By Nathan Ham
Gil Adams experienced a little bit of everything during his 50 years at Beech Mountain Ski Resort. The longtime ski patroller was honored on Saturday as the resort named the new ski patrol building after him.
Adams joined the National Ski Patrol in 1970 and spent his entire 50-year career at Beech Mountain. He took over the patrol director’s position in 1982, a position he held for over 38 years until his retirement after last ski season. The National Ski Patrol has been in existence for 83 years and Adams has been a part of 50 of those years.
“I have had the distinct honor of patrolling with Gil for all of his 50 years. Some of my best ski days were spent with Gil Adams, from our first cup of coffee in the morning to making runs in all kinds of ski weather conditions,” said Mike Ohlson. “Gil’s true love was and continues to be skiing and ski patrolling, making the mountain safe for our customers and taking care of the injured. A lot of people have come and gone in 50 years, but Gil has been here through the good and the bad, looking out for skier safety and taking care of the injured. In the future, he may not be able to say he skied every day, but I am sure he will ski as much as he can and make a run or two with some old friends and share that end of the day cold beer. The naming of our patrol base is truly a testament to his service and commitment.”
During his career, Adams had to deal with everything from a woman giving birth at the resort to a tragic skiing death on the slopes. He also took on numerous other roles during his time at Beech Mountain.
“About the same time Gil became a full-time patroller, he also became an employee of the resort and continued there until his retirement. Gil assumed many roles while working at Beech Mountain: Snowmaker, snow reporter, carpenter, lift supervisor and marketing director to name a few,” Ohlson said.
Ryan Costin, who took over as Beech Mountain Resort’s General Manager, was very appreciative of what all of the ski patrol members have done for the resort, especially Gil.
“I have been extremely fortunate. Gil has been a mentor to me professionally and personally. Having the opportunity to be here and be able to give back a small part of what Gil gave to us has helped us continue on a path to a successful future,” Costin said. “I want to thank all of the patrollers that are here today, without your commitment we wouldn’t be able to do the type of improvements that we have been doing the last few years.”
Costin recalled back to his earliest times working at the resort his family started.
“I became the general manager here 13 years ago. I know at 25 years old, my name and not my experience got me this job. What I didn’t know about ski area operations at that point in time was probably pretty large. But what I did know was that if I surrounded myself with people that knew more than I did, it would give us an opportunity to be successful. I asked Gil if he would move his office from the building behind us over to the administration building. I knew being around Gil and having the opportunity to spend as much time as I possibly could with this man would give me the opportunity in the future to hopefully continue on the path that he set out for us in the beginning,” Costin said. “I got to spend a lot of time with Gil in the car going to or from North Carolina or Southeastern Ski Area Association meetings, depositions, courtrooms, and then of course here at the ski area on snow or in the office area.”
Adams spoke briefly to the crowd and acknowledged just how much the resort had impacted his life.
“Talia Freeman asked me if we could come up on this particular day a while back. She didn’t say what was going on I thought there must be something going on so we’ll come up. Then Ryan Costin called me at work one day about a week or so later and told me what the plan was. I listened to him and I was so honored, tears came rolling down the sides of my face,” Adams said.
Adams said that his parents bought property on the mountain back when it first opened as a resort and he was skiing on Beech Mountain the first year it opened.
“Something that Ryan told me a long time ago that meant a lot to me was he wanted this place to be a place he would like to come to and visit. They have made it an enjoyable place to visit and great conditions to ski on. He and I have been friends for a long time and I am very honored to be here for the naming of this patrol building. I’m so thankful for all of those people that have shown up. Our ski patrol has been a family from way back,” Adams said. “I am very honored to have my name put on this building.”
Costin and Richard Yerchek, a member of the National Ski Patrol Board of Directors, each presented Adams with a plaque for his service to the ski patrol and the Beech Mountain community.
“Beech Mountain has done a whole lot for this area. Avery County and Watauga County lines are on Beech Mountain, they support both counties. Then when Sugar Mountain built up with Banner Elk in the middle, Sugar on one side and Beech on the other, it has been great. I am really glad to have been part of this group,” Adams said.