Dartmouth ties run deep in Vail
VAIL – The “Big Green” tidal wave loomed large over Vail Mountain Friday, as Dartmouth alumni skied the slopes, stressed the chair lift cables and had a few drinks.Dubbed the Winter carniVail, the event is intended to reinvigorate the original Dartmouth Winter Carnival, which some say had become lackluster over the years. Originally, the event in New Hampshire was an important opportunity for older generations to meet girls at the once single-sex college. “Today, the lack of snow in New England, and the availability of young ladies on the now co-ed campus, has led to a less viable Winter Carnival,” organizer and alumnus Stephen Waterhouse said.Thus, the party moved westward and this year Waterhouse expected a contingent of about 150 to meet at the Vista Bahn on Friday, when the weekend festivities began. Dubbed the Winter carniVail, the event isn’t the only Vail-Dartmouth connection. Vail founder Pete Seibert once asked Dartmouth graduate and now deceased Aspen general manager Dick Durrance whether Vail and its mountain held the potential to become a ski area.
“Seibert invited him to fly over Vail to see if this would make an interesting ski area,” Waterhouse said.Son Dick Durrance II – also a Dartmouth grad – accompanied the two men on that legendary flight in the early 1960s.”Pete sought him out when he was thinking of starting Vail,” Durrance II said, adding his father “loved the big bowls out back and the hugeness and variety of terrain. He gave Pete a resounding endorsement.”Other connections exist, namely grads gracing the valley. Tom Healy walked the halls of Dartmouth during the ’50s. He was born and raised in Cleveland before relocating to Vail in 1989.”I thought about living in Vail for many years,” Healy said.Healy taught math at Vail Mountain School for 10 years then took a board position with Habitat for Humanity, where he now serves as executive director. And other Big Greenies like Joe McHugh pitched in building homes for the organization.
McHugh, a part-time resident from Dallas, bought a home in Vail in 1998 after getting a taste of the mountain recreational life.So why do Dartmouth grads flock to the area?”Probably the same reason they went to Dartmouth,” McHugh said. “Hiking, biking, skiing – all the same things we like to do in Vail.”Waterhouse said the 10th Mountain Division which once trained at Camp Hale, was heavily influenced by Dartmouth grade. Members of the unit made many contributions to the founding and development of Vail after returning from World War II.”Few recognize that it was the alumni and staff of the northern New England skiing colleges, particularly Dartmouth, who formed the early core of the 10th Mountain Division,” Waterhouse said.Seibert, along with fellow Vail founder Earl Eaton, served with the division (though neither went to Dartmouth) and the elder Durrance was involved in a precursor of the mountain fighters.
Bill “Sarge” Brown, of Vail Sarge’s Shelter fame, met Seibert while serving in the 10th and later became head of mountain operations at Vail. Brown also headed up the Reserve Officers Training Corps at Dartmouth in the early ’60s.Waterhouse said carniVail is “simply a further step in a natural evolvement of the Dartmouth-Vail relationship.” “So when you see a Dartmouth grad in the next few days, say ‘hello’ and wish them well,” he said. Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado