Granlibakken Tahoe is offering 25% off all-inclusive conference packages October 2018-May 2019

Tahoe Conference CenterGranlibakken Tahoe’s all-inclusive meeting packages are designed to help teams connect with each other and connect with success. A peaceful location in a private 74 acre wooded valley offers the perfect space to make any meeting or retreat productive and memorable. Granlibakken’s new Soul Shelter meditation and yoga room is the perfect space for attendees to rejuvenate between sessions, and is also well-equipped to host group yoga sessions. Meeting facilities accommodate groups from 4-400, and improvements made to the conference center has earned Granlibakken national recognition as a leader for its efforts to reduce energy consumption. By investing in more efficient heating and cooling systems, updating appliances, and implementing a Green Purchasing Policy, Granlibakken has reduced energy consumption by approximately 43 percent since 2015.

Granlibakken’s strong commitment to the environment, combined with its convenient west shore Tahoe location, makes it a desirable venue for events, retreats, conferences, and weddings. Downtown Tahoe City, on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, is less than a five minute drive from Granlibakken and offers an array of shopping and dining options, along with access to Commons Beach. In close proximity to Reno-Tahoe International Airport with airport shuttles available and an easy drive from the San Francisco Bay Area, only a few hours, traveling to Granlibakken is simple.

Granlibakken is offering 25% off all-inclusive packages for retreats, conferences, and events held October through May. This package includes three meals daily prepared by Granlibakken’s award-winning kitchen staff, access to 24,500 sq. ft. of flexible indoor/outdoor meeting space, onsite accommodations, resort-wide wireless access, and Granlibakken’s many amenities-including tennis courts, an outdoor heated pool and hot tub, and onsite hiking trails.

 


Lake Tahoe Conference


About Granlibakken Tahoe:

Granlibakken Tahoe is a family-owned and operated resort located in a peaceful 74 acre forested valley just steps from the shores of Lake Tahoe. With a variety of accommodations onsite, from standard bedrooms to three-bedroom townhouses, Granlibakken comfortably accommodates groups, individuals, and weddings. The resort’s 24,500 square feet of flexible year-round meeting space can host groups of 4 to 400 with ease.

Lake Tahoe RetreatThe newly renovated Soul Shelter yoga and meditation space offers space for guests to relax, rejuvenate, and refresh in the heart of the Sierras. Granlibakken’s newly renovated gym allows guests to stay on top of their fitness goals while traveling. The Meditation Garden offers a calm place to gather or to relax in the heart of the property. An onsite Day Spa, outdoor heated pool, hot tub, and sauna inspire relaxation and rejuvenation. Miles of hiking and biking trails wind through the forest surrounding Granlibakken Tahoe, allowing for a respite from the busy world and reconnection with nature. The Treetop Adventure Park aerial trekking course located onsite is a fantastic teambuilding activity or individual challenge.

Hot buffet breakfast is included in all stays, as well as resort-wide high-speed wireless Internet access, parking, and access to onsite amenities. Granlibakken’s unique location and mountain hospitality provides the perfect place to reconnect and unplug.

 


 

Dr. Mike Dow

Dr. Mike Dow

Granlibakken Tahoe is proud to announce that Dr. Mike Dow, bestselling author and psychotherapist, will be headlining this year’s Wellness Weekend with his seminar titled “Heal Your Drained Brain.”

Dr. Mike Dow’s wellness journey began at 10 years old when his younger brother, David, experienced a massive stroke. Witnessing his brother’s treatments throughout his teen years helped Dr. Dow to realize his calling to help others on their own journey to physical and mental well-being. Dr. Dow has since become well-known and respected in the psychotherapy field. He has authored numerous books about mental health; he has hosted radio programs, and has appeared on many TV programs, including Dr. Oz and The Doctors.

Dr. Mike Dow

Dr. Mike is not only known for his warmth and candor, he also presents science-based solutions and programs to help individuals improve their health and happiness. "I am thrilled to be participating in Granlibakken's Wellness Weekend,” says Dr. Dow. “I believe evidence-based practices--including meditation, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, whole-food-centric nutrition, and sustainable livings are incredible mind-body medicine.  By educating ourselves in these practices, we can model them for others.  And in doing so, we can create a world where wellness -- not chronic disease - becomes the norm.” Dr. Mike will discuss his holistic approach to mental and physical health.  More importantly, he will lead attendees through practices that will serve as the mind-body medicine in their own cells. In our everyday lives, we often consider our physical health, our work performance, and the well-being of our friends. Rarely do we consider the impact that our lifestyles—as busy and overstimulated as they are—are having on our brain health. Dr. Dow presents manageable and concise

steps that individuals can take for better brain health and greater physical and mental longevity.

 

Dr. Mike Dow at Lake Tahoe Wellness Weekend

Wellness Weekend is a unique event that will feature three days of workshops, seminars, and classes that combine a unique fusion of Eastern and Western medicine, philosophy, and practice. The weekend includes two tracks of workshops—movement and lecture-based. The schedule has just been released, and features topics ranging from CBD oils to Tai Chi. These classes and lectures are suitable for people of all abilities and experiences, and offer unique perspectives and insights into health and well-being.

The early-bird rate for the three days of events is $260, which includes daily meals, as well as all workshops and socials. Rates go up to $276 for the weekend on September 1. Lodging is available onsite at discounted rates.

Granlibakken, a premier venue for health and wellness events, offers an exceptional setting for this inspirational retreat. Reservations for Wellness Weekend, to be held November 9-11, 2018, can be made online here.

 

 


 

Thank you to everyone who attended the second annual Restorative Arts and Yoga Festival, held at Granlibakken Tahoe June 1-3, 2018. It was an amazing event-three full days of workshops, classes, and hiking. These photos capture just a smattering of the magic that took place last weekend. Interested in attending a Sierra Soul Wellness Event? Check out our Wellness Packages for details.

