2017-2018 Far West Skier's Guide - 64-16
The four of us, the helicopter pilot and a photographer began the day on top of Ajax Mountain in Aspen and flew to the summit of Snowmass Ski
Area a few days before Snowmass opened in 1967 as a promotion for the Grand Opening. Before lifts were installed, helicopters and snowcats took
adventurous skiers on site inspections and possibly merely for the thrill - if they could afford the rental fees. Associated Press International / December, 1967
took a straight piece of metal, perhaps a knife
and ran it perpendicular to the length of the
ski to make the surface even from edge to
edge. We used this not only for being able to
ski faster and prevent the build up of snow
on the bottom of our skis, but also to fill in
gouges after skiing over a rock or two.
The second way for waxing skis was to
buy a package of hard ski wax that came in
wedges for varying temperatures. A person
would rub the hard wax on the bottom of the
skis from tip to tail. Then, a cork block was
also purchased to melt the wax by rubbing.
The friction from rubbing did the job.
In the 1960s, ski shops were buying machines that would wax skis with heated wax
and prep the bottoms for a fee. Much easier!
Let's fast forward. I was accepted to the
University of Denver and attended D.U. from
1964 - 1969. The university ski coach during
this time was Willy Schaeffler. His teams won
most of the NCAA Championships during his
tenure. At that time, I thought I was a very
good skier and went out for the team in the
fall of 1964. I didn't make the team, but I did
train with them. There was a lot of competition for earning a position. However, Willy
Schaeffler and I got to know each other quite
well because of the daily training. He was
also the ski school director at A-Basin Ski
Area then owned by Larry Jump. Willy asked
me, like many D.U. students, to join the ski
school. I was Stage 1 Certified in 1965, my
number was 367. This was under the Rocky
Mountain Division (RMSIA) of Professional
Ski Instructors of America (PSIA). Today,
there are thousands of certified instructors.
We taught weekends and all school vacations.
Several well-known skiers had their roots
at A-Basin. One ski instructor I taught with
in the mid 1960's was Ed Lukes. The country
was in the midst of the Vietnam War, and
many soldiers were returning as amputees. Ed
started devoting his teaching to instructing
amputees and taught them a new world on
snow. As I remember, Ed eventually took
these teachings over to Winter Park. A-Basin
was noted for its challenging slopes and Winter Park was more accommodating to Ed's
and the veteran's needs.
Jerry Muth, another instructor I worked
with, took over as ski school director at ABasin. Around 1966, he was asked to assist
Roger Staub as director at Vail, which had
opened four years earlier. Three or four members of the 10th Mountain Division from
WWII were working in Aspen after the war.
Pete Seibert - being one of them - would drive
past the mountain that is now Vail on his way
over to Denver. He noticed the area's potential, put together very wealthy families who he
knew from skiing and hired a talented architect, Fitzhugh "Fitz" Scott from Milwaukee.
They wanted a conforming pleasant architecture they found in Switzerland and Austria.
Their dream became a reality with Vail Resort
When Jerry Muth moved to Vail he asked
if I would be interested in teaching only private lessons during the long vacation breaks
from college. Subsequently, I started working
for Vail Associates. I was then fully certified
with RMSIA. After my graduation from college in 1969, I moved to Vail. I already had a
solid base of wealthy clients wanting ski les-
64 - 16 Far West Skier's Guide 2O17 - 2O18 / Digital Edition Insert
sons, and I took an interest in real estate. Skiing was my occupation. Real estate became
Working in Vail in its early years, I heard
of the history connected to one of its famous
runs, Riva Ridge. Riva Ridge is a black diamond run, and was used in the early days as
the downhill course for some of the international races. Pete Seibert and many other 10th
Mountain men fought at Riva Ridge in the
Apennines Mountains in Italy in 1945 against
the Germans. The battle was one of the toughest fights in the mountainous areas of Europe.
Three years earlier, in 1942, the US Government started a training camp for elite soldiers
to fight in Europe. The training camp was
called Camp Hale and remains a historical site
today. The location is just south of Vail between Red Cliff and Leadville on Colorado
State Highway 24. The soldiers were outfitted
in all white uniforms, as well as, white skis,
poles, etc. to blend in with the white snow.
Most of these soldiers were good skiers before
they trained at Camp Hale, because a lot of
them were recruited from university ski clubs.
In December 1967, while a student and
part time instructor at Vail, I was asked if I
would participate in being the first to ski the
runs, not yet open, at a new resort called
Snowmass. I really don't know why they
chose me when they had many instructors to
pick from at Aspen. They wanted a public relations news article with photos about this
new resort. I was to include a few students
who were excellent skiers, able to ski virgin
powder conditions. I selected a couple from
New York City, Mr. and Mrs. Alan Slifka. I also