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
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
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.
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.
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.”