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Pepi Gramshammer passes on at age 87

August 17, 2019, 5:26 pm

If you live in Vail, you know Pepi. You’ve probably seen him out and about recently in Vail Village, or on the patio at his iconic Gasthof Gramshammer restaurant. He’s one of the legendary founders of arguably one of the most successful ski areas on the planet.

Pepi (Colorado Snowsports Museum photo).

And on Saturday morning he died at the age of 87.

An Austrian ski racer who rolled the dice on a fledgling resort in the Colorado Rockies, Pepi came to define Vail – its Tyrolean flare, its endless high-quality powder lines like the run Forever in Vail’s Back Bowls.

Legend has it Pepi named it before Chair 5 was even installed, marveling that it seemed to go on forever. Now Gramshammer is somewhere hopefully skiing that same line on 27-year-old knees, forever and ever.

I sat at a table with Pepi and Vail founder Pete Seibert on the deck of Gasthof Gramshammer sometime in the early 2000s, listening to Pepi and Pete swap endless stories about the early days – the pioneering passion to build, promote and manage the perfect ski area. They both came pretty close.

I was writing the first story for the Vail Trail on Pete’s new book, Vail: Triumph of a Dream. It was fitting that he wanted to meet me to talk about his book with Pepi by his side. I’ll never forget that day.

On Saturday, the Colorado Snowsports Museum, whose hall of fame includes both men, posted this notice on its Facebook page:

It is with great sadness that we inform you that Hall of Fame member Pepi Gramshammer passed away this morning at 8 a.m. He was 87.

Pepi was truly the heartbeat of Vail for close to 60 years and he genuinely loved his adopted home. He embodied the American “can do spirit” and the Vail Valley, as well as everyone that visits Vail and Beaver Creek each year owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sheika and his daughters.

— Jen Mason & the entire Colorado Snowsports Museum staff

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is the editor and co-founder of RealVail.com and has had his awarding-winning work (see About Us) published in more than 75 newspapers and magazines around the world, including 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), the Anchorage Daily Press (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Casper Star Tribune (Wyoming), the Chicago Tribune, Colorado Central Magazine, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Newsline, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Cortez Journal, the Craig Daily Press, the Curry Coastal Pilot (Oregon), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Del Norte Triplicate (California), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Explore Big Sky (Mont.), the Fort Morgan Times (Colorado), the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), the Kingman Daily Miner (Arizona), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the Las Vegas Sun, the Leadville Herald-Democrat, the London Daily Mirror, the Moab Times Independent (Utah), the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), the Montrose Daily Press, The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, the Rio Blanco Herald Times (Colorado), Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), the Salt Lake Tribune, SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Sky-Hi News, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Sterling Journal Advocate (Colorado), the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Health Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail, Westword (Denver), Writers on the Range and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

One Response to Pepi Gramshammer passes on at age 87

  1. Carol pizer Reply

    August 17, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    Such a legend. The heart of Vail. Memories for anyone who knew him.

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