Tony Cammarata dreaded the news he had to deliver to his employees: They were losing their beards.
Mr. Cammarata, who oversees the ski patrol for an area in the Rocky Mountains west of Denver, had to clamp down on the facial hair so that the patrol could properly wear their N95 respirator masks.
But he knew this would be a tough measure for the men on his crew (47 of the resort’s 56 patrollers).
“You could tell people they’re not getting a merit increase, that you’re cutting their skiing privileges,” Mr. Cammarata said. “It’s not as bad as telling them they have to shave. The whole beard thing is ingrained in our culture.”
By and large, ski patrol members cutting their beards see it as a small inconvenience for the sake of safety and keeping the slopes active. But all the shaving has come with some peculiarities.
In ski areas like Arapahoe Basin, about 80 percent of the male patrollers have had to drastically change (or introduce) shaving regimens. A chart issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlighting the variety of facial hairstyles permitted with a fitted respirator mask has become a go-to resource.
“It’s one of the funniest government-issued documents I’ve ever seen,” Mr. Cammarata said. “It’s a pictogram with 40-plus styles of facial hair.”
Bearded patrollers say their facial hair serves as protection against the elements — a warm layer in strong winds, blizzards and frigid temperatures.
Still, many patrollers are finding a silver lining. “Most of us look a lot younger and less weathered,” said Hunter Mortensen, a longtime Breckenridge ski patroller who recently shaved for the first time in 10 years.
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