Earl & Petes legendary hike | VailDaily.com

Earl & Petes legendary hike

Matt TerrellVail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado Early one morning in March of 1957, Earl Eaton and Pete Seibert strapped on leather ski boots at the base of Vail Mountain and went hunting for a ski resort. When the pair summited the then nameless peak after a long, cold hike through knee deep powder, they gazed at the endless, powdery bowls and knew they were seeing the future. They had found Vail.Vails history stems from Eaton and Seiberts shared sense of adventure and dream of creating a ski resort, and that first trip up the mountain together is legend around here one of those stories told over and over again, one of those well documented moments that truly changed history, at least in Eagle County.

Earl took Peter up, they hiked up all day, eight or nine hours, and when they got to the top, Peter said, Earl, you found the place, lets do something about it, said Dick Hauserman, one of the original directors of Vail Associates.Since he was a young boy, Eaton, who was born near Squaw Creek in 1922, had hunted and hiked the entire area. As an adult, he worked in ski patrol or as a snowcat driver in the winters, and in the summers, hiked through the Colorado backcountry with a Geiger counter, looking for minerals. This gave him a special knowledge of the less seen areas of the mountains, and he wanted to find a place for a perfect ski resort.Seibert, who served with the 10th Mountain Division during World War II and had been a member of the 1950 US Alpine Ski team, had also long dreamed of creating a ski resort.They first met in Aspen in 1947, and for the next 10 years, they explored at least a dozen possible ski mountains together, including the Collegiate Peaks west of Salida, Monarch Pass and the San Juan range in southwest Colorado. They werent up to snuff.Early in 1957 while they were both working in the Loveland Pass ski area, Eaton again approached Seibert with what appeared to be a winner.He told me that it was the damnedest ski mountain he had ever seen. He said that the only reason someone hadnt already developed it was because no one could see the top slopes or the miraculous Back Bowls from the valley below, Seibert wrote in Vail: Triumph of a Dream.So, then came that first hike. Eaton took Seibert to the base of the mountain, and they began their trek up. Seibert describes the trip as long and tiring he even kidded Eaton a few times on the way up, hoping that they werent wasting their time.Hunting for a good ski mountain is never a waste of time, Eaton said, convinced that his discovery was an impressive one.When they reached the top, that was it. Seibert describes slowly turning in a circle and seeing perfect ski terrain in every direction.We hiked all over the state, but we never found anything that was better. We were building trails and lifts (in our minds) and the seven hours went by pretty quickly, Eaton told the Vail Daily in 2002 after Seibert died.The rest is history, and the building of Vail began. Seibert became the driving force behind building Vail, assembling the first board of directors and carrying the big vision of what Vail should look like and how it should be done.Eaton stayed in the background. He worked for Vail Associates from the beginning as the main man figuring out where the trails would go and how they would be built.Because of that relationship Seibert in the front, leading the way, and Eaton in the background, building the trails Seibert usually got most of the credit for founding Vail, Hauserman said. Really though, Seiberts original partner, Eaton the man who showed him the mountain should be recognized as well, he said.Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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