We are honored to present the Nic Fiore Award Recipient for 2019.
There was plenty of snow in Massachusetts where Dick Ewart grew up, but not many hills for skiing. Attending college in northern New Hampshire was a great place to learn to downhill ski. Coincidentally, it was also near where Nic Fiore grew up, the namesake of this award, but their paths wouldn’t cross until later. After college in 1973, Dick ran a chainsaw for a logging company for six months before he drove his little Saab (now with over 450,000 miles) to the west coast and worked as a busboy and bartender in San Francisco for over a year.
Wanting to return to a rural environment, Dick found himself in Yosemite in 1975 to learn about the trees, rocks, waterfalls, and glaciers. He went on a Ranger nature walk and at the end, said to the Ranger “I want your job.”
Dick inquired at every office in the park about becoming a Ranger and the response was all the same: “Get in line.” The last place he tried was the Yosemite Natural History Association (now Yosemite Conservancy). They interviewed him on the spot and offered him a job - as a volunteer. He accepted and after a year of working for free, he donned the uniform and hat of a Ranger Naturalist. Life could not be better for Dick at that time. Within a few years, he had fallen in love with Yosemite and decided to stay. There are a lot of hats that Rangers wear, and Dick wore many in his career. He worked on search and rescue, became an EMT, went to the federal academy to earn his law enforcement commission and became a black bear technician.
Early on in his Yosemite career, Dick developed his love for winter sports and left a lasting impact on winter programs in Yosemite. There is not a visitor who has been on Dick’s snowshoe walks that doesn’t remember weasel pelts being pulled out of Dick’s jacket. Dick began leading these snowshoe walks at Badger Pass and Crane Flat, despite never having snowshoed before. In the winter of 1979-80, he was one of the hut keepers at the Ostrander Lake Ski Hut, despite never having cross country skied before. That didn’t stop him spending over 35 years sharing his enthusiasm for winter with visitors in Yosemite.
This same time period he met and developed a friendship with Nic Fiore. They crossed paths regularly at Badger Pass and also ran into each other at the High Sierra Camps in the summers, where Dick led groups on week-long hikes starting in 1979.
Dick sums up his incredible career in Yosemite, “My first summer as a Ranger was in the Valley, then 15 summers in Tuolumne and the last 25 at Glacier Point. And of course, winters at Badger Pass. How glorious to lead snowshoe walks every day, ski at least a few times a week and get paid for it. And the honor of knowing Nic Fiore for all those years makes receiving this award particularly meaningful.”
The Yosemite Winter Club would like to thank Dick for promoting winter sports in Yosemite. Congratulations to Dick Ewart, the 2019 recipient of the Nic Fiore Award!