Keystone employee is close to three-quarters through his quest to ski all Vail Resorts-operated ski areas in North America
Summit Daily News
Keystone Resort employee and Summit County resident Dave Pilarowski estimates that he will have driven close to 20,000 miles by the time he is done with his quest to ski at every Vail Resorts-operated property in North America over the course of the past three winter seasons.
With a list of 37 resorts across the North American continent, Pilarowski was drawn towards completing the feat because of what he experienced at Vail Resorts-owned properties across Colorado and at his home mountain of Keystone Resort.
“It started with visiting other Vail Resorts here in Colorado,” Pilarowski said. “Working for Vail, getting that free employee pass it a great perk. It is the full Epic Pass and after skiing all of Colorado’s (Vail Resorts owned) ski areas I figured I could make it out to Park City and the Tahoe places.”
Pilarowski has worked on Keystone’s mountain safety team for the last four winters. He says his vision to visit all the Vail Resorts-operated ski areas really started to pick up steam after he visited Park City and Tahoe during the 2021-22 winter season.
Following the trip to Park City and Tahoe, he put together a plan to visit the Midwest so he could experience the ski areas in that region while also visiting family and friends.
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With his car packed with ski gear and supplies, Pilarowski slowly but surely made his way from Colorado to Ohio, Michigan and Missouri. He said he not only enjoyed the snow on the mountains he visited, but also enjoyed the solace of the roads while racking up the miles on his car’s odometer.
“I like to drive, I like to listen to the audiobooks when I am driving,” Pilarowski said. “Visiting family and friends has been a big part of it too. A lot of times they will put me up or I will sleep in my vehicle.”
Another thing that Pilarowski came face-to-face with over the course of his journey was the differing snow conditions from the Rocky Mountain region to the Midwest and Northeast. Pilarowski says fellow skiers and riders would often gawk and poke fun when they found out that Pilarowski had made the journey in his car for the often icy and slushy snow conditions east of the Rocky Mountains.
“This last year it was pretty rough in the Midwest with the snow,” Pilarowski said. “I was lucky to get Snow Creek outside of Kansas City. We certainly have one of the longest seasons here in Colorado, but everywhere it is people having fun on snow. We always end up having some good conversations.”
Aside from the 27 resorts so far, Pilarowski has also compiled a list of memories and moments from his epic trips. He says he has experienced small, country club-like resorts, unique resorts like Seven Springs outside Pittsburgh and resorts with deep history like Liberty Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania, which overlooks the Battle of Gettysburg battlefields.
“There was a tiny, little place in southern Indiana called Paoli Peaks and it is in Amish country,” Pilarowski said. “I saw the Amish horse and buddy on my way to the ski area parking lot there. That is pretty unique. You don’t see that all the time.”
The small and unique resorts were fun to Pilarowski to explore, but he says he ultimately loves the atmospheres at bigger mountain resorts like Kirkwood Mountain Resort and Heavenly Mountain Resort near Tahoe.
“The view of Lake Tahoe from Heavenly is amazing and it is always fun crossing the Nevada, California state line,” Pilarowski said. “Riding the gondola up from the casino is pretty amazing too.”
Beyond the cool resorts and different atmospheres from one resort to the next, Pilarowski says that the journey across the continent has ultimately helped him with his mountain safety job at Keystone.
“It certainly makes my job a bunch easier when I am back here at Keystone,” Pilarowski said. “Having been to a lot of these small places that visitors are coming in from — and my mountain safety position being really guest facing — it makes it easy to strike up a conversation with people when they see their home mountain’s sticker on my skis.”
Pilarowski says visiting the resorts across North America also makes it easier for him to describe how the snow and terrain at Keystone may differ from what a guest is accustomed to at their home resort.
The last thing Pilarowski says he has gained is a better understanding of, and relationship with, other Vail Resorts employees.
“It has been great to talk to fellow Vail Resorts employees all across the continent who have similar interests,” he said. “I have come to think of being on a team with these folks because we have so much in common, much more than a common uniform. Everybody likes to ski and ride.”
Pilarowski says he has even hosted several fellow Vail Resorts employees from other resorts at Keystone.
“It has been really enjoyable to build a network of skiing and riding friends across the country who all just like to have fun sliding on snow,” Pilarowski said.
Having now visited nearly 75% of the Vail Resorts operated ski areas in North America, Pilarowski says he still stands by the long galloping runs of Keystone Resort over any other ski area.
“That should bring the total to all 37 resorts in North America unless of course they buy another resort next year and then the list expands,” Pilarowski said.
He is set to finish his project next winter when he makes a trip another trip out to the Northeast region to visit the 10 remaining resorts on his list.