Peter Shelton

Where 60 counts as a youngster

Posted in Ski history, Watch columns by pshelton on April 15, 2010

One of the Alta volunteer guides stood on a knoll watching, hoping that all of her charges would make the turn to the Supreme chairlift. Most of them did turn right as instructed onto the narrow access trail. But a couple of them didn’t, sailing along in their timeless parallel christies, merrily on down past the cut-off.

“Oh, I get it,” deadpanned the guide. “Half of them are deaf and the other half don’t listen.”

This was a funny if somewhat exaggerated assessment of the group. Her charges, my compatriots at the annual gathering of the International Skiing History Association, probably averaged 75 years of age. More than a few of them sported hearing aids. Quite a few—the group numbered about 20—were well into their 80s. All were lifetime skiers, some of them superb skiers still. They knew what they were doing, but not, all of the time, where they were going.

ISHA does a lot of good tings. It maintains an exhaustive history website (www.skiinghistory.org). It publishes a quarterly journal, Skiing Heritage, that is chock full of profiles of people everybody’s heard of (Stein Eriksen, Ernest Hemingway) and ski people you probably haven’t heard of (Jerry Nunn, for example, the first female professional avalanche hunter, a woman who regularly drove cross country with a trunk full of dynamite; or Roland Palmedo, Wall Street banker, World War I pilot, kayaker, sailor, climber, world traveler and master of four languages, the man who started the ski areas at Stowe and Mad River Glen, Vermont). (more…)