Mike Waesche started pressing skis in his garage when he was 22 years old. He had no plans for his hobby to ever become a full-fledged business. “It was never meant to be a business,” he says. “We call it an accidental ski company.”
That surprisingly successful accident? It’s called Rocky Mountain Underground, a boutique, hand-made ski company that Waesche founded in 2008 and now runs out of his hometown of Breckenridge, Colorado. Waesche and RMU are featured in this season’s first episode of Westward, the Flylow video series produced by KGB Productions.
Waesche grew up in Summit County, Colorado, and has been skiing all his life. In the episode, he talks about remembering the moment, at age 11, when skiing became such an integral part of his existence. It was a powder day and he was skiing with his dad. “It hit me—I’m going to be a skier. This is fun,” he remembers.
For seven years, until 2015, Waesche worked as a fireman with the Lake Dillon Fire Rescue. He was juggling his ski business on the side. Now, he’s dedicated himself fully to RMU. In 2016, he opened a showroom and shop, plus a neighboring tavern, on Breckenridge’s Main Street. It’s Colorado’s first ski shop and bar in one. They sell RMU skis and other gear, but most folks come in for a pint of beer from one of the 14 local brews on taps.
Nowadays, Waesche is an enterpriser whose inventions and ideas go well beyond skis. He’s also created a waterproof commuter backpack and a dog collar that unzips into a dog’s drinking bowl that he launched via Kickstarter. “We’ve made huge mistakes,” he says. “It’s the persistence to keep moving forward, keeping walking through it. Having that strength is what keeps you going.”
Westward Series: Season 6
What is it about Vermont? There are places with bigger mountains that get more snow and less subzero temps. But there is no place with a more committed core of skiers. Raining? No problem. Bulletproof? They invented bulletproof. Negative 20 and 30mph wind? Better be ready at 6am so you can get first chair at Stowe.