By Duane Vandenbusche
The Pioneer Ski Area began during the winter of 1939-40 and was located three miles up Cement Creek and eight miles south of Crested Butte on the side of spectacular Cement Mountain. Pioneer would become famous as the first ski area in Colorado to employ a chairlift.
The ski area was hatched in the minds of Gunnison skiers Rial Lake, Art Fordham, Chuck Sweitzer and Wes McDermott. All of these men had skied off Monarch and Marshall Passes in the 1930s, but they yearned for a ski area that could eliminate the long treks to the tops of mountains. The four men knew the region around Crested Butte to the north had everything needed for a great ski area – tremendous snow, high mountains, and a great ski tradition dating back to the early 1880s.