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When the Rat Pack came to visit, maybe



Hey, baby, can you pass me a swizzle stick?" Sammy asked Dean as the latter stood by Sinatra at the window of the chalet.

Dean and Frank were staring out at the mountains and glaciers across the wide valley, absentmindedly working through their martinis.

Frank glanced at Sammy.

"Get it yourself, and don't call me baby," said Frank. "I've told you before."

"I was talking to Dean."

"Oh. Good." Frank replied, turning back to the panorama.

"Canada sure has some pretty prospects, don't it?"

Dean walked over, holding a clean purple plastic stirrer with an improbable crown on the end. He was all brylcreem, middle-aged dimples and languor.

"Here ya go, my friend. And I will gladly relieve you of some of that Vermouth," Dean said, taking the bottle.

"Craaazy," Sammy said, to no one in particular, and passed it along.

Back at the window, Frank was frowning.

"What do they call that range again?" he asked Sammy.

"That's the Tantalus Mountain Range."

Frank nodded.

"After the Greek myth," he said, sagely.

"What's that?" asked Dean, accidently lighting his own swizzle stick.

"I thought you were Italian. It's all the same mythology," Frank snapped.

"Tantalus was a king who was sent to hell because he stole ambrosia from the gods. They made him stand under a fruit-laden bough in the middle of a deep, fresh stream. Whenever he got hungry, he'd reach for the fruit but the branch was magic and pulled away. When he got thirsty, he'd try to take a sip, but the waters would recede. He was the first man to be tantalized..."

"Ain't that a kick in the head," Dean said, dimples flashing.

"When does Joey get here with the girls?" Frank asked Sammy.

"Tomorrow, baby. Tomorrow," said Sammy.

"Good," said Frank. "And don't call me baby."

When the Hollywood Rat Pack invested in the first proposed ski resort on Brohm Ridge near Squamish in the early 1970s...

Wait. What?

This piece of investigative journalism is brought to you by a local hair salon. A stylist and client were pondering the legend of Sammy Davis Jr.'s visits to Brohm Ridge.

I was in the next chair. When it comes to snippets of gossip of this sort, the Who, What, When, Where and Whys tend to flow freely. They said at least one Rat Packer, agreed by both to be Davis Jr., had spent time in one of the gorgeous chalets there.

It was as improbable as anything else I've written about that ended up being real. So I made some calls, sent some emails.

Businessman Wolfgang Richter, longtime proponent of a resort on Brohm Ridge, called me back with astonishing speed. We spoke for almost an hour. He filled me in on the story of Adi F. Bauer, an Austrian who, long before Whistler saw a towrope, decided to bring his beloved Alpine resorts to the mountains above Squamish.

The effort began in the late 1950s and failed in 1971. Apparently, there were many, many investors. He built finely finished chalets, bringing over European craftsmen, tramline towers... millions was spent.

Richter had no hard evidence of Rat Pack involvement, but thought that it was Dean Martin, rather than Davis Jr., who was involved in the project.

American writer Lowell Skoog is working on a history of Pacific Northwest ski resorts. He had no knowledge of Rat Pack involvement, called me "ambitious", and forwarded a photo of Northwest Skier newspaper from 1959, which led on the Garibaldi ski resort. Among other things, the article told more about Bauer's $5.5 million project, which included cabarets and a major hotel to be called The Royal Alpine, accessed by what was then the world's longest tramline.

I went to the Black Tusk Snowmobile Club, which took over the tenure on Brohm Ridge in 1971. The club's VP, Tony Cailes, added to the mystery, saying others had said the Rat Packers had visited but hadn't found conclusive proof — but he had photos of Mercedes parked outside the chalets.

Don Scott, also involved in the snowmobile club, called me too. He was a 17-year-old security guard at the chalets when the project went into receivership. He confirmed that even as the B.C. government was reclaiming the property, Bauer was still showing potential investors around.

"I never heard any names specifically," he told me, "but I did hear that Hollywood was involved."

So there we have my story so far. Journalism often starts with speculation crossing over to verification. When it all goes well and people are generous we get to the bottom of the matter. I don't happen to be past the speculation stage yet.

But please feel free to contact me if you know anything about it — my email address is at the top of the page.

I thought I'd tantalize you with this story and see if this particular bough bears fruit.

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