August 10, 2006
Harry Poschman, 10th Mountain Division ski trooper, deep powder skier, 1950s Aspen ski instructor, builder, photographer and author died peacefully Saturday, Aug. 5, at his home in Grand Junction. He was 93 years old, and took pride in living freely and independently with the help of his neighbors and guardian angels, Odell Powell and Barbara Link.
Born in 1913 in Beaver Falls, Pa., he first felt the thrill of skiing on homemade skis in a forest near his home. In the midst of the Great Depression at age 18, he drove his mother and sister cross country to California, where he found a new home, as well as other ardent skiers. A founding member of the San Diego Ski Club, he made frequent trips in the Sierra to ski.
Upon hearing of the invasion of Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the army and eventually became a ski instructor for Mountain Training Group at Camp Hale. He was a sergeant in D Company of the 85th regiment of the 10th Mountain Division. He led a machine-gun squad through devastating battles on Italy’s Monte Belvedere and Monte Della Spe, and his company pursued the German army across the Po River and the Italian countryside to Lake Garda when the war ended. His experience gave him both a love of all things Italian and a determination to make skiing his life. After the war he was a deep powder skier in Alta, Utah. He helped build the first chairlift in Aspen in 1947 and became a true believer in the new ski resort, where he moved in 1950 with his wife, Jony. Like many, he held an assortment of jobs, including picking potatoes, building houses, ski instructor for the Aspen Ski School and operating the Edelweiss Lodge (on the site of the Hotel Lenado), which he built in Aspen.
Harry developed his own flexible powder ski by running army issue 7-foot-6 wooden skis through a plane to make them thin and flexible. Invited to test the new metal Head skis, he preferred his handmade “Flip Flop Boards.” He taught many clients the secrets of powder skiing. Although he stopped skiing many years ago, he gleefully spoke of floating through deep powder snow on Short Snort, his favorite run on Aspen Mountain, as if he had just returned from the hill. He operated the one-man Aspen Chamber of Commerce in the 1950s, enthusiastically touting Aspen’s charms to ski clubs across the country. He authored and photographed two manuscripts of his adventures in Europe. His personal history of the 10th Mountain Division, “A Skier’s War,” will be published this fall.
He is survived by his daughter, Christie Interlante of Aspen, his sons and their wives, Hap and Patti Poschman of Palisade, and Greg and Maureen Poschman of Aspen, and his beloved granddaughters, Isabella and Willow Poschman. A memorial service will take place in the fall.