On The Job: Snow King

Consider Aspen Highlands among the best slopes in the area? Kevin Hagerty is one of the people to thank for that.

Kevin Hagerty
Photo by Craig Turpin

Consider Aspen Highlands among the best slopes in the area? Kevin Hagerty is one of the people to thank for that. He has been keeping Aspen Highlands running smoothly and safely as mountain manager for the last seven years. Before that (and three years as Buttermilk’s mountain manager), he worked to save those in trouble on the mountain as a ski patroller for two decades.

How did you get into ski patrolling?
“I was becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT) and volunteered with a search-and-rescue squad. A friend of mine on the team told me I should try volunteering as a ski patroller at Aspen. The second week I volunteered, the director offered me a permanent spot. I eventually gave in: It just looked like too much fun.”

“There are bad days…”
“When I was a rookie, we got a call that a kid fell out of a lift chair. I took the call and, when I got to the spot, there was a 10-year-old kid lying on the ground 28 feet below the chair he’d fallen out of. I did my EMT services and we got him to the hospital, but he unfortunately didn’t make it.”

“…And good days.”
“There was a big storm Dec. 3 to 4, 2005, where it snowed all night, accumulating probably 30 inches of new snow. The ski area wasn’t open yet and we just couldn’t resist skiing that fresh powder. We went up and down nonstop for two days and had smiles on our faces the whole time.”

What’s your favorite run at Aspen Highlands?
“G3. It starts with pretty consistent steepness and drops off even more on the way down. It’s a hike-to terrain, so you have to work to get there.”