Editor’s note: This is a bonus seventh article to the original six-part series about how the runs at Breckenridge Ski Resort got their names, leading up to the opening of the new Peak 6 on Wednesday, Dec. 25. To read the first six parts, visit www.summitdaily.com.
The ski runs on Peak 10 offer an interesting collection of names that both mean something — but really mean nothing at all, from a historical perspective. Most of the names might be considered relevant but, at the same time, not relevant much at all, at least from a historical standpoint. Peak 10 opened to skiers during the 1985-86 season, although the planning began in the mid-1970s. The first and only lift, which originally had the name “F,” became the Falcon SuperChair.
Perhaps the most obvious link between the run and lift names is that five — Corsair, Spitfire, Mustang, Blackhawk and Falcon — relate to airplanes or helicopters. Why airplanes on Peak 10 in the middle of the Rockies? The mountain manager at the time of their naming, Jim Gill, was an aviation buff and had served in the Air Force. His father had been a World War II pilot. Hence, the names mean “something” — about Gill’s interest in planes — but “nothing” to us historical buffs.
The Centennial run refers to Colorado, the Centennial State, a name chosen because Colorado entered the union in 1876, 100 years after 1776. Since ski-area management started planning Peak 10 as early as 1976, it sort of all makes sense, no? Centennial’s nearby companion run, Crystal, most likely refers to nearby Crystal Peak, located just west of the real Peak 10.
A couple of history-related names appear on Peak 10 but, again, the reasons for their selection remain shrouded in the mists of time. Double Jack is a Cornish mining term that relates to 1880-90s manual drilling techniques. Underground miners used heavy sledgehammers (called jack hammers) and chisels, called “steels,” to drill blast holes. A single miner holding both hammer and steel was single jacking; if one held the steel and a second swung the hammer, they were double jacking, hence the term. And, by the way, the term “jack” refers to the nickname for the Cornish miners — Cousin Jacks. But why on Peak 10, amidst all of the airplane names? Who knows?
The Burn calls to mind an event from Breckenridge history — a huge forest fire that advanced on the town in the late 1890s or early 1900s. Fortunately, the fire burned itself out before reaching the town. During the summer, hikers can still see the burned remnants of tree trunks and logs, a testament to how long forest rejuvenation takes in our harsh alpine environment. The area was called The Burn long before the ski area saw the light of day.
Three other names could have historical dimensions, although the first two might be stretching things a bit. Flapjack and Grits could refer to two culinary delights prepared by the prospectors on their campfires. Cimarron might refer to a movie, an early Western town or a Spanish descriptive term. “Cimarron,” the movie, produced by RKO Radio Picture Co. in 1931, came from an Edna Ferber novel about the old West. Cimarron, the town in New Mexico, was the classic Old West, shoot ’em up, wild frontier town located on the Santa Fe Trail, the scene of countless mining and ranch-war incidents. The term, in Spanish, also describes a mustang (a wild horse) as wild and unbroken, maybe a reference to the steepness of the run. So, take your pick — sort of matches up with a nearby, but probably little known, run called Bronc.
Finally, Dark Rider, on the south-facing, backside of Peak 10, refers to the Dark Riders, also known as the Riders of the Storm, a comic book team of mutant and inhuman villains devoted to the “survival of the fittest.” Originally found in “Lord of the Rings,” they serve the immortal mutant “Apocalypse.” But why on Peak 10? Go figure.
Before leaving Peak 10, let’s visit TenMile Station. Where did the Ten Mile Range and Ten Mile Canyon and Creek names come from, as well as the imaginatively named Peaks 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 … 1, come from? Back in the day — like the early 1860s — Breckenridge was the center of the local mining scene and the congregating point for most prospectors coming into the area.
By the early 1860s, most of the promising gold prospecting spots had already been claimed, so the later prospectors had to head west toward hot spots such as Leadville. To do so, the easiest way west through the mountains was via Ten Mile Canyon, west of current-day Frisco. When directions were given on how to find the canyon to the west, the travelers were told to go 10 miles and 10 peaks to the north, then turn west and follow the creek (currently Ten Mile Creek). Unfortunately, there were — and still are — 11 peaks from Breck to Frisco, with Royal Mountain on the north end of the range. It looks like an Englishman got there first and named the peak after his queen, Queen Victoria, or something. But that’s how “Ten Mile” came about very early on.