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Hesperus Ski Patrol Ski Swap is back after COVID-19 complicated last year’s event

Skiers and snowboarders peruse new and used gear and materials at the 2021 Hesperus Ski Patrol Ski Swap at the La Plata County Fairgrounds on Saturday. (Christian Burney/The Durango Herald)
Skiers look to gear up for a discount ahead of winter

The fairgrounds were packed Saturday morning for the 2021 Hesperus Ski Patrol Ski Swap. Vendors and the public brought their gear in on Thursday in preparation for the Saturday exchange of new and used ski gear.

Saturday marked the 58th annual Hesperus Ski Patrol Ski Swap. The event is a chance to pick up ski gear for reduced prices or to clean out one’s closet and sell old gear that isn’t needed anymore.

Twenty percent of the proceeds contribute to Hesperus Ski Patrol’s training and operations, including supplies and materials, said Ethan Scott, who was helping to conduct the event. Another 80% goes to the members of the public who brought in items to sell.

“It’s a nice way to kinda clean out your closet but also to give back to the ski patrol,” Scott said.

Amy Bergan and James Rushing, a couple who recently moved to the Durango area from Grand Junction, said they have been looking forward to the Hesperus Ski Patrol Ski Swap for a month.

“(We’re) looking to get some new gear for the season,” Rushing said. “Hopefully, it’s (the snow) better than last year was.”

“We moved from Grand Junction, so we had, like, no snow at all at Powderhorn,” Bergan said. “We’re super excited for Purgatory, for some new gear, everything.”

Ethan Scott, left, Tyler Hoyt, center, and Sam Reeve, all volunteers with the Hesperus Ski Patrol Ski Swap, sort through ski poles on Friday in the Exhibition Building at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The couple said they were primarily looking for a couple of new pairs of skis.

Rachel Crone attended the ski swap Saturday as a vendor. Her outlet is Ski Exchange and she sells imported goggles, ski poles and socks under the brand name DRT Optics, she said.

“The swap is awesome,” she said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for people to come get used gear at a discounted price. If you go online, you’re normally going to get new equipment and you’re going to pay three times as much. I think it’s (the swap is) a win-win for everybody.”

Crone has been attending ski swaps since she was a child, she said. Her father owned a ski shop in Aztec, and Crone moved back to that area about six years ago. She’s been attending the Hesperus Ski Patrol Ski Swap in Durango ever since.

Crone said the 2021 ski swap was the busiest she’s seen since 2019.

“Oh my gosh … I feel, like, three times busier than I’ve seen it, (since) 2019,” she said. “I think everyone’s making up (for 2020). Outdoor sports have kind of blown up since COVID. Everyone’s going outside, which is a good thing.”

Scott said attendance had been “great” so far mid-morning Saturday.

“We were having major technical difficulties with our database and our internet, so we’re not being able to process people out as quickly as we normally do, but we’re working on it,” he said. “Plus, the fairgrounds were double-booked, so we don’t have quite the space as we usually do.”

A COVID-19 booster shot clinic was also being hosted in a separate facility on the La Plata County Fairgrounds on Saturday morning.

“A little bit of a tough swap,” Scott said. “But we’re happy to be back. Last year, it was not our normal swap operations.”

Scott said the ski swap was hosted at Ski Barn, one of the vendors participating this year as well.

“Which worked out, we were able to get people in and out, checking out stuff,” he said. “But it’s a lot more fun when it’s a big event, one-day thing, and getting people in and geared up for the winter.”

Speaking of winter, what do skiers have to look forward to this year in terms of snowfall?

“Right now we’re forecast for a La Niña year, which, you know, doesn’t look great,” Scott said. “I would hope that we’re still going to get at least a couple decent snow storms that come through and get us going. At least at Hesperus. Purgatory should be good. Wolf Creek, Telluride … The forecast doesn’t look wonderful but we’ll take whatever we can get.”

The Herald reported in early October that a weak La Niña would likely lead to a milder winter with the most winter storms predicted to occur in December and January.