My Favorite Ski Bum


I hate to play favorites. But when it comes to ski bums, I love Ross Gregg best of all. Ross has it all going for him: he lives in a log cabin near Crystal, he’s a retired ski

Quintessential Ross

patroller AND he’s royalty (Dirt Bag Royalty, that is).

I first met Ross at the top of the Forest Queen chair. He introduced himself and a little gear in my brain clicked into place. So this is Ross Gregg. Of course it is!

I’d heard all about him, a former ski patroller, at both Jackson Hole and Crystal. The gully on Sunnyside was named for him: Gregg’s Gulch, when he got caught in an avalanche there back in the 1970s. But most of all, I knew him as the guy with the skinny skis. I asked him about his circa 1990 Rossignols.

“They look brand new,” I told him. But what I really want to know was where in the world he found them.

Ross just smiled. He gestured from his cream beret style hat to aged sweater down to his red-piping stretch pants a la 1975. “It’s one man against an industry, Kim.”

Ross is not a man to take to new-fangled fads. He isn’t the first one to try out a new ski design or fashion. Instead, he’s remained true to his old Rossignol

Ross Gregg demos new skis at Crystal Mountain

skis. In fact, since the company doesn’t make them anymore, he has a stash of them in his log cabin. He’s resourceful.

But a few years ago, someone, perhaps Sharon, who shared his year of Dirt Bag Royalty as the Queen to his King, talked him into trying a wider pair of skis, Stocklis.

It's a Whole New World on Fat Skis

No matter the conditions or the state of his gear, when you see Ross skiing, he’s always smiling. But on that day, when I ran into him at the top of Green Valley and noticed his skis, his grin was as wide as the base of Mt. Rainier.

“How do you like them?” I asked. It was an honest-to-goodness powder day. A foot of new on a Tuesday morning, no crowds with just a hint of cloud dampening the sun.

He looked at me and smiled. “Well, Kim, what can I say? It’s a whole new world.”

Ross, like any self respecting ski bum now has a quiver of skis. Since he skis most every day (the advantages of log cabin-solo-retired living), he can be found on his skinnys on a groomer day or his fattys on a powder day.

I caught up with him in Silver Basin a few months ago on his Stocklis. A few feet of silky fresh snow blanketed the slopes and Ross carved through it like a sharp pair of scissors.

Smiling in Silver Basin

I want to be like Ross someday–skiing and smiling my way through winter, and finding out that even after a lifetime on the slopes, it can always be “a whole new world.”

15 responses »

  1. I have know Ross for some 30 years as we have the cabin across from him. You are right is the definition of a Ski Bum and one heck of a nice guy.

    • Perry,
      I bet Ross has, on more than one occasion, helped you chop wood, get your truck unstuck, shoveled your driveway, and any other number of great neighborly acts. He’s one special guy.

  2. What a great post, as usual! Somehow I missed meeting Ross during my years at Crystal with the ski school, but he sounds like a classic dude! I have another girlfriend who is still on her skinny skis…but then she just replaced her Honda Civic last year after 20 years. And she’s a great skier, too! Something about frugality and being an engineer. Keep on rockin’ with the great writing!

    • Jill,
      So often I find myself skiing through less-than-stellar conditions and wonder if I could ski it on my old Rossi 207s. I’m not so sure. Thanks for the compliments!

  3. Ross is a great guy. You say you want to be like him “skiing and smiling my way through winter, and finding out that even after a lifetime on the slopes, it can always be “a whole new world”, what are you waiting for? You know as well as anyone the time is now.

  4. He’s one of our Chief Guides at the “Rucksack Guide Service”, we all love Ross!!! Love all his stories!

    • Oh yes, I’ve heard about the Rucksack Guide Service. He does have excellent stories. I need to put a tape recorder in front of him next time he tells one. Or a video camera perhaps…

  5. I’ve been skiing Crystal for over 40 years and I’ve seen Ross Gregg there off and on for so many years. Yes, he’s always smiling. He has the “joie de vivre ” and I have a feeling he will never lose it. Good for you Ross!!

    • Doris,
      Thanks for stopping by. I agree about the “joie de vivre”. That’s an excellent way to put it. What I like most about Ross is how he reminds me to feel gratitude for the beauty around me.

  6. Pingback: If I could make a ski movie… | Kim Kircher

  7. I want to be like Ross when I grow-up! Ross is someone that I aspire to be like. I’m 20 years into living the dream of being a bum and I have zero regrets. Great post– thanks for sharing.

  8. Pingback: Weekly High-Five Report: “Vintage” Skier Ross Gregg « Kim Kircher

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