Steamboat man skins up Howelsen Hill 30 times for 30th birthday

Ben Glassmeyer stands with skis after skiing 30 laps. (Courtesy photo)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Ben Glassmeyer and his wife, Sarah Glassmeyer, began talking in late February about Ben’s 30th birthday plans.

Due to COVID-19, the two knew their options were limited, so they wanted to spend the day in town doing what Ben enjoys most: skinning and skiing.

Both Glassmeyers work for the city of Steamboat Springs — Sarah sells tickets and checks in those participating in Ski Free Sundays, and Ben works as a parks, open space, trails and ski maintenance worker.

“Howelsen is the best place to ski in North America, so I figured I would try skinning up and skiing down 30 times to celebrate turning 30,” Ben said.

Ben’s birthday was March 22, which was after Howelsen Hill Ski Area closed for the season, but he received special permission from the city Parks and Recreation Department to invite other community members to join him on his quest.

The Glassmeyers texted every Steamboat skier they knew and invited them to participate.

“It was really special having people of all different ages and abilities, and everyone is sharing that one passion of outdoor recreation and just having fun,” Ben said.

This year, the idea was too last minute to make it a fundraiser, but Ben said he plans to continue the tradition in coming years, and he will ask participants to pledge a certain amount of money for every foot or every lap they complete.

“Even if I was just by myself, and I was able to raise a dollar for every foot, that’s $13,000, which is huge for any organization,” Ben said.

He said he would then donate the funds to Go4Graham, a foundation whose mission is to “shred the stigma surrounding mental health and to promote mental wellness through exercise, community and education.”

“Their mission statement about getting rid of the mental health stigma with athletes and sports is really personal and important to me,” Ben said.

While they did not keep an official count, Ben and Sarah said about 20 people showed up throughout the day.

Sarah said she was inspired by the children who participated in the event. One young boy, who had just turned 9, pledged to do nine laps in honor of his age, Sarah said. The boy originally believed nine would be a stretch for his abilities, but he ended up completing 12 laps.

“It was just so cool to have a couple kids there that felt inspired to do more than they thought they could,” Sarah said. “Howelsen brings this access that you really can’t really find in any other big resort community.”

Those who attended said the challenge of skinning up Howelsen Hill rather than riding a chairlift or poma was what made the event special.

“It ended up being a really nice way to finish up the season,” said Charles MacArthur, a friend who participated. “I could see a day in the future where we do it for six hours straight or even 12 hours straight. I think it’ll probably be an annual thing.”

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