lebanon outing club - three kids skiing

Making Ski-History for 100 Years and Beyond

The Lebanon Outing Club at Storrs Hill celebrated its 100th season in 2023. To commemorate the event, a centennial celebration weekend was organized, featuring good food, guest speakers, and of course, skiing.

Over the course of its history, The Lebanon Outing Club (LOC) has provided a local hub for winter activities at Storrs Hill, with opportunities for skiers, snowboarders, and competitive training such as alpine ski racing and ski jumping. Other special community events, like the “full moon fiesta” and family fun nights, provide an opportunity for local families to gather and celebrate the joy of the winter season in Lebanon.

The Lebanon Outing Club was originally founded as a student club at Lebanon High School in 1923 by Erling Heistad, a Mechanical Arts teacher, Winter Sports and Track coach. Heistad’s goal was to make a ski jump within walking distance for every child in Lebanon. Since then, LOC has more than accomplished that goal, having taken countless measures over the years to improve skiing opportunities for Lebanon and the Upper Valley.

In 1925, the Club installed its first ski jump at Storrs Hill and nicknamed it the “Scrape”, because ski jumpers would often scrape their bellies when they landed. The first alpine ski trail at Storrs Hill was installed in 1931; a second ski jump and lighting for night skiing were added in 1939. Various other improvements and additions were made over the years – including new ski jumps, expanded slopes, and a second lodge – and by 1973, LOC embarked on a modernization project led by Storrs Hill Ski School founder and developer of Snow Crest ski area (later known as Whaleback), Ernest Dion. LOC reorganized and officially became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1986, and the Club assumed responsibility for ski area operations from the City of Lebanon.

More recently, Storrs Hill and the Lebanon Outing Club have continued to improve their operations and provide joy to many skiers and residents of the Upper Valley. The Olympic torch made an appearance at Storrs Hill in 2002, where it passed through the “ring of fire” off of the 35-foot ski jump. Many Olympians have skied at Storrs Hill at some point, like ski jumper Nick Alexander (Lebanon native) and alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin. LOC also continues to improve its slopes and jumps over time: recently, the Club purchased a winch cat groomer to improve the slopes and installed stainless steel tracks on the ski jumps. In 2016, they refurbished the ski lifts, and in 2020, replaced the lift’s platter poles. The Club has also improved its lighting with LED lights provided by the City of Lebanon.

In January, LOC received a grant from the Killington World Cup Foundation (KWCF), which has allowed them to make lift improvements after recent weather events and electrical shortages. “The damage caused by the weather caused a lot of headaches and hardships,” says Lebanon Outing Club president Cory Grant. “A lot of thanks goes to that organization (KWCF) for helping us out with that grant.”

During the pandemic, the Lebanon Outing Club – like many other local organizations – had to navigate the changing times, adjusting to abide by new community guidelines while continuing to provide a place to ski for Upper Valley residents. To do so, the Club expanded its lodge, adding an outdoor canopy to ensure that enough people could fit in the lodge while also keeping that infamous 6-foot distance from each other.

lebanon outing club - two smiling people holding a thank you sign

Today, the Lebanon Outing Club and Storrs Hill continue in their dedication to providing the community with a great place to ski and celebrate winter. Multiple local high schools use Storrs Hill to practice and race, and LOC provides lessons for all ages and experiences, from first-time skiers to competitive racers. Storrs Hill also hosts U12 and U14 ski races, and Ski Jumping Junior National Qualifier competitions also happen on the hill.

Some short-term future plans for continued improvements include adding a tubing and sledding area to Storrs Hill. Another goal is to introduce a freestyle team – a place where skiers and snowboarders can safely practice freestyle skiing and snowboarding, says Cory Grant. To accomplish these goals and other future plans, more committees and volunteer work are essential. The Lebanon Outing Club is a nonprofit organization, and many of the things that they offer the community can only be accomplished through the help of generous donors and volunteers. As the Club continues to grow, Grant says that committees and volunteers will become more and more important. “Come learn more about what we’re doing,” Grant says. “Help us build a greater future for the Upper Valley.”