Aspen, Colorado. David and I arrived around Thanksgiving, 1964, and found an $80/month room with the Snyders, at the end of E. Hopkins Ave. He got a job as a breakfast cook at the Skillet, while I resumed work as a ski instructor, also working nights as a waiter at a fancy restaurant – the Steak Pit, located under the City Market on Cooper. As an instructor, I worked primarily at Buttermilk Mountain, but got to Aspen Mountain occasionally.
I achieved undying fame as a ski instructor with this article published in the Denver Post, March 7, 1965. The photos seen below were taken at Buttermik. The large and very low-angle beginner area (ideal for teaching) was a hay meadow in the summer. All of that open space is long gone.
What could be more fun than being a young ski instructor at Aspen, Colorado!
I had purchased a 35 mm SLR camera, and David and I started doing ski photography. I did the skiing and he the photography.
David took the above photo to Buzz Bainbridge, at the Ski Corp, who offered him $10 for its use for advertising purposes. David and I split the proceeds from the photos of me that he sold. The above photo was used in a poster and numerous ads, such as the above. This sale and a few others led to David being offered a job taking photos of tourists for the Ski Corp. This then led to David being hired as a staff photographer for the Aspen Illustrated News. And this beginning ultimately led to a life-long career as a photographer for the National Geographic!!
After the Ski Corp cut a new trail, North Star, David suggested he get a picture of me jumping onto the steepest part of the trail.
In the old days, jumping off a bump or cornice was called a “gelandesprung” (“terrain jump”), and there would be regular “gelande” contests at most ski areas. At Aspen Mountain, the 40m. ski jumping hill was used for the contest seen here. The further you climbed towards the top of the in-run for your start, the further you would go. This was, in fact, my last jump, from my highest start. I out-jumped the hill and did a huge eggbeater right into the crowd. My last flip buried my head in the snow. When I pulled it out, there was Leon Uris (the author, who was an acquaintance). He said: “What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing here?”
I didn’t crash on this jump (above). The dotted line was put onto the photo by my folks, to show the path of my flight. The judging booth is seen behind me (photographer unknown).
This faded-out photo (above) had been printed on the “Photorite” machine we used for processing the photos of tourists. John and myself were helping David with that job. He later handed it off to John.
Here’s another bit of memorabilia, the “Annual Ticket” of Don Mc Kinnon, who used to ski with us and compete in the gelande contests. Photo courtesy of Don McKinnon
John Stirling’s folks had a house in Aspen, just to the west side of Little Nell, at the foot of Aspen Mountain. They built a small one-room “office” next to it, which John started living in … but it had no plumbing in it i.e. no toilet or running water. Nevertheless, John moved his new bride, Nancy, in with him. The living circumstances she endured ultimately led to an annulment of the marriage. John was a ladies’ man, and had a number of wives. Here’s John and another wife, Elaine, in New Mexico in the 70s or 80s. John was a consummate athlete and adventurer, and an incredible character. At one time (1960) he had been a prize-fighter. His ring name was Johnny Yuma. He died in a car wreck while driving with his buddy Schlomo to the Hood River Gorge, to go wind surfing. We miss him!
That Spring, David and I climbed in Utah, after which I headed back to the Alps. Our Spring climbs are seen in the next post.