Senior skiers conquer Keystone
If you’re going to ride every chairlift at a ski resort, you’re going to need a few things. Among them: a support team consisting of a camera man, lift operators and a planning agent; a carefully constructed schedule, legs of steel, and an AARP card.
Yes, typically those who have an AARP card don’t have legs of steel (sorry grandpa! ) but Dean Pierringer, age 70, Mary Pollack, age 64, and Bill Smith, age 79, aren’t typical. With over 700,000 vertical feet skied this season for two of the seniors, these Keystone Conquerors are dedicated skiers who are trading in their AARP cards for Epic Passes and EpicMix pins.
All three group members ski at Keystone ski resort for five to eight weeks every year, making their seasons shorter than the average Epic passholder and their stats more awe inspiring.
“Bill was frustrated that I started skiing at Keystone 10 days before him and he couldn’t catch up in days skied,” Pollack said. “Then he just decided that if I was going to quit after 20,000 [vertical feet skied in one day], then he would ski until 25,000 [vertical feet].”
For Pollack and friends who have tracked their Keystone adventures for “213 years of collected wisdom,” according to Pollack, EpicMix was a great opportunity to simplify their record keeping.
“Bill always carried an altimeter with him, but he’s far sighted so he would take it out if his jacket so I’d read it and help him track his vertical feet,” Pollack said. “EpicMix is very user friendly and I think it’s hysterical that three seniors got into it.”
These “old farts,” (as Pollack affectionately refers to the group,) are having a blast tracking their stats easily while skiing at Keystone — something Pollack says is very enticing.
“It’s making us nut cases,” Pollack said. “We used to be able to enjoy skiing at Keystone and now it’s ‘Mary, how far have we gone?’ It’s fun. It could get dangerous because I’m a math nut. Because if we did this this year, what are we going to do next year?”
Egged on by friend John Blackshire of Keystone Resort Property management to get the Keystone Conqueror pin, the group set out with a detailed schedule of lifts to ride. By talking to lift operators, mountain safety staff members, and Meghan Shuffelton, the EpicMix coordinator, they could figure out down to the minute where they’d need to be when.
“That’s the trick: knowing which lifts did and didn’t count,” Pollack said. That and imposing rules on the group to ensure efficient skiing at Keystone. The Keystone Conqueror group rules consisted of the following (as provided by Pollack):
- All ski days start and end at Mountain House because that minimizes carrying equipment from Ski Check to the lift and walking to bus routes. Carrying skis is to be avoided at all costs.
- The first person waits no longer than 30 seconds on any run for the last person in the group to arrive at the appointed lift (new recruits get 60 seconds during their auditions).
- [Using poles to navigate cat tracks] is unacceptable, unless an exemption is granted unanimously by all participants.
- Removing skis other than for food or bathroom breaks is unacceptable, unless an exemption is granted unanimously by all participants.
- Snowboarders and lift lines must be avoided whenever possible in the interest of efficiency and safety.
Yes the rules are tough, but so is earning the Keystone Conqueror pin.
“Nobody wants to say what they had done was cool,” Pollack said. “Nobody wants to say they cared about it. But they were excited. A friend accepted our challenge the next day and completed the task in an hour and 56 minutes.”
Want to earn your own Conqueror pin at Keystone ski resort? Check out Mary Pollack’s detailed schedule here.