BY CADDIE NATH
“Nobody had a greater love of skiing than Max Dercum,” said Bill Bergman, Dercum’s long-time friend and co-founder of Keystone. “And probably nobody knew more about technique and equipment.”
For the Dercums, it started at Arapahoe Basin in 1946.
The 80-acre parcel of land was purchased for $3,000. In the late 1990s, Dercum would remember members of the A-Basin founding family each pitching in $2 to pay the $10 incorporation paper fees.
That first year, 1,200 people skied from a mid-point towrope. They paid $3 for a ticket.
But, for the Dercums, one ski area wasn’t enough, and despite multiple challenges and roadblocks, Max never gave up on the idea of another hill at Keystone.
“He knew what he wanted,” recalled Bergman’s wife, Jane. “He wanted a mountain.”
So badly, that he already had a plaster-of-paris model of the runs he wanted to develop when he befriended the Bergmans after they moved in down the road from the Dercum’s Ski Tip Ranch.
One New Year’s Eve, the two couples began a partnership that would eventually lead to the birth of Keystone Resort. The Bergmans raised the money and found the investors to start the resort, and Dercum became head of the ski school. Dercum managed the trails and installation of the lifts, while Bill Bergman handled the business side.
“That’s been our whole life together since,” Bergman said. “I have admired him like I have never admired a person before in my life.”
Today, Keystone stretches seven miles over three mountains with 3,148 acres of ski and snowboard terrain.
“Max is leaving a legacy that will be remembered by all who enjoy skiing and riding Keystone Mountain today as well as for generations to come,” Keystone general manager John Buhler said.
In 1980, the Dercums were inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame, and in 2003 Keystone Mountain was renamed Dercum Mountain in their honor.
“Max was always a visionary and imagined just how great skiing in the Snake River Valley could be,” said Arapahoe Basin COO Alan Henceroth. “Our hearts and prayers are with the Dercum family today. We’ll miss you Max.”
Dercum is survived by his two children Rolf and Sunni, five grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and extended family. Edna, to whom he was married for 71 years, died in 2008 at the age of 94.
Information on a service has not yet been released.
Alex Miller and the Denver Post contributed to the reporting of this story.