Doppelmayr Engineer, Lift Innovator

Passing Date: 
Thursday, December 23, 2021

John West, 82, passed away peacefully at his home in Sandy, Oregon, December 23, 2021.

West learned to ski at Red Devil ski area in Government Camp, Oregon, owned by his parents. He attended the University of Wyoming on a full ski racing scholarship, then studied engineering at the Oregon Technical Institute. 

As a boy, West was intrigued by the mechanics of ski lifts and helped maintain the three rope tows at Red Devil.

In 1965, he took a job building and maintaining summer lifts at the International Summer Racing Camp at Red Lodge, Montana. In 1966, Mount Hood Meadows hired West as its first mountain manager and construction supervisor. He also developed grooming equipment and techniques at the area.

West joined Doppelmayr in 1971 and over the next 25 years built more than 200 ski lifts around the world, including at three Winter Olympics: the 1988 Calgary, 2002 Salt Lake City and 2010 Vancouver Games.

In the early 1970s, he worked with a Doppelmayr team to help develop the detachable chair system. He also directed the first major helicopter-assisted lift-construction project in the United States.

West moved to Vail in 1996 and worked on the Lionshead gondola until a work-related accident led to his retirement in 2001. 

Over his career West was honored with many awards from ski organizations, government entities and ski industry groups, including the 1996 Industrial Strength Award from the Pacific Northwest and Canada West ski areas associations.

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