In the early 1980s a lifelong bond was formed among the students and instructors of the Colorado Mountain College Ski Area Operations program. They called themselves the Powder Guild. It was their desire to turn a passion for skiing into a career that brought them together in Leadville, but it was their never-ending quest for powder, camaraderie, and playful antics that have kept the Powder Guild in touch to this day.
“Back in the day, our motto was ‘We’re young, good looking and do what we want’,” says Powder Guild member John ‘Staatzy’ Staats, who currently lives in Tucson, Arizona, “Now it’s ‘old, out of shape and do what our wives tell us’… just kidding, we’ll never grow up!”
The twelve members of the infamous Powder Guild came from all over the U.S., Canada, and Japan, ranging in age from 18 – 32. After graduating from the Ski Area Operations program, many Powder Guild members went on to enjoy successful careers in the ski industry at resorts around the world.
Over the past few decades, members have coordinated trips to Jackson Hole, Hawaii, Colorado, and even Japan to appease Japanese member Yoichi Amano, who has traveled to numerous state-side Powder Guild gatherings. In 2015, Yoichi hosted members, Jim Oberriter and John Staats, showing them around Tokyo on separate trips.
“I meet with the Powder Guild whenever I can find an opportunity to do so,” says Yoichi, “We exchange emails and find every opportunity to get together. Even 30 years after graduation, we are still united.”
Inevitably, celebratory milestones like weddings and births have been replaced by funerals for fallen brothers. Founding member, Kent ‘Kento’ Bridges and Phil Sande, have since passed. Their spirits are celebrated with every Powder Guild gathering and through many cherished memories.
Though it has been decades since their college years, the fun-loving, carefree attitude of the Powder Guild is still very much intact. However, the group is more than the chronicles of college students and ski resort shenanigans – though the anecdotes are undoubtedly entertaining. It’s about exploring a passion while discovering genuine friendships, and investing in those connections for life.
“It was a chance gathering of guys from all over the globe that loved to ski and be free,” says Staats, “We bonded as no other group of people that I’ve ever met or heard of.”