This beautifully designed object comes from the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum. What’s it for? Have you used one? When was that, by the way? Let us know.  Scroll down to add your COMMENTS below.

Credit: Vermont Ski And Snowboard Museum

Last Week

Once again, it is clear there are some sharp-eyed ski historians out there in reader-land.  There were lots of very astute comments.

This photo comes from a SKIING Magazine Oct 1969 story by John Jerome.  His article reports on the revival of New Hampshire’s legendary Inferno Race on Mt. Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine in the spring of 1969, the event pictured here. Unfortunately, the article didn’t report the name of the racer in the picture.

According to Jerome, the last previous Inferno race was in 1939 when Toni Matt scared himself silly by schussing the headwall. Numerous debates have ensued about whether his run was a mistake or intentional. Regardless, Toni found himself deeply rooted in ski history lore.

Thirty years later, in 1969, the race was held as a “loosely controlled Giant Slalom”, hence the gate you see in the picture. [Dave Irons, you got that right!]  The idea was to prevent anyone from doing a Toni on the headwall which, by the way, has a 55 degree pitch.  The weather was miserable, temp rising from 13 degrees to mid 20s at race time with a wind blowing at 75.  For the record, here were the winners:  Veteran’s Category—George Macomber, Junior Category—Duncan Cullman of Franconia, NH.  But, Jerome reports, the bravest of all was 55 year old Adams Carter who, in honor of his participation in the three original Infernos in the 30s, foreran the course.





  1. It’s a propain fluid type lighter

  2. frank dolman says:

    It’s a hand warmer. Fill with lighter fluid. Light with a match. Let it warm up. place in pocket. I used one while ski patrolling on below zero days

  3. John Bulina says:

    It’s a hand warmer. FYI: Ski or Skiing magazine had an interview with Toni Matt before he died. He said it was an accident.

    • Actually, he did not know the course, and did not know that nobody had gone straight down. He told us it was foolish of him after the race.

  4. Andy Germanow says:

    My Dad had a hand warmer like this one that we used when we first started skiing in the early 50’s at Snow Ridge in Turin NY.

  5. Frank is correct. I had one. It worked, but I must say that thinking about it now it is hard to believe that we carried around a container of burning lighter fluid in our pocket.

  6. Susie Greer says:

    It’s a hand warmer.

  7. Gus Steadman says:

    Yes, a hand warmer. We had several and, as Frank says, fill with lighter fluid, light, and let get warm. Ours all had cloth pouches you’d put them into before you’d put them in your pocket. Zippo still makes them and REI sells them for about $20. https://www.rei.com/product/892408/zippo-12-hour-hand-warmer

  8. art roerink says:

    yep, a good old fashioned hand or pocket warmer.

  9. My dad had one and used in a flannel pouch with a pull string at the top. This kept the burn to a minimum. He never let me borrow it when we skied in sub-zero weather in northern Vermont in the late 40’s and early 50’s.

  10. I will just leave my comment with all the others that agree this is a hand warmer (but often simply carried inside the jacket). I used mine while in the Boy Scouts when camping in the winter in the mid 1960s. Nice photo.

  11. Never had one but recognized it as a hand warmer.


  12. Frank has it right, along with the instructions on how to use it. I think I still have one of these warmers, just like the one pictured, rather than the one in the link that Jeff provided. I don’t remember if it was my father’s or if I acquired one when I first went in the Army: even Georgia gets cold in December and January. In either event, it was the 1960s.

  13. It was fired by lighter fluid and did stay warm for hours by smoldering in a pants pocket. What could go wrong??? I used them for ice skating on frozen ponds but never took one skiing since I was just fine in my itchy wool hat with itchy ear flaps and my itchy wool knickers and itchy wool socks. I see that a lot of the folks responding to this are North Eastern skiers. Dad and I would drive to Mad River Glen VT in his Corvair on roads that were less than safe or direct. 8 hours from CT. I wish I had a photo of people loading onto the single chair with heads poking out of the heavy woolen ponchos supplied by MRG. Nothing like suffering alone as the howling wind swung that single. We would stay at the Hartford Ski Club lodge and walk to the ticket office. The plan was always to get the “Milk Run” which was to be right behind the staff who carried the most perishable of items to the less than palatial “warming hut” at the top. Dad would approach people and point out white cheeks or noses indicating the onset of frost bite. Line-cutters might a tap on the head with his pole. “the line starts back there”. You funneled into line, and circled half way around the elevated roof of the shack that housed the big diesel engine, roaring and belching smoke, before grabbing your poncho and boarding the lift. Great memories.

  14. Inga Schalburg says:

    It is a hand warmer. I had one ! It was quite smelly due to the lighter fuel.

  15. Wes Schimmelpfennig says:

    Even a west coast skier can recognize it as a hand warmer.

  16. Wes (A Hero of Squaw Valley) is right. I believe the brand name was Jon-e.
    I had one too. Lucky I didn’t burn a hole in my new gabardine ski pants.

  17. agree frank has it right

  18. A hand warmer. Remember when they were around.
    We must have loved the sport because the clothing that was available did not keep us very warm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *