January 17, 2024

Princeton Ski and Sail Offers Camaraderie and a Vast Assortment of Trips and Events

SKIING AND SOCIALIZING: Princeton Ski and Sail Club (PSSC) members enjoyed a sunny day on the slopes of Madonna di Campiglio ski resort in Italy. The more than 300 members of PSSC participate in skiing, sailing, biking, hiking, and a range of social activities all year long. (Photo by Dmitri Rizer)

By Donald Gilpin

To say that Princeton Ski and Sail Club (PSSC) is about more than skiing and sailing would be an extreme understatement.

It all began at the Peacock Inn in 1957 when the owner of the Inn at the time, legendary New Jersey land baron Bryce Thompson, presented the idea for a ski club to a group of friends. “A bunch of people got together at the Peacock Inn and passed the hat around for money to start the club, and off it went,” said longtime club member David Corbishley, who heard the story directly from Thompson a few years ago before Thompson’s death in 2019.

Since 1957 the club has grown to as many as 700-800 members, with about 330 at last count, and expanded into an abundance of year-round activities, including Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing in the winter; sailing, camping, canoeing, hiking, cycling, and backyard barbecues in the summer; and holiday gatherings, parties, and more.

Camaraderie is the common element and overriding theme for the club’s activities, according to Corbishley, who has been a member for about 43 years and has served three different stints as president.

Corbishley recently returned from leading a PSSC group of 13 on an eight-day “Christmas cruise” down the Danube. “For at least 10 years I ran New Year’s trips to Quebec City,” he said. “And we’ve been to Iceland and Innsbruck, Austria. We’ve gone to Scotland and to Ireland twice. And we get a lot of the same people returning. It’s the camaraderie. That’s what keeps a lot of people interested. We have members from all over the world who come and join us.”

Hans Weinrich, a lifelong skier and the publicity coordinator for PSSC, was 63 when he joined the club about 22 years ago. “I was looking for company,” he said. “It’s more fun skiing with a group than skiing by yourself, so I joined the club.”

The club members enjoy each other’s company as much as they enjoy skiing, he noted. “There are people who are avid skiers, people who are avid sailors, and people who are avid socializers,” he added. “Those three groups mesh nicely and make the club rather pleasant.”

Weinrich described his participation in the club as “narrowly defined as far as activities are concerned. I do downhill skiing,” but he stated, “I also participate in the social activities. There are barbecues at private homes in the Princeton area throughout the summer.”

In addition to the barbecues and general meetings, Weinrich used to take several ski trips with the club each year — to the Canadian or U.S. Rockies, to Austria or France, and multiple trips each year to New England — but he pointed out, “My skiing is becoming very conservative now.” He’s looking forward to joining the club’s March trip to Killington, Vt., for three days of skiing on the slopes of Killington Mountain and a stay at the Cascade Lodge.

Other PSSC events in the coming months include a late January-early February trip (already full, but there’s a waiting list) to Verbier, Switzerland, one of the largest ski areas in Europe with 255 miles of linked trails; a late February one-week trip to Vail, Colo., with its 5,289 skiable acres and 275 trails; day trips to Blue Mountain and Camelback in Pennsylvania; and coming up this summer for the sailors, an eight-day trip in the Azores for blue-water sailing and visits to a number of different islands; as well as a Chesapeake Bay sojourn.

“The membership of the club has sort of been two halves,” Corbishley pointed out. “There’s the skiing half, and you see those people all winter long. Then in the spring you see the hikers and bikers and sailors, but there are some who do both.”

Corbishley, who remains friends with club members he met 40 years ago, recalls a local psychologist who recommended to a number of his patients that they join the club as a way to meet people and get involved in a variety of activities.

“It’s for any age and any ability level,” said Corbishley. “You don’t have to be a great skier. Everybody is welcome to participate. If you don’t ski or sail, we have the bike rides, we have the day hikes, we have the social activities. It’s a good way to meet people in your community. You can make a connection with people.”

He recalled a couple of club members who got engaged by the side of the road on one of the PSSC trips a few years ago. And earlier this week Corbishley, who oversees the PSSC cross country skiing outings, was already making plans to take advantage of the first Princeton snowfall in a long time.

“If we get enough snow, we may go into the Institute Woods and ski over there,’ he said. “There’s always something going on.”

Visit princetonskiandsail.org for more information.