We all have family traditions, some of them may seem silly or trivial, but traditions are designed to bring us closer together with our family. The Meltons have a family tradition that involves red suspenders and is a tradition that does an excellent job bringing the family closer together.

I was lucky enough to spend some time talking to Jim Melton to learn how the Meltons became a ski family and how Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge fit into their family story. The Melton family became a ski family way back in the 70s. The first family ski vacation was to a little ski hill in Indiana. Back in the early days of the Melton’s ski story, the family spent their ski days in Michigan. If you haven’t experienced Michigan skiing, you may not have experienced a truly cold day of skiing. These ski days were filled with a run or two and then a trip to the lodge to warm up. If the temperature rose to 0, it was considered a warm day.

After a few trips to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the family began to venture west. Like we often hear, once they found Alta and the Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge they never looked back. Nearly 30 years later, we are fortunate to host at least a few, if not several Meltons each year.

As the years have gone by, the Melton family has grown. First with Jim and his siblings marrying and having children and now with their children doing the same. Each year they do their best to reunite as a family on the slopes of Alta. Some years it is a large group, and some only a few can make it, but each year the members that visit cherish their time together on the slopes and in the dining room. It is at dinner, where family members are awarded their red suspenders, an honor that is earned by successfully skiing a black diamond without falling. The patriarch of the family conducts the presentation with the following words… As patriarch of the Melton Family, and a black diamond skier, I am proud to present you with these ski suspenders. It has been verified by two current suspender receivers that you have successfully skied a black diamond run without falling. These suspenders are a symbol of not only your ski abilities but also your courage.


Earning your red suspenders in a family of skiers is not only an honor but also a rite of passage. The family shares their love of skiing in many family occasions, most notably weddings and is quick to inaugurate new additions to the club. The following is a toast often recited at family weddings –

  • May these vows that you exchanged today
  • Bring you a life time of joy, companionship, & peace. May it snow every night &
  • Sun shine every day.
  • May the wind be to your back &
  • The sun in your face.

In our industry, we often talk about ski families and what exactly that means. I think the Meltons have perfectly captured the essence of becoming and being a ski family.

The Melton’s story brings two thoughts to mind –

  1. You are never too old to become a ski family. The Melton children were in high school, and their father had never skied before when they became a ski family.
  2. And I wonder, how do you celebrate being a ski family?

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