 

by Lauri Glenn

Lauri transplanted to Truckee 22 years ago from Washington state and never looked back. Yoga began for Lauri as a physical fitness endeavor, but quickly revealed itself to be much more. Since beginning her practice in 1995, yoga has taught and continues to teach her not just how to handle the external world with more love and patience, but how to navigate the internal world of Mind, Emotion & Energy with more skill, compassion, and grace. The practices of Yoga are expansive and Lauri strives to share them in a practical, accessible way.  She believes the true measure of our practice is not what happens on the mat, but how we take that into our lives so that we can turn ordinary days, into extraordinary moments.

Lauri will be teaching a Yin Yoga class at RAY 2018.

Learn more about Lauri and her practice here.

 

Caffeine. Sugar.  Endless to-do lists.  The stress of social and family responsibility.  The pressure of personal and professional expectations.  All of this sets the scene for the push and the rush to pursue the “American Dream” (of course not isolated to America).  But for many, this “dream” can begin to take on a nightmarish cast beneath the exhausting weight of a jam-packed life lived at full speed.  Anxiety, insomnia, frustration, fatigue, depression and digestive issues are just a snippet of the myriad ways in which our fast-paced world can start to take its toll.  In a world that tells us we need to “Do More.  Have More.  Accomplish More.  Be More”, it can be a challenge to believe that what we might really need is a whole lot less, what might serve us and the world best, is to take some time and Just. Stop. Doing.

yoga retreat tahoe

Stop.  Get Still.  Let Go.  Breathe.

Tahoe yoga

And this my friends, is why I personally have found Yin Yoga to be one incredible antidote to this wild and crazy planet we are all pinned to by gravity, spinning around the universe at some 67,000 miles per hour.

Yin yoga is a gentle, slow moving, meditative style of yoga.  It is done primarily on the floor, moving mindfully into simple poses, with the body relaxed (rather than the effortful alignment of an active style pose) often supported by props and then becoming still in the body, steady in the breath, and gently focused in the mind.  The poses are held for longer periods of time (3-7minutes usually) in order to allow for this stilling.  Imagine a rock dropped in a pond.  It takes a bit for the ripples and soil to settle before the pond becomes clear again.  Our bodies and especially our minds are similar.  Our lives are full of these stones that stir us up and dedicated time is needed to allow all the layers of being to settle so that we can reconnect with the clarity and peace of our true nature.  It’s great for beginners and even better for advanced practitioners.

yoga retreat tahoe

Stop.  Get Still.  Let Go.  Breathe.

 

Yin Yoga is a complementary and balancing practice to the way in which most of us practice yoga (and life) which would be described as Yang.  And while this article is not intended to explore the origination of the Yin style, I will mention that it arguably evolved as early as asana (yoga poses) evolved, which is thousands of years ago.  You may hear the creation of the practice attributed to Paul Grilley or Paulie Zink but by no means did these men “invent” this practice.  However, they are the key players in the most recent evolution and for bringing this style of practice to the west and to the forefront of the public eye, as is Sarah Powers.

Tahoe yogaBack to the balancing act.  In Yin & Yang theory, we see that pretty much everything in the world has opposing and complementary forces, that they each influence each other, in some ways, define each other and most importantly, balance each other.  Such as night and day, hot and cold, wet and dry, soft and hard, north and south, male and female, fast and slow, up and down, stillness and movement and so on and so forth.   If we take away one, we throw the other completely off balance.  Take away day and we are left in interminable darkness.  Remove softness and a heart becomes hard.  A world without rain is a thirsty world in permanent drought, which will ultimately perish and along with it, us.

And so for our Yang lifestyles which are fast, driven, and active, with information coming in at break-neck speeds, and expectations being piled upon us like a bad game of jenga, we need a complementary opposite to help us find balance.  Those of us resistant to the practice of Yin are often the ones who need it most.  We can become addicted to the Yang lifestyle, craving more and more intense experiences, more accomplishments, longer runs, faster cars, newer devices, bigger cliffs to huck ourselves off on powder days (Tahoe syndrome;-)).  This pursuit is unfortunately  never ending.  Apple will put out a new iPhone next week, someone will beat your time on Strava tomorrow, and that new Tesla you just bought will be outdated as soon as Elon masterminds the next generation of cars.

Yin Yoga gifts us the opportunity to stop our endless pursuit of "more" that leaves us constantly spinning.To tap into the peaceful equanimity that is our essential nature.  A space where we need nothing more than our exquisite bodies, exactly as they are, and the rhythmic flow of our own breath.  Inhale, soften.  Exhale, let go.   Of course, as stillness ensues, the mind will likely do what it does and try to convince you there is something you need “To Do”, somewhere you need “To Go”, something you need “To Solve or Fix or Create." Don't be fooled. All you need to do is just keep coming back to the present moment, back to your body, back to the gentle pulse of your breath.   You are already doing all you need, there is nowhere to go but here, and there is simply nothing to fix because you are already exactly what this world needs. Yin Yoga Tahoe

Be kind to yourself and bring a little Yin into your life.  Let your own light brighten the night, your heart beat softly with compassion and shower a little more kindness into a world thirsty for love.

yoga retreat tahoe

Stop.  Get Still.  Let Go.  Breathe.

 

In Metta, Lauri Glenn.

 

 

Learn more about the Restorative Arts and Yoga Festival, June 1-3, 2018 here.

Keep in touch! Click here to sign up for our email list, and be the first to know about deals, events, and more!


 

 

 

 

 

Tahoe ski history

The Ski Hut in the 50s

What do you get when you combine six kids, two hardworking parents, and one ski hill in Tahoe City? You get a memorable vacation, that’s what you get! As one of six kids and with busy architects as parents, Kit Ratcliff remembers skiing at Granlibakken as a treat. He and his family would rent out half of the duplex at the base of the hill, and spend about one week per winter skiing and spending time with each other at Granlibakken. Kit describes the time that they spent at Granlibakken as something he “always looked forward to—it was always a highlight to go to Granlibakken.”

