Breckenridge ski run history: A final look at the Breckenridge ski run names and their origins
Breckenridge Heritage Alliance
In seven previous articles, we traced the story of the naming of many of the runs at the Breckenridge Ski Resort.
It’s been a fun journey — seeing that many of the run names actually mean something, that they were named for real people or real places or events in local history. Frosty, Debbie, CJ and Callie are real people who played a part in building the area as we know it through the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
We’ll complete this series with several stories and photos that have come to light since the series began in November.
First up is Frosty Cooper, the cat skinner (bulldozer driver) after whom Frosty’s Freeway is named. He drove a bulldozer in the summer doing trail-cutting work and was a snowcat driver in the winter. On occasion, he drove his snowcat up to the microwave relay station on Peak 10 and was nearly lost, at one point, in a whiteout but was rescued by the ski patrol. He was a much-beloved local character. Alas, he moved on to Grand Junction at some point and passed away some years ago. But his name lives on, associated with a trail that he probably cut himself.
And then there are Peak 8’s Rounders and Callie’s Alley, namesakes of Bill and Callie Rounds. Bill was a principle in Rounds and Porter of Wichita, Kan., and was the main force behind the development of the ski area in 1960-61. Callie was his wife. After an extensive — and mostly fruitless — search, a photo of the couple, taken probably in 1958, finally came to light thanks to a Rounds family member.
If you have ever bounced down Little Johnny on Peak 8, you may have wondered, “Who is this guy?” “Little John” Sheron, as he was well known, was a high-living, party-loving lifty in the 1960s. We have also located a photo of Little John, taken, appropriately enough, in the Gold Pan Saloon sometime in the early 1970s.
ski bum makes good
We told many stories — most thanks to CJ Mueller — of the naming of the upper runs on Peaks 7 and 8. Another of the more interesting stories is that of Debbie’s Alley, named in the mid-1970s after Deb Mason. Having vanished — leaving no trail — shortly after her mid-1970s skiing adventures, Deb Mason Thorlakson recently surfaced — in Breckenridge, no less. We recently had a very pleasant lunch and afternoon of skiing with Deb and her husband, Thor.
Turns out, Deb went on to cooking school, traveled the world with Thor and enjoyed a career as a professional chef. Now retired, Deb lives in the Methow Valley of Washington state, has two grown children and is still a very active outdoor sportswoman (although not yet a grandmother, as implied in the recent article). Not bad for a woman who started out as a ski bum, ski instructor and waitress in Breck.
We mentioned, in a previous article, that the venerable and privately owned Peak 9 Restaurant will — after operating for 40 seasons — be closing its doors forever at the end of this season, having reached the end of its lease. The name of the new owner begins with a “V” — three guesses, the first two don’t count. Longtime owner Kevin Brown and his business partner, Barbara Tunnicliffe (who passed away in late 2012), began operating the mountain watering hole in 1974. Goodbye, Kevin and Barbara, and many thanks for all of those years of great hospitality, friendship and good food. We’ll miss seeing the two of them up there on Peak 9. One final factoid about the restaurant — did you know that the very first resident (dating to 1973 or so) of the apartment unit beneath the restaurant was Guest Service’s own supervisor, Tom Kramer? True fact.
One of the unsung heroes of the earliest days of the ski area is Sigurd Rockne. He, along with Trygve Berge, was instrumental in assisting Bill Rounds in the 1960-61 planning and development of the Breck ski area. The two men became the co-directors of the first ski school at Breck, and both are alive and well in Breck to this day. Who’s for changing the name of either Twister or Dyersville (two runs on Peak 8 near Trygve’s) and giving Sigurd his place?
In our travels on Peak 10, we noted a rather strange run name, particularly in relation to its placement among the airplane and prospector food names found on Peak 10. Double Jack is an old Cornish mining term that refers to a manual underground drilling technique used back in the old days. One man held the drill (the steel) while a second man pounded the steel with a sledgehammer (then called a jack hammer).
And finally, we come to another unsung hero of days past, Jim Nicholls (who passed away in April 2012), husband of longtime local historian and retired ski patroller Maureen Nicholls. Jim was there at the very beginning, doing building and property design work in the early development of the ski area infrastructure. Among many other things, Jim hand-painted the first trail map, on a piece of plywood, of the initial five runs, which opened on Dec. 16, 1961. Jim’s slope-side sign, placed near the original Heron No. 1 chair lift, guided skiers to the initial five runs — 4 O’Clock, Springmeyer (the correct spelling), Rounders, Ego Lane and Callie’s Alley.
Jim also was an early ski school instructor.
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