Hey, Spike! cries Wolf Creek over Breckenridge resident
special to the daily
Now here’s some real history of Colorado skiing – seen through the eyes of a story-telling 27-year-old who calls Breckenridge home.
Carrie Elliott’s family has roots in the state’s ski industry going back to 1937 with the start of the famed Wolf Creek Ski Area down southwest of here on the rustic U.S. 160 pass of the same name, linking Alamosa and Monte Vista to Pagosa Springs and further down to Durango.
Carrie’s great uncle, Charles Elliott, “Uncle Charles,” turned 99 in November and was inducted to the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2011.
Yep, he’s still skiing up at Wolf Creek, albeit once a week these days, Carrie confirms.
Uncle Charles first skied the deep powder in 1934, three years before he helped start the ski area.
According to Pueblo Chieftain reporter Matt Hildner’s story, Charles and Wolf Creek skiing go like this:
“Elliott was a part of the volunteer association that began drawing skiers to the area during the Great Depression and became a jack-of-all-trades on the mountain, serving as fundraiser, the primary maintenance man for a succession of rope tows and the founder of the ski patrol. And he did it for free.”
Uncle Charles’ philosophy seems to have carried on the new generation of skiers and boarders, like Carrie.
“Growing up, I never gave a second thought to skiing at Wolf Creek, it was just something we did,” says Carrie, who grew up in nearby Center. “We knew the spot to look for during the drive that would predict if it was going to be a clear day or not, the secret snow stashes and most serene spots. We knew the history of Wolf Creek and watched it grow.”
“I remember my first day – my dad teaching me to ski on the bunny hill and the last time I was there was an epic powder day last year with my parents, where we ran into some friends from the San Luis Valley and some from Summit,” explains Carrie.
“I don’t think until I moved to Breck did I appreciate how special Wolf Creek is,” she adds.
“Now I realize that not everywhere is like Wolf Creek and how fortunate I am to have grown up skiing and snowboarding there and unique it is to have such a connection with the mountain,” Carrie notes.
Carrie is clearly appreciative of her family’s skiing history, but is also very happy to be in Breckenridge.
“I feel lucky to have grown up skiing at Wolf Creek and to now be living in Breckenridge,” she says. “It was a part of me and I feel like something would be missing if it wasn’t still a part of my life.”
Carrie, who moved here in 2007 after graduating from Colorado State University in Fort Collins with a business degree, and her boyfriend, Bob Montville, who manages the Quandary Grille, live up on Peak 7.
“A friend convinced me to move to Breck to work with her one summer,” states Carrie. “I fell in love with everything and moved back after my last semester of school.”
“I now work at Peak-A-Boo Toys, owned by Jeff and Emily Boyd, and Twist, owned by Matthew Fackler and TJ Messerschmitt,” Carrie says.
“Everyone who lives here loves being here and wants to get out and enjoy the outdoors. There is always someone who will go hiking, biking, snowboarding, sledding and everything in between,” she believes. “I haven’t quite figured out what I want to do ‘when I grow up,’ but I think having people around me that share my passions will help me figure that out and help me along the way.”
While Carrie and Hey, Spike! have chatted on the phone, but not met face-to-face, their connections go back to the early ’70s in “The Valley.”
When attending Adams State College, Spike met Carrie’s dad, Thad, via journalist Walter Mares, a mutual friend.
Thad’s family, in addition to being instrumental in the ski biz, is also a clan of longtime, well-established potato and barley farmers near Monte Vista.
And Thad worked as an Aspen Highlands Ski Area tune tech with Jimbo Deines of Precision Ski and Golf, way back in the in the mid-’70s, when Friscoite Linda Simon lived over there as did Denverite Phil “PB” Barker.
Small world – and it gets smaller: As a CSU coed, one of Carrie’s business school profs was Burt Deines, Jimbo’s brother.
Still skiing, dad Thad and mom Deanne visit daughter Carrie up here and make a few runs, taking a wintertime break from farming.
“I mainly raise russet potato varieties that are all for the fresh market,” Thad says of his continued farming, “and barley for Colorado Native, Blue Moon and Coors beer.”
In addition to being a farm partner, Deanne works with the SLV Small Business Development agency.
As for other Elliott family members, Carrie has two sisters – Emily, 30, lives with husband Kyler in Reno, Nev., and Laura, 26, lives in Mexico City.
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army
veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years.
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