Kit grew up in Berkeley, where his father was the president of the family’s architecture firm, The Ratcliff Architects, which Kit’s grandfather had founded. Kit’s mother was also a graduate of architecture but later working as a landscape architect, designing gardens while raising the children. With a family of eight and busy lives, the chance to escape to the mountains was something that was always looked forward to.

Kit’s father was involved in the Sierra Club at Clair Tappaan Lodge in Norden. He helped design and build some of the structures. His father designed the Hutchinson Lodge there. This allowed the Ratcliffs to spend time in the Sierras, skiing at Sugarbowl on Donner Summit. Kit’s father skied with his kids for many years out of the Clair Tappaan Lodge on the slopes of Sugar Bowl.

Back in the 1950s, there were three buildings at Granlibakken—the ski hut, the Rustads’ home, and a duplex rented to visitors. When visiting Granlibakken, the Ratcliffs would rent out the west side of the duplex, bringing the whole family up from Berkeley to enjoy some time in the peaceful wooded valley.

Kit remembers being picked up by Odd Hodne, Granlibakken’s in-house handyman. Kit describes Odd as “a man of few words—he didn’t talk much, but he was strong and got a lot of work done.” Odd was integral in the daily operations of Granlibakken Tahoe, and actually lived for a period in the Ski Hut attic during the winter months.

Tahoe history

The Weasel, used to transport guests, parked in front of the Granlibakken Ski Hut.

The Ratcliff family would park their car on Highway 89, close to where Tahoe City Lumber is located now. There was a small phone on the side of the road that connected to Granlibakken. There was also a bridge across the Truckee River, meeting where the existing fire road down to the river is now. They would call Odd, and he would head over in the Weasel to pick up the family and make the short trek across the river and up to Granlibakken. Later, the existing road and Fanny Bridge were built, allowing for easier access to Granlibakken.

After disembarking from the Weasel, the Ratcliff family would settle into the duplex. Kjell “Rusty” Rustad’s first wife, Marion, and her daughter, Binth, were in charge of the indoor operations—getting the duplexes ready for guests, and ensuring that the Ski Hut was running smoothly with plenty of food and provisions and a lively fire. Kit secretly admired Binth, who he remembers as a very adept skier, and sometimes would play board games with her in the Ski Hut. Kit remembers that Marion “was very nice, centered, straightforward, and took care of business.” While Rusty was out on the slopes ensuring that the mountain operations went smoothly, Marion in the lodge making sure that guests felt welcome and comfortable.

The Ratcliffs rarely left the Granlibakken valley during their weeklong getaways. They would cook all of their meals there, enjoy the snow, and often headed over to the Rustad residence to chat and enjoy a warm fire after hours. The kids would all play games with Binth, and the adults would chat and laugh. Kit remembers Rusty as a serious, ambitious person. He smiled and laughed, but he was all business on the ski slopes.

Kit’s family returned to Granlibakken year after year, from when he was ages 8-17, through the 50s. Granlibakken was a great place for the big family, with comfortable lodging at the base of the hill, and plenty of terrain to explore for the kids. In the early days, a rope tow on the east side of the hill offered the only transport to the top of the slope. Kit remembers getting stuck in the rope tow—it would twist, wrapping your sweater or parka in it if you were wearing loose clothing, and skiers would have to pull an emergency release cable that  would stop the lift, allowing them to get unstuck. In later years, skiers bought a metal clamp to grab the tow rope, and even later, a Poma lift to the top of the hill was built. The rope tow was definitely not as luxurious as chairlifts are nowadays—Kit remembers that you had to wear thick leather gloves to grip it, as ordinary mittens would shred when grabbing the cable.

Tahoe Ski History

Rusty teaching technique to a young ski jumper on the novice jump at Granlibakken.

On days when the rope tow wasn’t running, or if they just wanted to explore, Kit and his siblings would put seal skins on their skis, and climb up the Granlibakken hill to enjoy some off-piste terrain and to take laps on the hill. Kit remembers that his old skis had bear trap bindings. These bindings allowed skiers to lock down their heels, or allow the leather ski boots to bend, giving the skis the versatility to be used for both downhill alpine skiing and cross country touring.  Kit remembers that Rusty skied with long-thong lace-up bindings. This style of binding was basically a leather strap that wrapped around the skier’s boot and attached to the ski. This style provided added stability back when ski boots were made of leather.  There were very specific ways to lace up the binding, and Kit remembers that it could take several minutes to get the lacing correct.

The skis used in the 50s were very long by today’s standards. Kit remembers “you’d reach your hand above your head. If the top of your hand reached the top of the ski, then those skis were the right size.” The skis were often made of hickory, or other strong wood, and didn’t have metal edges. Kit remembers one dicey day at Squaw, skiing down Squaw Valley’s Headwall face on an icy day with his wooden skis that had no metal edges…mostly out of control.

Rusty taught to Kit and his family to turn on the slopes with what he called “christies”. He would instruct them to rise up and lift out weight off our skis as well as shift their weight from the original uphill ski to the new uphill ski once the turn was completed. Kit describes Rusty as a beautiful skier- “Rusty loved the long, sweeping turns…he would make it down the Granlibakken hill from the very top in two turns. He was so together, gorgeous to look at.” Rusty tried to teach his pupils to ski gracefully too.  Kit says that his dad never got the hang of christie turns, his turns were always a bit jerky, as he never “felt the flow.” No snowplowing was allowed, and skiers were instructed to keep their skis as close together as possible. Kit remembers: “Ski boots back then were made of leather. And if your old leather boots were carved up on the inside of the foot due to the edges of the ski, you were cool—you kept your skis together.”

Kit says that “Rusty was a beautiful skier-totally under control. You would see his head, which would be smooth even though the terrain was bumpy. He had a sense of grace and control while skiing, which was like his personality– graceful and in control.” Many skiers worked to emulate Rusty’s grace while descending the mountain, and his ambition as a business owner was also commendable—he and his family helped to make Lake Tahoe a notable winter destination for folks like the Ratcliffs.

