and included Shohei Kamada, Helen Cole, and several local businessmen. The group made stops at camps along the way, eventually reaching an elevation of 13,800 feet at the summit. They had help in the form of pack mules “for our equipment, including some elaborate moving-picture cameras. The snow on Mauna Kea presents an open invitation to any winter-sports enthusiast.”

The Hilo Ski Club was formed in 1937 and the Ski Club of Hawaii in 1953. By 1957 Jane Campbell was escorting groups to ski Mauna Kea.

 In the 1960s, automobile entrepreneur Jimmy Pflueger pioneered the first jeep on that mountain, and Dick Tillson researched its snow conditions. The late 1960s (1967 through 1969) were banner years for skiing Mauna Kea: The Ski Association of Hawaii was incorporated (1967), E. Gordon Dickie and Tom Wells helicoptered to the summit to ski the pristine slopes of Mauna Kea (1967), Howard Shirmer formed the Mauna Kea Ski Patrol (1967), the first annual Mauna Ski Meet was held (1967), the first graded road was plowed to the summit (1967), a portable rope tow was installed (1968), and State Senator Fred Rohfling skied down Mauna Kea and later introduced two legislative bills for facility appropriations on Mauna Kea(1969).

In 1970, Governor John A. Burns proclaimed the first “Ski Hawaii Week,” and Warren Miller showed his famous alpine ski films to winter enthusiasts in Hawaii. Olympic alpine skier, Susy Chaffee skied the volcano in 1971, and Snow Queen Linda Chun road the first of yearly ski floats in Aloha Week Parades. By 1976, State Senators John Carroll, Stanley Hara, and Andy Anderson spearheaded legislation which was passed to appropriate money for the ski area portion of the Mauna Kea master plan. In 1976 Governor George Ariyoshi wished Happy 40th ski birthday, Mauna Kea, and Happy 200th birthday, America.


The glory days of skiing the slopes of Mauna Kea are long gone, but today the Hawaii Ski Club is more active than ever with members from Hawaii, the mainland, and foreign countries. Due to health, safety, environmental-impact, and Hawaiian cultural reverence for Mauna Kea, the Hawaii Ski Club and ALL travel agencies are prohibited from organizing ski trips to the volcano. However, the Hawaii Ski Club organizes annual trips to the U.S. mainland, Canada, Japan, Europe, and New Zealand. Please check the Hawaii Ski Club website for upcoming and previous ski trips to exciting ski resorts around the world.

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