After growing up in different parts of the country, skiers and folk musicians Pam and Dan Rosenthal met in Breckenridge, Colo., when Dan offered Pam her first ski instructor job.
“He hired me in 86 and we were married by 89,” says the feisty, silver-haired singer with her wiry, hardworking husband by her side.
“It’s not as hard as people think if you are willing to put in some extra planning, lose a few comforts and just go for it.”
“We decided to test the marriage to see if we could make it to 30 [years],” says Pam. “If we can live in a van together for six months, I think we pass the test. I’m not sure of the exact number, but the percentage of people who are musicians and ski instructors that stay married is a low one.”
For the past 15 years, the Rosenthals have lived in Carbondale, Colo., where they teach at Aspen Snowmass. When they got the report from headquarters that Aspen Skiing Company was joining forces with Ikon Pass ski resorts, Dan got a wild idea.
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“He said, ‘I want to do this,’ ” says Pam. “And I laughed. At that point there were 28 resorts.”
But with their two daughters both out of the house, the couple realized their crazy notion to ski every North American Ikon Pass ski resort in one season might not be that outrageous after all.
“We love to ski and play music and we’re still young enough to do this stuff,” says Pam. “We’re in this fortunate place where we can enjoy life.”
The Rosenthals play dreamy, emotive brand of folk based around Pam’s steady upright bass and harmonies and Dan’s cowboy guitar swagger, covering Bob Dylan, John Prine and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. They recorded an ethereal, yet homey 2014 compilation album called “Arrows of Love” with artists including songstress Jamie Birdsey and daughter, Carly.
This year, the couple will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary and Dan’s 60th birthday this year. The tour of mountain, old friends and music is also a celebration of his late father, George, who taught Dan how to ski in Killington, Vt.
So with visions of endless snow and family sing-alongs in their minds, the couple made a deal that Dan would paint houses while Pam booked gigs.
“When I started getting some success with the booking, it was around then we got our trusty Olive (a 2006 Dodge Sprinter van),” she says. “But Ikon kept adding resorts, so we just kept rerouting and rerouting.”
The Rosenthals began their six-month tour at Eldora Mountain outside of Nederland, Colo., where they played their homegrown brand of folk and Americana at Timbers Tap Room. From there, a cross-country visit to see family in West Virginia offered a chance for some picking and skiing at Snowshoe Mountain. They headed up the East Coast in December to Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Quebec experiencing variable, yet decent, early winter weather.
“We knew we were taking a risk doing the East Coast first, but we found unseasonably good conditions,” says Dan. “You can’t do anything about Mother Nature, so you get what you get.”
While winding their way north, the Rosenthals skied everything from ice to fresh powder to what can only be described as a mountain of soft, slushy snow cones after it rained and snowed intermittently throughout the day. On their night off, the couple played lively gigs at a variety of venues ranging from the quaint pub in Sunday River, Maine, to a grand hotel at the foot of New Hampshire’s 6288-foot apex.
By the time Christmas rolled around, Ikon Pass’s bounty had grown to 38 resorts stretching across the United States and Canada. So, on their way back to Carbondale for the holidays, the Rosenthals rerouted again, this time through Michigan to ski the newly added Boyne and Boyne Highlands in a day.
After teaching skiing through the New Year, the couple set out on the road again for the Rocky Mountain portion of their journey. They skied epic conditions in Utah, as well as in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Big Sky, Mont., where they played a free gig at Wild Joe’s Coffee Shop.
“The Rockies were all powder,” says Dan. “We’d have to move our van for the snow plows in the resort parking lots, but one night in Deer Valley there was so much snow we couldn’t move. In Jackson, it snowed 19 inches in one morning and we had four powder days in a row. Now we’re paying for that time with really cold weather.”
By mid-February, the Rosenthals were in Alberta at Canada’s Big 3 — Lake Louise, Banff Sunshine and Mt. Norquay — in Banff National Park. By this point, they had made it to 21 resorts.
“One thing we didn’t really expect was that at night in Canada it’s been 35 degrees below zero. They call it a three-dog night when you need three dogs to stay warm,” says Dan alluding to one of his classic rock musical inspirations. “The best we could do was a two heater night on a diesel engine.”
Their trip continued to Revelstoke and Cypress Bowl in British Columbia, Crystal Mountain and the Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington, before arriving this week in Tahoe.
After skiing Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, they plan to resume their expedition south to Mammoth and Big Bear before crossing the desert to Taos, N.M. They will complete the full Ikon tour back in Colorado at Copper Mountain, Winter Park, Steamboat Springs and Aspen. The Rosenthal’s homecoming show will be on April 14 at River’s Restaurant in Glenwood Springs where they’ve hosted an open mic for the past 10 years.
“We come across people all the time who say, ‘I wish I could do that.’ I always say, ‘I bet you could if you adjusted your life a little bit and just worked it out.’ It’s not as hard as people think if you are willing to put in some extra planning, lose a few comforts and just go for it,” says Pam. | squawalpine.com, cottonwoodrestaurant.com