Disillusioned by the doctor and lawyer crowd while on a heli ski trip, the 10-by-10s began introducing themselves as garbage men. Princeton Sanitation was born. PHOTO: Joseph Gonzalez-Dufresne

It's a half hour before the lifts spin, but Wachusett's Coppertop Lounge is already buzzing on the morning's first cup of coffee. A group of four grapples with hard plastic boots as they catch up on wives, kids, Route 2 traffic, and the struggling Boston Bruins. Salesmen and businessmen by trade, they aren't deterred by early mornings, and as the group swells to eight, the sharp-tongued ribbing that New Englanders dish better than anyone else is well under way.

These are the 10-by-10s, a crew of middle-aged Massholes dedicated to skiing a healthy diet of 10 runs by 10 a.m.

"It just seems like the right amount of runs we can get at speed without endangering ourselves or others," laughs Kevin Toohey, a software salesman from nearby Princeton, New Jersey.

The 10-by-10s have their own unique style, but what they share is representative of all tribes across the ski world. They know, without even asking, what time the others will roll up to the mountain and what runs their partners frequent. They posse up with names like the Beaver Patrol, Suicidal Torpedoes, Sassy Snatch, or Dogs of Bell. They form a connection that is as much a part of the mountain experience as skiing itself, the stitch that bonds them to sport, sport to culture, culture to lifestyle.

Every weekend, the 10-by-10s race up and down their local hill with calculated abandon. Their speeds have slowed over the years (Terry Hart is skiing on a new hip, while Charlie Cary has pushed past 60), but dedication to the local hill has never waned.

"It's good to laugh and live on your own for a few hours until real life claims you," says 10-by-10s' lone telemarker, Scott Mellecker. "Days here are as honest and cleansing of the soul as any church can offer."

Other ski posses we want to be part of? Meet The Bridger Brigade.