Henry Bendinelli passed away last week at the age of 91. He started skiing on Mt. Hood before Timberline lodge was even built and was skiing there until the end. Last season, Henry was still ripping up the slopes at Timberline and Sun Valley in his 90s! I can only hope to be able to still be alive by then, let alone still skiing.
"Henry enjoyed skiing, bicycling, and dancing with the ladies. He did all three right up to the end. He skied at both Sun Valley and Timberline this past winter, at the age of 91. It was only in the last month or so that his strength rapidly faded away. He will always be remembered and missed not just by his Mt. Hood Ski Kats club but also by the wider community of skiers in the Portland area. Riley Hooper made a wonderful short video about Henry."
His 70-some years of skiing at Mt. Hood (& other places around the world) are incredible. Henry has been skiing since 1936, T-Line Lodge was built in 1937. His only years off were when he went overseas to fight in WWII and Korea. The man is a legend in every sense of the word.
By the conservative calculations, Bendinelli has skied a distance equivalent to the circumference of the Earth in his lifetime. By other estimates, he's done it twice. He made his first skis in a high school shop class, from two pieces of spruce and a pair of non-release bindings. The skis broke on the first day he rode them.
In high school, he was working at ski shop in Portland when he met Hjalmar Hvam, who had invented a releasable ski binding while recovering from a broken leg. "Everyone ridiculed it," Bendinelli said. "But everyone that ridiculed it ended up with a spiral break." They were friends for the rest of Hvam's life, until he died at age 94, a year after he stopped skiing. "God loves skiers, see? He doesn't keep them around long after they give it up."
After that, the war in Europe, then later on in Korea, called him away from his passion but he was back at skiing as soon as he got home again. Since then he had been skiing and living life to the fullest at Mt. Hood.
SIP Henry Bendinelli. We can only hope to live a life as rad as yours.