Steamboat Resort raises $200K for area nonprofits with Priest Creek Chairlift auction

Robert Vaughn, left, and Jeff Kelley, right, remove chairs from the the Priest Creek Chairlift at Steamboat Resort. (Courtesy photo)

Yates Osborn was disappointed when he missed his chance to bid on a chair from the Barrows Chairlift at Howelsen Ski Area. For decades, Golden-resident Osborn has been coming to ski in Steamboat Springs, which he considers a second home.

In an effort to keep a piece of Steamboat, Osborn proudly bid $1,505 on a chair from the Priest Creek Chairlift, the oldest chair lift at the resort, which were auctioned off by Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. in August.

“I love Steamboat, and I wanted to just be part of the city and the area,” Osborn said.

Osborn chooses to make the 147-mile drive to Steamboat rather than opting for a closer resort off Interstate 70 because of Steamboat’s feel as a city with more to offer than just a ski area.

“The town and the mountain are just such a special spot,” Osborn said. “It’s far enough to be a bit of a destination and close enough to where I can get there in a day.”

A few of Osborn’s friends made bids in the auction and volunteered they had offered between $1,400 and $1,600 for a chair. That piece of inside information helped him select his own winning bid.

Ski Corp. is staying mum on the exact values of each bid but announced Wednesday the overall auction fetched over $200,000 for 125 chairs. All funds raised will go to area nonprofit organizations.

At a glance

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. will be donating all money raised from the Priest Creek chairlift auction to area nonprofit organizations, including:

• Bud Werner Memorial Library

• Colorado Mountain College Foundation

• Come As You Are/Breaking Bonds

• Grand Futures

• Heeling Friends

• High Altitude Basketball

• Housing First Alliance of Craig

• Humane Society of Moffat County

• Mountain Valley Horse Rescue

• Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA

• Opera Steamboat

• Routt County 4-H Council

• Routt County Riders

• South Routt Education Endowment

• Steamboat Creates

• Steamboat Soccer Club

• Steamboat Dance Theatre

• Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association

• Steamboat Reading

• Steamboat Symphony Orchestra

• Young Tracks

• Family Development Center/Discovery Learning Center/Newborn Network

• Hayden Totally Kids

• Northwest Colorado Center for Independence

• Yampa River Botanic Park

“We are extremely proud of at the impact that the Priest Creek Chairlift Auction will have on our community,” Rob Perlman, president and COO of Ski Corp., said in a news release. “To be able to share these historic pieces of the resort with so many while donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to nonprofit organizations as a result is the best possible scenario.”

Toni Hennessy, a Steamboat resident for 17 years, was thrilled when her phone lit up with a text message from the resort alerting her that her $5,000 bid was accepted.

Buying a chair was particularly significant for Hennessy as she and her family built a house in the Priest Creek Ranch subdivision when they moved to town.

“We’re big skiers, and the ranch that we built is a piece of Steamboat history,” Hennessy said. “It doesn’t have any historical designation, but we kept a lot of the structures and upgraded them.”

Hennessy said the chair makes her feel like more of a Steamboat local with a deeper connection to town, which she hopes to pass onto her children and grandchildren, who also live in Steamboat.

“To have the oldest chair on the mountain just goes with our feeling of wanting to be connected here to the community that was to the community that is now,” Hennessy said.

Megan Biller learned how to ski in Steamboat. A resident of Evergreen, Biller has been skiing locally for 38 years. She now also owns a piece of the historic lift, which has always been on her bucket list.

She claimed her piece of history with a $2,000 bid.

“There’s just so much great skiing up there,” Biller said of the Priest Creek area, adding she and her family frequently skied in the area long after the Priest Creek lift stopped running. “My whole family is really excited because we’ve seen Steamboat go from kind of nothing to something huge a few times now.”

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