A mission, a milestone: Seven mountains at 70 years old | SummitDaily.com

A mission, a milestone: Seven mountains at 70 years old

Ski seven mountains in a single day at 70 years old — all in time to make happy hour at the bar — most people only wish they felt this young.

The birthday girl was Summit County part-time resident Terri Eaton, and her good friend, 68-year-old Dianne Sample, handled the group's PR for the birthday expedition for Eaton and 11 other women ranging in ages from 59 to 76, on Wednesday.

In addition to Eaton's 70th, Wednesday also happened to be Violetta Powell's 76th birthday and Jaine Trowbridge's 68th. They were all born on the same day, just not the same year. At 59, Diane Currier stood as the youngest member of the group, while one skier, Sharon Smith, declined to give her age.

"Why wouldn't you be proud of it?" Sample asked rhetorically as she rattled off the 12 members of the birthday crew. "You just skied seven mountains."

The bunch started at 7 a.m., meeting up in Breckenridge in a lot off Airport Road, and there they enjoyed 24 breakfast sandwiches that Eaton had prepared.

After that, they all piled into multiple vehicles and made their way to Beaver Creek for their first run of the day.

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The conditions were a little dodgy in places, Sample said. They hit a little ice, and there was one wipeout.

"Well, it wasn't really a wipeout, it was more of a slide," she explained, adding that thankfully "nobody was hurt, which is amazing when you consider (their) ages."

There apparently was a little confusion at Beaver Creek, and a couple people got separated from the group. However, they broke out their cellphones, found each other and made their way over to Vail.

"Vail was good," Sample said of their run down the Golden Peak slope. From there, they went to Copper Mountain Resort and then to Loveland Ski Area.

They only took one easy run at Loveland, according to Sample, but it was "awesome."

"Awesome mountain," Sample continued repeating herself. "It is so cool to ski by the Eisenhower Tunnel and see what you drive through all the time but from a different angle. I wanted to get a picture, but they were worried we weren't going to make it."

Sample had figured that if they started at 7 a.m. and spent an hour on each mountain, they could finish by 2 p.m.

Determined to make all seven mountains, they kept a backup plan in mind, Sample said, where they could swap Keystone Resort and Breckenrdige Ski Resort, finishing at Keystone because it stays open at night.

The group's progress throughout the day was tracked by Krystal 93.9 FM, and Sample said they were pleasantly pepped in the lift lines with questions like 'Are you the birthday ladies?"

After Loveland, the birthday bunch had lunch at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, where Eaton again came through, this time with 24 croissant sandwiches.

They skied a run there and then went to Keystone before finishing up at Breckenridge and celebrating at Sauce on the Maggie, as Sample had originally planned to.

"We were really anxious to get here for happy hour, so we just skied fast," Sample said during their birthday party and victory celebration at the restaurant and bar.

"People were saying, 'We don't have to make all seven,'" Sample said. "But I was like, 'She's 70 years old. Yes, we do.'"

Call them daredevils, call them crazy, say it's a fool's mission, but for Sample, turning golden years into powder days is a piece of her life she's not sure if she wants to live without.

"It is adrenaline," Sample said of the feeling she gets from doing things like this. "It is solid adrenaline all day long. I mean you're walking up and down hills, you're walking up and down stairs and you're carrying your skis, and you don't even feel tired because it's just, you're pumped. You are totally pumped to reach your goal."

The bunch had a couple things working in their favor: A solid crew of drivers to shuttle them from one slope to the next, a wealth of ski experience across the 12-member group and Sample's fire to get all seven mountains done in one day pulling them downhill like gravity.

It wasn't the group's first expedition like this. Sample organized a similar trip to six mountains in one day when Powell turned 71. However, that was five years ago, and for this birthday run, she wanted to take things up a notch.

Her friend turning 70 was apparently more of a challenge to add a mountain than it was a milestone moment for these, dare we say, senior citizens.

"That's why we did it, the whole seven-seven thing," Sample said plainly, like it's the only reason they need. "So when we're 80, I'm thinking we got to do Cooper as well. Eight mountains."

That's down the road though, and after the last run Wednesday, as they all enjoyed some wine, a hearty meal, each other's company and a chocolate birthday cake so rich that two bites made the cheeks run red, Eaton got a surprise visit from her daughter and first grandson, Amanda and Samuel Browne, who had just flown in from out-of-state.

The birthday bunch

Terri Eaton, 70

Violetta Powell, 76

Janey Trowbridge, 68

Diane Currier, 59

Kelly Day, 60

Diana Dettmering, 75

Dianne Sample, 68

Marcia Carr, 69

Maureen Irwin, 61

Sue Carver, 72

Brenda Alberco, 66

Sharon Smith, age not provided

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