“Skiing awakens the inner man.” Listen closely to what Al Kessler says, because at 98 he still skis Alta, in Utah’s Wasatch Range, where the terrain can be a challenge for a 20-year-old.
About once a week, Kessler meets up with a boisterous crew of mostly retired, impressively fit 70-, 80-, and 90-year-olds. They call themselves the Wild Old Bunch, with sewn-on jacket badges to prove it. While Alta’s soaring peaks certainly stir the soul, the Bunch probably keep ticking for less exalted reasons: They exercise, form friendships, and have a routine.
Most mornings around 11, members trickle in to the mid-mountain Alf’s Restaurant–in faded one-pieces, old-school CB jackets, flannel shirts, suspenders — to sip coffee or hot cocoa and swap stories of shared powder days before hitting the slopes. For free. Alta is one of the few resorts that let the 80-plus set schuss gratis, but that aside, the oldies love Alta for the same reason everyone does: its utter lack of pretension, skiers-only mantra (no boarders allowed), and above all, snow — a whopping 500 inches annually.
As this group will tell you, it sure beats the heck out of bingo.
Photos by David Fenton