Although the Ratcliffs stopped going to Granlibakken as frequently when the kids got older, Kit still has many fond memories of skiing and spending time there. Granlibakken was, and still is, a place where families can retreat from the distractions of their busy lives to take some time to enjoy each other and some warm hospitality.

Tahoe History

The duplex, built to accommodate seasonal visitors

Kit graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in architecture, and went on to work in London, bringing along his young family. He returned to California in the early 70s, worked in San Francisco, and finally joined the Ratcliff Architecture firm in the East Bay. In the 80s Kit became a partner in the firm, and later began running the firm.  Some notable projects that the Ratcliff firm has worked on are Terminal 2 in the Oakland Airport, Berkeley City College and the Berkeley Law addition for UC Berkeley.  Kit’s grandfather designed the master plan, the music building and arts center at Mills College. Today, Kit is still involved in The Ratcliff Architects and is working to prepare a new generation of leaders. He is a member of the Berkeley Chorus, and studies piano. He has four daughters, and four grandkids, and he brought his children and grandchildren to Granlibakken to learn to ski when they were young. Kit still visits Granlibakken, and always looks forward to playing the piano in the Cedar House Pub.

Join us in celebrating 95 years of family fun at Granlibakken Tahoe. Click here for details.

Keep in touch! Click here to sign up for our email list, and be the first to know about deals, events, and more!

This blog is part of a series that looks back on skiing at Granlibakken Tahoe through the years, commemorating 95 years of winter fun at Granlibakken, which has been used as a winter recreation area since 1922. These blogs are based on interviews with people who have memories of skiing at Granlibakken. 

Do you have memories about Granlibakken Tahoe? We would love to hear them, you can share your memories by commenting below.

Here are links to other blogs that may interest you: 

Read: Growing Up Granlibakken

Read: Learning to Ski with Rusty at Granlibakken Tahoe

Read: Granlibakken: The West Shore’s Playground

Read: Kjell “Rusty” Rustad, a Sailor on Skis

Read: Olympic History at Granlibakken Tahoe


 

Tahoe History

The Tucker Snowcat used to groom the slopes in front of the old residence at the base of the ski hill.

Granlibakken Tahoe’s ski and sled area has been making memories for generations. From kids who learned to ski on its approachable slopes to families that have been involved in the operations, Granlibakken is a special place for many people.

Kyle Rogers, whose dad was the manager of the ski hill in the late 70s, remembers spending his early childhood on the slopes and in the lodge at Granlibakken. The family would wake up at 4AM so that Kyle’s father could groom the ski hill in the old Tucker Snowcat. The kids, four in total, would take a nap in the attic of the ski lodge, on the hardwood floors. Kyle remembers that the attic was always pretty chilly, and of course, sleeping on the floor is never comfortable, but it built bonds and memories that he still shares with his siblings to this day. His parents would fuel up the woodstove below to get the lodge warm and comfortable for the day.

Tahoe ski history

Kyle, on the far right, skiing with his family at Squaw.

Sometimes, Kyle’s dad would let him ride along in the old Tucker Snowcat, a machine with four tracks towing a corrugated barrel behind it to groom the hill. He remembers flying so fast in the machine, the snow flying up and over the hood, making it feel like he and his dad were in a white room-a bit disorienting, but very exciting. Some of his fondest memories are of riding that Snowcat, making quick laps up and down the ski hill to get it prepared for the day.

Kyle has fond memories of skiing at Granlibakken too. He talks about riding the rope tow on looker’s left of the hill, which has since been taken down. The rope tow was that—just a rope. To get on and ride to the top, you would have to just hold on to the thick cable. Kyle recalls a number of times where he got rope burn on his hands, and holding on to the rope tow also took a lot of arm strength. He says “I would start out not being able to make it to the top, but by the end of the season, I was strong enough to be able to hang on until the very top.”

Tucker Snowcat

Grooming the ski hill in the 70s and 80s with the Tucker Snowcat.

Flying down the ski hill as fast as he could go was one of Kyle’s favorite pastimes during those days, when he was about 7 or 8 years old. “The hill is small, but it’s steep,” he says. Kyle and his siblings would strap on their skis, and lap the hill all day while their parents worked. Later, Kyle would race on Granlibakken’s hill as part of the Lake Tahoe Ski Club, which sometimes held meets at Granlibakken.

Today, Kyle has followed his passion for winter sports as a ski coach at Squaw Valley. He also works on a ranch in the summer. Like many skiers and riders in this region, he has many great memories of Granlibakken, ripping the slopes with his family.

Join us in celebrating 95 years of family fun at Granlibakken Tahoe. Click here for details.

Keep in touch! Click here to sign up for our email list, and be the first to know about deals, events, and more!

This blog is part of a series that looks back on skiing at Granlibakken Tahoe through the years, commemorating 95 years of winter fun at Granlibakken, which has been used as a winter recreation area since 1922. These blogs are based on interviews with people who have memories of skiing at Granlibakken. 

Do you have memories about Granlibakken Tahoe? We would love to hear them, you can share your memories by commenting below.

Here are links to other blogs that may interest you: 

Read: Growing Up Granlibakken

Read: Learning to Ski with Rusty at Granlibakken Tahoe

Read: Granlibakken: The West Shore's Playground

Read: Kjell "Rusty" Rustad, a Sailor on Skis

Read: Olympic History at Granlibakken Tahoe


 

The story of Granlibakken’s early days, as told by Kjell “Rusty” Rustad’s daughter, Binth Rustad.

Tahoe history

Binth Rustad at the creek at Granlibakken

Granlibakken Tahoe today is a bustling conference center, lodge, and resort just outside of Tahoe City. The small ski and sled hill onsite is fun for beginners and families, and generations of skiers and snowboarders have earned their chops at Granlibakken’s historic slope. It’s not uncommon to talk to a local or a visitor to the area and hear that they first learned to ski or snowboard at Granlibakken.

