Ski Resort Life

On Patrol

Big Sky ironman Phil Capi served in WWII, was shot down during the Korean War, may have been a spy, and has patrolled since the 1960s. Oh, and he’s scratching 90 years old.

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SKI: You’ve had quite the military experience.

P.C.: I was in the Navy in WWII and served until ’48. I always wanted to fly, so I learned and then signed up during the Korean War. That’s when I got shot down. I wasn’t paying attention.

SKI: There’s a rumor that you were also a spy…

P.C.: Ha! No, no, I wasn’t.

SKI: Isn’t that exactly what a spy would say?

P.C.: Well, maybe. I worked for the State Department in India. I could grow a beard and speak a little Hindi so I could pass for a Muslim. I listened to what was being said and reported anything suspicious.

SKI: Hmm. OK. So once you were done spying, when did you start skiing?

P.C.: After the service, in the ’50s. I got into it for the fun of it. I’d always wanted to ski, ever since I was a kid.

SKI: When did you start patrolling?

P.C.: 1962 in Vermont, at Mount Snow, then Haystack. I’d moved back East to run a lodge but had gotten first aid training as a fireman in California and wanted to use it. Plus, my friends told me I’d get bored just running a lodge.

SKI: How was patrolling in the good ol’ days?

P.C.: Well, we didn’t have radios, just phones up and down the trail. Really it was great. We mainly just skied.

SKI: When and how did you end up at Big Sky?

P.C.: In 1995, when Lone Peak opened. I always went to Big Sky for a two-week vacation in January. On one of those trips I was offered a job and I thought, “This is a pretty good deal.” A lot of people at Big Sky have had long careers. It’s a good place to work and a good place to ski. It’s a whole lotta mountain.

SKI: You’ve been patrolling for more than 50 years. You must like the work.

P.C.: You bet. We’re on the hill early so we get the goods. We get to test everything out. It’s a great deal skiing where you want. It’s a nice paycheck. We do get carried away with skiing powder. That is true.

SKI: Your years on-mountain are impressive. What have they taught you?

P.C.: I’ve learned a lot getting in over my head. Skiing teaches you about life. If you’re not looking exactly toward where you want to go, you’re gonna get in trouble.

SKI: Any advice for anyone under 90?

P.C.: Well, the biggest thing is don’t hang around old people. I hang around young people. Helps keep you thinking forward all the time. I’m just gonna ski and get through it. It’s just one season at a time.