Skiing and camaraderie: 50 years at the Nordic Inn

By Kendra Walker

Tarry and Lynne Erickson have been visiting Crested Butte for 50 years. Their loyalty to this place is reflected in many ways, from annual never-miss ski visits to the lifelong friendships they’ve maintained. Even their choice of accommodations remains steadfast: every single year for 50 years, the Ericksons have stayed at the Nordic Inn in Mt. Crested Butte.  

“Over the years we’ve thought about trying something different and maybe staying in a condo or something, but then we wouldn’t have this amazing community,” says Lynne. “You meet all these people from all different walks of life, we see each other at breakfast, we’re all in this room together checking in on what time everyone is going out to ski, taking a few runs with each other. There’s a real camaraderie that you don’t get in other places. And we’ve maintained those relationships.”

Now living in Augusta, Georgia, the Ericksons recall first learning about Crested Butte in the ’70s at a sporting goods store in Atlanta. “I had skis but I didn’t have poles, so we went to the store to buy poles. I still use those poles to this day,” says Lynne. “Tarry and I had been talking about going to ski out west, and we saw a poster about a charter trip to Crested Butte, Colorado. We thought, what the heck, we’ll go for it!”

The Ericksons booked the charter trip and came out to Crested Butte for the first time in January 1974, just several months after getting married. Despite a minor hiccup on the way from the Gunnison airport to Crested Butte Mountain Resort when the bus caught on fire and broke down, they loved the experience, enjoyed their stay at the Nordic Inn and made some friends in the process. “We all just planned to see each other back again next year, and we just kept coming back the same week year after year,” smiles Tarry.

The couple recalls how their group of returning friends just kept getting bigger and bigger. As the group grew and evolved, they always knew they could meet back up at the Nordic Inn. “We had this sort of ski club,” says Tarry. “People we would meet here from all over the country would come back. Many in that group have been coming for 20 or 30 years now. Some families that had little kids when we met them 30 years ago, those kids now have their own kids and are teaching them to ski.”

For Tarry and Lynne, one of the Nordic Inn’s biggest attractions was to spend time with Allen and Judy Cox, who owned the Nordic Inn for more than 40 years before selling it in 2012. “They’re the greatest people,” says Tarry, noting they still keep in touch to this day. “When we came out here for our 25th wedding anniversary, Alan and Judy threw us a big party. They hired a chef who spent three days back in the kitchen, making homemade biscotti and cakes. They made us T-shirts. We invited just about everybody on the mountain, we had a big blast.”

“They have always drawn people around them,” says Judy Cox. “They just drew in everybody and anybody, they just reeled people in. We were surprised they kept coming back to the Nordic Inn, even after we retired. It’s unusual to have guests come back every year, and for 50 years! But Tarry and Lynne have remained steadfast. I’m so happy to know they’re still coming to the Nordic Inn and Crested Butte. It makes me happy just to think about them,” she says. 

Tarry was a Marine and Judy recalls how Tarry would get up early to exercise every morning, even before a full day of skiing. “I would get there early in the morning to do breakfast and Tarry had already done his exercises. He’d come in and give me a big hug,” Judy says. “And he’d always go to the same table every single year. We all knew that was Tarry’s table.”

The Ericksons love the authentic Crested Butte community they have gotten to know over the years, both visitors and locals alike.  “Alan knew everybody and he introduced us to everybody,” says Tarry. “Back in the early days we knew all the restaurant owners. We got to know all the ski instructors and we would all go out to dinner together. We knew everybody in the ski shops and restaurants and stores.”

Reminiscing on their times in Crested Butte, Tarry and Lynne have racked up countless memorable moments, from skiing with elite ski racers, hiking the North Face before there was a T-bar, helping a hang glider launch off the mountain, spreading a dear friend’s ashes in his favorite CB spots, to getting evacuated from the Red Lady Lift. “The lift shut down and we waited maybe 30 minutes before ski patrol came and had to evacuate everyone,” says Lynne. “We just happened to be the first chair and I was the first one to go. The guinea pig. That was an interesting experience.”

The Ericksons remember plenty of bluebird days spent at the old Paradise warming house. “I remember skiing to the old Paradise warming house, it was just a little A-frame. We used to sit out there and lay in the snow and relax,” says Lynne. “There was always a bunch of guys down there playing guitars and fiddles and women tanning with their tops off. Back in the early days of Crested Butte it would get pretty wild around here.”

On one particularly memorable day on the mountain, their friend Charlie Farnan took President Jimmy Carter skiing for the day. “Charlie told us, ‘If you see me, I’ll introduce you to President Carter.’ And sure enough, we see this big entourage for the Carter party, secret service guys all on skis and such. Charlie sees us and waves us over and he introduced us to President Carter,” says Tarry. 

Lynne proudly recalls the moment the entourage got to a steep, icy ridge off of Paradise Bowl. “President Carter said to Charlie, ‘I don’t know about this, I don’t know if I want to go down there,’ and I told him I knew an easy way down,” says Lynne. “I said, ‘If you follow me, I’ll get you down there.’”

Tarry chimes in, “I remember watching her go down and President Carter said, ‘Charlie, I’m going to follow her.’”

Tarry was also a NASTAR alpine ski racer and qualified for the national championships multiple years. “It’s all because of NASTAR here at Crested Butte,” he says. Tarry, now 86, has been skiing since high school and shows no signs of slowing down. “I’m 86 and I still feel like I’m in my 40’s. I just love the whole mountain.” 

When choosing a favorite ski run, he says it depends on the company skiing with him. Horseshoe is one of his favorite warm-up laps before hitting the North Face extreme terrain, and for fun, he enjoys skiing off of Paradise, Gold Link, Prospect and International. 

Lynne loves a morning ski lap from the top of Paradise all the way down to the bottom of the East River Lift. She also loved Twister and Crystal back when they used to groom those runs. 

And after hitting the slopes, the Nordic Inn remains their home away from home. “There was a period of time when we stayed in the same room, 118,” says Tarry. “Alan has always told us that if this place gets remodeled or changed, he’ll take that number on the door and give it to us.”

As much as they love the building itself, it’s the relationships formed here that keep Tarry and Lynne coming back every year. “There could be better mountains to ski and better hotels to stay at, but it’s the people we keep coming back for,” says Lynne. “We got to know these people and we became friends. Over the years we’ve lost some folks, but we’ve also added some along the way. We’re family.”

Tarry agrees, “We look forward to it all year. This is our world.”

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