Heavenly ski resort dedicates trail to 96-year-old former ski patroller (video)

Claire Cudahy

At a ceremony atop Heavenly Mountain Resort on Monday, a trail was dedicated to a 96-year-old former ski patroller, who hit the slopes 100 days last winter.

In August the Tribune reported on a petition circulating around the South Shore community calling for a slope to be named after Martin Hollay, a local skiing legend and 25-year employee of Heavenly Mountain Resort responsible for crafting many of the Nevada runs.

In just a couple of months more than 1,300 people added their names to the petition.

The ski resort opted to name a trail after Hollay that leads to a peak the former ski patroller has long referred to as “Martin’s Peak” and adorned with a flag from his home country of Hungary.

Hollay, along with a crowd of friends, family and former coworkers, hiked the snowy trail and scaled the rocks of the peak to replace the tattered Hungarian flag with a new one given to him in the ceremony.

“Your life is and continues to be extraordinary — and that’s an understatement,” said Mike Goar, Tahoe-region vice president for Vail Resorts and Heavenly COO. “Thank you for everything you’ve done in creating this world class ski resort that everyone is so proud to be a part of.”

“You keep skiing because every year that you ski is another year that I know I can,” added South Lake Tahoe Mayor Austin Sass.

Many of Hollay’s friends also got up and spoke, including Malcolm Tibbetts, who was hired by Hollay in 1972 as ski patrol and retired over 30 years later as Heavenly’s vice president of mountain operations.

“Martin, you’re special. My friendship with you is long and deep, and I treasure it,” said Tibbetts.

Heavenly also honored Hollay by naming a stretch of trees that he planted on the mountain after him. In 1973, after the creation of the Meadow Dam and Reservoir for snowmaking, Hollay planted saplings he found on the mountain near there to help compensate for the trees he felled over the years while creating runs.

“Every year I would plant a few more. I was thinking that if I have to cut trees, I want to bring some trees back on the mountain,” said Hollay, tearing up.

A sign explaining the significance of “Martin’s Trees” will soon sit by the pines.

“I’m excited and overwhelmed,” said Hollay’s daughter Cezi. “After everything that has gone on with the petition, this is a very appropriate dedication. The peak has been there for a while, but now there is access to the peak and I’m excited the trail will be open to the public next summer.”

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