Editorial: Eaton’s find was our gain | VailDaily.com

Editorial: Eaton’s find was our gain

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail CO, Colorado

By all accounts, Earl Eaton was a modest man. But his most well-known accomplishment was hardly humble.

Eaton may not have been the more well-known of the duo credited with Vail Mountain’s existence, but he certainly was just as important. Pete Seibert is the man who first developed the mountain that today is an international icon. However it was Eaton, a local boy who spent his free time exploring the valley, who found the open bowls in the Two Elk drainage. It was Eaton who introduced them to Seibert, who developed them into the Back Bowls that have made Vail famous.

Eaton died Sunday at age 85 after battling cancer for the last year. As a youngster he helped build trails and buildings on Vail Mountain, but friends say he rarely talked about discovering the mountain that would later become the nation’s largest ski resort. Perhaps the most fitting tribute to Eaton’s contribution was that he was the only person allowed to take a ski bike on the Vail Mountain lifts during normal operating hours ” a privilege Eaton was known to exercise regularly until his health declined.

Despite his disease, there was every indication that Eaton’s adventurous spirit was alive and well. His son Carl told the Daily, in an article noting Eaton’s 85th birthday in December, that Earl was eager to be well enough to get back to the prospecting he’d done in the hills above Eagle. As the story goes, Eaton’s brother had found some gold ore there, and Eaton was determined to find it again.

We’re thankful for Eaton’s vision and his now-historic drive to explore our county’s potential as a ski resort. His little discovery has everything to do with what Vail Mountain, and Eagle County, has become today.

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