It was during the management of Berthoud Pass by the Garst family that snowboarding started to grow as a sport, and they are responsible for Berthoud having a place in snowboarding's history. According to Ike, after the first year of snowboarding his insurance company tried to have him ban boarders on the mountain. After an agent came out from the East Coast the company agreed to let him allow boards for the next year as a test period. The accident rate did not go up and boarding was not banned.
Berthoud Pass was not only the first ski area in Colorado to allow snowboarding, but they also built Colorado's first halfpipe in 1985-6. People were throwing down to see who was best at Berthoud well before snowboarding hit the limelight and before a premier snowboard event could attract thousands of spectators. Many big name riders rode Berthoud when there weren't many other places to ride and moved on to bigger resorts as snowboarding became accepted in the mainstream.
The day Ike and Lucy were moving on from running Berthoud Pass a rock fell onto a bus killing four people. It could be viewed as an omen for things to come at the area. The next owner was some yuppie shmuck named Peter Crowley who did not allow snowboarding. He was obviously not up to the challenge of running a ski area and another tragedy occurred when a chair from the charlift dislodged and slid downward onto a woman riding in the next chair, crushing her legs. The next owner, Gary Shultz, went all out, new lifts, new shuttle busses, and new marketing material. For a while it was pretty cool. The wild men became the "death guides" and the area was run with a go at your own risk, European style attitude. Oh yeah, boarders were invited back too. But this operation didn't last past two years and Berthoud remains today unopened.
I heard that ten years ago there were over 800 ski areas in the United States while now there are less than 400. In Colorado the numbers have gone from 54 to 26. With the little ones being the ones to go. I asked Ike about this and he simply said that the small areas without all the extras cannot compete. This is a shame to me, that skiing as an affordable family sport was allowed to fall out of fashion. One really cool thing about Berthoud is that while the snowboarding world has gone from non-existent to huge and commercialized, the Berthoud Pass snowboarding scene has remained very friendly and relaxed. If you are ever in the area and can't afford to commit to the high digit lift ticket, give Berthoud Pass a try.
Photo Credits Top to Bottom: Cris Carol - Ike and Lucy's Archives; Tom Christofer - KurtO-VIP; Butch Bindell - David Alden; Jeff Grell - David Alden; Andy Hetzel - KurtO-VIP; Steve Link - David Alden; Tom Sims - David Alden;