But when Kjell “Rusty” Rustad first leased the land that Granlibakken’s ski slope is situated on, it was a small operation. There were no structures onsite, and it was best known for the ski jump that had been built there for the 1932 Olympic Ski Jumping Trials and the 1932 National Ski Association Ski Jumping Tournament. Rusty, together with his wife Marion, developed Granlibakken and gave it its name, which means “hill sheltered by fir trees.” Rusty built a log Ski Hut out of the trees that were cleared for the ski hill. He also built a house to live in and a duplex that slept 6 on each side for visitors.   Rusty worked to further develop the ski area—he built 2 rope tows, expanded the terrain, groomed the slopes, and taught lessons to beginners and aspiring ski jumpers. Granlibakken is truly where the Rustad family made their mark in Tahoe.

Rusty and Marion’s daughter, Binth Rustad, today makes her home in Nantucket, far from the ski slopes of Granlibakken. However, she remembers her time at Granlibakken fondly, and says, “My heart is right there at Tahoe. It always will be. That’s where my earliest memories are—the smell of the air and the land, that’s where I’m grounded. Those are my roots. Even though I wasn’t born there, it’s where my earliest memories are. It was a special time that I treasure dearly.”

Tahoe History

Marion at Squaw Valley

Binth’s mother and father, Marion and Kjell “Rusty” Rustad, first met on a trans-Atlantic voyage  Marion, who hailed from Poughkeepsie, NY, was taking the voyage to Europe for a pleasure trip with some family and friends. En route she met Rusty, who was first mate on the Scandinavian ship line they were on.  By the time that they had gotten to Norway, Marion and Rusty were in love. They married the same year that they met, Marion relocating to Oslo in December of 1937.  While Rusty worked an additional year on the same line that they met on and was away often, Marion became fluent in Norwegian and fell in love with Norway.  To shorten the time spent apart, Rusty become an officer on Hurtigruten line, Norway’s coastal express service, and they relocated to Stokmarknes, on one of the islands north of the Arctic Circle. Marion stayed there and Rusty commuted to Tromso when he was on duty.

Marion and Rusty lived in Norway for a few years. When Norway surrendered to the Germans during WWII in 1940, Rusty was working in Tromso. He gave Marion 24 hours to get rid of all their possessions, including their dog and car. In those 24 hours, Marion also had to get across the fjords to Tromso where he had secured passage on a Red Cross ship leaving for England.  Their daring escape from Norway is a story in itself-the ship they were on was shot down by German bombers. As they were loading into a lifeboat, it capsized, leaving the Rustads exposed to the bombers, who used the heads of those stranded in the icy water as target practice. They were fortunately rescued by passengers in other lifeboats, and then by a British destroyer—extremely lucky considering not only the threat of the German bombers, but also the freezing temperature of the water near the Arctic Circle.

Tahoe history

Rusty ski jumping

After escaping Norway, Marion and Rusty made their way to New York. They stayed with Marion’s mother in Nantucket for a brief time before moving west to San Francisco. Rusty got his US citizenship and at the start of the war found work as a supply officer. He worked alongside Marion’s brother, who was a navigator for PanAM, ferrying supplies from Treasure Island to U.S. troops in Hawaii.  Binth, their daughter, was born in Oakland, but it wouldn’t be long until the Rustads relocated to North Lake Tahoe.

Wayne Poulson, who later became the founder of Papoose Mountain and Squaw Valley, was a pilot for PanAm, and spoke often to Rusty about the splendor of the Sierras-beautiful mountains encircling Lake Tahoe. According to Binth, Marion and Rusty “made their way up and decided that was where they wanted to live,” settling in North Lake Tahoe just a year and a half later. The mountains and the lake spoke to Rusty-marrying two of his passions, ski jumping and sailing.

The Rustads spent the summer in Kings Beach, which was a popular boating community at the time, while house hunting in North Lake Tahoe. Rusty purchased a sailboat the next year, The Polaris, to interest people in sailing lessons on Lake Tahoe. Rusty was never a fan of motor boats, and played a major role in re-introducing sailing to Lake Tahoe. He chose a sturdy boat with a heavy keel, “you couldn’t tip her over,” Binth recalls, unlike Henry Kaiser’s catamaran, which once overturned in a strong gust on Lake Tahoe.

The Polaris

The Polaris sail boat

Binth describes sailing in The Polaris on Lake Tahoe, “The wind usually picked up by noon.  You could hear the trees up the canyon past the big jump [at Granlibakken] start to murmur and it was sailing time.  A couple of times during the summer, my parents would take a day off from work and sail across the Lake to Secret Harbor, usually with a couple of friends.  We’d spend most of the day visiting Od, who was caretaking in the summer and who worked for us in the winter. The water [at Secret Harbor] was warmer, there was sand instead of pebbles and giant boulders one could climb and jump from one to another, out into the Lake.  Sailing back was tricky.  If the wind died down, then my father was forced to start the tiny outboard, which he hated, and we’d slowly make headway, hoping for more wind.”

Shortly after moving to North Tahoe, the Rustads moved into their first home in Tahoe Park, on Lake Tahoe’s west shore. The Polaris was anchored off-shore beside Sunnyside. Binth attended school in Tahoe City, and her memories are of long summer and winter afternoons spent in the mountains and in the woods.

Lake Tahoe History

Marion and Binth on The Polaris on Lake Tahoe.

Binth lived in Tahoe City, spending her time outdoors as much as possible, until her parents divorced when she was 10 years old. Tahoe City at that time was a small, tight-knit community of about 500 people. The closest “supermarket” was in Truckee, with the larger stores in Reno over an hours’ drive away on single lane highway. The elementary school was small, sometimes having to combine grades to make up sufficient class sizes. Marion, a former elementary school teacher, was actively involved in the PTA, and even gave Binth lessons at home prior to starting first grade. As a credit to this tight-knit community, Binth has remained friends with some of her elementary school pals. The local community really stretched from Kings Beach to Meeks Bay, with Tahoe City being a central hub for people to gather, shop, and go to school.

