50 years of skiing Vail, diligently journaled
VAIL — Local John Dunn’s 50th anniversary of skiing Swingsville was a matter of record.
He knows he skied that run on Vail Mountain on Dec. 5, 1965, because he kept a journal detailing the day. That journal, which he had been keeping for more than a decade at that time, he still keeps to this day.
“It was fun as kids, when we would have a dispute about some familial fact, we could always go to the paper of record,” said Thom Dunn, John’s son. “Often, we would be able to settle it, because it had been documented.”
Thom’s brother, Will Dunn, was recently telling Vail Mountain Operations Director Elizabeth Howe how the family was looking forward to celebrating Dad’s 50th day at Vail on Dec. 5. Will Dunn said when he told Howe, her eyes lit up.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” she said. “Our service mantra is own it, elevate it, personalize it, and when you can personalize something for somebody, I think people here deserve that. They’re so loyal, and they’re so in love with this mountain. It’s theirs.”
FROM BAKERS TO GROOMERS
Rallying her team, Howe had the chefs at The 10th prepare a nice cake for Dunn, and the groomers prepare Swingsville for the big day.
Larry Knoll, Vail’s grooming manager, said they made two passes on Swingsville as it was snowing that night.
“We did it once around 1 a.m., then came back and gave it another groom at 5 a.m. for the snow that had fallen overnight,” he said.
Dunn had his sons and their sons — 6-year-old Max and 7-year-old Mitch — with him on his 50th anniversary day. The crew met at the bottom of Gondola One early that morning. On the ride up, Dunn shared stories of what it was like 50 years ago.
“The wait for the gondola back then was about 45 minutes,” he said.
‘REST OF THE INDUSTRY NOT LIKE THIS’
A year after his first experience at Vail, Dunn moved to Leadville, where he stayed for about 15 years. He then moved to the Vail area, where he has lived for the past 32 years. After being first introduced to skiing as a student at New York University, he’s been in love with the sport ever since.
“When I got to Colorado, the contrast between Eastern skiing and being out here just blew my mind,” he said. “I couldn’t believe all the snow.”
Now 76 years old, Dunn still enjoys the sport as often as possible.
“To be here skiing with my two grandsons, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said.
Howe said in Vail, there’s a different level of enthusiasm for skiing.
“The passion that people have for this mountain, it’s not like that in the rest of the industry,” she said. “So when Will mentioned it to me, I thought, it’s such a great story, we have to do something with it. We have to celebrate.”