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Alta's Wild Old Bunch

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By Harriet Wallis, the geezer gal

The Wild Old Bunch. It's a hearty group of men and women skiers who range in age from 50 to the mid 90s. They like to ski and they like to make new ski buddies. They socialize on the mountain daily and meet at a restaurant for dinner weekly throughout the year. They come from all over the world: Australia, India, Germany and Canada. The Wild Old Bunch has 100 members, and now it includes not only Alta skiers but skiers and boarders from Brighton and Snowbird. Most discover the group by coincidence.

 

"Two years ago we were skiing off trail in the woods and it was tough," said Bob Phillips from Tennessee. We came upon an older guy who was skiing it with ease. We followed him but we had trouble keeping up."

 

That older guy was George Jedenoff, 96, from California. They got on the lift together and he invited them to meet the Wild Old Bunch and make ski buddies.

 

The newest members are Louise and Gaston Arguin. They learned about the Wild Old Bunch from members Doug and Diane Arner several years ago when they chatted at the top of a lift. Now the Arguins are here for the winter. "I always wanted to ski all winter before I get to old," said Gaston. I just turned 60 -- and this is the winter."

 

There are no dues. There are no officers. "The only requirement is that you enjoy skiing and the companionship of others who have like interests," says Rush Speeden who spearheaded founding the group more than 40 years ago.

 

In the 1970s, Speeden and his friends took powder lessons at Alta and got so excited they wanted to share the joy of snow with others. They made home movies of themselves skiing powder, set it to music and titled it the Wild Old Bunch. The name stuck and the circle of ski friends expanded.

 

If you'd like to meet some of the Wild Old Bunch, drop into Alf's mid mountain restaurant about 11 a.m. any week day. The group gathers at a round table in the middle.

 

The group also meets for dinner year round at 5 p.m. at Sweet Tomatoes, a buffet restaurant, in Midvale.

 

The Wild Old Bunch: a group of devoted skiers that's held together by snow, their personal love of life and all things about skiing. Come introduce yourself.

 

Check out this rare footage from 1973—the original Wild Old Bunch Movie. Thanks Rush for permission to use this footage.

 

Harriet Wallis has been a ski writer, editor and photographer forever. She learned to ski on a dare when she was in her mid 30s and has been blabbing about it ever since. Read more from Harriet on her Valley Journals Ski Column.


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