In 1947, Rusty leased the land that the Granlibakken ski area is now situated on, and gave the ski area its name, “Granlibakken,” fitting for the north-facing slope sheltered by towering pine and fir trees.  He cleared the slope for a ski hill and for a junior jump. The log Ski Hut constructed with logs harvested from the ski hill is still in use today, and continues to provide a gathering place for skiers to warm up on a winter day.

The Ski Hut also acted as the center of activity for the ski hill--a Jukebox was installed that allowed music to be played over the slopes, and Rusty and Marion sometimes entertained in the Ski Hut after-hours. Binth remembers, "As a teenager and adult, the ski hut was also a place to hang out at the end of the day, whether my step-brothers and I had been teaching skiing or just visiting. There were usually a lot of people around, talking, listening to music and even dancing.  I was taught to polka one night, whirling around the fireplace by one of the family members of a dance troupe from San Francisco."

Granlibakken Ski History

The weasel, which was used to transport guests to Granlibakken Tahoe before a road was built.

Binth Rustad describes growing up in Tahoe City at Granlibakken as idyllic—she would spend summers at Lake Tahoe and on the Truckee River, fishing for minnows off the Sunnyside pier while Rusty taught sailing. Occasionally, she would tube in the Truckee River, just a quarter mile from the Granlibakken Ski Hill.  Winters were consumed by skiing at The Granlibakken ski area and Squaw Valley. Binth also spent winters helping her parents at Granlibakken, greeting people at the hut and telling them how to ski while whizzing by, which may not have always been appreciated, coming from a 6 yr old. However, people were good sports-Binth remembers that most laughed and some listened.

Binth describes Granlibakken in its early years as a fairly bare-bones operation. A couple of rope tows, the old Olympic jump, a novice jumping area, a pond, the ski lodge, a duplex and their home made up the property. Once the structures were built, the Rustads lived in one—Binth describes it as basically a good size living room & kitchen area overlooking the ski slope where most of the living took place. The rest of the house contained a large bedroom and small nook in the corner where she slept, and one bathroom. It was fine living quarters for a small family, and the location overlooking the Granlibakken ski area couldn’t be beat.

Tahoe History

The duplex, built to accommodate seasonal visitors

Marion, Binth’s mother, worked hard to keep Granlibakken operating. In the fall, she would calculate how much food, paper products, and essentials would be needed for the ski hut during the winter.  Binth, Rusty, and Marion  would all make the 2+ hour trek to Reno to pick up food and supplies for the winter—going to the butcher to purchase ground beef that Marion made into patties and froze for hungry skiers, and also purchasing enough plates, cutlery, and provisions to last the winter. Marion managed the ski hut—even acting as the cook and cleaner in the early days. The Ski Hut was known for its Toas-Tites, a sort of sealed hot sandwich—perfect after a day of skiing. Binth described the Toas-Tite machine, “The top flipped up—two pieces of white bread filled with cheese and or chili on the bottom rounded bowl shape. Bring the top down, plug it in, and the heat toasts and seals it all around like around pocket sandwich.” How satisfying does that sound after a day of skiing?

Marion was also in charge of cleaning and caring for the duplex that was rented out to seasonal visitors, and Binth recalls helping her make beds and clean toilets for incoming visitors. She says, “Bunk beds are not easy to make and hospital corners were mandatory.” Marion ran the operation like “a well-oiled machine,” Binth remembers.

Marion also helped to get Granlibakken some recognition near and far—she wrote press releases, designed ads, and designed flags that introduced visitors to this small resort on the shores of Lake Tahoe. The first ski resorts in the region were up at Donner Summit, and many Bay Area winter visitors didn’t make the trek down to lake level. Marion, through her press efforts, played a part in changing that and was a part of the effort in putting Lake Tahoe on the map as a winter destination.

Tahoe ski history

Rusty, in the center, at the Granlibakken Ski Area.

While Marion worked in the ski hut, duplexes, and as Granlibakken’s one-woman marketing department, Rusty managed the ski hill operations. The first year or two he picked up skiers at the highway in the Weasel, which was an old snowcat machine with tracks from WWII. In later years, once a road to the property was made, he plowed the Granlibakken road, groomed the hill, had floodlights installed for the ice-skating pond onsite, and taught ski and ski jumping lessons. The Rustads dammed up the creek on property to make a pond for ice-skating but it was difficult to keep the snow off the ice; Binth says she recalls one high school skating night party during her time at Granlibakken, but the pond was often at the mercy of the weather.

Rusty was also in charge of fixing the rope tow machines or re-splicing the rope when it frayed. He oversaw and was very involved in the daily operations of the hill-from daily maintenance to guest relations.  Rusty often became friends with visitors frequenting Granlibakken’s slopes—inviting them to hang out on the house deck or in the ski hut after hours. Binth remembers a few repeat visitors who became friends with the Rustads.

The Rustads were busy people, and it was always a treat for Binth to spend some time with her parents, especially her father, who was often busy outside—on the ski slopes or teaching sailing. She says, “Since Rusty and Marion were always busy during the day, it was a treat when Rusty had to run an errand into Tahoe City and would take me.  We’d go to the post office and he’d chat, and then move on to find whatever he needed, but always chatting and sharing stories.  I was just proud to be with my 'pa' as he liked to be called. He knew everyone in town.” She also treasures the times that she had the opportunity to ski with her busy father, saying, “I would try to make the big sweeping graceful turns like he did but with my much smaller skis, never quite succeeding but feeling so proud of doing something with him.”

