ALL HAIL LIFT 9 4.95 | priceless in Telluride
MISADVENTURES ON THE WORLD’S HIGHEST MOUNTAIN THE MÖBIUS STRIP
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Ptarmigan Ranch Lots 5 & 6 Wilson Mesa 168 Acres • Irrigation • 2 Wells $3,195,000
128 Singletree Ridge Mountain Village 5 Bed • 6.5 Bath • Remarkable 270º Views $3,995,000
Lot 152 East Serapio Drive Aldasoro Ranch 360º Views • Privacy • 3.49 Acres $985,000
17101 Highway 550 Riverfront/Equestrian 3 Bed • 3,631 s.f. • 3.38 Acres $1,399,000
8121 Preserve Drive Irreplaceable Compound 13 Bed • 13 Bath • 18,892 s.f. • 28 Acres $17,900,000 $8,995,000
Valentine Farm Horse Ranch, Norwood 7 Bed • 10 Stall Stable • 120 Acres $4,375,000
Lot 915 Larkspur Lane Mountain Village 1+ Acres • Ski Access • Low Elevation $1,095,000
West Fork Dolores River Surrounded by National Forest 2 Bed • 93 Acres • Riverfront • Fishing $3,195,000
Lot 38 Joaquin Road Aldasoro Ranch 3.62 Acres • Wilson Views • Creek $565,000
Spectacular 40 Acres Specie Mesa Huge Views • Small Cabin • 40 Acres $595,000
438 Benchmark Drive Mountain Village 7 Bed • Guest House • Slopeside $7,950,000
2 Elkstone Place Mountain Village 4 Bed • Half Duplex • 3,588 s.f. $2,650,000
Stephen Cieciuch (Chet-chu) Director firstname.lastname@example.org | 970.369.5322, Direct | 970.708.2338, Cell 237 South Oak Street @ the Telluride Gondola | Telluride, Colorado 81435 I telluridearearealestate.com
Find more details about these properties and search all Telluride area real estate at TellurideAreaRealEstate.com
July 20 - 23, 2017
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SAMPLING OF SALES OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS 800 E Columbia - $1,151,000 Trails Edge #7 - $1,100,000 Blue Mesa #32B - $150,000 Bridal Veil #4 - $672,500 Tomboy #138 - $90,000 Dairy Barn - $368,000 Pine Meadows #135 - $1,025,000 Peaks Hotel #308 - $187,500 Chamonix C - $200,000 430 W Colorado - $700,000 714 E Columbia - $975,000
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Eric Saunders Broker email@example.com | 970.369.5326, Direct | 970.708.2447, Cell 237 South Oak Street @ the Telluride Gondola | Telluride, Colorado 81435 I saunders.searchtelluriderealestate.com
16 • WINTER/SPRING 2016-2017
DEPARTMENTS 19 WITHIN
Experience it Yourself
20 CALENDAR OF EVENTS
The who, what, where, and when in Telluride this season
26 LOCAL FLAVOR Steamed, not fried
R E D E F I N E D M O U N TA I N L I V I N G
28 MOUNTAIN HEALTH Supplemental oxygen
30 ASK JOCK
Athletic advice from our mountain guru
“Dueling in the Desert” by Amy Irvine McHarg
48 BOOK REVIEWS
New books by local authors
Toxic legacy of abandoned mines
56 TELLURIDE FACES Meet the smooth operator, the woman on a mission, and Telluride’s cowboy
60 INSIDE ART
Telluride’s new dance collective
All Hail Lift 9
The Möbius Strip
An ode to the last laps on Telluride’s favorite chairlift
Winston Branko Churchill’s long walk to the edge of infinity
Misadventures on the World’s Highest Mountain Buried alive on Mount Everest
History The notorious Captain Baker and the San Juan gold rush
“The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards” by Robert Boswell
68 NATURE NOTES
Seeing the forest for the trees
70 TELLURIDE TURNS
Nucla power plant, wild horses, Nobel prize winners, national freestyle champion
78 COLOR BY NUMBERS An index of facts and figures
82 A LAST LOOK
“In the Alleys” by Rob Huber
DANIEL E. DOCKRAY 970 -708 - 0666 D A N . D O C K R AY@ S OT H E BYS R E A LT Y.C O M O F F ER ED FRO M $2,495,0 0 0 – $5,495,0 0 0
18 • WINTER/SPRING 2016-2017
Telluride Magazine is produced by Telluride Publishing LLC, a locally owned and operated company.
EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF
TELLURIDE PUBLISHING LLC ~~~
ADVERTISING EXECUTIVE JENNY PAGE
ROBERT BOSWELL Robert Boswell (Fiction, pp. 62–66) has published seven novels, three story collections, and two books of nonfiction. His play The Long Shrift was produced offBroadway in 2014. His work has earned Guggenheim and NEA fellowships and numerous prizes. Recently, The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards was a finalist for the PEN USA Award. His stories have appeared in the Harpers, The Atlantic, New Yorker, and Best American Short Stories. He splits time between Telluride and Houston, where he holds the Cullen Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Houston.
EDITOR DEB DION KEES ~~~
CREATIVE DIRECTOR KRISTAL RHODES ~~~
DISTRIBUTION TELLURIDE DELIVERS ~~~
WEB ADMINISTRATOR SUSAN HAYSE ~~~
Interviewing Jeff Shannon for “Misadventures on the World’s Highest Mountain” (pp. 42–44), Martinique Davis was reminded of her post-college travels around India and Southeast Asia—although hers were nowhere near as death-defying as Shannon’s (unless you count traveling by bus through Delhi). Nowadays Davis sticks closer to home here in Telluride; ski patrolling in the winter, landscaping in the summer, chasing her two daughters year-round, and finding time to write when she can.
Ryan Bonneau, Jack Brauer, Brenda Colwell, Gus Gusciora, TJ Holmes, Rob Huber, Brett Shreckengost, JT Thomas ~~~
WWW.TELLURIDEMAGAZINE.COM Telluride Publishing produces the San Juan Skyway Visitor Guide and Telluride Magazine. Current and past issues are available on our website..
ROB HUBER Rob Huber (A Last Look, p. 82) moved here in 1987, and spent a decade as the Telluride Times-Journal photographer, where he won several press awards. Currently he’s a freelance photographer and assistant manager at Telluride Sports. In 2015, he photographed the alley behind Baked in Telluride and received so much Facebook feedback he started a series of Friday alley pictures, different alleys from different angles and in different seasons. When he’s not out capturing the subtle beauty of Telluride, he enjoys paddle boarding, mountain biking, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and relaxing in his hot tub with his feet up, enjoying a cold beverage.
© 2016 Telluride Publishing L.L.C. For editorial inquiries call 970.708.0060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org For advertising information call 970.729.0913 or email email@example.com The annual subscription rate is $14.95. Cover and contents are fully protected and must not be reproduced in any manner without written permission from the publisher. ~~~
ON THE COVER
Mountains emerging through the clouds by Ryan Bonneau; illustration by Fred Birchman
DIGITAL PARTNER www.TellurideMagazine.com
PHOTO BY RYAN BONNEAU
Martinique Davis, Deanna Drew, Elizabeth Guest, Caitlin Ketel, Katie Klingsporn, Amy Irvine, Paul O’Rourke, Corinne Platt, Emily Shoff, Regan Tuttle, Lance Waring, Samantha Tisdel Wright
ave you ever wondered if someone else sees colors the same way you do? Is their blue the same blue you see, or are they seeing some other color that they’ve identified that way for their whole life? There’s no doubt that the person experiencing something has an effect on it, and becomes a part of that experience. Physicists call it the “observer effect,” the changes that the act of observation make on the phenomenon being observed. We have a role in everything we see and experience—we alter it, and it alters us. Local mountaineer Jeff Shannon (“Misadventures on the World’s Highest Mountain,” pp. 42–44) was
profoundly changed by what he experienced. He was buried alive on Everest, in the days before satellite radios and digital avalanche transceivers, and emerged a different person. Winston Branko Churchill (“The Möbius Strip,” pp. 38–40) was so deeply moved by his life experiences that he wanted to change the world, and after writing a long and intriguing manifesto he hiked hundreds of miles on the Colorado Trail, never to return. And what the notorious Captain Baker experienced as he traveled through the San Juan Mountains on a quest for gold (“The Notorious Captain Baker,” pp. 52–54) changed his fortune as
well as the fortune of others—but not in the way he expected. The way you take in the world around you matters. There are two ways to experience Telluride’s most iconic chairlift (“All Hail Lift 9,” pp. 34–36), as a passive observer seated above the runs, or actively as one of the skiers or snowboarders zipping through the snow below. You have to be very perceptive to witness the subtle things, points out Deanna Drew in her piece on climate change in the alpine landscape, (Nature Notes, pp. 64–65). And Amy Irvine makes eloquent observations about the meeting held in Utah to determine the future of the Bears Ears
wilderness (“Dueling in the Desert,” pp. 32–33); she sees hope even as the public lands battle divides people. There’s much to see and do in Telluride. Try an award-winning steamed burger (Local Flavor, p. 26), take in a dance performance (Inside Art, p. 60) or breathe in some supplemental oxygen (Mountain Health, p. 28). Whatever you come across, you will become a part of it, and it will become a part of you. So dive in and do everything you can, and make the experiences your own. Enjoy this issue, Deb Dion Kees Editor, Telluride Magazine
20 • EVENT CALENDAR Winter/Spring 2016-2017
Fourteen Duxbury Park
T H E D O M I N I O N | S A N A N TO N I O, T E X A S | $ 9 , 8 0 0 , 0 0 0
18 GONDOLA OPENS
AH HAA SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS OPEN CLASSES
The gondola opens for the 2016-17 winter season. The chondola between the Meadows and Mountain Village center starts running Nov. 24.
The Ah Haa School offers classes in painting, drawing, writing, jewelry making, batik dyeing ceramics, graphic design, theatre, dance, fitness, and even qi gong. For a complete schedule of classes and events, visit the school’s website. ahhaa.org
18 RUIN & ROSE
Matchstick Productions’ latest ski film screens at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com
24 OPENING DAY
AVALANCHE AWARENESS FORUMS AND RESCUE CLINICS
Telluride Ski Resort opens for the 2016-17 ski season.
26 HERE, THERE & EVERYWHERE
Warren Miller’s most recent ski film screens at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com
DECEMBER 2–4 ELF THE MUSICAL
10 AN OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS AT SCHMID RANCH
The Telluride Historical Museum presents its annual Christmas celebration at Schmid Ranch on Wilson Mesa. Bring the kids and find your Christmas tree, make a wreath, take a sleigh ride, enjoy homemade hot cocoa, meet Santa, and more. telluridemuseum.org
Sheridan Arts Foundation Young People’s Theatre middle school actors perform Elf the Musical at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com
11 THE WOOD BROTHERS WITH BEN SOLLEE
2–4 HOLIDAY ARTS BAZAAR
11-14 TELLURIDE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT SERIES
Local artisans and artists vend unique handmade goods like jewelry, sewn and knitted clothing and accessories, toys, local foods, housewares, candles, and more at the Telluride High School. telluridearts.org
7 NOEL NIGHT
Shop early and partake of the holiday caroling, discounts, and cheer in Telluride’s retail stores.
7 TIGHT LOOSE
Teton Gravity Research’s most recent ski film screens at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com www.TellurideMagazine.com
A showcase of exquisite taste, this estate exudes a passion for fine living and entertaining, indoors and out, amid flawless surroundings. Stunning architecture and impeccable interior design infused with classical styling offer a higher level of living. This resplendent manor includes a two home compound featuring six bedrooms and eight and a half bathrooms. The jewel in the crown of this sublime home is the magnificent gymnasium and sports center, containing a complete work-out facility, racquetball court, dual sided gameroom, resistance pool, sauna and steam room and a full-size professional basketball court (often used by NBA professional players). Elegant appointments include marble flooring, two commercial grade kitchens, game rooms, media room, four fireplaces, elevator, dual pools and spas. www.14DuxburyPark.com
Enjoy an evening of live folk/pop music at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com The first seminar in the series offers leadership skills for the technical professional and emergent leader. Lectures and workshops are held at the Peaks Resort & Spa. leadershiptelluride.com
13 LIVE AT THE PALM
Hot Club of San Francisco puts on a holiday show of gypsy jazz at the Palm Theatre. telluridepalm.com
16 JAY & SILENT BOB GET OLD
Enjoy an evening of live comedy with Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com
The Telluride Avalanche School, in partnership with San Juan Outdoor Adventures/Telluride Adventures and the Telluride Ski Patrol, offers a free series on Monday nights in the winter and educates backcountry travelers about avalanche safety. Free avalanche beacon rescue clinics are offered throughout the season, starting in January. Multi-day avalanche safety courses with field sessions and ice climbing trips are also available. tellurideadventures.com BOOK CLUBS
Cookbook Book Club is at the library at 6:30 p.m. on the third Monday of the month, and Booze and Books is held at Rico’s Bar in the Ice House at 5:15 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month. telluridelibrary.org ENGLISH CONVERSATION HOUR
Practice your English in an informal setting from 5:30-6:30 p.m. every Tuesday at the Wilkinson Public Library. telluridelibrary.org
PAT T I N E L S O N
REALTOR® | Luxury Specialist
cell: (210) 387 - 3830 office: (210) 978 - 0110 firstname.lastname@example.org | pattinelsonluxury.com
22 • EVENT CALENDAR DECEMBER 17–24 TELLURIDE THEATRE
Local theatre troupe performs Peter and the Starcatcher, an original work, improvised, created, and written by the ensemble cast, at the Sheridan Opera House. telluridetheatre.org
Full Service Interior Design:
17 HOLIDAY PRELUDE
Furniture selection & space planning with
Mountain Village hosts this fun holiday event, with train rides, free ice skating, movies, crafts, sledding, and a tree lighting. tellurideconference.com
interior layouts & CAD elevations
24 & 25 TORCHLIGHT PARADES
Only local designer with an in-house
Largest home interior sample library in the area stone & tile showroom
Skiers descend into Telluride and Mountain Village, carrying torches and forming a bright string of lights.
Expert in all types of window coverings
26 MOUNTAINFILM FRIEND-RAISER
including motorized shades,
Mountainfilm in Telluride hosts its annual “friend-raiser,” an event and screening to benefit the film festival and its programs, at the Sheridan Opera House. mountainfilm.org
custom window draperies & hardware Priority dealer access to hundreds of furniture
27–31 HOLIDAY CONCERT SERIES
manufacturers and well known brands NICKO FERGUSON
Catch these performances by Grammy winner Shawn Colvin (Dec. 27), the soul/Motown sounds of The Doo Wop Project (Dec. 28), jamband bluegrass group Trout Steak Revival (Dec. 29), and the New Year’s Gala with the funky soul music of Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears (Dec. 31). sheridanoperahouse.com
31 TORCHLIGHT PARADE
FILMS AT THE LIBRARY
Wilkinson Public Library and Telluride Film Festival host “Cinematheque,” presenting a series of films with a music theme in 2016 and with a road trip theme in 2017 on the first Monday of each month. All films screen at 6 p.m. and are free to the public. telluridelibrary.org
Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a parade of lights down the ski slopes and fireworks in Mountain Village.
31 NEW YEAR’S COUNTDOWN TO 2017
Telluride’s countdown takes place on New Year’s Eve, from 11:30 p.m. through 12:30 a.m., on main street in front of the clocktower in the courthouse. Colorado Avenue will be closed to vehicles between Aspen and Fir Street, and no glass or open containers of alcohol are permitted.
Ah Haa hosts its annual New Year’s Eve Gala Fundraiser, featuring artists Flair Robinson and Christopher Beaver, with fine art, a champagne reception, a four-course dinner, entertainment, and a wine auction. ahhaa.org
JANUARY 12 THE MOTET
13 JACKIE GREENE AND ANDERS OSBORNE
Two powerhouse singer/songwriter/guitarists, Jackie Greene and Anders Osborne, perform at Club Red. tellurideconference.com
14 LIVE AT THE PALM
The FLY Dance Company, an all-male contemporary dance company from Houston puts on a high-energy performance at the Palm Theatre. telluridepalm.com
20 KOTO LIP SYNC
Locals perform hilarious lip sync routines in costume on the Sheridan Opera House stage, in a benefit event for local community radio station KOTO. koto.org www.TellurideMagazine.com
Simmons Beautyrest Numerous resources for selecting carpet, area rugs, decorative lighting, artwork & accessories Collaborate with local artisans to create one of a kind pieces for your home Custom upholstery design & re-upholstery Design consulting for Real Estate sales
FITNESS PROGRAMS AT THE LIBRARY
31 AH HAA SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS
Groove to the music of the funk ensemble The Motet at Club Red. tellurideconference.com
Mattress dealer - Sealy, Temperpedic, Serta,
21 DUSTBOWL REVIVAL
American roots orchestra performs at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com
20–22 TELLURIDE FIRE FESTIVAL
A free, public, interactive experience of fire arts: fire performances, art cars, fire dancers, fire-emitting sculptures, and burn barrels. Displays will be in the central pedestrian plazas of Mountain Village and the main street in Telluride. telluridefirefestival.org
22-25 TELLURIDE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT SERIES
The second seminar in the series is called “CEO Boot Camp: The Successful Entrepreneur,” offering skills to help start-ups be successful. Lectures and workshops are held at the Peaks Resort & Spa. leadershiptelluride.com
Get moving for free at the Wilkinson Public Library’s yoga, Zumba, Pilates, or Pound classes. The fitness class schedule is available online. You can get a workout outside, too, by checking out snowshoes at the library. telluridelibrary.org KIDS PROGRAMS AT THE LIBRARY
Wilkinson Public Library hosts afterschool learning programs for kids: On Tuesdays, there’s a Crochet Club for aspiring knitters and a Cyber Club House for aspiring coders. Also on Tuesday is Open Math Tutoring for grades K-10 with Mr. Dan. On Wednesdays there are group games, crafts, and performers. Thursdays it’s “Paws” for Reading, where kids can practice reading with the library’s therapy dog. telluridelibrary.org TECH AND LEGAL HELP
Wilkinson Public Library hosts free tech help every Tuesday from 2–3 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 2 p.m., and free legal help from 2–3:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. telluridelibrary.org
Whether you are building a new home or simply updating a room, we can tailor a design package to fit your needs. We offer the largest sample library in the area. We specialize in all types of window coverings and have been your local Hunter Douglas expert for 15+ years.
327 East Colorado Ave (main street), Telluride 970.728.8238 www.LuxWest.com info@LuxWest.com
24 • EVENT CALENDAR
WHAT’S COOKING AT THE LIBRARY
The Wilkinson Public Library hosts a special teen/tween cooking club at 3:30 p.m. every Wednesday, and the kids cooking program is Mondays at 3:30 p.m. telluridelibrary.org METROPOLITAN OPERA AT THE PALM
The Palm Theatre presents opera performances on a large HD screen throughout the winter. This winter’s schedule includes Metropolitan Opera performances of L’Amour de Loin (Dec. 10), Nabucco (Jan. 7), Romeo et Juliette (Jan. 21), Rusalka (Feb. 25), La Traviata (March 11), Idomeneo (March 25), Eugene Onegin (April 22), and Der Rosenkavalier on May 13. telluridepalm.com
FEBRUARY 3–6 FOOTLOOSE
Young People’s Theatre high school actors perform the musical Footloose at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com
5–8 TELLURIDE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT SERIES
The third seminar in the series is called “Leadership: No Short Cut to the Summit,” offering skills to help leaders navigate the professional world and networking opportunities. Lectures and workshops are held at the Peaks Resort & Spa. leadershiptelluride.com
11 CHOCOLATE LOVERS’ FLING
Sample chocolate confections made by local chefs, dress in theme costumes and dance at this annual benefit for the San Miguel Resource Center, held at the Telluride Conference Center. sanmiguelresourcecenter.org
The Telluride Parks and Recreation department offers open hockey and ice skating at the Hanley Ice Rink and Pavilion in Telluride Town Park and drop-in basketball, volleyball, and indoor soccer at the high school gym. telluride-co.gov
15–17 LEFTOVER SALMON
Leftover Salmon performs their unique blend of “polyethnic Cajun slamgrass” at two shows on the Sheridan Opera House stage. sheridanoperahouse.com
18 DJ HARRY
Telluride Historical Museum hosts Historic Pub Crawls in December and February, Snowshoe Tours in January, February, and March, as well as private historic ski tours all winter long by appointment with Ashley Boling. Times and dates will be available online. telluridemuseum.org
Groove to Telluride’s most loved deejay and his electronica/ funk/house blend of music at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com
29, 30 & APRIL 1 BURLESQUE
Don’t miss Telluride Theatre’s annual risqué fundraiser, a vaudeville-style, strip-tease performance at the Sheridan Opera House. telluridetheatre.org
16–19 COMEDY FEST
30 STREET DANCE
The 18th annual Telluride Comedy Fest features famous comedians from films and shows like The Daily Show, Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock performing skits and improv. sheridanoperahouse.com
KOTO hosts the annual block party in front of the county courthouse to celebrate the end of the ski season. Prizes are awarded for the best pink flamingo costumes/attire. (Snow date is April 1.)
22–23 INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS
Grammy-nominated acoustic quintet the Infamous Stringdusters perform bluegrass on the stage at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com
A special concert featuring the quintessential Irish-American ensemble Solas and their Celtic music at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com
SUNDAY AT THE PALM
Telluride Film Festival, Telluride Foundation, and Telluride’s R-1 School District present family-friendly films on the first Sunday of each month at 4 p.m. at the Palm Theatre. telluridepalm.com STORYTIME AT THE LIBRARY
Kids will love Storytime at the Library, where stories are read aloud at 11 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and at 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays. A special bilingual Storytime has stories in English and Spanish on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. And there is a “Stay and Play” session after the story on Mondays. telluridelibrary.org
2 CLOSING DAY
Telluride Ski Resort closes for the 2016-17 ski season.
2 GONDOLA CLOSES
MARCH 2–6 TELLURIDE AIDS BENEFIT
A multi-day event for HIV/AIDS prevention and education, the benefit includes a signature fashion show, art and clothing auctions and a trunk show. aidsbenefit.org
9–12, 16–19 TELLURIDE THEATRE MUSICAL
Telluride’s local theatre troupe performs a musical onstage at the Sheridan Opera House. telluridetheatre.org
Gondola closes after the 2016-17 ski season.
TELLURIDE ART WALK
On the first Thursday of each month, the Telluride Art Walk celebrates art at the local galleries from 5–8 p.m., with a selfguided tour of the exhibits in downtown Telluride. Nineteen venues open their doors to showcase new exhibits and artists, and restaurants feature art walk specials. Maps are available from local businesses and Telluride Arts. telluridearts.org
26-29 39TH ANNUAL MOUNTAINFILM IN TELLURIDE
Mountainfilm in Telluride is a film festival that screens documentaries, and hosts symposiums, breakfast talks, and other events about mountain culture, the environment, and our global community. mountainfilm.org
10 THE BLUE PARTY
Telluride Adaptive Sports Program, which provides services to athletes with disabilities, holds its annual fundraiser with music, food, drinks, and an auction at the Telluride Conference Center. Guests can dress in blue, the iconic blue of the jackets that TASP volunteers wear when on duty. tellurideadaptivesports.org Beloved folk rock artist Donavan Frankenreiter plays the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com www.TellurideMagazine.com
8 DONAVAN FRANKENREITER
TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL PRESENTS
On the third Thursday of each month at the Nugget Theatre, catch one of the recently released films selected by the festival directors of the Telluride Film Festival. nuggettheatre.org
26 • LOCAL FLAVOR
The Quest for the Best Local Eatery Takes Top Prize in Burger Contest By Elizabeth Guest
ou can probably find a restaurant in every town with a sign or a menu proclaiming that they have the best burgers. They can’t all be the best…but if your burger is selected to compete in a statewide competition, and if your burger actually wins that competition, then you’re entitled to do a little bragging. In July, Telluride’s own Steamies took first place in the Colorado Burger Summit and the title of “Colorado’s Best Burger.” The contest took place at Copper Mountain and featured 20 of Colorado’s best burger joints, all hand-picked through an initial scouting phase across the state. Owners Stanya and James Gorraiz presented their “Yeti” burger, which comes topped with applewood-smoked bacon, crispy onions, house-made barbecue ranch on a toasted brioche bun. It was voted by the competition’s 2,000 patrons as the best in the field. Burgers are a matter of personal preference, from toppings to cooking temperatures, but Steamies Burger Bar offers a new spin on the timeless classic. Unlike standard grilled hamburgers, Steamies, as their name suggests, steams their beef patties. The result is a flavorful burger with broader health benefits. “It’s the leanest and greenest way to serve burgers,” said Stanya Gorraiz, who opened the restaurant with her husband in 2014. In terms of health, steaming the meat ensures that the nutrients remain intact. The process is also environmentally friendly because it doesn’t emit exhaust fumes. The concept originated on an East Coast trip to mom-and-pop steam-cooking burger joints. Back home, the couple spent roughly four years perfecting their unique steamed patty. “We do it differently than any other place, even the ones doing it east of the Mississippi,” said Gorraiz. The patties are thinner and made of 100 percent certified Angus beef. Texture and flavor are on point since the meat is flash steamed for less than three minutes and is basted in a handcrafted demi-glaze. “Most people don’t even realize they’re having a steamed burger,” explained Gorraiz. “So you can indulge and have a burger, but know it’s going to be the best burger.” www.TellurideMagazine.com
Re c e n COLO R A D O t l y Vo t e d ’S B 1st P lace i EST BURG n the ER S t at e !
At Steamies, burgers are the big focus, but an overall emphasis on quality extends throughout the menu. The soda fountain features flavors made with organic cane sugar. The fries are fried, but in a healthier style—they’re prepared in a ventless fryer that uses 70 percent less oil than basket fryers. The result is golden, crispy, crinkle-cut fries. The restaurant also offers vegetarian and gluten-free options. There are seven types of steamed vegetables on the menu, as well as creative salad combinations that include greens, berries, and nuts. Vegetarian chili with add-ons of meat and other toppings is also popular. “There are a whole lot of things for all types of eaters,” said Gorraiz. “We make it so that you can also customize any order to your heart’s content.” That brings up the condiment bar. An extensive array of sauces ranges from standard to spectacular concoctions, all available to sample in ramekins. Gorraiz picks blueberry
ketchup and bacon mustard as her favorites. The spicy aioli is also good for dipping fries Euro style. And there are 40 different seasonings in labeled shakers. “People get excited to go down the condiment bar, plus it keeps them busy while we’re getting their food ready. You go to some places and get dinged for extra sauce, especially when you have kids like mine who could drink ranch dressing with a straw.” The Gorraiz family includes four children ages 3 to 14, so it’s no surprise that Steamies is a family-friendly establishment. But all kinds of people, of all ages, frequent the place. Gorraiz runs the front of house and trains all her staff, ensuring that all the customers feel comfortable. “Welcoming diners and being engaging are serious priorities.” Steamies has something for everyone—they are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and they have a full liquor license, serving beer, wine, and cocktails. Everything is
made from scratch, said Gorraiz, and even the breakfast eggs are steamed, light and fluffy, with no added oils or fats. But if there’s one thing that Steamies is reputed for besides burgers, it’s dessert. Their special frozen custard is a decadent form of ice cream, churned with extra eggs and no artificial additives. It’s fast, casual fare, but you can also settle down for a full game of Trivial Pursuit, or Scrabble, from the wall of board games. The restaurant’s interior is contemporary and fresh, and as unique as its fare. Much of the art work is up-cycled from everyday life. The walls are decorated with one of their children’s old bikes refurbished with red spray paint, a trio of blue skate boards and several big screen televisions channeling sports. Polished metal and wood accents give the place a clean, modern feel. “There aren’t a ton of places with this kind of look,” said Gorraiz. “We feel like we’re a good fit for this town.” \
28 • MOUNTAIN HEALTH
FEEL GOOD AT ALTITUDE
Supplemental Oxygen is the Key to Curing Altitude Sickness By Heather Sackett
f visitors had to take a donkey into Telluride, says high-altitude medicine specialist Dr. Peter Hackett, M.D., no one would come down with acute mountain sickness. But the modern conveniences of cars and planes have made it possible to reach the remote and beautiful box canyon in a day or less. And that quick ascent without time to acclimate in Montrose, Durango, Denver or somewhere else between 5,000 and 7,000 feet is what leads to symptoms of high-altitude sickness. The headaches, trouble sleeping, general malaise and digestive issues, which are the most common symptoms, affect about 25 percent of people who come to Telluride from sea level, according to Dr. Hackett. It can feel like a hangover even if you haven’t had a drop of alcohol. Even more visitors—about 40 percent of those who come from sea level—can expect to experience symptoms in Mountain Village. At 9,545 feet, Mountain Village is not that much higher than its neighbor Telluride, which sits at 8,750. But www.TellurideMagazine.com
those 800 feet are significant when it comes to how high altitude affects the body. “It’s a very important 800 feet in terms of your physiology,” Dr. Hackett said. “9,000 feet is the point at which risk (of altitude sickness) jumps.” A few pre-existing medical conditions can make people more susceptible, and young adults are more likely to get headaches than older adults. But in general, there is no way to predict who will get altitude sickness. Luckily, there is a simple and easy cure that is all around us: oxygen. “There is no question that the symptoms are due to low oxygen levels,” Dr. Hackett said. Although oxygen makes up the same percentage of the air at high altitude as at sea level—about 21 percent—the air in Telluride is not as dense, the pressure is lower, and the oxygen molecules are more spread out, meaning you inhale less O2 with each breath. Replacing that oxygen, especially while sleeping, is the key to feeling better. Several local companies and businesses now offer supplemental
oxygen to flatlanders, improving their symptoms and their vacation. Aspen-based Alpine Oxygen has seven locations in Colorado and Wyoming, including Telluride. Instead of an oxygen canister, which needs to be refilled, these devices plug into the wall and make their own concentrated O2 out of the air. Owner Joe Hope started the business 11 years ago after supplying the machines to musicians at the Aspen Jazz Festival who were not used to singing and playing instruments in the thin air. “We are saving vacations one breath at a time,” Hope said. “All it takes is one family member to have issues during a very expensive vacation. With the amount of effort it takes to get to some of the resorts, it’s good insurance, so to speak.” Some business owners began offering oxygen because of their own experiences with altitude sickness. Michelle Davis, owner of downtown Telluride salon and boutique Aroma Spa, has lived in Telluride for years. But whenever she returned home from her travels to the beach, she experienced symptoms. She began researching remedies to help her and now offers an oxygen bar as one of her standard spa services. Customers can choose from four essential oil, subtle scent combinations. “The first thing for me is the headache, and if I don’t take care of the headache I will get nauseous,” Davis said. “Oxygen helps bridge the gap between sea level and high elevation.” For those who want the added benefits of faster recovery from injuries or the anti-aging effects of increased antioxidants, Ridgwaybased Balance Natural Medicine offers mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Since gas (oxygen) dissolves into liquids (blood and plasma) easier when pressure is increased, patients climb into a spacious, capsule-like chamber the size of a two-person camping tent that has been pressurized to simulate descending 8,000 feet and relax for an hour while breathing 91-percent oxygen-enriched air. Balance’s Dr. Jason Bojar is among the believers in oxygen therapy who were converted because of a personal experience. On a trip to a
high-altitude research facility in the Everest region of Nepal, Bojar saw a member of his group go from being unconscious to coherent after about only ten minutes in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. The key, he says, is the pressure. “It was as close to a miracle as I have ever seen,” Bojar said. “It was one of those ‘ah ha’ moments and it got me wondering about how this could be utilized. A session in the chamber can really help to take the edge off of being at high altitude and it saves a whole lot of vacations.” One or two rounds of oxygen therapies seem to offer relief for those on vacation in the San Juan Mountains. But what about the people who spend entire seasons here? There’s little that’s more disappointing than investing time and money on building a Telluride or Mountain Village dream vacation home and then always being altitude-sick, says Altitude Control Technologies CEO Larry Kutt. Fortunately, there is a high-tech solution. The Boulder County-based company combines science, technology, and engineering to create a sophisticated system that pumps oxygen into customers’ bedrooms while they sleep at night. The sensitive system measures the oxygen level and barometric pressure every six seconds and adjusts accordingly without increasing fire danger. The air separation devices are installed in a mechanical room or basement and are less noisy than a heating or air conditioning system. “Clients have bought these beautiful homes in the mountains and when they go there, they can’t sleep,” Kutt said. “We don’t need to oxygenate an entire house. If we just get it into the bedroom, the altitude sickness just can’t take hold and that’s good enough for the whole day.” According to Dr. Hackett, no vitamins or herbs (except maybe ginkbo biloba) have been proven to prevent the symptoms of altitude sickness. But there is at least one argument for moving to the mountains: you may live longer. “Living at high altitude increases lifespan, it increases longevity,” Dr. Hackett said. “Seven out of the ten longest-living counties in the country were all in Colorado.” \
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RELAXATION • FASHION • BEAUTY
TELLURIDE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER
Learn more at tellmed.org
WE LIKE TO SAY WE ARE YOU-CENTERED
We’re a Patient-Centered Medical Home. We work with you to find solutions that treat health issues, at their most fundamental level, with a spectrum of services including Western and complementary medicine. We're here for the whole you. Mind. Body. And Spirit. WINTER/SPRING 2016-2017
30 • ADVICE
Athletic Advice from Our Local Mountain Guru
Packing Right for Overnight
Dear Jock, A couple winters ago, my buddy took me through the backcountry gate off the ski resort. We had a great run so I took a Level 1 avalanche course and purchased a beacon, probe, and shovel. I’ve been exploring the Bear Creek drainage ever since. Now I want to go on an overnight hut trip. Beyond my regular avy gear, what else I should I bring to be comfortable? And what are your favorite ski huts around here? ——Hut Curious
Dear Hut Curious, There are three backcountry shelter operations near Telluride: the Opus Hut on the Silverton side of Ophir pass, the High Camp Hut south of Sheep Mountain, and the San Juan Hut System, which is a series of huts extending the top of Last Dollar pass all the way to Ridgway. Each has their charms, and you’ll want to experience them all eventually. But as a new backcountry skier, I’d steer you toward High Camp first because it is the most easily accessible, and the surrounding terrain is the least avalanche prone. You can be a minimalist and bring only food and a toothbrush. But then you must wear your stinky ski layers and damp boot liners inside the hut. I like to pack a set of indoor garments and a pair of lightweight slippers or down booties. Beyond these personal comfort items, it’s fun to bring diversions to share. Musical instruments, card games, and liquor are tried and true. Let me know when you book a hut, and I’ll join you. — Jock
Dear Jock, Last year, I bought new goggles at the Blizzard sale. I only skied with them for a season, and the lenses got scratched up. Now I have to spend a ton of dough for another pair. What can I do to make them last longer this time? ——Seeking Long Term Visual Acuity
Dear Seeker, Goggle lens plastic is perhaps one of the most delicate materials on the planet. So you must pamper and protect your goggles as if they are your firstborn. Always use a clean goggle bag or optical-grade chamois cloth to wipe the lens. Anything else—a cotton t-shirt, bandana, and especially a paper towel— will remove the anti-fog coating and create permanent micro-scratches. When you remove your helmet, never set it down with your goggles still attached. Helmets inevitably roll over and scratch your lenses. At the end of every ski day, tuck your goggles into a designated storage bag and stow them out of harm’s way. Or if you prefer to store your goggles on your helmet, go to hogglegoggle.com to purchase a clever, locally crafted goggle cover. Even with these precautions, along with your best efforts to avoid tree branches in Log Pile, there will come a day when you scratch your goggles. It should be a simple matter to contact the manufacturer and order new lenses. It isn’t. Goggle companies change models and lens shapes every year. So whenever I purchase new goggles, I also acquire at least one spare lens, which helps stave off the financial pain of purchasing new goggles. But don’t let a lack of banknotes get in the way of your vision because if you can’t see, you can’t ski. See you on the hill, — Jock
Dear Jock, I just met a cute girl from Minnesota who is a hockey fiend. I’ve never played, but she invited me to join her this winter. I need to learn how to skate pronto before she meets some stick-handling stud who gets into her breezers. How can I expedite learning to skate, and what gear do I need to purchase to look like a pro on the ice this winter? ——Hockey Hopeful
Dear Double H, You’re never going to impress a woman from Minnesota with your hockey skills. But you might impress her with your tenacity while you learn the fundamentals this season. At the very least, you’ll get her to laugh. Here’s a hockey shopping list: sharp skates that fit, a hockey stick and helmet, breezers and a jersey, tall hockey socks, a cup and special cup-holding shorts with Velcro at the bottom to hold up the socks, elbow pads, shin pads, shoulder pads, and gloves. Once you have the gear, go to the Park and Recreation section of the Town of Telluride’s website (http://telluride-co.gov/409/Adult-Development) and sign up for the Adult Hockey Development series this fall. With this program under your belt, you’ll have a solid foundation for your burgeoning hockey career. Good luck both on and off the ice, — Jock
MOUNTAIN VILLAGE • OAK STREET • MAIN STREET 970.728.8954 • 970.728.4581• 970.728.4525
32 • ESSAY
DUELING in the DESERT
By Amy Irvine Photography by JT Thomas
anding in the town of Bluff, on southeastern Utah’s lowest latitude, was like settling back into my skin after a flight of untethered fancy. The ground there is bald, red, and raw. I trust it because everything is exposed—flesh off the bone. My harried arrival was noted by the hamlet’s sentries—Twin Rocks, named for the Navajo legend in which two siblings born from Sun and Earth’s union defeat, in very different ways, the monsters of the world. The myth belongs to the Navajo, but as a sixth-generation Utahan who once lived near here, it resonates. I was also married on the banks of the San Juan River, which runs parallel to Bluff’s main drag—cleanly dividing the San Juan County, Utah portion of this landscape from the Navajo Nation’s. A Ute Medicine Man blessed us; Scottish bagpipes were played. Most of the guests wore Chacos. As we paddled downriver in a canoe, a pair of blue herons skimmed the water just ahead. Harmony was, I believed, possible. That was fourteen years ago. My return this past summer was not easy: The marriage had ended. And I was coming to what promised to be a bitterly divided public meeting. Secretary of the United States Department of Interior (DOI), Sally Jewell, had come to hear firsthand what the region’s people had to say about two proposals—each proposing to manage, in very different ways, some of Utah’s most ecologically and culturally significant public lands. Given the recent showdowns between federal law enforcement and anti-federalist protesters (nationally, as well as near Bluff), violence was possible.
he town was packed with people. Forgive the generalizations, but you could tell who was on which side by the vehicle driven: American-made pickups with NRA and NOBAMA stickers supported the Public Lands Initiative (PLI), which leaves some of Utah’s best outback vulnerable to fossil fuel development and motorized recreation—while authorizing grazing in rare riparian zones full of archaeological sites. The PLI fails to include Native American representation in the management of lands that are culturally and materially vital to several regional Tribes; this is despite the bill’s demand to transfer the land from federal to state and county control. In the other camp were Subarus and Toyotas; their stickers boasted “I Recycle,” “Love Your Mother” and “Feel the Bern.” This ilk supports a proposal that calls for more federal protection; the logic here is that if Utah and San Juan County can’t care for the national treasures in their backyards, we’ll have to involve a sympathetic President who has the authority to designate a DOI-governed
national monument. Such a designation precludes industrial development and restricts off-road motorized recreation. Included are the iconic, 9,000foot high twin buttes known as the Bears Ears—sacred to Native American communities throughout the Four Corners. One Native American, a war veteran who after two recent tours now suffers from severe PTSD, would later that day describe the buttes to Secretary Jewell as “where we go to heal.” Indeed, a Navajo hero was born not far from these ursine prominences; Manuelito would grow up to lead his people in resistance to “the Long Walk” to Bosque Redondo, and later still helped negotiate the treaty that allowed the Navajo to return home. The Bears Ears serve as a shrine for the Diné People’s collective, psychic recovery from this dark shadow in their history; they also derive physical sustenance such as firewood, medicinal plants, and other necessities. Here’s the cool thing: This proposal was crafted by a coalition of Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, and Uintah and Ouray Ute Tribes—all
of which possess spiritual, ancestral, and physical ties to the lands in question. Known as the Bears Ears InterTribal Coalition, this group seeks to co-manage these lands with DOI.
hile I walk on the more wild side of the western public lands debate, I am tired of the predictable stalemate that says more about socio-economic divisions and white privilege than our mutual love for the land. I was raised straddling the fence: My father’s family is made up of urban Ivy Leaguers, while my mother’s clan are rural Mormon ranchers, just getting by. Both sides inhabit and love the West equally— albeit in different ways—and I have often found myself defending one side, then the other. After two decades of ambivalent activism to protect Utah’s last best places, I wonder—as one does with a marriage, a family feud, or a scandalous, mud-slinging election—can these black and white dualities that divide us ever be reconciled? Will we drive each other mad by trying?
he auditorium was wickedly hot, and beyond standing room only. Every entrance was covered by at least two cops—some sporting flak jackets. I excused myself as I slipped through a group of ranchers not unlike my uncles, one of whom made a sexualized threat. I may have walked out then, but the bigger picture astonished: Amid the white crowds of usual suspects were hundreds of Native Americans, of all ages and affiliations. Oh, how my divided heart beat whole just then—for I had never seen, in my twenty-five years of public lands advocacy work, the Native People of my birthplace turn out in such numbers. I found myself next to Eric Descheenie, a Navajo father of three, and former co-chair of the InterTribal Coalition. I asked him how it felt, to have built this unified vision among the Tribes—for which there was resounding support across the nation. “People from many corners of place, ethnicity, religious faith, and profession have danced to our music,” he said. “We have presented solutions unlike anything or anywhere before. We have inspired hope and civility in the face of anger and confrontation. We have built community.” Indeed, the Coalition had unified several diverse Tribal Councils. It had also earned the endorsement of the outdoor recreation industry, and conservation organizations, big and small. As we were talking, the editor of Utah’s Torrey House Press arrived with copies of Red Rock
Testimony: Three Generations of Writers Speak on Behalf of Public Lands—an exquisite chapbook that promotes the Inter-Tribal proposal and includes Native American voices in its list of western authors. Copies would make their way onto every D.C. decision-maker’s desk by the end of the week. Hopefully Congressional representatives in Utah and D.C. would take notice now; already the Coalition had been forced to step away from the state and national legislative processes where “efforts were met with polite indifference at best, and racism at worst.” The stage was elevated from the auditorium’s main floor. There sat Sec. Jewell, flanked by several federal colleagues. Below them, on the floor alongside two microphones, was a moderator who served as connective tissue between the stage and floor. A mild and neutralizing presence, he laid out the rules for the meeting then invited key representatives from the various groups to speak first. The rest of the afternoon was devoted to drawing nameless, numbered raffle tickets so that random members of the audience were also given five minutes to be heard. There were moments of predictable incivility. The boos and jeers were at times deafening. And while every camp behaved badly at one point or another, the most outlandish behavior came from the Anglo-Mormon locals, who seemed to forget they possess a relatively brief occupation of the region that includes rampant looting of archaeological
artifacts on public lands and the illegal carving of roads into de facto wilderness. Example: One such man turned from the stage and addressed the Native Americans that filled the room, saying that the Tribes no longer had claim over the lands in question because “we already beat you.” I could continue here with the nasty bits—salacious anecdotes of the hateful, bigoted, and ill-informed comments heard that day. But that’s an old story. And it never ends well. Jewell listened in earnest for three hours, taking notes, listening. She heard from river runners, archaeologists, school teachers, climbers, grandparents, high-school students, Mormons and Gentiles, whites and Native Americans. One woman read a poem. A paleontologist spoke of dinosaur bones. Some talked economics, and much-needed jobs, while others waxed political. At one point Secretary Jewell offered to extend the meeting, if more people wanted to speak. Most every hand went up. It was sweltering, but people’s passions were equally heated. So we stayed. More was said. Many of the PLI-supporters were defensive and blustering, but they were met with equanimity and receptivity by the Feds. Most of them left the mic in a calmer state, having expressed what sounded like sincere gratitude for this rare chance to be seen and heard by the powers that be. What mattered here was the leadership—Jewell’s and by extension, the Obama administration’s—
who ran the meeting with such balance and grace that an escalation of tempers was nearly impossible. What matters too is that the Anglos who typically argue for greater public lands protection—the environmental groups, the outdoor recreation retailers, the outfitters and guides— all stood behind the Inter-Tribal Coalition, respectfully deferring to its authority which understood, in the words of Eric Descheenie, “that this was about far more than the designation of a national monument.”
fterward, the throngs drifted outside into the blazing afternoon. I saw no parking lot skirmishes, no harsh words—just a few hard looks. Harmony once again felt possible. But soon there would be media coverage of the pepper spray and guard dogs used to terrorize Standing Rock Sioux protesters and their supporters on the Dakota pipeline, and I would know: The dualities continue; things could get ugly at the Bears Ears—whether monument status is declared, or this red, hallowed ground gets fracked and trampled. But the new story is being written, in which no monster is slain. And there’s a new cast of characters miseen-scène—although they’ve been there all along. We were so enamored with our own voices, howling in the wilderness, we forgot how to listen. \ For more info, go to bearsearscoalition.org. And to purchase copies of Red Rock Testimony, visit Telluride’s Between the Covers Bookstore.
34 • FEATURE
Upgrade in Store for Beloved Chairlift?
Lift 9 offers a front-row seat to the electricity, the unadulterated joy, and the all-out charging of a powder day in Telluride, which is this town at its finest.
By Katie Klingsporn Photography by Ryan Bonneau
n the hierarchy of chairlifts that shuttle skiers up the Telluride Ski Resort, Lift 9 claims a special place. Strung over an area of steep, northfacing terrain home to relentless bumps, narrow drains, and large clusters of trees, Lift 9 will haul a skier or snowboarder to some of the hardest, longest, and most varied topography on the area. The “Best Skiing on The Mountain” is a controversial title, but many—myself included—would bestow that crown on Lift 9 without pause.
The lift is also a beloved holdout from an earlier time. Built in 1985, there’s nothing fancy about the fixed-grip, three-person chair. On the creaky, slow ride to the top, you have plenty of time to read the stickers adorning lift towers, plot out your next run, and watch the skiers below. The regulars are recognizable by their signature styles: Coop and his no-hat Mak-M laps, Greg Hope’s awesome drops of Awesome Rock, John Roth’s deliberate old-school turns. Along with familiar faces, Lift 9’s got all-time ski runs. Fingers, Satisfaction, East Drain, Locals, Mammoth, Plunge—the options are endless. And, of course, there is the consummate line, the ski-bum favorite immortalized in Lionel Starr’s classic rap song “Lift Ticket”: Kant Mak-M— Spiral Stairs —LP. (LP is ski-town lingo for Lower Plunge.) Lift 9 offers a front-row seat to the electricity, the unadulterated joy, and the all-out charging of a powder day in Telluride, which is this town at its finest. If you are early enough to catch one of the first 30 chairs, you get to watch the die-hards nab first tracks—kicking up puffs of cold smoke as they fly toward Bushwhacker or, better yet, mobbing down Mak-M, a skiing stage if there ever were one, plunging as it does directly below the feet of lift riders. There is a familiarity to Lift 9. Like a favorite pair of skis or well-worn boots, to know Lift 9 is to love it. The rosy cheeks and wide grins in line on a powder day, the yells of “oh yeah!” from above, the sedan-sized bumps on Mammoth, the way Spiral Stairs drops almost vertically in places. The empty chairs on sunny afternoons, the music wafting from the lift shacks, the occasional grudge match started by a faux pas in line, the sheer jellied exhaustion of extremities at the end of a day skiing its lines. If there’s one thing that best exemplifies the local love of Lift 9, it may be the crowd that gathers at the top on the final day of the season, dressed in onesies and wigs and other ridiculous garb, to throw snowballs at that lucky person who catches the last ride up 9 before the whole colorful mob skis down it together. Lift 9 represents the best of Telluride, the community of people who come here to live, love and play in the >> WINTER/SPRING 2016-2017
36 • FEATURE
“The Chair 9 terrain pod is clearly one of the top five terrain pods in North America. It’s a signature piece of skiing.” —Bill Jensen www.TellurideMagazine.com
mountains—rent prices and fancy people be damned. But the throw-back quality of the lift is precisely why not everyone idolizes it. Impatient skiers looking to rack up laps won’t find satisfaction on 9. Many grumble about getting cold on the long ride up. And, yes, there are a helluva lot of bumps. And let’s face it, our beloved lift is getting long in the tooth. Some people have taken notice. In SKI magazine’s 2017 Best in the West resort rankings, which placed Telluride at No. 8, the mag called Lift 9 out, noting that “some chairlifts need an upgrade (we’re looking at you, Plunge lift).” And in fact, an upgrade may be in store for Lift 9. As part of the Telluride Ski Resort’s permit with the U.S. Forest Service, the ski area is required to update its master plan. The resort has been developing this update over the last year, identifying aspects of the mountain that could be improved and presenting the plan to local governments. (As of this writing, the update had not yet been formally accepted by the USFS.) These improvements range in scope from restaurants to summer trails, and the update identified four chairlift projects that could be undertaken in the next five to seven years: Upgrades or replacement of Lifts 7, 9 and 10, and a potential new lift in the Prospect Basin vicinity. Bill Jensen, CEO of Telluride Ski and Golf, stressed that the company is in the early stages of this plan and nothing has been finalized. If the plan is accepted and the company decides to pursue one of the projects, he added, it would trigger a process with the Forest Service that would include information gathering and public input. “Everything that we put in there doesn’t mean we’re going to do it,” he said. “It’s just things we think about that would be good for the ski area.” Lift 9, Jensen noted, is more than 30 years old and probably has 35,000 hours of operation under its belt. It also runs over some of the most desirable terrain on the mountain. “The Chair 9 terrain pod is clearly one of the top five terrain pods in North America,” Jensen said. “It’s a signature piece of skiing.” And while some skiers are used to and even have an affinity for riding fixed-grip lifts, he said, customers who ski places like Vail, Aspen, or Jackson Hole come with a different set of expectations. “They are used to high-speed detachables. Our customers are telling us that they would like to see some upgrades, and that’s the reality of the ski industry,” Jensen said. Again, there is no concrete map for the future of Lift 9. But, Jensen said, if Telski were to install a high-speed quad, it would balance the chair’s hourly capacity in an attempt to mitigate terrain crowding. The only change most people would notice, he said, would be that instead of riding the lift for twelve minutes, it would only take six or seven minutes. “If you are a local,” he posited, “and you want to ski laps before work in the morning, how many more laps could you do?” The overall goal, Jensen said, is to do what’s best for the economic sustainability of Telski, and by proxy, the economic future of Telluride. “We’re really trying to look forward, for the long-term health of the ski resort and the community,” he said. Exactly when and if Lift 9 will be replaced by a highspeed quad is still in question. What I do know is that change is inevitable. In life and small towns and seasons and ski areas. So for the Lift 9 loyalists among us, there is perhaps no better time to love it up. So this season, relish the slow climb, let the snow pile up on your ski tips, paste a sticker on a tower, and throw some Mardi Gras beads in the tree. Get up early and grab one of the first chairs. Ski Lift 9 until you are falling over in exhaustion, and celebrate what may be some of the last laps for this iconic chairlift. \
38 • FEATURE
Winston Branko Churchill’s long walk to the edge of infinity The Grinch
met Winston the first day I arrived in Silverton in 2006. I walked into Möbius, his immaculate coffeehouse/bike shop, and ordered an Americano. “This is your place?” I said. “It’s a cool name.” He looked at me sideways, trying to determine if I were serious. His pale blue eyes were as wide and round as quarters, and he was intimidating and intense. “You know what a Möbius is?” “Of course. The strip. It’s a cool name,” I repeated. Was this a test? I thought everyone remembered the Möbius from high school math. I only grasped it in simple terms, as a concept, the same way M.C. Escher envisioned the Möbius strip: as a length of paper with a half twist and connected end-to-end. A person on that strip could walk from a point and return to that point having traversed both surfaces, inside and outside, without ever crossing the edge. Because the inside and the outside are actually a continuum, one long path. I don’t know whether it was the Americano, my patronage of his shop, or knowing what a Möbius was, but we became allies. Months later, a couple of years before Winston disappeared, he pulled me aside, conspiratorially. He wanted me to publish a letter to the editor, he explained; but he didn’t want his name on it. I acquiesced. I shouldn’t have. The letter generated so much backlash and anger that I thought I might lose my job as editor of The Silverton Standard. His point—that the holiday lights strung across all the www.TellurideMagazine.com
businesses and homes in town were a gigantic waste of resources and countered his beliefs in living an environmentally conscious lifestyle— enraged people as much as the fact that he signed it anonymously as “The Grinch.” I swore I’d never reveal his true identity, so that no one would boycott his business, but I suppose it’s okay now. His shop is closed, and Winston has been gone for eight years.
You keep your minutes in the jars. You keep your hours in the cupboards. You put your days in the basement. You put your years in the garage. They bury your life in the ground, in a box. —Winston Branko Churchill In 2007, Winston walked away from his business. In his own words, he “strangled it,” and let it succumb to what was a relatively small amount of debt. He wrote that he could no longer enjoy life, that he felt guilty for “seeing nothing but the problems with the world, knowing that if I wasn’t doing something to fix them that this
actually made me a part of them.” He devoted himself instead to writing a book. He lived in the margins, holed up in a condo in Lakewood, not working or paying bills, with no TV, no Internet, and eventually no phone. He was seeking some kind of spiritual enlightenment, living frugally on what money he had left, in the ascetic practice of writing and meditating for many hours a day. And then he stopped eating—he fasted for forty days, somehow managing to survive, and then he swallowed fifty pills (his dog’s seizure medicine) and ended up in the psychiatry unit of a Denver hospital for a week before being released. Then he finished his book. The manuscript is eccentric in the way that is common of genius, or madness, or both. The purpose of his writing was to make other people aware of the injustices in the world— mostly economic inequality and the consumerism crippling the planet. Ominously, Winston also wrote about death. Partly a memoir, his exploits show how ambivalent he was
about staying alive. He would snowboard in the avalanche-prone Silverton backcountry after a fresh snow, and try to “clean” (ride rather than walk) the cliff sections of the Poison Spider Portal Trail on his mountain bike. He’d eat acid and drive his truck on Red Mountain Pass in a blizzard. He survived, and surmised it meant that his death was supposed to mean something, to be more than just a tragic accident. He believed in reincarnation, and was unafraid of dying. Throughout his book, Winston compared life to traveling the Möbius strip. Déjà vu was the familiar feeling of traversing the outside of the same point you had traveled on the inside. And what happens when you scissor in half a Möbius strip? Voilá, you get another Möbius strip, linked to the first. Same soul, next journey. Toward the end, the manuscript devolves into almost unintelligible writing. He recounts his hallucinations, mixed with his own interpretation of esoteric things like numerology, the origin of words, and spiritualism. He sees demons and he sees gods, and he is determined to be a prophet, and to share this book so that people can see that his death is meant to save them, like a Christ figure. After finishing his manuscript, he felt like it was his destiny to hike the Colorado Trail, to keep moving. According to Mark Scott-Nash, who wrote about Winston in his novel Forty Demons, Winston received an unexpected check from the IRS remedying some old business. It was serendipity. It was fate. He went. >>
40 • FEATURE WE DON'T DO LIFT TICKETS
WE DON'T DO LIFT LINES
And what happens when you scissor in half a Möbius strip? Voilá, you get another Möbius strip, linked to the first. Same soul, next journey.
Now you’re there, this is the place where light and darkness meet, the seam in the Mobius Strip. Go ahead; stick your head in there. What have you got to lose? —Winston Branko Churchill Winston began his walkabout on June 20, 2008, at the start of the Colorado Trail southwest of Denver. The Colorado Trail spans about 500 miles, mostly above 10,000 feet in elevation and far from towns or supplies, and terminates in Durango. Through-hikers carry what they need to survive, and occasionally trek into towns to re-supply; this is what Winston did. His friend Jonathan Wrobel sent him essentials, mailing them to post offices along the route. In August, Winston picked up a last cache of provisions in Creede. He had veered off the Colorado Trail after hiking alone, with only his dog for company, for weeks. He kept a journal that he mailed to his sister, and continued to write and document his journey. His words, a mix of fantasy and reality, are a glimpse into his mind, full of determination and genius and madness. Winston www.TellurideMagazine.com
W E D O N ' T D O P O W D E R D AY S
resolved to leave civilization behind and to continue on some clear and unadulterated path to salvation— his, he believed, and the world’s. His last known location is Lake City, also off the Colorado Trail. He leaves his dog at the Visitor Center, and phones his ex-girlfriend and asks her to find a good home for his dog. And he calls Wrobel, and leaves a message that chills his friend: “Dude, I don’t need anything anymore. Thanks for everything.” Winston’s body wasn’t found until the following summer in 2009, despite search efforts, a website set up to try to track his whereabouts, missing person posters, and the desperate attempts by his family and friends to locate him. His remains were found in Porphyry Basin, a quarter of a mile from his campsite, outside a small cabin. The cabin was unlocked, and stocked with food, fuel, and a stove. But Winston chose not to enter it. Instead, he inexplicably spent his remaining 40 or so days on earth fasting again, from what could be pieced together from his camera, journals, and clues from his campsite. He died of starvation and hypothermia,
despite the relatively mild temperatures in October. He had come to the end of his long, winding path, but he wanted his death to mean something. He wrote in his journal: “Please don’t forget about me and all we’ve done, ‘cause I don’t want to die if no one’s listening … if you hear me then I have hope … I don’t need to know you or that you even exist, just fix it and do it some good, this is your creation, I just know you wouldn’t just let it all slip by, because somehow we’re all connected.”
When Time Becomes a Loop
You end where you began, and then you start again, there is no end. The strip is a constant linear plane, representative of life, and time. —Winston Branko Churchill The principle of a Möbius strip is that it is a surface with only one side and only one boundary. Mathematicians and physicists still ponder it: they plot it in Euclidean space, it is the basis for Nikola Tesla’s resistor in an electronic circuit, and it’s used to represent the space between twonote chords in orbifold music theory.
I don’t have that kind of understanding of it, not the perspective of a mathematician or a physicist or even Winston, who compares it to a lifetime. To peer over its edge would be to see the rest of the Möbius: If your life were the same, it would mean peering over the edge and seeing the parts of your journey that are unknowable, because you are at a fixed point in time. We can’t see the future. We have just a vague memory of the past. Maybe Winston was mentally ill, or maybe he was enlightened. Perhaps he spent so much of his life zig-zagging along the edge that he caught sight of something that most people can’t see. I still regret letting Winston remain anonymous in that long-ago letter. So maybe this is redemption, telling his story now. He wanted so desperately for his death to have significance, for his words and beliefs to be shared. But he was wrong. It was his life, not his death, that bears that burden. His 40 years, his time here on the loop with us, is the only part we can see. ***With gratitude to Mark-Scott Nash, author of Forty Demons, and Jovanka Mersman, Winston’s sister. \
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42 • FEATURE
MISADVENTURES on the
WORLD’S HIGHEST MOUNTAIN No Permit, No Plan, No Fear
Early morning, Nov. 9, 1995, on Everest eff Shannon had slept hard. The previous day’s hike into Camp 3 hadn’t gone as planned—a blizzard had forced him and climbing partner John Gleeson to turn around, well before they had reached the ice climbing route (elevation 26,000 feet) they had set out to climb.
Their goal had never been to reach the top of the world’s tallest mountain; they had no permits, and this excursion had been loosely put together after their plans to climb Shishapangma, another 8000-meter Tibetan peak, had fallen through. As it would turn out, they would never reach the ice climbing route either. “Man, we gotta go,” Gleeson announced when his friend started to stir. Shannon, a little foggy from the hour and elevation, didn’t understand. “Look outside.” It had snowed almost five feet overnight, and it was still coming down hard. “Shit. We gotta get out of here.” www.TellurideMagazine.com
April 1995, six months earlier Years of planning had finally come to an end, with the start of Shannon and Gleeson’s trip to Southeast Asia underway. The two men, in their early 30s, had gone to college together not far from where Shannon grew up in Upstate New York, and through the years had tallied a commendable number of climbing and mountaineering adventures together. This was to be their longest and most audacious adventure yet, with climbs of Carstensz Pyramid (on Indonesia’s highest peak) and Shishapangma as highlights on the agenda. “I was always tagging along” with Gleeson, an avid climber, on these kinds of adventures, Shannon recalls. “I was up for anything.” >>
PHOTO BY BRENDA COLWELL
44 • FEATURE
Back on Everest… Free-falling through darkness, screaming, Shannon lands on his feet in deep snow. He’s buried up to his waist. I’m alive! It only lasts a moment. The rest of the cornice crashes down on top of him, burying him under four and a half feet of snow. He wraps his arms around his head, attempting to make a space for an air pocket, but when the snow stops moving around him he can only wiggle his fingers. He has claustrophobia, he starts to scream for his partner. He begins to hyperventilate. He loses consciousness. Approximately 4 a.m., Shannon residence, Upstate New York Jeff Shannon’s mother wakes up abruptly, shaking Shannon’s father awake. “Something’s happened to Jeff.”
Present day, October 2016, Telluride Shannon is wiry and bushy haired, with a self-deprecating demeanor and easy smile. He’s candid and earnest, lacking the bravado expected of mountaineers. He is also philosophical, speaking of the exploits of his earlier days; in prison, on Everest, back to prison (after he was again arrested on drug charges, this time while on his way to his wedding), and finally finding a haven—physically and psychologically—here in Telluride. www.TellurideMagazine.com
Approximately 4 p.m., Mount Everest Still encapsulated in snow, Shannon regains consciousness. It’s peaceful now, though…indescribably peaceful. So this is it, he thinks. Moments or minutes later (time passes peculiarly in situations like these), Gleeson’s shovel strikes Shannon’s head. Gleeson manages to uncover his partner’s face, and Shannon takes a breath. Gleeson continues digging, releasing him from the icy tomb. Shannon is in tears. They guess he was buried for almost 15 minutes. They set up their tent in the fast-dying daylight, and hope for better luck tomorrow.
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Mid-afternoon, Nov. 9, 1995 The snow hadn’t let up, and although they’d been hiking all day, Shannon guessed they’d only traveled half a mile. Terrain that had been all glacier and rock on the way up had transformed into an ocean of white overnight. The duo painstakingly stumbled through deep snow, taking turns breaking trail, guided by the jagged walls of the tall seracs they caught glimpses of above them. In the fading light of the afternoon, they reached what appeared to be a precipice. Shannon crept forward, hoping to find a way down. Instead, the cornice broke beneath him, sending him flailing into the unknown.
“For the rest of the world—the real world—everybody’s stuck in their jobs, their families, and they’re scared of change. I think the best thing you can do is go do something that makes you face your fears.” It seems Telluride is a magnet for these free-living adventurers, who, like Shannon, have finally found a home within this fierce and awesome landscape.
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Shannon (who has called Telluride home since 2005) was eager for this kind of extended journey, far from his nine-to-five job in the printing industry. As they traveled from one country and one climb to the next, they couldn’t have felt farther away from home—where, at the time, Shannon remembers the biggest news was the ongoing saga of the OJ Simpson trial. Ever rebellious and disinclined to “be put in a corner and stay there,” Shannon had gotten into some trouble in his earlier days, spending four years in prison in his early 20s for a drug conviction. Traveling the world for a year would be the antithesis of prison, and, he hoped, would help get his life on track while appeasing his wanderlust. In fact, the trip may have saved his life—despite nearly taking it.
he monumental storm broke the next morning, giving the climbers a window to begin their snowy trek back to the monastery at which they started their Everest adventure. The storm would go down in the history books as one of the deadliest Nepal had ever seen, the intense snowfall coming without warning during the busy mountain trekking season and leading to avalanches, landslides, and deep snow that trapped and killed hundreds across the mountains of eastern Nepal. They stumbled to the monastery gates seven days later, hungry, dehydrated, sunburned, and swollen. But alive. Shannon admits he was never quite the same after that; returning home a few months later, he knew he could never return to the nineto-five realm. He moved to Colorado instead, getting jobs as a snowmobile and climbing guide, eventually starting his own painting business in Telluride. Outwardly, the trip was the adventure of a lifetime; inwardly, it represented the beginning of a longer, more complex journey for Shannon who, like many other mountaineers, discovered more than just exotic places. The search for adventure outdoors was also a quest for finding the inner self. His near scrape with death on Everest was epic, but, Shannon admits, still not the hardest thing he’s ever done. “I think I’ve used up seven of my nine lives,” he jokes, explaining that sailing across the Sea of Cortez on an 18-foot Hobie Cat catamaran (again, with Gleeson) was even more harrowing than being buried alive on Everest.
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Terrain that had been all glacier and rock on the way up had transformed into an ocean of white overnight. The duo painstakingly stumbled through deep snow, taking turns breaking trail, guided by the jagged walls of the tall seracs they caught glimpses of above them.
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48 • BOOK REVIEWS
IF THERE WERE COURAGE A Walk on the Good Red Road By David Glynn davidglynnwildlifeart.com $25 978-1-943090-09-9
LOOK AT YOU NOW
When the Bureau of Land Management first hatched its plan to round up the wild horses on public lands, there were precious few people who stood up to protect the animals. There were just a handful of humans who had stood in the midst of the herd and who wanted the animals to flourish—but chief among their saviors was Ophir resident David Glynn.
My Journey from Shame to Strength By Liz Pryor Penguin Random House 2016 $28 978-0-8129-9800-9
WALKING TELLURIDE History, Sights and Stories
By Erica Kinias Durango Herald Small Press $11.99 978-1-887805-39-1
EVEN NOW By Jill Sabella & Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer Lithic Press $20 978-0-9962170-9-5 When Snowmass artist Jill Sabella and Telluride poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer met, they recognized a special synergy between them. They started collaborating with the concept of three lines—three spare brushstrokes in Sumi ink on rice paper, and three incisive lines of poetry. Their art and poetry pairings were so popular, that they published them in a book for all to enjoy.
Previous Executive Director of the Telluride Historical Museum Erica Kinias wrote the Telluride edition in this regional series of walking tour books. The book contains entertaining stories and historical information about the town, from its beginnings as a sacred Ute hunting ground to its booming mining era and the early, wild days of its transition to a ski town. Read about the energy revolution that took place here, the famous outlaw who robbed a local bank, a love story that began with an oil painting, and other unique tales about Telluride.
The beauty of this book is in its simplicity. With just three lines, they are able to paint a picture of much larger ideas, bigger things that blossom in the space between their lines. www.TellurideMagazine.com
The memoir spans what should have been Pryor’s senior year in high school, the final months of fun and revelry and the comforts of her wealthy, suburban family home outside of Chicago. But her plans are interrupted when she realizes she is pregnant. Her mother, who is a devout Catholic and concerned about what people will think, and her father, who is remarried and lives elsewhere, insist that she keep it a secret from everyone, including her siblings. She is forced to spend the duration of her pregnancy locked away in a government facility for delinquent girls who are also expecting. In the facility, she gets her first glimpse of the world beyond her neighborhood: girls her age who have been abused, and neglected, and forgotten. Pryor also gets her first objective perspective of her own upbringing, the security she had enjoyed and the harshness of being cast out at the most vulnerable moment in her young life. As the baby grows inside her, so does her understanding of how to navigate a world that is much more complicated than she had imagined, and readers will enjoy watching her come of age and learn about compassion, and grace, and forgiveness.
DYING FOR REVENGE
The Lady Doc Murders Book 1
A Story of Exploration, Murder, and Mystery in the American West
By Barbara Golder FQ Publishing $18.99 978-1-98797-000-5 Barbara Golder was a part-time Telluride resident and a columnist for the Watch, and her debut murder mystery is set here in this town. The protagonist in this novel is Dr. Jane Wallace, a widow from Florida who moves to Telluride and becomes the chief medical examiner. A string of suspicious deaths and a lively cast of characters keep the plot humming along, interwoven with the main character’s movement through her grief and toward new love, all culminating in an unpredictable climax that has left readers asking when they can expect the next book.
By Scott Thybony The University of Utah Press $24.95 978-1-60781-483-2
PHOTO BY ANDREW WARD©-ADOBESTOCK.COM
Some memoirs are meant to heal the writer; some are meant to teach the reader about something; and others share a moment of self discovery. This story by Liz Pryor, the sister of former Telluride mayor John Pryor, does all three.
The year was 1935, when multiple season of drought resulted in the Dust Bowl, and storms ravaged the West. It was also the year that three separate people disappeared into the canyon lands of Southeastern Utah: Dan Thrapp, a scientist from the American Museum of Natural History; 13-yearold Lucy Garrett, traveling with the man that had murdered her father; and Everett Ruess, the young artist/poet/ writer whose vanishing became a famous mystery. Author Scotty Thybony writes poetically about the Western landscape as he examines the facts and weaves together the stories of these three historical figures, peering through time, the scattered dust in the wind, and into the labyrinthine canyon country to unearth the truth.
David Glynn was a naturalist and a horseman and a gifted writer, and because of his gentle demeanor and intelligence, he moved effortlessly amid all the forces that were at play. He was respected among the public and wildlife officials, environmentalists, Native Americans, and the general populace, so the way he bears witness to the roundup is perhaps the only fair and balanced account of the situation. Glynn’s prose belongs in the upper echelon of Western writers, and his story is achingly beautiful in the way it describes the landscape, the people, and the creatures to which he felt such a special connection. Tragically, Glynn passed away in February of 2015, and his daughter published his book posthumously. If There Were Courage is a treasure, and anyone who wants to understand the nuances of the battle that continues to rage between the stakeholders of these cherished public lands needs to dive into this work. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the narrative is that Glynn manages to leave himself out of it—and even in his absence in the chronicling of the events and in this plane of life, his presence is still writ large.
RESCUES AND TRAGEDIES IN THE SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS True Stories from the Region By Kent Nelson Twain Publishers $28 978-0-692-65267-1 This collection of stories pays tribute to the rescue professionals who live and work in the San Juan Mountains. From the harrowing near-death experiences to the grisly scenes of tragedy, these tales serve as both a reminder for people to respect the mountains and as a way to honor those who protect the people who fall prey to the hazards therein. Reading about the helicopter rescue of an injured climber on Sneffels, the recovery of a woman hunter who had succumbed to a snowstorm, the infamous death of the Ouray woman who had taken to feeding the local bears, and the myriad vehicle accidents, these stories show the fragility of life and the unfaltering strength of the natural world. The compilation finishes with some of the short fiction by author Kent Nelson, narrative that also deals with the topic of mountain rescues, about which he writes just as adroitly as does the actual occurrences.
A Comprehensive Climbing Guide to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park By Vic Zeilman K. Daniels Publishing $42 Vic Zeilman has created more than a guidebook to the spectacular big walls and alpine routes of the National Park in our backyard, the author also includes entertaining stories and essays from some of the longtime locals and climbers who made some of the first ascents. The book contains hand-drawn topo maps of 150 of the best routes, as well as information about dozens of new lines, full-color photos, history, and detailed pitch-by-pitch descriptions to help fully acquaint readers with the Black.
50 • ENVIRONMENT
Skyway VISITOR GUIDE
Abandoned Mines in the High Country By Corinne Platt
n 2015, the Gold King Mine in Silverton spilled three million gallons of toxic waste, flooding the Animas River with an orange plume that spread into Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico waterways. Since then, the topic of abandoned mines has received national media attention. And there’s nothing unique about the Gold King Mine—Colorado alone has 230 abandoned mines that collectively leak that same three million gallons of wastewater every two days. There are very few resources for cleanup of the mines, and so they continue to leak waste into the watersheds. Just south of the town of Ophir, the Howard Fork flows west out of the valley, where it eventually connects with the San Miguel River. A backhoe swinging three 20-foot long sections of plastic culvert beats its way through the Howard Fork just below the homes in town. The backhoe will take the culvert up an old road to one of the myriad abandoned mines left in Ophir. The Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety (DMRS) is closing fifteen mines in San Miguel County this summer as part of their Mine Safeguarding Project. The intent is not to clean up the mines or stop them from draining; it is to make sure humans and animals don’t climb inside and cause or get caught in a collapse. But the culvert will ensure that the water continues to flow out of the adit, rather than get backed up, and cause another aquatic disaster like the Gold King. The Carribeau Mine, just west of Ophir, was scheduled for a different type of remediation this summer. For the past several years, mill site owner Harley Brooke Hitchings has worked with the U.S. Forest Service (owner of the mine) and Pat Willits, from the Trust for Land Restoration, to initiate an EPA cleanup of mine tailings on her property that are leaching zinc, arsenic, and lead into the Howard Fork. The EPA planned to pull the mill tailings back, put them into one repository and cover the pile with a geo-membrane liner topped with natural vegetation. They weren’t planning to touch the adit. According to Willits, there are different thoughts on what to do with the water coming out of the adit, which flows between
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600 and 800 gallons a minute. “The current thinking is that dilution is the best solution,” says Willits. The EPA says they will re-engineer the current settling ponds to capture the contaminants before the water runs back into the Howard Fork. Shortly after the plan was presented at the Ophir General Assembly meeting in July, word came that the EPA was putting the cleanup on hold. Nobody said why, which garnered speculation from all sides. Questions abound: Is the EPA skittish after the Gold King disaster? The Gold King mine was being overseen by the EPA when the spill occurred; was the person in charge of the Ophir cleanup
implicated in the incident in Silverton? According to David Ostrander, the EPA regional director of emergency preparedness assessment and response, after recent events the agency has pulled back to review the mining sites. “The Carribeau, in particular, is one we are looking at again,” said Ostrander. “We are trying to sort out internally some of our review processes. We are just being extra cautious, and we are still trying to push this through next summer. At this point we have made no changes to the plan.” But when four EPA employees toured the mill site later that summer, they seemed less certain about the 2017 cleanup—there are more
than a dozen such sites labeled as a high priority, and funding is tight. The EPA is also set to oversee an exploration of the Carbonero mine east of Ophir. Water samples show elevated levels of zinc and iron that flow from that mine into the Howard Fork. While no cleanup is planned, the goal is to go into the mine and investigate where the contaminated water is coming from, and try to control or stop the flow of the water. Ophir is not alone in its mining legacy, but it lies at the head of the San Miguel Watershed and cleaning up its river is in the heart of anybody who cares about water in this region. In 2005, Ophir bought the Ferric Oxide Placer, or the Carbonero tailings, and with the help of many entities brought the tailings away from the river and capped them. That land is now under an easement with San Miguel Conservation Foundation. Since that reclamation in 2012, the Howard Fork has seen cleaner water; there has been some new fish reproduction, an indicator of improving river health. But it’s an upstream battle, and there’s more to be done at the Carribeau and Carbonero mines to mitigate the impacts of the historic industry on today’s environment. \
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52 • HISTORY
THE NO TORIOUS
CAP TAIN BAKER The Grand Canyon and the San Juan Gold Rush By Paul O’Rourke
harles Fairchild may have read about him in the Santa Fe Gazette. He’d more than likely heard the clamor that followed the publication of Charles Baker’s letter to the Gazette’s editor that November, in 1860. He’d maybe even talked to some of the men who were outfitting one of the several upcoming expeditions to what was referred to—with no little excitement—as the San Juan Mines, or, as they were also called, the “Baker” mines. From his home in Arroyo Seca, just north of Taos, Fairchild wrote to his parents in late February 1861, first assuring them—as any good son would—that his health was fine, but cautioned, in the next breath, that there’d been some “trouble with the Indians” in the nearby territory. The gist of his correspondence, however, www.TellurideMagazine.com
hinted at a mounting animosity toward Baker when it reported, “unless he shows some better discoveries, from which he has made his wide-spread reports, he will have to take very good care of himself, or there will be one less of those who bear the name of Baker.” With his life threatened on several fronts, Charles Baker made the prudent choice to abandon Baker’s Park, heading south for a time, but eventually returning east and enlisting in the Confederate Army. Charles Fairchild concluded his July 11 correspondence to his parents, writing “I shall go down south on the head of the Gila River to look for gold. If I find it, it is all well, but if I don’t, I don’t think I shall hunt for gold any more. I shall try something else.”
word to Kellogg their “findings” were worth twenty-five cents a pan, a not insignificant return in those days and enough to cause immediate interest. By October 1860 several hundred men and women—including the families of Kellogg and Rice—had rushed into Baker’s Park and the upper Animas River valley, wanting desperately to be counted among the vanguard in this latest mining excitement. All were apparently oblivious to the fact they were trespassing on Ute Indian land.
was that he was going to “start for the mines in about 20 days.” Fairchild played down his expectations, stating “don’t know if they are good or not, but [there’s] nothing like gold hunting.” Apparently, Fairchild had saved what he could that previous winter in order to provision his one-man prospecting excursion to
the mountains north of Arroyo Seca, in the soon to be Colorado Territory, to “Baker’s Park.” In this endeavor, Charles Fairchild was not alone. Charles Baker first ventured into the San Juans and to the headwaters of the Animas River during mid-summer 1860. Grubstaked by Denver businessmen Stephen Kel-
logg and F.R. Rice, Baker, along with six others, prospected extensively along the gulches and creek beds, in what became known as Baker’s Park (the future site of Silverton). How or why Baker chose this particular valley is not clear. And while the results of their panning and diggings were inconclusive, if not meager, Baker sent
Charles Baker may have been, as some have suggested, an inept miner. But he possessed, according to others, a quick intelligence and a finely tuned self-assurance. For almost as soon as the park began to fill with gold seekers during that fall, Mr. Baker traveled to Abiquiu and as far south as Taos, bringing back goods and mining supplies to Baker’s Park that he sold (for what we can imagine were healthy margins) to the hungry and the surprisingly illequipped prospectors. In November 1860 he composed the previously mentioned letter to the editor of the Santa Fe Gazette. In writing of the “extensive gulches and bar diggings,” Baker proclaimed them “richer than any mines discovered to the northeast.” “In quantity, and I believe in quality,” he went on, they were “sufficient to offer profitable employment to all who may come to work in the mines.” It’s safe to say that Mr. Baker decided, early on in the development of Baker’s Park, to switch hats; the promoter’s—rather than the prospector’s—a far better fit and one better suited to his temperament and talents. That Baker enthusiastically predicted, “there will be not less than 25,000 Americans engaged in mining and agricultural pursuits upon the waters of the Rio San Juan within a year from the present writing, and perhaps double that number” leaves little doubt that he saw himself as the park’s preeminent publicist. One month following the publication of his letter to the Gazette, the governor of the New Mexico Territory signed legislation incorporating the Abiquiu, Pagosa, and Baker City Road
Company, thus establishing a toll road from Abiquiu to Baker’s Park. By early May 1861, over a thousand eager gold hunters—including Charles Fairchild—had made their way over Mr. Baker’s new road into Baker’s Park. They might have been saved the trouble and the expense had they had access to the January 23, 1861 edition of The Rocky Mountain News. “Reports from the San Juan (Baker) mines are at present very disappointing,” the newspaper stated flatly. “Several others from Denver, who seem perfectly satisfied that if those are all the discoveries that Baker has made, they are worthless and that Baker is either deceived himself, or the most outrageous deceiver that ever lived.” In a letter dated July 11, 1861 Charles Fairchild informed his parents, “I have been out to the mines and back again. The reason that I am back is that I think there is no gold out there. And as for Baker,” Fairchild wrote angrily, “he never found 5 cents worth of gold last year.”
If the scarcity of gold in Baker’s Park wasn’t bad enough, the inhospitable treatment afforded the prospectors by the territory’s native residents added the very real fear for one’s life to the comparatively mild disappointment associated with losing an imagined fortune. Fairchild’s letter alluded to the valley’s rapid depopulation. “When I left there was about 15-20 in the mountains. I don’t think there is a man left now.” Fairchild wrote that the Indians “killed between 30 and 40 men, mostly Mexicans.” Lafayette Head, a Ute Indian agent headquartered in Conejos, confirmed Fairchild’s report, but put the numbers at forty Americans and fifteen Mexicans killed. Hostilities thus played a significant role in closing this first chapter of the San Juan gold rush. That and the fact the Civil War had begun in the East—thus drawing additional numbers away from the gold fields— couldn’t have come at a more propitious time for Charles Baker. Several articles in that Jan. 23 edition of The Rocky Mountain News
Sounds like the end to a familiar story from the mining frontier: hardship, dashed dreams, savings spent, and a little chicanery and artful dodging thrown in for good measure. Of course, we know now that extensive mining activity in and around Silverton during the late 19th and early 20th centuries proved Charles Baker’s initial inclinations about the area to be correct. And even though he was all but forced to flee from Baker’s Park in 1861, he just couldn’t shake the notion that the region held great potential.
s a consequence of his experience in the Civil War, Charles Baker had either earned or had “adopted” the rank of Captain. And it was Captain Baker who, in May 1867, convinced three fellow stagecoach drivers in Atchison, Kansas to quit their jobs and follow him west to do a little prospecting in the Colorado gold fields. The Captain knew just the place to take them. With George Strole, Joseph Goodfellow, and James White in tow, Captain Baker headed west. White later recounted an episode when he and Goodfellow, somewhere along the upper reaches of the Arkansas River, in Colorado Territory, became embroiled in a serious but unexplained difference of opinions. Guns were drawn. Goodfellow was shot twice, though not mortally.
54 • HISTORY
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White escaped unharmed. Goodfellow dropped out of the expedition. Baker had no better luck finding gold in Baker’s Park in 1867 than he’d had in 1861. Strole and White—like Charles Fairchild before them—must have wondered how they’d been duped into participating in Baker’s wild goose chase. Nonetheless they continued to buy into the Captain’s promises that gold was always just around the corner. Ever the promoter, Baker kept his companions bound to the logical yet erroneous belief that if the smaller mountain streams carried bits of gold, which they all agreed they did, then it stood to reason the larger rivers into which those tributaries flowed, must contain even greater amounts of treasure. With this golden carrot always in front of them, Baker led the party down the Animas valley, crossed over to the La Plata and Mancos Rivers and then west to the San Juan River. From there they headed north, toward the Grand (Colorado) River, to a spot just
above its junction with the Green River in what is now in southeastern Utah. It was late August and it’s doubtful they’d located any gold. “On the morning of August 24, 1867,” writes Allen Nossaman in his fine and detailed history Many More Mountains, “in attempting to ascend from the side canyon to get their bearings for the day’s activities, the party was attacked by Indians. Baker, as the first man up out of the canyon, was killed by the Indians’ gunfire.” White and Strole hastily constructed a cottonwood log raft and made their escape down the Grand. Several days later, Strole, while standing on the raft in rough water, was tossed overboard and presumed drowned, leaving White as the last person to see either of his fellow prospectors alive and the lone chronicler of what was to become his remarkable and highly controversial ordeal. As James White told it (subsequently documented in: U.S. Congress, House, Document No.42, 65th Con-
gress, First Session, 1917), after Stole was lost, he traveled down the river for 12 to 14 hours each day, camping on the banks at night, afraid to leave the shelter of the canyon walls for fear of being attacked by Indians. So violent was the river, he lashed himself to the wooden raft so as to not be swept off in turbulent water. Through whirlpools and over cascading waterfalls holding on for dear life there were also times when he foundered for hours when the water in early September calmed. After ten days on the river—and six without food—White was taken to shore by a group of Yampais Indians who showed him no real animosity. And in exchange for his pistol—it’s likely he was in no position to bar-
gain—that he’d somehow managed to secure on board his river conveyance, he was given one half of a dog’s hindquarters. Wolfing down his provisions he resumed his journey. Delirious, famished, severely sunburnt and at the same time water logged, White managed to stay afloat—and move downstream—for a total of fourteen days, emerging from the Grand Canyon at the Mormon boat landing at Callville, Nevada, where several astounded citizens pulled him from the river. They realized this man had just drifted out on what they all knew was a heretofore-unexplored and never-navigated river course. News of White’s supposed heroics spread quickly, told with equal amounts credulity and skepticism. Those who now take the view that White could have and by most reckonings did negotiate the Grand Canyon in late summer 1867 understand he did so a full two years before the man most often given credit for the same arduous journey, John Wesley Powell. \
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The debate over whether James White really navigated his way through the Grand Canyon in 1867 persists. One early proponent was then owner of The Rocky Mountain News, William Byers, who found White’s story helpful in his backing of the Kansas Pacific in its ongoing competition with the Union Pacific for rail access west, through Colorado, to California. Byers may not have known the connection between White and Charles Baker or the fact that White was present when Baker met his end, but he must have remembered the Captain, as he’d taken some pain and several column inches back in 1861 to proclaim Baker’s Park nothing but a “humbug.” We will perhaps never know if Charles Fairchild heard of Charles Baker’s demise or if he knew the Captain had returned to Baker’s Park in 1867 and had again failed to find gold. In a letter dated November 9, 1874, Fairchild wrote to his parents from his home in Del Norte, Colorado. He’d apparently given up “gold hunting” and was involved with the building of what we can surmise was the Del Norte and San Juan Toll Road, on which, Fairchild reported, “there is a good deal of travel every day and next year will be three times as much as this year.” The toll road followed the Rio Grande River through Antelope Park, and then turned west over fairly rugged terrain to the Continental Divide, where it crossed over Stony Pass and dropped into Cunningham Gulch and the new mining camp at Howardsville. The road ran south and slightly west a few miles along the Animas River, delivering general merchandise, smelting equipment, mining supplies, and several thousand eager prospectors (who staked over a 1,000 lode mining claims in 1874 alone) to the fast developing town of Silverton, in booming Baker’s Park. www.TellurideMagazine.com
56 • TELLURIDE FACES
On a Mission
Behind the wheel:
Behind the wheel:
Ride: Bright blue Toyota Tundra taxi
hair, kohl-lined dark eyes, and a rakish wide smile; and she stands at just 4’11”. She has a husky voice and a bellowing laugh, which comes in handy when she gets the same jokes over and over about her height. “Yes, I can reach the pedals,” she says. “But I do need to drive a truck with seats that move all the way forward. And I’m just an inch taller than I need to be to drive without a booster seat.” She loves to drive, she says. And she drives all the time, blasting her favorite Christian rock music, making weekly drives to Grand Junction to see her son and mother and visit her church, back and forth to Montrose, and picking up and dropping off passengers wherever they need to be. She enjoys her time behind the wheel. Smith says initially she hoped that the business would afford her husband some much needed time
off. As a plumber, he worked long hours and never really got a break. “I was just hoping he could get a weekend off,” she says. Weekends now, though, are busier than ever. Angel’s Taxi is always on call, and it seems like there is always someone that needs to go somewhere. Especially during festivals, when Telluride is brimming with people, and the traffic and parking make it feel like an urban center instead of a tiny resort town. They are gearing up for their first winter season—snow tires and tuneups, a full staff of knowledgeable, safe drivers. Smith says she’s comfortable on the roads in any conditions, but the real trick to being a driver is being able to navigate the driveways. The elevations in the mountains make for some pretty unusual homesites. “There are some crazy driveways around here,” laughs Smith. \
PHOTO BY BRENDA COLWELL
Smith have lived in the region for 30 years. He has been a plumbing contractor and she has been a bookkeeper, and they’ve commuted to, lived in, and worked in Telluride for enough years to recognize that there was a need that was not being met. So about a year ago they bought a fleet of trucks—and one Cadillac—and went through the long and expensive process of getting licensed and insured in the four-county region: Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel, and Dolores Counties. They threw all their life savings and resources into this new mission. “We realized that there was this huge gap. People needed rides and there wasn’t anyone to do it,” says Smith. “We just wanted to help.” Holly Smith does not look like your typical driver. Or even your typical angel. She looks like a mini-Cleopatra: She has midnight-black long
PHOTO BY BRENDA COLWELL
he’s picked up anyone and everyone. Kids that need to get to a soccer game, people who need to get home to Ridgway, or Montrose, or Ouray, or Rico. People who are stranded, people who don’t have cars, people who can’t drive, people who shouldn’t drive. She even picked up—literally carried—someone who was incapacitated near the gondola station, crying and screaming for help, and got them to the clinic in the middle of the night. She runs her operation 24/7, 365 days a year, and even though Angel’s Taxi is a business, she likes to call it a ministry. Holly Smith is here to serve you, and she knows that before she started this service, there were a lot of people who really needed a ride and who were wishing that there was an angel out there somewhere who could help. Holly and her husband Nate
Ride: White passenger van for Mt. Limo
f you had to use just one word to describe Mark Dresie, it would be “smooth.” Whatever he’s doing, whether it’s riding his bike, skiing, skating in a hockey game, or driving the Mt. Limo van, he exhibits the casual confidence that comes with mastering a skill. He’s been a ski instructor since he moved to Telluride in 1979, and he used to get about 100 days of skiing in a season, but now he splits his winter recreation time between skiing and his new passion, hockey. He rides his bike exhaustively in the summer, over mountain passes to other towns. And most of all, he’s smooth behind the wheel, driving passengers to and from Telluride. He’s been a professional driver for two decades. “It’s important not to be in a real big hurry,” says Dresie. “If you go the speed limit, you’re
going to be there in plenty of time.” Mountain roads—winding, snowy, and at times with wildlife haplessly appearing in the headlights—will test even the most skilled drivers. Dresie recalls one drive in particular, years ago, when he was at the top of Lizard Head Pass. There was a moose on the road, and he was able to avoid it. Just moments later, a deer bolted in front of his van. He swerved expertly, keeping the vehicle and passengers safe, and just narrowly clipping the deer without fully colliding with it or going off the road. “One of the passengers called my boss to tell her I’d saved their lives,” says Dresie. “She appreciated my driving skills.” Even Dresie’s voice is smooth, caramel-coated from his 38 years as a deejay in Telluride and four
years as a college disc jockey. His radio show, the “Flying Fero,” has been on the air for an eternity. (Fero, coincidentally, is Latin for “I carry.”) He says he doesn’t have a favorite kind of music, and his show is an eclectic array of the best of world music, jazz, bluegrass, rock—everything except hip hop and rap. His velvety vocal talent serves him well in the driver’s seat, too. He has been a docent at the Telluride Historical Museum, and he calls on his knowledge of the region and its colorful history when he entertains his passengers and dispenses information on the drive. “We’ve got a lot of trivia about the local area, and people love hearing it. It’s also important to have a good sense of humor and an inventory of jokes.” Dresie loves his home; a vege-
tarian, he has a small organic garden, a cat, and keeps chickens at his house, his Placerville sanctuary. But he also loves to travel—he’s been to 45 different countries and he spends off-seasons adventuring around the globe. That’s what makes driving for Mt. Limo a perfect job for him. “I like the fact you can travel. I can drive around the most beautiful place on the planet and be home at night, and I can go to far and exotic places and come back and have the same job.” Most of all, Dresie appreciates his clients. He really enjoys people and interacting with the passengers is a bonus. “The people are very nice, and very understanding, and very patient. They’re on vacation, so they’re happy to be here. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t want to do the job.” \
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owboys spend most of their life riding, and Roudy Roudebush is no exception. He rode into town in 1970 and has been taking people on horseback adventures ever since. But in the winter, he doesn’t ride—he drives. His rig is a fire-engine red sleigh, powered by two beautiful Belgian draft horses named Frank and Clyde. “I actually have three sleighs,” says Roudy. “A small one that seats four to six, a medium one that carries twelve to fifteen people, and a big one that fits twenty, but I only use that one a couple times a year.” Roudy was famous in the early years for riding his horse into the Sheridan Bar, and he pranced his way into the limelight, becoming a local icon and a larger-than-life character www.TellurideMagazine.com
of the West. He grew to be Telluride’s cowboy, featured on television, in movies and videos, and in all manner of print ads and publications. Tall, gangly, and with a personality as thick as his moustache, Roudy is blessed with a bellowing voice and a wealth of stories and songs. He’s a born entertainer, but not exactly a typical cowboy—he graduated from the University of Wisconsin and says he came to Telluride with a ponytail and a hippie chick, an “Irish Catholic Democratic ski bum … but I ain’t no liberal.” But over the decades, he has straddled these worlds, and become a unique mix of the traditions of horsemanship and rural life and a burgeoning ski town, the old and new West. He says the only thing that compares to his mornings in the saddle are powder
days, but they come less frequently than the opportunity to ride horseback. And they both have the same effect. “The blast of adrenaline is a solvent,” he says. “It clears the plaque out of our bloodlines.” Roudy says his grandfather used to give sleigh rides every Christmas, and now he’s carrying on with the custom. He takes passengers out for a spin at his old homestead in Norwood, at the end of the road, where there are no people, only a wide sky and mountain views. Afterward guests congregate in his barn by the woodstove, for hot chocolate and schnapps. He is 70 years old now, and he says that driving the sleigh is a break from the regular work of horseback tours. “It’s something I can do in my old age, my grandfather did it until he was in
his 80s. It’s a lot less effort—except throwing the harness up over those suckers. The Belgians are big. They weigh 2,200 pounds each.” He may be 70, but this legendary cowboy isn’t ready to ride off into the sunset. Roudy says he cherishes the relationship he has with his horses, and jokes that he even enjoys people in small doses and that he can be charming for a couple of hours. But it’s that charm and magnetism that have made him Telluride’s cowboy and that keep clients streaming in for horseback and sleigh rides. “I tell a lot of stories about the way it was, the way it ought to be and how blessed I am. I could have ended up in a bank in Chicago. Instead, I made a commitment to this lifestyle. And I’m fond of all those people who do the same.” \
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60 • INSIDE ART
STEP by STEP Introducing the Telluride Dance Collective By Emily Shoff
here’s a new addition to our art scene, and the town’s buzzing about it: the Telluride Dance Collective. Part dance company and part resource for dance education, the new ensemble started this summer and has already staged performances to sold-out audiences.
Founders Stephanie Osan and Danielle Jenkins said their goal was two-fold: They wanted to expand their own dance knowledge and experience, and they wanted to share that with the broader Telluride community. “We had both danced extensively in everything from local theater productions to Telluride Burlesque and were seeking something new,” said Jenkins. “We felt like we had exhausted all of the opportunities to dance here.” For kids who want to dance in Telluride, the options are endless. The Palm Theater offers the full gamut of dance classes, in everything from tap to hip-hop to ballet. But for adults in town, the dance scene is limited. There are few performances and even fewer class opportunities. Osan and Jenkins, who met doing shows together, wanted to remedy that. They knew if they could broaden their own knowledge, they would be able to expand Telluride’s dance scene. With Osan’s background in ballet and Jenkins’ in modern dance, they were natural complements for each other. And they knew they worked well together. They only needed funding and space. The two decided to apply for a small grant for artists offered by the town of Telluride and the Telluride Arts. The proposal was simple: They would use the funding to attend workshops on the Front Range for a week, and when they returned they would host free dance classes, culminating with a performance for the town. Telluride Arts and town gobbled up the proposal, awarding them $2000, and in June, the women headed out to Denver for their own self-created dance festival. “We took everything we could,” Jenkins said. “Afro-Brazilian, Modern, Tap.” After every class, they would mimic the moves they’d learned, committing them to memory. “We were total nerds about it,” Jenkins said of the experience. “We took notes on what music we liked or didn’t like, and on what movement styles we wanted to incorporate into our own choreography.” They also used the week to compose their dance show. Upon returning to Telluride, Osan and Jenkins offered a handful of free classes to the community,
and through those organically built a crew of committed dancers for the performance. Later, reflecting on the ways things had worked out, Danielle was glad that they had run the classes this way. “It felt good to have everything be free. Also, we ended up with exactly what we wanted: a group with a mix of backgrounds. We had dancers with limited experience, and we had dancers who had worked with professional companies.” The group of nine met twice a week for rehearsals throughout the summer. “We practiced all over town. The Palm Theater. Ah Haa. The library. We even practiced in the hockey rink lobby,” Danielle said, laughing. “This is a hard town to find space to dance!” When it came time to perform, Jenkins and Osan decided to extend the “free” philosophy to the performance. They wanted everyone to be able to attend, so there was no charge for admission, but donations were accepted. The town responded generously. Ah Haa School for the Arts donated the show space, Wine Mine contributed wine, and friends provided flowers and took photos. In September, they held two shows. The response to the performances was overwhelming. Osan and Jenkins capped seating at ninety guests and both nights, they turned away lines of people at the door. People suggested extending the run, and Osan and Jenkins wavered. But in the end, they kept it at just the two nights. “We had told our team it was a two-night commitment,” Jenkins said, her eyes sparkling. “And besides, we wanted to save a little magic for the next show.” Osan and Jenkins are already busy planning their next performance and will start hosting classes in November. Through donations at the September show alone, the Telluride Dance Collective was able to build a nest egg that will help to fuel their next event. Although the future of the collective is still shaping as it develops, Osan and Jenkins were delighted in the interest people took in the performance. “Telluride rose to the occasion,” Jenkins said, almost leaping, as she most surely does every time she dances. “We’ve got the start to something great.” \
“Telluride rose to the occasion. We’ve got the start to something great.”
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62 • FICTION
The Heyday of the
Insensitive Bastards By Robert Boswell
Assignment 1: Happier Time
s much as anything really happens, this really did. It was late spring. I was in that drifting age between the end of college (sophomore year) and the beginning of settling down (the penitentiary), and I had taken to the mountains where my friend Clete said the air was so thin you could skip the huffing and absorb it directly through your pores. Clete was living out of a green VW van that had broken down at a scenic overlook a few miles outside the Colorado ski town of Apex. He had taken the tires off the van to keep it from being towed. Perched on the cliff, it looked primitive and vaguely prehistoric. The Greyhound driver pulled over for me. “Don’t get too close to the ledge,” he warned. Evidently I hadn’t concealed the fact that I was stoned. Clete sat on the metal railing eating a combination of trail mix and Alpha-Bits from a plastic pouch. He was a big guy with brown hair in bangs across his forehead, a ponytail in the back. His body had an imposing quality, not just because of his size but owing to the confident way www.TellurideMagazine.com
he moved through the world. “I’ve got a kilo of shrooms,” he said by way of greeting, leading me across the highway and up a muddy path. In the shade of pines, he moved a fallen branch and dug up a bag of psychedelic mushrooms. He kept them separate from the van in case some law officer decided to search his home. I spread my coat over the grass. The coat was blue and bulky but light—insulated by air—made of a petroleum product impossible to stain. It had so many pockets I’d forget about
some for months at a time only to discover an old joint, a dime bag, a novel I was halfway through. The coat dated back to my last visit home. I got distracted on the way, a six-hour drive from the university, and arrived three months late. My parents still had my Christmas presents wrapped in elf-and-reindeer paper. The whole I time I was there they complained about their lousy holiday. (As you know, I haven’t seen them since. A person can only apologize so much.) The coat was one of my presents. A man could cross the Arctic in
such a coat. It had become my organizing principle. And it was all the luggage I had. Clete and I plopped our butts on it. “I recommend this much,” he said and passed me a handful of mushrooms. It was a hot day, and we stretched out in the shade. Through the trees, we had a view of the highway, the beached van, and the green gorge beyond the railing. Clete and I have been friends for fifteen years. We first met when we were seventh graders. My mother had grown tired of driving me to school when the bus stop was just down the street. Clete was on one knee when I arrived, his chin in his hand. “Spermatozoa are living creatures,” he said, “and we make them.” I did not know his name, and he didn’t know mine. We’d seen each other at school, but we’d never spoken. “They swim, they wriggle, they seek.” “Is this where we catch the bus?” I said. “That means we have some sense of God in us,” Clete said. “I feel it.” He put his hand over his crotch. “It’s like a bright, tickling light.” We’ve been friends ever since.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF SCRAPPLE AND GEOFF AND CHRIS HANSON
Ed. Note: “The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards” is the title story in a collection of stories by Telluride author Robert Boswell. The collection has been made into a film, starring James Franco, Kate Mara, Natalie Portman, Kristen Wiig, and Matthew Modine, and set to premiere this year. The following is an excerpt from the story, and the remaining sections can be read online at TellurideMagazine.com. “They’re kind of gritty,” I said, referring to the mushrooms. Clete shrugged. He had spent the morning in a wildlife center watching a film on lions. “One.” He counted with his fingers. “They sleep twenty hours a day. Two, the females do the hunting while the males snooze. Three, when pursuing prey, they attack the smallest and slowest in a herd—the baby wildebeest, retarded zebra, gimpy antelope. Given this evidence, what do you think the movie was called?” I pointed to a couple of girls in short pants bicycling past the lookout point, but Clete couldn’t be discouraged. When he got philosophical, there was no stopping him. “Lion, the Noble Beast.” He paused to let the irony sink it. “Then I got to thinking how kings just lie around on their royal furniture and tax the peasants. Maybe lions are nobility after all.” Clete had never been what anyone would call a good student, but he could be specific in ways most of us couldn’t. “Take lime popsicles,” he continued. “Do they taste anything like actual limes?” “Have you been eating these all day?” “I sampled while I was har-
vesting.” “You picked these?” “They grow,” he said. “Right out of the ground.” “Mushrooms can be poisonous, you know.” I studied the remaining mushrooms in my hand, torn between the idea of a bargain high and the possibility of dying. “I took a library book with me,” Clete assured me. “They’re perfectly safe.” “So,” I said, eating another but chewing more slowly, “you’ve got a library card.” “Everything we have, even
the rain, comes from the earth,” he replied. “Except for meteorites and certain toxic gases.” He returned the bag to the hole and used the branch like a broom to disguise the topsoil. “I know where there’s a party,” he said. We hiked down to the VW. The van had no side windows or seats in the back, just a long floorboard he had covered with foam rubber and shag carpet. I tossed in my coat, Clete locked up, and we headed toward town on foot. “Where are the tires?” I asked. “Hidden.” He needed six hundred dollars to rebuild the
engine. He didn’t have a job but was saving money anyway. “Walking back and forth to town is good exercise,” he said, “which saves on doctor bills and money that would have gone toward gas if the van was running.” “We’re making a profit just walking along,” I said. “Picking mushrooms saves on drugs and groceries.” “How much actual cash do you have?” He stuck his hand in his pocket and counted the small wad of bills, plus a few coins. “Twelve dollars and forty-eight cents, but this is a buffalo nickel. I’m saving it.” “Twelve forty-three then,” I said. I felt the most inside our friendship when we walked together as we did that afternoon, making plans and bumping shoulders, eating magic mushrooms from our fists, hoping we wouldn’t get poisoned. “I’ve got about fifty bucks,” I told him. “I’d have more but I gave this woman a necklace when I broke up with her.” “The one with the parrot?” “How was I supposed to know it wouldn’t come when it’s called?” >>
blender and Toast-R-Oven. “I have to keep the phone on for when they call from Dundee,” she said. She had trained the dogs to bark into the receiver. “I got screwed on the refrigerator.” She had traded it to a guy at the bakery for a cooler of sandwiches. “Never do business when you’re hungry,” she advised. Her mouth was small and almost circular, like a split cantaloupe. She noticed me studying her mouth and kissed me. “Who are you anyway?” I told her I was Clete’s friend. “Thank goodness,” she said. “I need his help.” She took another crystal tumbler from the cupboard and filled it with whiskey. “Clete doesn’t take ice for some reason.” “He doesn’t want to get spoiled,” I explained. She took the drink to Clete and grabbed his arm, leading us to a room with wood paneling, leather furniture, and no windows—a den. People sat around in candlelight studying a guy in a big chair who was staring out of eyes as distant and hollow as those tunnels that go under bodies of water. Val shone a flashlight on him. He didn’t blink. “What do we have here?” Clete asked. He knew the guy, whose name was Stu. A bunch of them had snorted PCP, but Stu had done twice as much as anyone else. Now he wasn’t moving. “Someone egged him on,” Val said. She turned a nasty gaze on a guy sitting cross-legged on the couch. His head was narrow in the middle like a partially imploded can. He spoke. “From now on he’s not Stu, he’s Stewed.” His laugh was sniggering and ratchet-like. Clete asked Val for the name of the laughing man as if he weren’t right there. She answered with the single word “Barnett.” Clete leaned in next to me but spoke loud enough for everyone to hear. “We may have to teach that one a lesson.” Barnett quit laughing and drank from a tall glass of something green. Clete addressed the entire room. “Who, if anyone, knows what PCP is?” A guy with a headband said he thought the active ingredient had something to do with the manufacture of fluorocarbons. None of us liked the sound of that. Clete wanted the full list of Stu’s symptoms.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF SCRAPPLE AND GEOFF AND CHRIS HANSON
“Parrots don’t know what they’re saying,” Clete said. “They just copy sounds. Humans are the same. We talk in the vague hope of finding out what we mean.” When we reached Apex, he showed me the library and a bakery that set out day-old pastries in the alley. “Fires are good for forests,” he said. I smelled the smoke then. The flames were fifty miles away, but the box canyon that held the town had a roof of smoke. It had a purifying odor. I began to feel tall and rubbery and ready for the next thing. We walked a long distance. At some point, it turned out to be evening. Stars swelled from the dark center of the sky to the toothed ridges of the mountains. All the heat fled the air and I thought to ask, “Where we going?” Clete pointed to a dark house up the hill. A girl named Val was dog sitting for a family spending the summer in Scotland. It was her party. The house had a peaked roof and plank porch. The windows showed a waffling brightness like the memory of actual light. Some kind of Mary Chapin Carpenter warbled inside, and I had a momentary fear of live music. Clete didn’t knock. The front room held maybe twenty candles. A boom box sat on a high table, its cord connected to an extension that trailed along the floor, out a window, and across the lawn to a neighbor’s outlet. Clete ejected the tape, which drew applause from guys lounging on the furniture. “I have ‘Texas Flood’ in my coat,” I said. “You’re not wearing your coat.” Clete lifted tapes from the scatter on the table and held them next to a candle to read. I wandered into the kitchen. A bone-thin woman, who turned out to be Val the dog sitter and hostess, was mixing a drink by flashlight. “Thirsty?” She handed me the drink she was making. “Whiskey and ice is my specialty, and it’s all we’ve got.” She dipped into a plastic cooler for more ice. “These glasses are real crystal,” she added, “but they’re monogrammed. I’m afraid to sell them. It’s a small town.” “I could sell them for you,” I said. “Nobody knows me.” “That’s so sweet.” She’d spent the upkeep money the family had left on dope. Once the electricity was cut off, she sold the appliances. She was down to the
PHOTOS COURTESY OF SCRAPPLE AND GEOFF AND CHRIS HANSON
64 • FICTION
“He’s grown really quiet,” the headband said. “Pensive, I’d say. And he doesn’t move.” They all looked at Stu but didn’t know what they were seeing, as if they had entered a cult and weren’t permitted to understand what was staring them in the face: an unconscious man with his eyes open, sitting upright and rigid in an armchair. Clete wanted to know how long he’d been like this. Val checked her wrist. “Oh,” she said, “can it really be ten p.m.?” “It’s ten to twelve,” I said, showing her. She had confused the hands on her watch. A murmur made its way around the room. Several people counted with their fingers. Stu had been comatose for six to nine hours, depending on which of his fellow travelers you trusted. Knowing the time earned me credibility in that crowd, but it made me wonder how long Clete and I had walked. I was certain the sun had been up when we started. Then I asked, “Is there any of that stuff left?” Barnett answered. “Stewed sucked up the last of it and licked the tray.” “He doesn’t smell so good,” Clete noted. “Is there a hospital in this town?” I asked, adding, “I’m new.” “There’s an on-call doctor,” Val said. “He doesn’t like this kind of thing, though.” Clete held a stubby candle right up to Stu’s face, staring hard into the wanky eyes. Clete said, “Wilt thou be made whole?” It got the ratchety laugh from Barnett, but Clete was dead serious. One time in Oregon he asked a highway patrolman who had pulled us over for driving without lights whether he didn’t “relish the dark world.” We spent what they called a cautionary night in jail, but everyone was very nice to us. Stu made a sudden shuddering movement with the top half of his body. He raised one arm from the chair and held it aloft. Pointing to our hostess, he said, “V-V-V.” Val, as if to encourage him, tugged at her short skirt, wiggling her butt against her leather chair. The place had great furniture. A tremor passed through Stu’s arm and made his hand dance, as if he had discovered something miraculous or gotten electrocuted. His face contorted with the effort of speaking.
“V-V-Val,” he said at last. His eyes settled on Clete. “Cl-Cl-ClClete.” “Cluck like a chicken,” Barnett yelled. Clete turned to him. “You should get down on your knees.” A girl in a tube top and cutoffs called out, “You insensitive bastards!” We waited for her to follow up, but she just crossed her arms and pulled her feet up onto the couch. “She can’t mean us,” I said to
Clete. Stu’s trembling finger indicated one person after another, moving around the room, naming the witnesses. He included the dogs, the big blond retriever, Ruff, and the yappy white terrier, Ready. When he came to me, who he didn’t know from Adam, he said, “K-K-Keen.” That’s how I got this name I still use. To call it an alias is only technically correct. Eventually I went off to explore. The candlelit house
had wild, watery shadows on its walls, a fickle stream of bouncing light and insistent waves of dark, like scales of light on an actual stream. A breeze would agitate the candles, and the walls became the wide chopping sea. Human forms at the base of the wall, their heads upturned to watch the dreamy business, seemed to be praying. Some of them touched my shoulder or the soft places above my hips and said forgettable things about the brilliant, rocking light. Later, I got hungry and found a jar of maraschino cherries in the cupboard. I filled my mouth, sweetness trickling down my throat. I thought I might hunt down a bed. In the stairway, I came across the body of a dead girl and swallowed one of the cherries whole. She lay on her back, her head higher than her feet, staring through an open skylight. There were no candles on the stairs. I had to let my eyes adjust. She was dressed in a green tube top and nothing else, but the body seemed innocent, her skin as soft as the cherries that pressed against my tongue. The soles of her feet were black, and a trickle of blood ran over one pale thigh. I couldn’t decide whether she had fallen down the stairs or given up on the climb and taken a seat, only to die in the process. Her face may have been in moonlight, as it was impossibly white. One thing was clear—she was not supposed to be looked at like this. I unbuttoned my shirt and draped it over her. “Thanks,” she said. I jumped back and tumbled down the stairs to the landing, hitting the back of my head. When I came to, she was gone and Clete was kneeling beside me. Other people were stepping over my torso to go upstairs or come down. “These creatures have strangely human qualities,” Clete said, “like recuperating ghosts.” He lifted his eyes to follow their movement. Even in this situation, he and I thought of these house squatters with a combination of condescension and ironic pride, owing to the van and our independent living skills. “How many people are at this shindig?” I asked. Clete didn’t answer. He waited for the landing to clear. Then he leaned close and whispered, “Wilt thou be made whole?” It was time to go home. >>
66 • FICTION
morning. A scrambled bit of egg escaped my mouth and hit the plate. Its brief contact with my palate had turned it an unnatural red, the color of maraschino cherries. “Do I look funny?” I asked Clete. Clete shrugged. “I’ve known you too long to say.” The food sated something in me deeper than hunger. Three walls of the diner were made of plate glass that needed cleaning, and we spent a long time watching a smeary light shift over the pines and aspen and wide stretches of high grass. The waitress had big eyes and narrow shoulders. Her nametag read “Kale.” She knew Clete and would only talk in his ear, which made me a little paranoid. “I’d introduce you,” he said, “but she doesn’t like talking to strangers.” “Is this really the right line of work for her?” She went from table to table, listening and nodding, pointing to the menu. She’d whisper to one person, who’d speak to the others. “Her legs are nice,” I said. “Every man in here is half or more in love with her,” Clete said. He got her to scrape leftover eggs onto our plates. “This guy’s omelet has a
weird spice,” I said. Clete forked a bite and savored it a moment. “Cigarette ash,” he said. We stayed in the diner until the eggs and coffee had worn down my chill. Clete paid the shy waitress, and we hit the pavement again, happy for the heat of the sun. He carried a white paper bag bearing the diner’s logo—a possibly cross-eyed elk. Inside were packets of salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, and nondairy creamer. Twenty minutes down the road, the peak of a tall black construction crane appeared. We watched it a long time before we got close enough to see the van. At the end of the crane’s long metal wire was a big round magnet, which snapped onto the van’s roof. Tireless and thoroughly defeated, the van rose up into the air. We joined the others—a crowd had gathered—in applause when it was set down on a flatbed truck. This was a terrible loss for us, but it was a great spectacle. “We can kiss that one goodbye,” Clete said. “My worldly possession is in there,” I said. There was nothing to do but get the bag of mushrooms and hike back to Val’s.
This series of events—losing my coat and the drugs and other secrets and luxuries of my life, along with being given a new name by someone mumbling out of a coma, and encountering the not-quite-naked-or-dead girl to whom I gave the shirt off my back—combined in an almost scientific way to make me swear off drugs. I was twenty-nine years old and wanted to change before I hit thirty. Clete and I developed a plan for me as we ambled back, a plan that would work all that summer and beyond. Even after I left the mountain, it stuck. The plan had four parts. One: I would not get a job. There’s always some guy with a goatee and great weed to turn you on during a break, or some friendly braless girl tired of washing dishes or mowing the graveyard or sweeping up the pencil shavings in Rosa Parks Elementary School who lights a joint or drops a line and offers to share. Work was a haven for drug users and I couldn’t risk it. Two: I’d use willpower and the help of friends who, even if high themselves, would discourage me from joining them. Three: The mushrooms, being organic and free, didn’t count. Four: In order to be realistic and give the plan half a chance of working, I would stay drunk as much as possible. A few people—including you and the therapist they assigned me when you had the flu—have since pointed out that as many people are done in by booze as by any drug or family of drugs. But Clete and I saw it differently. Being drunk was a momentary lapse into happiness, like drifting off while listening to a song about sex, whereas the drugs I craved were symphonies. They played at that low level just below the timbre of thought, a mattress of sound you could sleep on for days or a lifetime. Liquor relaxes the brain and lets the fool in you rise up, while the drugs I loved kept me still inside myself, permitting me to reside there in something like peace. That’s a hard thing to give up, and it’s easier if you’re drunk. We moved in with Val and lived in the dog-sitting house three months. Without rehab or an arrest to keep me in line, I became Keen and did no drugs. You asked for a happier time. That was it. \
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oming down from the mushrooms, I realized how high we had been and how long it would be before we were fully grounded. Along with that came the tedious desire to have never taken the stuff. With psychedelics, there was always a lingering descent, during which time you were not high but could not sleep or relax, like a hangover that begins while you’re still drinking and spoils the whole evening. It comes with a bottoming-out feeling. The designs you’d imagined and the new light that you’d shed on your life grow dim and dull and disappear as you nosedive. Your mind strains to retain some sense of what it was that had you smiling and optimistic, but you can’t touch it. The dream of the high, as well as the high itself, vanishes, and the asphalt’s cracks remind you that you’re no kid and less young with every plodding step. Hallucinating has taken you no closer to understanding what it is you mean to do with your life. Clete and I marched down the wide street to the heart of the little town, the bare streets and dark houses clucking disparagingly at us. In one window, beyond gauze curtains, an orange light licked at the dark world and dim figures crossed and recrossed the floor. A cold wind taunted the domestic bushes along the street and made my skin prickle and bump. I had lost my shirt to the approximately dead girl and longed for shelter, my nipples turning to squat little stones. “I should have brought my coat,” I said maybe a hundred times. “We’re at ten thousand feet,” Clete said, removing his shirt and handing it to me. “The nights are always cold.” He was wearing a wife-beater underneath. I buttoned up the shirt, which was several sizes too large for me. When we turned on Main to head out of town, the sleeves rippled like a swath of skin separating from my body. Morning arrived. The sun should have heated me up, but my body held tenaciously to the cold. We stopped at a diner on the highway and ate eggs. Clete told me about the party, as if I hadn’t been there. Stu had come around enough to have several drinks and pass out. “His essential movement is to seek unconsciousness,” Clete said. Our booth had bad springs, which put our heads close to our eggs, a handy convenience this
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68 • NATURE NOTES
Climate Change Slowly Alters the Alpine Landscape
PHOTO BY JACK BRAUER
SEEING THE FOREST FOR THE TREES By Deanna Drew
iking on the outskirts of Telluride, the kids were tiring so I looked around for an opportunity to give them a rest. Picking up a Douglas fir cone from the ground, I showed the kids its “mouse tail” and explained how this differentiates the tree from others. www.TellurideMagazine.com
As they fingered the specimen, I noted the tree itself: a healthy youngster, about ten feet tall with feathery, pale-green needles and smooth, grayish bark. An interesting place for a Douggie to sprout, on a westward-facing slope on the edge of a mature aspen forest at nearly 10,000 feet. Surveying the area more closely I spied a smaller Ponderosa pine, its tufts of long needles beautifully backlit in the morning sun. Nearby, a squat juniper was happily spreading its branches out in all directions across the forest floor. While the large trees around seemed sick or dying, these little trees were thriving. The change was so subtle that the kids didn’t notice it. But I did. These younger trees typically grow at lower elevations, in drier and warmer climates of the montane life zones. But as warmer temperatures move upslope to higher elevations of the subalpine zone, these trees— species that have evolved and adapted to warmer temperatures— might be coming with them. Scientists warn that by mid-century, the landscape as we know it could change. Trees like our subalpine fir or Engelmann spruce that prefer moist, cool climates will fade and could be overcome by different
species better suited for our warming environment. Other life forms are experiencing the changes, too. Research shows that robins are arriving earlier, and marmots are emerging earlier from hibernation due to warmer air temperatures in the spring. Some wildflowers are blooming earlier in the spring or later in the fall, while others bloom multiple times as warm temperatures are sustained longer in the summer. If you’ve been here a while you’re probably noticing the changes, too—but only if you’re paying close attention. Because forest change is happening throughout vast landscapes over long periods of time, many impacts may go unnoticed, perhaps until it is too late. Partly due to this seeming lack of urgency, humans have been relatively slow to predict and address the long-term impacts of climate change on our forests. Scientists are scrambling to identify what can or should be done, if anything, to preserve the desired conditions of our woodland areas. Jason Sibold, a professor of geography at Colorado State University, studies the effects of climate change on the forest landscape. He believes that, in Colorado, climate change is setting the stage for more frequent
and severe catastrophic events such as wildfires and beetle outbreaks, which typically happen only every few hundred years. But the state is already experiencing record-breaking wildfires and hundreds of thousands of acres of beetle devastation. “The game is changing,” says Sibold. “Colorado is now a case study.” He and his team of research scientists study forest plots to compare which trees grow before and after large-scale devastation. They are finding that many old mature tree stands are not reproducing, and think that the seeds or saplings of existing tree species may not be strong enough to survive in today’s conditions. Instead, replacement species are taking their place. In some places, trees are being replaced by grasses or shrubs common of lower life zones. In other places, aspen is coming back to replace pre-existing vegetation. This is a key finding for Sibold because aspen is a very bio-diverse forest type. It is also preferred in the landscape because of its beauty and appeal to tourists, and it provides a great fire break. Regeneration of aspen stands is something that could potentially apply to the forests around Telluride, and Sibold is hoping to begin a landscape-scale assessment of the forests
in our area this winter. Sibold has joined forces with San Miguel County Commissioner Hilary Cooper to work with stakeholders around Telluride to gather data and understand what is happening in the woodlands, decide what is best for the community, and discuss options for gently nudging the landscape in that direction. “In reality we are talking about doing an optimization exercise with the landscape,” he says. This study will start determining which sites in the region can be buffered from climate change, and which sites could potentially transition to aspen or other fire-resistant species to help protect its value to the community. Although Sibold admits that it may not be possible to avert a catastrophe, he says proactive forest planning will put us in a much more powerful position to help sustain these areas for the long term. “We will be much better off if we start thinking and talking and figuring things out than waiting for a catastrophe to happen.” And, he says, a scientific study will help to inform decision makers about the most effective ways to allocate forest resources. “Even though this is Telluride, it is a massive landscape and there are limited funds,” he says. “We want the best bang for the buck.” \
70 • TELLURIDE TURNS
Headlines & Highlights from the Local News
Telluride Skier Wins National Championship Keaton McCargo is Going for Gold By Elizabeth Guest
elluride went crazy when local skier Gus Kenworthy won the silver medal in slopestyle at Sochi’s 2014 Winter Olympics. Now, it’s time to pay attention to another homegrown Telluride skiing sensation and Olympic hopeful: Keaton McCargo is not a new name to mogul skiing, but her commitment to the sport and her steady success at mogul competitions worldwide have made her a viable World Cup and even Olympic competitor. In March 2016, McCargo won the National Freestyle Championship in Steamboat Springs. The first-place result was the perfect finish to the season, and set her apart from her fellow competitors on the U.S. Ski Team. “It was a big result,” said McCargo. “Especially since I was competing among my peers, who I think are the best in the world.” It was also a big deal because it awarded McCargo a start at a World Cup race. On Dec. 13, McCargo will go up against some of the best bump skiers from every country at a World Cup competition in Finland. Pending the results of that event, McCargo could earn more opportunities on the World Cup circuit. World Cup Freestyle races only take 10 men and women apiece from the U.S. Ski Team, so the competition to earn a start is stiff. McCargo is not afraid of the hard work required of a top-notch ski racer. Her background is in mogul skiing, growing up on the bump runs of Lift 9 and doing laps on Plunge and KantMak-M, but now she’s branched out to ski among the best mogul skiers across the globe. Her career took off in 2013 when she earned a spot on the United States Freestyle Ski Team as a senior at Telluride Mountain School. Since graduating, McCargo is now in
her fourth year with the U.S. ski team and based out of Park City, Utah. Last season, McCargo’s biggest challenge was the mental strain of the sport. Early in the season, she struggled with the nerves of competing on such a big stage. “The mental part is the hardest,” she said. “When you get into the gate it’s hard to relax and block everything out and ski.” Based on her win at Nationals, however, McCargo made significant progress and is ready for some major competitions coming up this year. “There’s a lot of pressure building ... it’s a big year and it’s going to be
all about pushing yourself,” she says. “The Olympics are a hard goal but a good challenge to work for.” There are only three spots for female freestyle mogul skiers on the Olympic team. It’s a long, hard road to both Olympic and World Cup contests—literally and figuratively—as it requires a serious amount of travel. McCargo is often on the go as competitions take her to ski hills in Japan, Finland, Europe, New Zealand and more. The season starts early, long before our local slopes see any snow. In early October, McCargo was en route to Zermatt, Switzerland for training Camp.
It’s an exciting lifestyle, but also very unique. “It’s hard to have a normal life, to go to school or to have a job,” explains McCargo. “Little things, like me having a cat, sometimes make it hard to leave for a long time.” The U.S. Ski Team helps by supporting athletes’ continued education through online classes. And the strong bond between teammates fosters a positive experience for the athletes. As a group, they work together to make life as normal and cohesive as possible, even if they’re training for 8 hours a day on the slopes. “I’m very close with my teammates,” says McCargo. In particular, Hannah Kearney, who is now retired from skiing, was an important friend and role model for McCargo. In August 2015, McCargo and Kearney traveled to Chile on a Columbia Sportswear-sponsored trip. In a video of the duo, McCargo and Kearney reveal their close relationship. Kearney retired soon after the Chile trip, concluding a 13-year career on the U.S. Ski Team which included winning gold at the Winter Olympics in 2010 and bronze in 2014. While Kearney is missed by her teammates, her departure opens the doors for younger, competitive skiers like McCargo. In Chile, Kearney says as much: “If I had to put money on who’s going to the next Olympics, Keaton would be there. Her desire to become a better skier is going to take her a long way.” A much humbler McCargo is not making any big claims, but focusing on skiing on a day to day basis. “Every day,” she says, “is a new challenge.” It takes a lot of physical strain and mental perseverance, but being a professional skier has some obvious benefits. “It’s wonderful. I get to ski for my job and hang out with my friends.” \
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72 • TELLURIDE TURNS
Headlines & Highlights from the Local News
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Saving Colorado’s Wild Horses
By Regan Tuttle
According to her, “euthanasia” is a term used when animals have no hope of recovery, or when pain or suffering is intense with no good outcome for an animal. “If they carry through with the destruction of healthy animals, that can hardly be called euthanasia,” she said. “It’s hard to put down a horse on the range who’s broken its leg—it’s a difficult thing to do—and to imagine doing that to a healthy animal is almost unthinkable.” Kathrens said that the following Monday after the work sessions and official meeting, Director of the BLM Neil Kornze announced that the feds had no intention of killing the wild horses. Kathrens later met with
Kornze and Dean Bolstad, the Wild Horse and Burro Program Director, to try to eliminate further discussion of killing horses in holding facilities. “It is off the table right now,” she said. “But depending on who wins the election, and who they appoint, this could all change.” Kornze is an appointed staff member. Kathrens said due to her nonprofit work, she must remain apolitical. Still, she’ll continue the fight for the wild ones in her own way. In the Telluride region, Madison “Mustang Maddy” Shambaugh is championing the mustang’s cause, attempting to show the world their value. Shambaugh adopts, trains,
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and shows wild horses. “I’ve not encountered any mustang that was untrainable,” she said. That includes the BLM’s “threestrike” mustangs, or those that have been offered for adoption three times with no success. Shambaugh is training a wild horse currently. In one week, she was able to ride the mare at liberty—without a saddle, or ropes, or reins. This year, she’ll compete on that horse in the Mustang Magic competition. In the past, she’s already won big in mustang competitions with other wild horses she’s adopted and trained. Shambaugh will remain on the road this year, but said she plans to set up shop in Ridgway, Colorado when she returns. There she hopes to establish a training program for “three-strike” mustangs. She hopes to find those horses homes. She’d like to get the term “mustang” more mainstream. She knows people on the East Coast who can hardly believe wild horses are still living today, let alone the estimated 40,000 in holding pens and 40,000 running free. Anyone with a passion for the wild ones should consider donating to an organization that supports the animals, or financially supporting a professional who takes on a wild horse for training, she said. “The Mustang Heritage Foundation does a wonderful job promoting these horses.” \
tell mag cosmo.indd 1
PHOTOS BY TJ HOLMES
here are an estimated 40,000 wild horses roaming free on public lands in this country, and there are roughly the same number of wild horses in holding facilities. The number of horses being held is an expensive problem, according to the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), and this summer the headlines warned that the creatures in captivity might be destroyed. Ginger Kathrens, founder of The Cloud Foundation—a Colorado-based nonprofit dedicated to preserving wild horse and burro populations—attended a meeting in Washington D.C. in June to discuss ways of resolving the crisis. Kathrens serves as “the advocate” on the national Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, an organization that reports directly to the Bureau of Land Management. “Humane advocacy is my position,” she said. One work session group at the D.C. gathering was chaired by a cow veterinarian out of Oregon. According to Kathrens, his group put forth a recommendation that all horses in holding pens be destroyed. The next day that recommendation was voted on by the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, with eight of nine board members present. Kathrens said hers was the only dissenting vote, and she remains completely against euthanizing wild horses—though she’d never use that word.
9/14/16 10:28 AM
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74 • TELLURIDE TURNS
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TSRC Scientists Snare Another Nobel Prize Tiny Machines, Big Award
Sir J. Fraser Stoddart
Bernard L. Feringa
to operate in a machine-like manner with parts that could move relative to each other—the first step to creating the connected parts needed for molecular motors. Stoddart, a knighted Scottish chemist currently affiliated with Northwestern University near Chicago, took this research further beginning in the 1990s, creating the first molecular “shuttle” by threading molecular rings onto thinner molecular axles that the rings were able to move along. From there, Stoddart’s team developed mind-bendingly tiny molecular machines such as nanoelevators, artificial molecular muscles and molecule-based computer chips that could one day render today’s silicon-based models into lumbering dinosaurs. Feringa, a Dutch professor at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, developed a synthetic molecular motor in the late ‘90s with a rotor blade so powerful it could rotate a glass cylinder 10,000 times bigger than itself. He has since famously created a four-wheel-drive
“nanocar” out of these motors. While the trio’s work in miniature has yet to find an application, it has the potential to take chemistry to grand new dimensions. “We feel sometimes like kids playing with these molecules and seeing what are the possibilities to build,” Feringa said in a telephone interview with Nobel Media from his laboratory following the Oct. 5 announcement of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. “We use molecules as a kind of Lego kit...We have access to this unlimited number of molecules and we use them to build the new materials, the drugs of the future, and in this case also the nanomachinery and the smart materials of the future.” TSRC, founded in 1984, attracts well over 1,000 of the world’s best molecular scientists for workshops and conferences in locations throughout Telluride each summer. It is the only independent molecular science center that is not affiliated with a sponsoring organization or institution, offering scientists the freedom to work
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By Samantha Tisdel Wright
hey developed the world’s smallest machines—a molecular elevator, minuscule motors, and a four-wheel-drive nanocar—all up to 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Now, Telluride Science Research Center guest scientists Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa and their colleague Jean-Pierre Sauvage have won one of science’s heftiest awards, the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, for their pioneering work in the realm of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is a hot topic these days, and for a good reason – experts believe it is the place the next industrial revolution is happening. “There is this opportunity to really improve technology at a scale we had historically not been able to, and influence it at the molecular level,” explained TSRC Executive Director Mark Kozak. “Whether that be improving a material, improving the process of power generation, storing or transmitting energy, or delivering treatment to attack a cancer cell, the opportunities at the nano scale are really unlimited, and it’s going to have a huge impact on our economy.” The trio of 2016 Nobel Laureates laid the groundwork for this new frontier with a body of work that collectively spans the past four decades. Sauvage, who is French, is professor emeritus at the University of Strasbourg in France. He conducted pioneering research in the field of nanotechnology in the early 1980s, when he created interlocking chains of ring-shaped molecules called “catenanes” that were linked by mechanical rather than covalent bonds. This enabled the molecules
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together in a noncompetitive atmosphere surrounded by the awe-inspiring beauty of the San Juan Mountains. The center’s informal, small-meeting format nurtures a much-welcomed sense of community and collaboration as scientists discuss unpublished research, explore blue-sky ideas and build new collaborations. Perhaps for this reason, TSRC has become an increasingly important incubator for molecular science research. Indeed, TSRC-affiliated scientists have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for three of the past four years. “Regardless of whether the work that they do here is directly related to their Nobel Prize, these are the top people in the world that are coming here,” said Kozak. “It demonstrates the impact TSRC has on a global scale in advancing science, and as a community that’s really exciting.” TSRC is currently in the final phase of a strategic planning process to determine how to thoughtfully grow the organization—and whether to undertake a capital campaign to build a new 30,000 squarefoot world-class science center in the heart of Telluride, giving TSRC a permanent home here. The organization was poised to move forward with such a plan in 2013, but after going through a change in leadership, decided to hold off on the building project until a strategic planning process had been completed. “The goal really is to evaluate TSRC’s current business plan, and recognize the qualities that make it special, so moving forward we don’t break anything,” Kozak said. “We hope to have some clarity that we can share with the public this winter.” \
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Nucla Plant to Close By Caitlin Ketel
n Sept. 1, 2016, more than 80 coal workers learned they’d be out of the job. It was no surprise to many following the industry, considering half the state’s coal production has ceased since 2004. Two facilities on the Western Slope are the latest casualties of the trend: a 100-megawatt station in Nucla and the nearby New Horizon Mine, both in San Miguel County’s neighboring Montrose County. Tri-State Generation and Transmission, the region’s wholesale power provider, agreed to close the facilities by the end of 2022. In the meantime, the company’s CEO Mike McInnes has promised to make the transition away from coal as smooth as possible for the workers by developing a transition team. “We are part of these rural communities and understand the retirement of these units will affect our employees, their families, their communities, and their very way of life,” McInnes said. “We feel a strong responsibility to provide ample time for our employees and the communities to plan for the future, which this agreement allows.”
The agreement he’s referring to stems from a legal settlement made between Tri-State, environmentalist groups, and the government. Multiple parties made it a goal to adhere to the Colorado Visibility and Regional Haze State Implementation Plan or SIP. The Nucla Station was asked to adhere to more stringent nitrogen
hour’s drive from Telluride. With about 700 residents, according to 2010 U.S. Census data, a closure like this could have a regional ripple effect. Jeremy Nichols is the Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians, a non-profit conservation group that had a hand in the SIP revisions. He acknowledges it’s a blow to the region,
“We are part of these rural communities and understand the retirement of these units will affect our employees, their families, their communities, and their very way of life.” oxide emissions limits, but Tri-State came to the conclusion that it’s too costly to install additional emissions controls. That, and the current and forecasted market conditions for coal are dismal, despite it providing more than half of Colorado’s electricity. Nucla is a little more than an
but called the decision to close, “a leading step forward in advancing clean energy for western Colorado and beyond.” Elected officials, environmentalists, coal workers, and neighbors have been voicing opinions since the announcement was made.
Some say the Nucla Station closure was never a matter of if, but when. Its low production rates paired with the government push toward renewable energy would have made it all but impossible to stay in the game for much longer. Others point out the Nucla facility was one of the cleanest running coal plants in the country, and there’s no need to take jobs away from a town that depends on them. Tri-state, which runs on a notfor-profit basis, has decided to up its rates by 4.23 percent, which will be passed onto dozens of the co-op energy providers it sells to. San Miguel Power Association serves Telluride and its surrounding areas. Lee A. Boughey, Tri-State’s Communications Manager says, “the rate increase is unrelated to the announcement of the retirement.” The Nucla facility is one of the cleanest in the country. It stepped up to meet tough efficiency standards over the years, and the 100-megawatt coal-fired station is the world’s first utility-scale power plant to utilize atmospheric circulating fluidized-bed combustion. It was originally built in 1959. \
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78 • INDEX
STARVING TO DEATH
Olympians from the United States have won 2,802 medals in all of the summer and winter games. Olympians from the United Kingdom have won 873. Russian Olympians have won 575.
Between 1971 and 2014, the number of wild horses that were adopted was 199,142. The number of wild burros was 37,601. In 2015, another 2,631 horses and burros were adopted—195 in Colorado alone.
Passengers are 5 times more likely to be fatally injured while riding an elevator than a chairlift, and 8 times more likely to be fatally injured while riding in a vehicle.
Success rate of climbing Everest in 1990: 18% Success rate of climbing Everest in 2012: 56% Number of deaths on Everest 1924–2015:
Average number of days it takes to commit suicide by fasting/starving:
Average number of Jain monks who commit suicide by fasting/starving annually:
LESS CASH FOR COAL
Bureau of Land Management has 4,807 abandoned mines under its jurisdiction that pose environmental hazards. Colorado has the highest number: 1,760. Mining has contaminated 40% of the watersheds in the West.
Oxygen’s atomic number is 8. Earth’s atmosphere is 21% oxygen. Earth has been oxygenated for 2.3-2.4 billion years. 300 million years ago, the atmosphere was 35% oxygen—and dragonflies had wingspans as big as hawks.
The average gold mine uses more than 1,900 tons of cyanide each year. Metal mining is responsible for 40% of all toxic releases. Mining enough gold for a single ring produces 20 tons of waste.
The average annual temperature in Colorado has increased 2° over the past 30 years. The average annual temperature in the state is projected to increase
The total number of employees at U.S. coal mines in 2014 continued to decline, reaching 74,931 employees, a decrease of 6.8% from 2013. Average sales price of coal from U.S. mines decreased 6.5% from $37.24 per short ton in 2013 to $34.83 per short ton in 2014.
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82 • LAST LOOK
In the Alleys By Rob Huber
An unforgettable “But I always liked side-paths, little dark back-alleys behind the main road—there one finds adventures and surprises, and precious metal in the dirt.”
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– Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Most of the photos we see of Telluride are of its main street and its mountain landscape. But Rob Huber photographed the alleys in Telluride weekly over the course of a year, giving us a peek at the subtle spaces, the behind-the-scenes pathways that give the town depth. www.TellurideMagazine.com
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located at the top of the gondola A T T H E B E A U T I F U L S T. S O P H I A S T A T I O N
Published on Nov 23, 2016
This issue features the fiction of Robert Boswell ("The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards," soon to be a James Franco film), an homage to L...