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Home » About » Newsroom » Press Releases » Ralph Melville Obit 2016

Longtime CMC member and founder of the Aspen Mountain Chalet, passes away at age 90


Ralph Melville, a Colorado Mountain Club member since the late 1950s and early member of the Aspen Group, passed away Monday at the age of 90.

After serving in the U.S. Navy from 1943-46, then earning his degree from Dartmouth where he was a skier, Melville visited the White Mountains of New Hampshire and worked at a lodge at Pinkham Notch. His friend Brookie Dodge, who skied in the 1950 FIS World Championships in Aspen, urged him to visit the fledgling Colorado resort in the winter of 1951.

Ralph left Aspen after his first winter, but returned for a second look in winter 1953 and got a lucky break — injuring an ankle in a ski accident which gave him time to contemplate life and Aspen. He bought two city lots near the base of Aspen Mountain for $2,000, and shortly after began to build the Aspen Mountain Chalet, which became a cornerstone in Aspen and still remains an affordable and welcoming host to visitors from around the world. Ralph and his wife Marian opened up the Chalet to the CMC Aspen Group for their annual dinner for many years and were always the most gracious of hosts.

Ralph was also a founding member of Mountain Rescue Aspen, which he became involved in after surviving a life-threatening fall on Maroon Peak in 1956. Ralph always mentioned his gratitude for the people who saved his life and felt an obligation to pass on that help to others.  Ralph battled leukemia for an extended time and had eight children, 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.  A memorial will be held at Crossroads Church of Aspen on March 6 at 3:30 p.m.

Excerpts from the Aspen Times.