Ike Garst, the first Colorado ski area operator to let snowboarders on a chairlift, dies at 66
August 6, 2017
Ike Garst, an Iowa farm boy who bought Berthoud Pass Ski Area and was the first operator in Colorado to let snowboarders ride chairlifts, became an inadvertent father figure in a sport he never even tried.
But he would sell a lift ticket to anyone who would pay — no matter how they got down the hill — which made him an instant hero among those who used his mountain to test funky boards engineered to ride the white surf of Colorado's Rockies.
"It was very unpopular," his wife, Lucy, said late this week. "The other ski areas gave us grief. The ski patrol gave us grief. The ski school gave us grief. When you're sandwiched between Winter Park and Summit County, you have to do something to attract skiers to your area. We were more than happy to help that sport grow."
Garst died Tuesday in hospice care. He was 66. He had battled brain cancer for a dozen years, Lucy said.
Garst bought Berthoud Pass Ski Area — then Colorado's oldest — in 1977, when he was just 26. He had moved to Colorado from Iowa in search of better outdoor opportunities. He started out working in a ski rental shop in Keystone before purchasing the tiny resort atop the Continental Divide, making waves soon after by being the first ski hill in Colorado — or perhaps anywhere — allowing snowboarders to ride its lifts.
From there, Garst's operation became a hub for the burgeoning sport, drawing the likes of snowboard pioneers Jake Burton and Tom Sims. And grow it did, with Berthoud Pass offering some of the first snowboarding contests ever held.
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