Log In

Reset Password

Hesperus Ski Patrol’s 59th annual ski swap rebounds from COVID times

Long-celebrated event marks unofficial start to season
Liz Glanz, a Hesperus area resident, was searching for gear on Saturday at the Hesperus Ski Patrol’s 59th annual ski swap at the La Plata County Fairgrounds on Saturday. (Christian Burney/Durango Herald)

Hesperus Ski Patrol had a slow start after its annual ski swap was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was back in full force on Saturday for the 59th annual ski swap at La Plata County Fairgrounds.

Well over 100 people had attended the ski swap on Saturday. Ethan Scott, a member of Hesperus Ski Patrol and swap volunteer, said the event had great turnout compared with last year’s mediocre showing, and merchandise was flying off the shelves.

Swappers were excited to check out all the good deals, he said.

“People love coming here. It’s really the unofficial start of the season,” he said. “I think Purgatory is looking at opening before Thanksgiving. People want to come in, hit the swap. If the big mountain gets open then they’re ready to rock.”

That includes the volunteers. Scott said some of them have helped with the swap five or six years in a row.

Liz Glanz, a Hesperus resident who is relatively new to skiing, said she moved to the area a year and a half ago and reconnected with the snow sport for the first time since childhood. She said she enjoys the body awareness that comes with skiing. She decided to attend the swap to get her own gear because she knew she’d spend just as much on rentals in no time at all.

Buz Branch, a longtime swap volunteer who’s been on the Hesperus Ski Patrol for nearly 40 years, said the proceeds generated from the swap support Hesperus Ski Patrol’s training and supplies, and some proceeds are passed along to other community nonprofits.

“Usually, we pick one that has supported us in creating the ski swap as a main beneficiary and then some others,” he said.

He said the origin of Hesperus Ski Patrol is often attributed to him, which “is not entirely true.”

Buz said when Purgatory switched to a full paid patrol, he invited their extensive volunteer patrol to come to Hesperus. They did, and that’s how Hesperus Ski Patrol got its start.

“It started out in the basement of the courthouse almost 60 years ago,” he said. “Maybe 20 people showed up and that was it. And we’ve been doing it every year since.”

The swap came together through the efforts of about 20 Hesperus Ski Patrol members and around 100 volunteers who helped set up the venue and planned to take everything down Saturday evening and Sunday morning, Scott said.

Vendors participating in the swap on Saturday included Ski Barn Durango, 2nd Ave Sports, Pine Needle Mountaineering, Ski Exchange from Aztec, Sven Brunso, and Durango Ski & Patio.