New Legacy Hut invites skiers to peruse Vail’s history while they warm up
Vail Mountain has transformed a forgotten shack atop Chair 4 into its new Legacy Hut, a warm-up area designed to celebrate the mountain’s history.
Guests are welcome to visit the shack as a break from skiing or snowboarding. Inside, they can enjoy dozens of photographs and a few artifacts of a bygone era — Vail’s early days as a small ski area.
“We created this Legacy Hut to keep our history alive,” said Kim Rider, who hosts Legacy Tours of the hut on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. “Because the guys that came who started this were unbelievable … their desire and their vision was so great, and their willingness to go through with everything that they set themselves up to do, is remarkable, and so this is here to honor them, their legacy.”
In addition to pictures of Vail’s finders, founders and funders, the building contains pictures of the Gore Creek Valley from before Vail existed, pictures from the early days of Vail and Lionshead, pictures of celebrities who have visited Vail over the years, pictures of 10th Mountain Division soldiers and battlegrounds from World War II, and pictures of memorable events like the 1989 Alpine World Ski Championships.
The hut also contains the outfit that 10th Mountain Division veteran Bill “Sarge” Brown, a Vail legend, wore at the ‘89 Championships, which is still in perfect condition, along with an original 10th Mountain Division soldier’s uniform. In a bit of self-referential humor, guests may also be drawn to a framed copy of lift tickets and receipts from Vail’s first year of operation, when a day pass was a mere $200 cheaper than it is today.
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Two Elk fires legacy
The building itself has quite a legacy, as well.
It was a restroom, it was a safety center, and before that it was a boot fitting location and a ski demo center before commercial activity was put to a halt in that building due to Forest Service agreements, said Jeff Wiles with Vail Mountain.
But Wiles said the building’s most interesting bit of trivia is connected to one of the most newsworthy events in Vail’s history, the 1998 arson fires which claimed Two Elk lodge. Two witnesses to the event were sleeping in the building when the fires were being lit, Wiles said.
“There were two brothers sleeping in the bathrooms here who were up here hunting,” Wiles said from the Legacy Hut on Wednesday. “They heard noise and they walked out and Chair 5 lifthouse was on fire, (Ski Patrol headquarters) was on fire, and these people who were up here were trying to light Chair 4 on fire as these guys came out and freaked them out, these people saw them and ran off … those guys came out, they had their hunting rifles.”
Vail opened the Legacy Hut to correspond with Vail Legacy Weekend, which starts Friday and extends into the President’s Day holiday on Monday.
Legacy Weekend will kick off on Friday at 4 p.m. at the Colorado Snowsports Museum where acclaimed historians and authors tell fascinating stories of the 10th Mountain Division. Reserve seats by calling (970) 476-1876 in advance. At 6 p.m., a 10th Mountain Legacy Parade will take place at Base of Gondola One in Vail Village, where skiers dressed in traditional 10th Mountain Division Ski Trooper uniforms perform a Torchlight Ski Down, followed by a parade of military veterans, also in traditional uniform, marching from Gondola One down Bridge Street. The Colorado Snowsports Museum will stay open until 8 p.m. after the parade for guests to visit and learn more about Colorado’s ski history through the new 10th Mountain Division exhibit and a special guest speaker.
On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, guests can meet the Colorado National Guard at the base of Gondola One, where troops will be stationed from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and at 10:30 a.m., you can ski with a soldier as you learn about the history of Vail. Meet at the top of the Lionshead Gondola, no reservations required.
On Saturday, a Black Hawk helicopter landing is scheduled to take place between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Eagle’s Nest Ridge, where guests will be permitted to take photos, mingle with the Colorado National Guard and visit with Ski Patrol dogs.
On Sunday at 11 a.m., a ski trooper race is scheduled to take place at the base of Gondola One, where modern-day Ski Troopers from the Colorado Army National Guard will compete in three-person teams on the black diamond runs in the area.