Dawson, Lucks elected to ski hall of fame
CHERRY CREEK – Lou Dawson, the legendary ski mountaineer from Carbondale, and Ed Lucks, who brought adaptive skiing to Aspen and Snowmass, have been elected to the state’s skiing hall of fame, officials from the Colorado Ski Museum and Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame announced yesterday.Dawson, the only person to ski all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks, will become the first ski mountaineer enshrined in the hall when the Class of 2005 is inducted at a gala in October. Dawson also authored numerous guidebooks and skiing histories that backcountry skiers and mountaineers, from novices to the most hard-core, regard as required reading.Lucks, who now lives in Grand Junction, moved to Snowmass Village in 1969 and started the local adaptive ski program. An instructor for 26 years, Lucks was often seen skiing on one leg, or blindfolded, in order to familiarize himself with the teaching methods that worked best. Lucks applied the same resolve to adaptive skiing equipment, spending countless hours modifying gear to better suit disabled skiers.The Class of 2005 also includes Dick Eflin, founder of the Crested Butte ski resort; George Gillett, the former owner of Vail and Beaver Creek who ushered in high-speed lifts and helped make the resort the nation’s No. 1 ski destination; and Dick Hauserman, one of Vail’s original founding fathers who also helped shape the Steamboat resort.
Dawson and Hauserman, along with numerous members of the 155-person hall of fame, were on hand Friday at the Denver Country Club when the Class of 2005 was introduced.”A huge honor,” Dawson said. “I appreciate it very much.””It’s pretty overwhelming to be included in a crowd like this,” Dawson said in an earlier interview with the Times. “Although for me, what it says about ski mountaineering and ski alpinism is even more en-joyable. In that case, it’s just incredibly neat.” Dawson listed a few of his mentors like Fritz Stammberger and Bil Dunaway, both well-known Aspen ski mountaineers, and said he would have liked to see them precede him in the hall of fame.
“But now perhaps I’ve opened it up a bit and maybe we can get some more of us in,” he said.Backcountry skiing as it’s known today, Dawson noted, was once upon a time just plain skiing. “There was little distinction,” he said. “It meant you hiked up something and skied down it. That was skiing. Only later did it become this industry that moved people up the hills.”Aspen’s Mike Marolt, a ski mountaineer in his own right whose late father, Max, and uncle, Bill, are members of the hall, said this week, “It’s about time that we got a ski mountaineer in there.””It’s such a vital part of our alpine culture, and more and more how our sport is defined,” said Marolt, who has skied high peaks of the Himalayas and Andes, among others, with his twin brother, Steve.
“And besides being a great guy, people just don’t have a clue what Lou accomplished by skiing the fourteeners. To do all of them, and not just climb ’em, but ski ’em, is just a huge accomplishment.”Dawson, 53, skied his first fourteener – nearby Castle Peak – in November of 1978. At that point, however, Dawson regarded himself as more of a climber and alpinist than skier or ski mountaineer. Skiing all of Colorado’s fourteeners hadn’t even crossed his mind.But by 1987 – five years after breaking both his legs in an avalanche in Highland Bowl (when it was a closed area) – the “Ski the ‘Teeners” project became not just his passion and obsession, but his life goal in mountaineering.He finished his list of peaks – skiing from the tippy top of all but four, due to unskiable summit blocks or cliffs – in May 1991 with a couloir descent of Kit Carson Peak in the Sangre de Cristo range.
And while several skiers are at work to try and repeat the feat, today Dawson still stands alone, the one and only.”If you haven’t tried and failed occasionally, you’re probably not getting the full experience out of it,” Dawson said. “Because in this kind of sport, your successes are also defined by your failures. And if you’re not failing every once in a while, you’re probably not achieving what you might be able to. Of course, I’m not talking about failure in terms of getting killed, but rather pushing it, pushing yourself.” Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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