One of the earliest European inspirations for the sport was the Englishman Cecil Slingsby, who crossed the 1,550m high (5,800 ft) Keiser Pass, Norway, on skis in 1880. However, the "father" of the sport is generally regarded as the German Wilhelm von Arlt, who made the first ski ascent of over 3,000m, when he climbed the Rauris Sonnblick (3,103m / 10,180 ft) in 1894. Skimo Racing surfaced in around 1910-1915 in small military circles. The military used Skimo Racing primarily as a training opportunity, to ensure a strong group of soldiers would be able to patrol the high mountains passes quickly and efficiently to help protect the people. In the 1920's civilians began organizing their first few races and in the 1930's racing really began to take off.
In 1933 a group of friends who wanted to remember and celebrate a fallen comrade organized the Trofeo Mezzalama race. In 1975 at the races, the first Ski Mountaineering World Championships occurred, also the first time a female team competed officially. The Patrouilles Des Glaciers was started in 1943 to test the abilities of Switzerland's soldiers. Today, the Patrouilles Des Glaciers remains under Military Control, but is open to all racers. Pierra Menta was started in 1985 and along with these two are combined into the "Grand Three races". From 1991 the events were originally sanctioned by the International Council for Ski Mountaineering Competitions, merged into the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF) in 2008.