Tahoe ski history

Rusty, "waiting for business" at Granlibakken

Granlibakken was always a smaller ski area, but it had memorable character and charm. Rusty was quite a character and it showed when he wasn’t working. Before a jumping tournament at what was then called the “Olympic Hill”, Rusty lead with an exhibition jump wearing a hula skirt and lei.  Binth remembers skiing on Easter, which the Rustads turned into a spring skiing celebration. Skiers would flock to the slopes, dressed in wild costumes and crazy hats, to ski easy races in the warm spring weather. The Easter celebration played into Marion’s love of theater—Binth remembers the many carefully and artfully crafted Halloween costumes that her mother made for her over the years. She won costume competitions in the local parade a couple of times. A couple of costumes that stand out in Binth’s mind were an authentic Norwegian outfit and a medieval princess costume. Marion passed her love of dressing up to Binth—Binth still enjoys a fun hat, or dressing up in costume.

Easter wasn’t the only holiday that The Rustads worked. They rarely had true leisure time, and worked hard to make Granlibakken a successful and sustainable operation. Binth remembers going out into the woods around Christmastime to pick out a tree, “I would be sent out to scout the hills for a good tree for our house.  At the end of the day, when my father had time, we’d go off to see what I had found, a saw hanging over his shoulder. Most often, we’d come back with a tree for us and others marked to give to family and friends.  After I had moved East with my mother and was in boarding school in Maine, I received a tree wrapped like a mummy in old parachutes from Stead Air Force Base in Reno to remind me of ‘home.’” The Rustads, so as not to interfere with Christmas ski business, always celebrated their Norwegian Christmas on Christmas Eve.

Skiing—both cross-country and downhill, was the winter sport of choice for youngsters in Tahoe at that time. The elementary school would head up to the mountain twice per week—the beginners heading to Granlibakken to practice their turns on the smaller slopes. Once they were more practiced they would ski at Squaw. Binth describes the Lake Tahoe Ski Club as a very serious and focused club, churning out racers and jumpers who competed on national and sometimes international stages.  Tahoe City families were hard working and it was a sacrifice to take time off to drive their families somewhere.  Binth remembers her mother taking her to ski meets in South Tahoe, Yosemite, Mammoth, and Sugar Bowl while her father stayed at Granlibakken to manage the daily operations of the resort.

Tahoe ski history

Binth hanging out at the Granlibakken ski hut after a big snow.

Binth doesn’t even remember learning to ski—she has been skiing since she was two years old. She learned to ski before she even had mastered walking. Her father used to tell a story—Binth, as a young child, was showing off, going fast down Granlibakken slopes. There used to be a huge tree in the bottom-center of the slope, and during spring skiing, Binth was schussing and despite the warming, she hit soft snow. Her skis stopped, but she didn’t—causing her to fall head first right into the deep snow of the tree-well under the tree, in front of everyone at Granlibakken. It always made Rusty laugh to recount that story.

The skis that they used back then were big—there was no snowplowing. She remembers when she was older, at the height of 5’3”, her skis were a full 12” taller than she was. Old habits die hard—Binth says that she still gets nervous on shorter, lighter skis-she feels more confident with heavier skis.

Rusty even had a pair of 12’ jumping skis that he kept around—huge wooden skis. Rusty competed in ski jumping in Norway, and went on to share his ski jumping knowledge with aspiring young competitors in Tahoe. Binth has visited the jump in Oslo where Rusty competed in the 30s and 40s, with the entire city spread out below the jump.

Tahoe Ski History

Rusty teaching technique to a young ski jumper on the novice jump at Granlibakken.

Granlibakken did have 2 ski jumps onsite in the 40s through the 60s. Although Binth was never very into jumping, it was a popular area for the Lake Tahoe Ski Club to practice, and a novice jump onsite was a great place for young skiers to learn techniques. In 1952, Granlibakken was the host to the Junior Ski Jumping Tournament hosted by the National Ski Area Association. Binth competed once in a local ski jumping meet. She won 10th place, and received a ribbon, but she preferred making turns rather than flying through the air. She recalls that her step-brothers, Rusty’s children with his second wife Jeanette, were very good ski jumpers.

Tahoe City’s early full-time settlers were a self-sufficient group of people, and Binth was no different. She says of growing up at Granlibakken, “It was great, I loved it—you come home from school, I was an only child and my parents were very busy, so I’d be out there on my skis or climbing around up in the hills when the rope tow wasn’t working. It was a great place to be a kid-we had the Truckee River so we could go tubing. We had the lake where my father would teach sailing.  My dog would go everywhere with me when I explored the hills and found natural tree forts.” There were deer paths, and the only roads were the forest service roads including the one Rusty enlarged when he built the bridge across the Truckee.

Tahoe ski history

Looking down the slope at the Granlibakken Ski Area.

Binth has fond memories year-round of her time at Granlibakken. From skiing down the slopes to tubing on the Truckee River, she says she wouldn’t trade her childhood for anything. There was the freedom to be a kid, get into scrapes and learn how to get out of them in the woods around Granlibakken. Granlibakken today still holds that charm—although a bit more supervised. In the winter months, it becomes a winter wonderland and place where families flock to enjoy the snow and each other. In the summer months, the hiking trails and access to the outdoors make it the perfect place for families and groups alike to bond and to explore. Many things have changed over the years, but one thing remains the same—Granlibakken is still a special place, where fond memories are made no matter the season.

Join us in celebrating 95 years of family fun at Granlibakken Tahoe. Click here for details.

Keep in touch! Click here to sign up for our email list, and be the first to know about deals, events, and more!

This blog is part of a series that looks back on skiing at Granlibakken Tahoe through the years, commemorating 95 years of winter fun at Granlibakken, which has been used as a winter recreation area since 1922. These blogs are based on interviews with people who have memories of skiing at Granlibakken. 

Do you have memories about Granlibakken Tahoe? We would love to hear them, you can share your memories by commenting below.

Here are links to other blogs that may interest you: 

Read: Learning to Ski with Rusty at Granlibakken Tahoe

Read: Granlibakken: The West Shore's Playground

Read: Kjell "Rusty" Rustad, a Sailor on Skis

Read: Olympic History at Granlibakken Tahoe


 

Steve Topol’s family relocated from Reno up to Tahoe in the mid-50s. Their house was conveniently located

on Cathedral Street, in the same neighborhood as the Granlibakken Ski Area, and Steve has fond memories of spending his free time in Granlibakken’s 74 acre valley during the winter and summer seasons.

Tahoe ski history

Steve Topol's family on the deck of their Cathedral Street house in 1959. From the left: Sister Lenell, mom Lillian, nephew Gary, sister Renee, nephew Doug, father Sidney. Steve is on the far left, standing.

Steve remembers skiing at Granlibakken between the years of 1957-59, when he was about 7-10 years old. It was a great place to learn, he says, with a small bunny slope for beginners where the sled hill now is, and the larger, steeper hill with a rope tow and a Poma lift to the top. Steve took one lesson from Kjell “Rusty” Rustad, the owner and developer of Granlibakken. Rusty hailed from Norway and was an avid skier and sailor who made his home in Tahoe City. He first developed Granlibakken as a commercial ski resort in 1947, and gave the hill its name, which means “hill sheltered by fir trees”

Tahoe Ski History

Rusty, who helped keep ski jumping alive at Lake Tahoe, on the Junior Jump at Granlibakken

Steve remembers Rusty as friendly and a good teacher, but strict and to the point. He describes Rusty as a good businessman, “He ran a tight ship. A lot of people in the community worked over at Granlibakken for him.” Steve took his remaining group lessons at Granlibakken with one of Rusty’s employees. Although Steve can’t remember his name, he remembers learning to ski under this young ski instructor’s tutelage at Granlibakken. Steve remembers cruising down the hill on his hand-me-down 210 Head Masters with Marker bindings—huge skis for a young skier.

The Ski and Sled Hill during Steve’s time was fairly basic—the same hill that still operates today, with a bunny ski slope where the current sledding area is. There was a Poma lift on the left side of the slope, and a rope tow to the very top of the hill on the right. On the far left was a ski jump, where Olympic hopefuls and competitors practiced. Although this jump wasn’t being used for competitions while Steve skied at Granlibakken, there were still a few locals, namely the Bechdolts (Carl and Pop), who helped coach aspiring ski jumpers. Steve never attempted the jump in his huge hand-me-down skis; the rope tow was enough for him.

Historic Ski Hill

The Granlibakken Ski Hill circa 1950s-60s

Steve and his siblings stuck to the rope tow, at first going up just halfway, and then to the top. Steve describes it, “If you were really courageous, you would go to the top—but you would have to be brave.” The rope tow could be hard to get a grip on, and once to the top, the ski hill was fairly steep. Although Granlibakken was known as the beginner hill, Steve remembers the steepness of the top of the hill being a bit intimidating.

In fact, everyone in Steve’s family skied at Granlibakken. He describes the progression of a typical Tahoe City skier at that time—learn at Granlibakken, graduate to Papoose (which was owned and operated by the Poulsons, where the lower slopes of Squaw Valley are today), and finally, up to Squaw One. Granlibakken’s hill was actually steeper than Papoose, but Squaw was more bustling, with the ski jumps and a ski lodge to hang out in.

However, getting to Squaw was a bit of a drive, which was a deterrent for busy families. Granlibakken’s slopes were practically right outside of Steve’s door. He and his brother would walk up Cathedral Road with their ski gear, head up the path to the top of the ski hill (now a fire road), and ski right down to the base of the hill, lapping the Granlibakken hill all day.

Tahoe Ski History

A photo of junior ski jumping champions in 1939 standing in front of the historic Tahoe Inn, which is now owned by Steve Topol, who operates the Blue Agave Restaurant out of the building.
L to R: Richard Carnell, Pete Vanni, Carl Bechdolt, Jr. and Bill Bechdolt

Granlibakken wasn’t just a winter destination for Steve and his family—they also had a blast on the property in the summertime. The road at the top of the ski hill was perfect for horseback riding—and a convenient loop could be made from the stables, where Tahoe City Lumber is now located, up to Paige Meadows, and then back through town and to his house on Cathedral. Steve also rode his go-cart around the property in his early teens, before he could legally drive. The Cal-Alumni Center that was located there had a campy vibe, and the valley that Granlibakken is tucked away in was perfect for exploring.

Steve has remained in the Tahoe Area, raising his own family here. He now owns the Blue Agave, formerly the Tahoe Inn, in Tahoe City. He purchased the historic property from Pop Bechdolt, who helped judge the ski jumping competitions at Granlibakken Tahoe. Today the Blue Agave is a staple in the Tahoe City downtown—serving up delicious margaritas with gorgeous lake views.

Looking back at his time spent in the area, Steve says of Granlibakken, “It’s always been a landmark for people who lived around here.” Throughout Granlibakken’s 95 years of winter fun—starting in 1922 as a winter recreation area and all the way up to today as a resort, conference center, lodge, and ski area, Granlibakken has been making memories for generations.

 

Join us in celebrating 95 years of family fun at Granlibakken Tahoe. Click here for details.

Keep in touch! Click here to sign up for our email list, and be the first to know about deals, events, and more!

This blog is part of a series that looks back on skiing at Granlibakken Tahoe through the years, commemorating 95 years of winter fun at Granlibakken, which has been used as a winter recreation area since 1922. These blogs are based on interviews with people who have memories of skiing at Granlibakken. 

Do you have memories about Granlibakken Tahoe? We would love to hear them, you can share your memories by commenting below.

Here are links to other blogs that may interest you: 

Read: Learning to Ski with Rusty at Granlibakken Tahoe

Read: Kjell "Rusty" Rustad, a Sailor on Skis

Read: Olympic History at Granlibakken Tahoe