There are those that are at the forefront of revolutions. And then there are those that inspire them. Even if it’s just a simple gesture, like allowing someone in a fringe culture to become a customer. That’s what Ike Garst, owner of the former Colorado Resort, Berthoud Pass, did in the late 1970s, becoming the first resort owner in the Rockies (and perhaps anywhere) to allow snowboarders to purchase lift tickets. And it changed the trajectory of snowboarding forever.
Riders like Tom Sims and Jake Burton flocked to the resort north of I-70 to work on new techniques, build new terrain features and hold contests (sadly, Berthoud closed in 2003). And Garst, who passed away this week following a 12-year battle with brain cancer, never even stepped foot on a snowboard. He simply had an open mind.
“It was very unpopular,” his wife, Lucy, told the Denver Post. “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 was a hero in the Colorado snowsports scene: he started one of the first snowboard schools in North America, offered discounted passes to underprivileged kids in the region and allowed snowboarders to build what many consider the first terrain parks in the world.
“I remember when they built the first half-pipe, and it was hilarious,” said his daughter, Beth Garst. “Our handyman went and just took this big diesel snowplow and made a big mound of snow.”
Garst, a native of Iowa, was 66.