The legacy of Billy Dutton
Betty Dutton speaks with enthusiasm when the subject of her late son, Billy, comes up. She speaks fast with obvious love and respect for her boy.
He is nothing but memories for Betty now: More than 14 years ago, he fell victim to skin cancer.
“He loved the mountains, when he was sick (in San Jose), he used to say that he had to get back to the mountains to his people,” Betty said of her son.
It was her son that left his mark on the area, most notably the Tahoe-Nordic Search and Rescue team located in Tahoe City. After his premature death at 36, friends and family came together to put on a race in his honor at Squaw Valley, his hometown.
He left quite the impression.
“(The race) started right away, we wanted to do it for his memorial,” Betty said. “A lot of times he’d go up on his own, nobody could catch him, he was gone.”
So, since he skied uphill quickly, why not race uphill?
The race itself courses up the Mountain Run at Squaw, all 3.2 miles of it.
He became involved with search and rescue after a small plane crashed into the mountains. He and a handful of other locals got together, went into the backcountry, found the plane and took out the survivors.
“He carried this kid out on his shoulders,” Betty said.
Billy Dutton was born in San Jose in 1953. Six years later, the family pulled up stakes and relocated to Squaw Valley. From there, he picked up alpine and Nordic skiing.
Then there’s the Chiefs, a Squaw Valley hockey team he started up.
The proceeds from the race go toward the Far West Nordic ski team’s trip to the Junior Olympics every year. Last month, the team traveled to Fairbanks, Alaska, on the proceeds from the ’02 race. Next year, the team will head to Park City.
Registration for the race starts at 7 a.m. on Sunday and it’s $15 to enter. The race starts one hour later at 8 a.m. Participants can ski, snowshoe, run or walk their way up to Squaw’s High Camp. The race is 3.2 miles and is a 2,000-foot elevation gain.
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