The Snowmen Hill Group — A Fun-Lovin' Fellowship of Skiers
By Tim Holt
Seniors on the Slopes
By Tim Holt
Photo courtesy of Jack Howard
Under a sign that says “Senior Moments,” you’ll find them in a corner of the lodge at the Mount Shasta Ski Park just about every morning during ski season – a group of older folks chatting away, sharing jokes and getting ready to head out onto the slopes.
They’re members of the Snowmen Hill Group, founded in 2002 and named after the spot off Highway 89 where some of them first learned to ski. The club is open to any skier, snowboarder or telemarker 50 years of age or older. It has about 400 members.
Jack Howard, who’s 80 and one of the group’s founders, describes it as “a fellowship of fun-lovin’ skiers.” It’s all very relaxed and informal. There are no regular meetings, other than the informal chat sessions at the Ski Lodge, and it’s only $1 for a lifetime membership.
One of the benefits of being a member of the group, Howard points out, is that “you don’t have to ski alone.” Many members have lost their mates or have mates who no longer ski due to infirmities or illness. Out on the slopes, members wear special Snowmen Hill badges, which are an invitation to other members to pair up and ski together.
Parker Pollack, 80, says he’s very fond of his “little badge” but rarely pairs off with fellow Snowmen members.
“They’re much better skiers than I am,” he says.
Monte Bloomer, who’s 79, honed his skiing skills some years ago by hooking up with some of the better skiers in the group. He didn’t get serious about skiing until he was 69, when he volunteered to lead a blind skier around the Ski Park, something he did for three ski seasons.
Bloomer and his partner Anne Johnson, 73, like to dress up in costumes for the annual Over the Hill Classic at the Ski Park. It’s for 50 and over, a slalom race where skiers wind their way around poles to the finish line. Bloomer and Johnson are a sight to behold, with Bloomer in his kilt and Johnson in a shimmering tutu.
To stay in shape during the off season, they do a lot of hiking, as well as chopping wood on their 15-acre parcel near Mount Shasta. As it gets closer to ski season, they get ready by doing a lot of hiking uphill.
Jack Brooks, at 86, may well be the oldest skier in the group. He’s a legendary backcountry skier who in his younger days skied the lush snowfields of Mount Shasta’s north side and the slopes of Avalanche Gulch on the mountain’s south slope.
But he finally had to make some concessions to age: “I’m not skiing as well as I used to,” he admits, so he’s mostly sticking to the slopes at the Ski Park and enjoying the cozy camaraderie in the corner of the ski lodge.
Victoria Cadena, 76, is the most dedicated skier in the group. Last season she put in 92 days, three straight months of skiing, on the Ski Park slopes.
The rest of the year, to stay active, she hikes two days a week and practices Tai Chi and yoga.
Bloomer sums it up this way: “Anne and I would probably be skiing with or without the Snowmen Hill Group. But the whole experience has been enriched by the camaraderie we enjoy in that little corner of the ski lodge and out on the slopes.” •
For more information on the Snowmen Hill Group, contact Jack Howard at (530) 938-1890 or go to www.shastasnowmen.com