Longtime Summit County couple builds life in the mountains
Kevin and Patti Ahern were typical ’70s ski bums in Breckenridge. Their story is one that happens often in the mountains — the couple met, became friends, skied together and were roommates, which eventually led to more than friends — but the story doesn’t end there. Many times this tale is told with only fond memories remaining of a younger self at a different time. But the Aherns built a life together and worked hard for successful careers. Thriving in their lives here, the longtime locals continue to live and love each other in the mountains they still call home.
SUMMIT IN THE ’70S
A Colorado native, Kevin’s parents moved to Summit from Denver when he was 7, looking to get out of the city and having a connection with the town as his mother’s uncle ran Breckenridge Inn at the time. It was 1963, and the young boy grew up skiing, eventually Nordic racing in college in Durango. Although he moved away for a brief stint, he was drawn back to his hometown and his family, and became a ski patroller on the mountain.
Patti had just earned her teaching degree and decided to move out to the mountains from Connecticut for a season or so before she started a full-time educator career. She didn’t know how to ski before moving out here, but she was still lured to the West with its promises of adventure and fresh lines before settling down.
It was 1976 — but just like today, ski bums need roommates, and Patti was introduced to one of Kevin’s sisters for a potential living situation.
The pair locked eyes for the first time at Angel’s Rest in Breckenridge, which is now Moe’s BBQ. It wasn’t an instant attraction — the two knew each other for a solid two years before gradually turning their friendship into something more. Just as their relationship casually turned into more, there was no big, splashy proposal on the mountaintop. The easy-going couple began to talk about the idea of marriage, and decided to start their future as a married couple in 1981 at St. Mary’s in Breckenridge, with a reception on Peak 9.
After 35 years of marriage, the couple now has three children and two grandchildren to share their life with in Summit County. Ryan, the oldest at 32, is a rep for outdoor gear while Kelly, 31, is a teacher in Silverthorne. Their youngest, Kyle, takes after his dad as a ski patroller. With two new grandbabies to play with, the couple takes pleasure in spending time with their family, and feel lucky that their children all still live in the county. Kevin feels the two shared the common value of appreciating family — both one of five siblings — and they continue to hold their family close to their hearts.
“We are very lucky,” Patti said.
Kevin worked his way up working at the resort as a ski patroller and is now the ski patrol director for Breckenridge Ski Resort. He still gets out on the hill almost every day. Patti started off at the resort as a lift operator, eventually moving to lift construction on Chair 6, and now works in lift maintenance.
“I really, really enjoy the guys I work with, they keep me sane,” she said.
She said she never regretted her decision to stay in the county and not become a teacher.
“When I came out here, it was almost like it hit me immediately,” she said. “Wow, this is where I want to be, even though I had never skied before — this place was where I wanted to be.”
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