A glimpse back nearly a half century at Keystone’s 1970 grand opening | SummitDaily.com

A glimpse back nearly a half century at Keystone’s 1970 grand opening

Dale Fields gets ready to tune his skis in the kitchen, just like he did as a college ski racer.

Nearly a half century ago, on Nov. 21, 1970, Keystone Resort opened for the first time, with skiers able to take a two-chair, fixed-grip lift up to Montezuma.

Friday will mark Keystone's 48th opening day. Skiers will take to the newly renovated six-passenger Montezuma Express chairlift for the first time at 9 a.m., and other festivities and giveaways such as the "Kidtopia" children's programming will round out what the resort offers.

Although the lift capacity and pomp and circumstance surrounding the opening day of ski season here in Summit County has changed drastically since Keystone's grand opening 17,156 days ago, the excitement surrounding season's open is much the same.

As we look ahead to ski season, here's a look back in time via Dale Fields. He's a fourth-generation, 75-year-old Coloradan with family ties to these mountains dating back to 1873. Fields was also one of the first to ever ski Keystone on that ideal clear day many moons ago. He is also still an avid skier and backcountry adventurer, now teaching various adventure classes at the new REI in Dillon when not skiing at resorts like Keystone.

Here's his historical perspective:

"It was a bright sunny day," Fields recalled. "Wonderful weather, very comfortable. The crowds were, it was a fairly large lift line on the Argentine chair out of the bottom. And I think they may have had, I might have to estimate what the numbers were, but there were probably 2,500 people anticipating the opening weekend.

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"We all joked," Fields continued, "and there were five of us skiing that day: 'Now we know why they call it Keystone.' Because there were so many rocks, and trees that you skied over that were cut off parallel to the slope. And we were like, 'Yeah, it's "Ski Stones!" Cause there was no snowmaking at the time — limited (snowmaking) at the bottom.

"So it was humbling, to say the least."