Dick Bass – a skiing icon
Harry was a “dyed-in-the-wool” Aspenite and felt that Vail would not succeed. But Dick had fallen in love with Vail and later became very involved. He became a member of the board of directors in 1966.
Dick Bass wanted to build on Mill Creek Circle, but all of the lots were sold. However, when Clyde Nichols of Kansas City defaulted, Bass was asked if he still wanted a lot.
“Man, do I ever!” was his reply.
Dick Bass built the largest house on the circle, with a living-room ceiling height of 35 feet. While most of the original homes on Mill Creek Circle have been replaced with larger ones, Dick’s is still there and is almost as big as the newer homes. Dick and his wife Rita were active socially, and the house was the scene of many fabulous parties.
Not an avid golfer, but knowing how important golf would be in the future, Dick Bass fought against the proposed nine-hole pitch-and-putt course. With the help of a few supporters, he convinced Pete Seibert and Jack Tweedy to wait until a full 18 holes were possible. That took a great deal of doing, because Vail had to work out a long lease with the Pulis family to run the course out toward East Vail.
“After winning the battle, I was asked to be on the board. That’s what put me on the board – the golf course,” Bass said.
Brother Harry Bass, meanwhile, after visiting with his family, made a 360-degree switch. Harry Bass began to like Vail, bought a home and eventually bought Vail itself.
In the fall of 1969, Dick Bass met Ted Johnson from Alta and became involved with the ownership, development and management of Snowbird Ski Area in Utah. In 1972, Seibert asked Dick Bass to resign because he had a competing ski area in Utah. Dick Bass was sad about it because of all the time he had put into Vail and how much he loved it. Harry Bass replaced his brother on the board of directors.
President Gerald Ford and his family used the Bass house for several seasons, starting in 1969, at which time Dick Bass was heavily involved in Snowbird.
Later, Dick Bass was to become a world-famous celebrity. With his good friend Frank Wells, president of Warner Brothers Pictures, he set out to climb the highest peaks of the seven continents. Wells failed on Mount Everest, but Dick, at age 51, completed the odyssey. His book, “Seven Summits,” was a best-seller.
Dick Bass is still a vibrant, exciting person, and he still owns his house on Mill Creek Circle.
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 67th installment, an excerpt from chapter 10, “The VIPs and the Notables.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.