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Winter 2013-2014


Su s t a i n a b l e C u sto m Ho m es a n d Rem o d el s M i c h a e l We il

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’13-’14 CONTENTS SHORTIES 10 Surfing the mountains by Than Acuff The fledgling sport of snow kiting takes off, gains speed – and flies. 13 Learning in 3D by Than Acuff Crested Butte students learn science and math by engineering their own solutions to real-world problems. 16 Homologation celebration by Drew Holbrook A new Nordic course, built with creativity and elbow grease, will be North America’s highest FIS-certified Nordic race venue. 19 No place like home by Erin English Thanks to David Gross, a new special-needs network helps others find resources without leaving the valley.

20 Jungle books by Dawne Belloise A Costa Rican treehouse community expands the reach of Western’s new environmental Masters degree. 24 Safely sighting cervids by Dawne Belloise Admire them, yes, but don’t mess with the moose. 26 Helping water do its work by George Sibley The Nature Conservancy seeks to restore our watershed resilience one little stream at a time.

32 Task of Olympic proportions by Sandy Fails As the United States’ chief medical officer for the 2014 Olympics, Dr. Gloria Beim says she’s “ready for anything.” On the side: our other Olympic connections. 35 How generosity snowballs by Erin English Honoring her late fiancé, Elizabeth Lamphere created the IAN fund for families of avalanche victims. 114 Wide-ranging kudos Dogs, bikes, skiing, kids, art and elders: accolades for the valley cover a lot of territory.

29 The ups and downs of skimo by Dawne Belloise Local lungs and legs are rocking the national ski mountaineering race world.

THE ARTS 100 A gathering place for artists Beauty and creative companions inspire the valley’s visual artists.


102 Suspended animation by Sandy Fails Graceful, spellbinding and tough, aerial dance has become a Crested Butte passion.

106 See, hear, buy, do, learn Twenty ways to enjoy the arts this winter.

FEATURES 38 Pumped-up pedalers by Eszter Horanyi Snow-friendly, balloon-tired fat bikes make cycling a fourseason sport.

43 How many hats does a Hartigan wear? by Rachael Gardner From Vinotok to preschool, serving food to coaching hockey, the Hartigan family fills many roles in this community.

48 Life, death and practice, practice, practice by Sandy Fails Search and rescue volunteers invest long hours to help people and save lives. Their reward has nothing to do with money.

55 Fixing what’s broken by Sandy Fails Jeff Isaac invites common sense into backcountry medicine.

59 CB3P: pole, pedal, paddle – and play by Than Acuff Spring-time racers swap ski boots for swimsuits as they slide, roll and float to the CB3P finish line.

64 When snow slides by Molly Murfee The avalanches that have threatened miners and backcountry skiers over the decades claim fewer lives when given the respect they’re due.

69 Wilderness: from both sides now by George Sibley With fifty years of hindsight, a look at how Wayne Aspinall and the Great American Wilderness Debate shaped our public land use.

76 Eye-catchers The photos we just couldn’t leave out.

81 Lifting spirits, raising funds by Sandra Cortner Launched 35 years ago to help an injured ski patrolman, the Attitude Adjustment Party is winter’s biggest mood booster.

85 New ways to play by Laurel Miller Through alpine touring and yurt dining, Crested Butte Nordic converts a guest into a fan.

90 A native returns Dusty Demerson

by Chris Garren How Crested Butte looks through the eyes of a happy child, a restless teen and a re-enchanted adult. 108 Calendar | 112 Lodging | 115 Dining | 120 Photo finish 5

Vol. XXXV, No. 2 Published semi-annually by Crested Butte Publishing & Creative PUBLISHERS Steve Mabry & Chris Hanna EDITOR Sandy Fails ADVERTISING DIRECTOR MJ Vosburg DESIGN Chris Hanna PRODUCTION Tyler Hansen WRITERS Than Acuff Dawne Belloise Sandra Cortner Erin English Sandy Fails Rachael Gardner Chris Garren Drew Holbrook Ezster Horanyi Laurel Miller Molly Murfee Kathy Norgard George Sibley

Cozy Bohemian WINTER MOUNTAIN STYLIN’ BY: Free People • Johnny Was • Pendleton • Farrah B. Minnetonka Moccasins • Richard Schmidt Jewelry

PHOTOGRAPHERS Matt Berglund Nathan Bilow Sandra Cortner Dusty Demerson Shayn Estes Mark Ewing Xavier Fané Alex Fenlon John Holder Jeff Irwin Allan Ivy Kevin Krill JC Leacock Lydia Stern Tom Stillo Alison White COVER PHOTO Xavier Fane self-portrait atop Axtel Mountain ONLINE E-MAIL

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Editor’s note

Winnie the Pooh, the Dalai Lama and a touch of John Wayne Interviewing people for a story on Crested Butte Search and Rescue (CBSAR) prompted in me the fleeting urge to volunteer. It was fleeting mainly because I’m a less-than-stellar candidate. First, I was NOT a star pupil when I took the EMT course three decades ago, especially in the class “practicals.” My problem in these pretend scenarios wasn’t treating the simulated wounds; I just couldn’t handle the victims in loud and horrible mock pain. Or the panicked parents in our staged medical dramas. If only I could have chloroformed the patients – and their frantic fake family members – and worked in peace and quiet, I might have excelled. But I did not excel at emergency field medicine. Nor am I great with heights, knots, gear, extreme cold or heavy exertion. The appeal of Crested Butte Search and Rescue came partly from some common characteristics among the volunteers I interviewed. Take, for example, Tina and Nicholas Kempin. The Kempins just completed a challenging paramedic course while working full-time and volunteering for all manner of worthy causes. Neither intends to use the paramedic certification to make more money. Nicholas is an attorney; Tina’s the president of the Crested Butte Bank. They honed their medical skills to give them away – as ambulance and CBSAR volunteers – because some day those skills might make a huge difference in someone else’s life. Erik Forsythe, who joined search and rescue almost two decades ago, talked about the “service ethic” among the team members, who are driven not by ego but by the desire to be the best they can be. I found similar attributes among CBSAR volunteers of all ages, from twenty-something Scott Krankkala to octogenarian Pete Davis.

Bill Dowell, ski patrol director. Mark Ewing


Editor’s note I like being around people like that. It reminds me of my upbringing. Like many of my fellow Baby Boomers, I’m an odd mix. My role models over the years have been diverse: from John Wayne, Jesus and Einstein to the Dalai Lama, my dying mother and Winnie the Pooh. I buy local and organic, meditate (or try), and attend peace vigils. But I still have a little John Wayne in my programming – e.g. handshakes should be firm and promises upheld. “Character” sounds like an old-fashioned word. But I still believe in honesty, caring, living according to your deepest sense of right and goodness, and reaching for excellence even if you’re not going to get paid for it. Those seem as true to me now as when I watched “the Beav” get sent to his room on our blackand-white TV set half a century ago. Luckily, I live in a place where many people honor those precepts – while having big fun and doing amazing things. Also luckily for me, my job is to find those people and show off the best of who we are in Crested Butte. It’s no challenge; this place has more fascinating, creative, funny, kind, strong and generous people than it has dogs, snow shovels and bikes with baskets – and that’s a lot. This issue, for example, tells the story of David and Sue Gross, whose love for their son, with a dual diagnosis of autism and Down syndrome, sent them chasing specialists across the country. When they finally, happily, settled back in Crested Butte, David formed the nonprofit Gunnison Valley Special Needs Network to help other families find the resources they need without leaving this supportive community. These pages also showcase the goodhearted Hartigan family; the donors and educators who brought an innovative sciencetech-engineering program to our school; Nature Conservancy volunteers scraping and shoveling to revive our streams; and the ski patrol’s long-standing Attitude Adjustment Party, started to help an injured friend. Crested Butte doesn’t have a monopoly on goodness. And we’re far from perfect. But just as the valley’s beauty attracts artists and its wild playground lures uber-athletes, something about this community draws people with character and heart. I’d like to dedicate this issue to those people and the place they’ve shaped. —Sandy Fails, editor 8

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Surfing the

By Than Acuff


The fledgling sport of snow kiting takes off, gains speed – and flies. The weather report calls for winds out of the southwest 15-20 miles per hour. Cold temperatures have kept the snow good, but your favorite ski slopes have been pretty tracked out since the last storm. Good day to do laundry? Maybe. Make the weekly grocery run? Sure, if you really need to. Or grab a snow kite, click into your skis or snowboard, and take an endless powder run on snow nobody else has touched. “Terrain you wouldn’t look at for skiing becomes super fun,” explained Brandon Clifford. “You can go out and have a three-hour powder run; it just doesn’t stop.” Clifford grew up surfing and skiing, lived in Crested Butte in the mid ‘90s, and jumped into the world of competitive freeskiing. After growing weary of that scene and making a couple more moves, he spent five years in Maui, where he picked up kite surfing. Three years ago, at the height of his kite-surfing passion, he moved back to Crested Butte with his family and a quiver of kites. Then the idea hit him. 10

Photos: Alex Fenlon

With skis and kite, Brandon Clifford can go 30 m.p.h., fly 30 feet above the snow and land 100 feet down the slope.

“One day it was windy, there was a foot of fresh snow on the ground, and it just clicked,” said Clifford. He grabbed his skis and kite surfing gear and entered the world of snow kiting. Snow kiting, in its latest incarnation, is relatively new on the snow sports scene. Until recently, kites on snow were primarily used for transportation. Explorers utilized kites to help them cross vast expanses of snow. In the past decade, skiers and snowboarders used kites to move themselves and their gear to remote locations. Once there, they packed

up the kites, climbed the peaks and skied down them. Years ago, a handful of locals took their windsurfing equipment to Taylor Reservoir and Blue Mesa Reservoir in the winter, skimming across the frozen flats and occasionally working wind lips like motionless waves. But in the past five years, snow kiting has taken on a whole new look, and kite companies such as Ozone have teamed up with skiers like Clifford to push the sport into a new realm. No longer is snow kiting about hauling across a frozen lake; the sport is on the rise, literally. Clifford started cruising across the meadows near Crested Butte South and then moved into areas like Washington Gulch. Looking for “fetch,” or wind that’s unobstructed over long distances, he explored open lands all around Crested Butte. He and other snow kiters moved from the valley floors to the hillsides; they’ve even kited up to Baldy Mountain and the Daisy Pass area. By getting above tree line, they can often find smoother wind. With his experience reading the wind and handling his kite in addition to skiing, Clifford progressed quickly in the sport. Still, with the level of athletes living in Crested Butte and the almost endless open terrain surrounding it, he feels the valley is ripe for a snow-kiting explosion. “People in Crested Butte are such good skiers and snowboarders. As soon as you harness kite control and understand kite flying, you can put on your skis or snowboard and just go.” He points out, though, that the learning curve takes some work. He recommends starting on flatter, open terrain, like Blue Mesa Reservoir. “The most important part is respecting the elements and going with someone who has experience. The first few days of learning can be intimidating. It’s really easy to go out and do exactly what you’re not supposed to do.” Once skiers dial in the combination of wind, kite and skis, snow kiting opens up a new dimension in snow-play, with more terrain to explore than traditional skiing and less dependence on big snowfall. “Sub-par ski days can be incredible snowkite days,” Clifford said. “Kiting feels very surf-like in the mountains. We can have the lowest snowpack year and still have tons of fun. And after you’ve skied and snowboarded for so many years, snow kiting is a completely new thing to do in the mountains.”.

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By Than Acuff

in 3D

Jessie Dean

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Garrett Pierson (left) and Prawit Durgan tackle a paper-bridge design challenge.

Crested Butte students learn science and math by engineering their own solutions to real-world problems. Crested Butte Community School (CBCS) teacher Todd Wasinger this fall took the helm of a room full of 24 new desktop computers, all with the capability to run three-dimensional systems, as well as a slew of robotics and automation kits. Every day, students file eagerly through the door to glimpse what’s happening next in Mr. Wasinger’s high-tech world. Wasinger, or Wassy, as some affectionately call him, heads a new elective curriculum at CBCS known as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) that has taken the nation’s schools by storm. While new programs can take some time generating interest, the STEM program exploded in its first year at CBCS, with close to half of the secondary students jumping in. “We have 101 students enrolled in the STEM program,” said CBCS Principal Stephanie Niemi. “For a first-year program, it’s amazing.” Five years ago, Niemi and the accountability committee began discussing the need for additional electives at the rapidly growing school. “Last year it became obvious: We were not going to have enough 12

electives for middle school and high school students,” she said. Rather than adding common electives, Niemi looked for something new and different. The push toward technology came from her father, who handed her an issue of WIRED magazine with a “truly fascinating” article about 3D printers. Niemi learned about a program offered at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and decided to take the bold step of bringing STEM to Crested Butte. As is often the case, money was the biggest hurdle. To do STEM right, the school needed the right tools, like sophisticated computers, software and automation equipment. As is often the case in small towns, word got around, and out of nowhere, a community member kicked in $20,000. The PTA then joined in to the tune of $25,000, and the school was almost halfway to the start-up cost of $100,000, which it eventually hit. “We squeezed blood out of a turnip to pull this off,” said Niemi. “I credit the parents and the community for funding it.” Wasinger added, “For our school district to have something like this is pretty remarkable.” After teaching secondary science for nine years, Wasinger abandoned his comfortable curriculum and jumped at the opportunity to run the STEM classes. “When I first heard about this program, I was really excited about this way of learning,” he said. “It’s exciting. I’m ready to

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develop new skills to teach in a new way.” The STEM program, he noted, not only prepares kids for college, but also introduces hands-on problem solving and offers a vocational training element. “We don’t really have vocational education,” explained Wasinger. “But through STEM, the students will learn how to use 3D software that they could use in a job. Even kids who don’t decide to go to college will have job training.” In class, students learn science, engineering and math content and then use that information to create their own solutions to problems. They start on computers to do the models and then transfer their designs into reality, with an amalgam of equipment at their disposal to test their ideas. These aren’t just flight-of-fancy creations, but real-world inventions with practical applications. Wasinger will have his students go through the design, test and construction phases to create mechanisms such as a freight elevator. “It’s pretty cool as a teacher, because I can teach them pulleys, gears, torque and gear ratios, and they can use that to build something,” he said. Wasinger introduced the students to the curriculum and the basics of engineering through a series of “Instant Challenges.” In the first week, the kids were given limited materials and time and asked to create something to test aerodynamic distance. “Some students remained ‘within the box’ and approached it from a paper-airplane point of view and found that didn’t work so well,” Wasinger said. “Other groups looked outside the box, and one middle school team built something that flew 60 feet before it ran into a wall. It probably would have flown a lot farther.” That’s what Wasinger was looking for: some failure and some success, both of which are a huge part of the STEM learning process. “I told them I’m excited to see them fail also,” he said. “Hopefully we’re cultivating an attitude that it’s okay to mess up and that will create opportunities to figure things out. Creativity unleashed.” The action will really take off in the second semester, when the students will dive into robotics, and, if continued fundraising is successful, have a three-dimensional printer to use in the classroom. “Kids need to be exposed to these 21st-century ideas,” Niemi said. “The STEM program will give students a good push in that direction. To be honest, I want to take the classes.”


Expect More. Expect More.




By Drew Holbrook


Xavier Fane

A new Nordic course, built with creativity and elbow grease, will be North America’s highest FIS-certified Nordic race venue. It was July at the Crested Butte Nordic Center, and at the end of each day, Director Keith Bauer returned to his office covered in dirt and sawdust, remnants of a hard day’s work. He was leading the construction of a world-class race course above town on what is known as the Bench. The course, set to debut with a Junior National Qualifier in December, promises to put Crested Butte on the map in the Nordic racing world, and it may see some of the country’s highest-level races. The course was built with limited funds thanks to the work of Bauer and his bargain crew, a ragtag bunch of Crested Butte Nordic employees and familiar faces from the Nordic Center, driving rented and borrowed heavy machinery, chainsawing, digging and hauling. “This is how these kinds of things get done,” one of them proclaimed. “Everybody chips in.” One of the crew, Austin Ross, is an expert on all things Nordic, having grown up racing in Steamboat and at Colby College, then coaching for the Main Winter Sports Center before being recruited by the Crested Butte Junior Nordic Team. Ross spent the summer 16

hauling wood, moving rocks, and most importantly, critiquing and tweaking the course. Despite his exhaustion, his eyes lit up when he talked about the course. “I can’t wait for winter. This course is going to be absolutely amazing.” It started in the summer of 2012 when Bauer decided to make some minor changes with the Nordic trails on the Bench. To get a professional opinion, he asked Andrew Kastning, who grew up skiing for the Crested Butte Nordic Team and is now the head Nordic coach for the University of Alaska Anchorage. As they tromped through the tall grass and sagebrush on the Bench, Kastning noticed a large hill that was only partially used by the existing trail. “Oh wow,” he said. “You guys may have an A climb over there.” “An A climb?” Bauer replied. “Yeah. You know what? You guys might be able to get this thing homologated!” “Homologated?” In the 1980s the International Federation of Skiing (FIS), the governing body of ski racing, made a rule that all FIS Nordic ski races had to be held on certified, “homologated” or standardized courses. In simple terms, each course had to ski well and be challenging. Really challenging. For many years, the FIS allowed the governing points body in the United States, the U.S. Ski Association (USSA), to hold races on nonhomologated courses. But in 2011, the FIS told USSA officials they had to play by the rules and have races only on homologated courses. The

problem: there weren’t many homologated courses in the United States. For homologation, the track must be at least six meters wide, have at least 150 meters of climbing over five kilometers, and have a minimum of one 30-meter A climb and three 10-meter B climbs. These climbs must be continuous, with a 6-12% grade. Thanks to a generous landowner who allowed the trail to switchback past the trail easement, Kastning was right; the hill works for a massive A climb, something that many Nordic areas lack because they don’t even have a big enough continuous hill. “This course is going to be hard,” said Ross. “We’re just over the required amount of climbs, but we’re at 8,900 feet elevation. This is going to be harder than almost any course near sea level.” By the end of July, the track was a 20-foot-wide Nordic highway; a smooth ribbon of freshly cleared earth playfully undulated through the woods. Rick Murray, Crested Butte Nordic board member, operated the dozer, smoothing and flattening the trail. “You’ll be able to ski on this thing with a light dusting of snow, maybe a heavy frost,” Murray joked. Indeed, the Nordic Center should be able to set track with only six inches of snow, making it an ideal earlyseason venue. In Ross’ estimation, the course has huge ramifications for the town of Crested Butte. “Keith’s timing couldn’t have been any better,” he said. “Last spring the governing body for junior racing in Colorado decided they will only hold races on homologated race courses. Right now, it’s just us along with Vail, Aspen and Steamboat.” Ross agreed to showcase the course by hosting a Junior National Qualifier in December that will double as an FIS points race. The event will attract juniors from around the state and seniors and masters from around the country. And that’s just the beginning. Ross stared into the distance and talked about hosting NCAA races and super tour (national pro circuit) races. “With this course, we are going to be legit, a premier Nordic racing destination,” he said. Homologation is one of many recent upgrades by Crested Butte Nordic. The nonprofit organization keeps its expanded 55 kilometers of trails pristine with a second, recently purchased snowcat that is housed in the new cat barn. Skiers and snowshoers can visit Crested Butte Nordic’s yurt and reserve spots for gourmet yurt dinners (




No place

By Erin English

like home

Courtesy of Gross Family

David and Sue Gross with children Jayne and Ben.

Thanks to the Gross family, the Gunnison Valley Special Needs Network helps others find the resources they need without leaving the valley. When David Gross and his wife Sue were told in 2009 that their four-year-old son Ben had autism — a second disability on top of the Down syndrome he was born with — they fled Crested Butte looking for answers they felt could only be found in the big city. The Grosses headed for the East Coast during spring break week to visit various private schools and to meet with a doctor who specializes in the relatively new dual diagnosis of autism and Down syndrome. It was an exploratory trip that turned into a long-term move. “We didn’t come back from spring break,” Gross said. “We moved to Massachusetts for a particular doctor, who has a center for every different type of special need you can imagine. I returned in July when our lease was up, packed and moved [our belongings] across the country.” What ensued was a three-year period of upheaval, which included talking with 18

doctors and researching facilities all over the U.S., a second move to Stuart, Florida, so Ben could attend a school for children with autism, and stretches of time when David worked as a builder in Texas, away from his family, to make ends meet. After much thought, and armed with an incredible amount of knowledge, the family circled back to Crested Butte — the place they never really wanted to leave — hoping to make things work on a second go-around. The Grosses missed the beauty and the people of Crested Butte and felt that those factors would benefit their son on a daily basis more than any special school or highly educated doctor located elsewhere. They officially returned in March of 2012, and now, a year and half later, they are thriving. Ben attends the Crested Butte Community School, and his younger sister goes to Miss Jenny’s preschool in Crested Butte South. The family sees a dual diagnosis

specialist at the Denver Children’s Hospital twice a year, but otherwise utilizes local resources for all of Ben’s needs. “It was a leap of faith, but we are glad we did it,” Gross said. “Everyone here, from the special education director to Ben’s fulltime aide, has been phenomenal.” Since they returned, Gross has made it his mission to promote Crested Butte as a desirable location to live for families with children who have disabilities. In addition to running his construction business, David Gross Fine Homes, he is founder and vice president of a new nonprofit organization called the Gunnison Valley Special Needs Network (GVSNN). “If a child has a special need — whether it is Down syndrome or another diagnosis — the goal is for the family to stay and thrive here, instead of running away,” Gross said. Three children who have Down syndrome live in the Gunnison Valley, including Ben, and Gross has enlisted the help of those children’s parents to get his organization off the ground. Stormy Cochran of Gunnison serves as president of the GVSNN and Kim Hanna of Crested Butte as treasurer/secretary. All three parents are huge advocates for their children who hope to offer the world to the 100-plus local children who have special needs. “We have big dreams and are going to make them happen,” Cochran said. When the school year kicked off, the GVSNN hosted its first major event, a disability-information fair featuring guest speakers and local organizations, which they deemed a success. Moving forward, the GVSNN will focus on connecting families with disability resources, raising funds for scholarships and special equipment for local children, and providing social opportunities for families. Cochran and Gross also imagine one day opening a GVSNN residential camp in the Elk Mountains for children with disabilities. In the end, Gross said he believes everything happens for a reason — and he’s glad to exchange what he calls an “emotionally draining” few years for a stable, relaxed lifestyle in a town his whole family loves. “It was heartbreaking to leave,” Gross said. “The community of Crested Butte is the real reason we moved back. We knew the people who lived here would look after Ben.”



By Dawne Belloise


A Costa Rican treehouse community expands the reach of Western’s new environmental Masters degree. Imagine doing schoolwork in a Costa Rican treehouse, with bigbeaked birds and howler monkeys squawking from the jungle canopy around you. Those magnificent distractions might not be conducive to your studies – unless they were part of them, as in the Masters of Environmental Management (MEM) degree program that will start next summer through Western State Colorado University (Western). The connection between a Colorado university and a Costa Rican sustainable treehouse community came through Erica and Matt Hogan, Western alumni and former Crested Butte residents. They purchased rainforest property in 2006 to create their dream community. Finca Bellavista has since expanded to 600 acres, with 52 of the 91 building lots sold, and its award-winning environmental sustainability concept has attracted more media exposure than you can shake a jungle vine at. (A sampling: the Finca has been featured on Animal Planet, Fox News, CCTV, Yahoo, CNN, the American Eagle Outfitters 2011 ad campaign, and international press from Germany to Australia.) Finca Bellavista currently has five true treehouses and 26 structures which are stilt built, with connecting ziplines and bridges through the rainforest greenery. All construction must be in accordance with 23 pages of guidelines to maintain the community’s aerial character 20

James Lozeau

Finca Bellavista: When’s the last time you had this much fun going to school?

and minimize impact to the animals’ terrestrial migration below. Though they’re still in the building stage, the Hogans reported, “There’s been a lot of progress to get Finca Bellavista ‘off the ground’ since its inception. Our base camp is complete and has a sprawling community complex with a dining hall, an open-air lounge, a rancho, a bath house, a campfire ring and a wedding garden. Nearly half of the community’s SkyTrail transportation network is up and running, offering stunning canopy and pristine river corridor views. Tree homes are starting to speckle the skyline, and a handful of cabinas and treehouses are ready for rentals and tours. There are quite a few owners in various stages of creating and building tree

665 Red Mountain Ranch Rd 36.6 Acres | $850,000

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• UPSTAIRS • On the corner of 3 and Elk Avenue • 970-349-6731 • “If you can’t find it here, we sold it yesterday!” rd

GREATEST TOYS AND GAMES ON EARTH! On the corner of 3rd & Elk Avenue

970-349-6539 Est. 1977

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homes, bringing lots of new energy and excitement to this growing neighborhood.” The community is named after Rio Bellavista, which flows through the middle of it, and for the breathtaking vistas of the south Pacific coastal region of Costa Rica. It’s no fancy, full-service spa or hotel or canopy tour; it’s “pura vida” at its elemental finest. And soon it will become a central global classroom for students choosing the lowresidency option in Western’s MEM. Erica graduated from Western in 2000 with a communications major and environmental minor; Matt earned his double major in business and recreation and outdoor education in 2002. They consider Western a hub for experiential learning, which is unique in the four-year university realm. Dr. John Hausdoerffer, head of Western’s MEM studies, is now recruiting for the program, which will begin in the summer of 2014. Students can choose from two tracks: Integrative Land Management or Sustainable and Resilient Communities. In the first year, students will complete the core interdisciplinary courses and then develop their own Masters projects. Those projects may be based in Gunnison, with environmental organizations across the country, or take students as far as the rainforest of Finca Bellavista. At Finca, one student might want to analyze the reforestation of species that have been obliterated by slash-and-burn agriculture; another student might want to enhance the green business practices of Finca; while yet another might help develop environmental education curriculum to extend Finca’s community outreach efforts in Costa Rica – all as part of the same interdisciplinary Masters. Matt and Erica envision an environmental think tank developing that will eventually create partnerships that reach far beyond Gunnison County. Both are delighted to help expand the reach of their alma mater. “I’ve constantly fallen back on the unique education I received at Western,” Erica said. “Fate kept throwing curveballs our way, but Matt and I learned to be independent thinkers at Western. As alumni, we’re trying to help expand and facilitate that growth for other students.”



Downtown Crested Butte

(next to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory)

970-349-6277 22

For information about the Hogans’ Costa Rican community, see Find out about Western’s Masters of Environmental Management programs at or through its director at

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If you demand the best, consider this recently built (2010) 4 bedroom, 4.5 bathroom luxurious mountain retreat located in the Club at Crested Butte and Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course. Sophisticated mountain style with an integrity of craftsmanship rarely found.

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360˚ Mountain Views • $1,095,000 Majestic 3,616 sq. ft. home with caretaker apartment, 2 bay garage on 1.58 acres bordering 5+ acres of protected open space with unobstructed mountain views. Successful vacation rental. “Do you believe in dreams?? M My wife, ifi CCarla, l andd I do, d thanks t k to th t Premier Mountain Properties. We commend your company for providing excellent guidance during our recent home purchase. We highly recommend you to anyone considering relocating to Gunnison or Crested Butte.”

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Tanya Santiago 617.320.6608 BROKER ASSOCIATE/REALTOR®


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970.349.6114 • 318 Elk Avenue • Box 1081 • Crested Butte, Colorado 81224 All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

Safely sighting

By Dawne Belloise


Matt Berglund

Admire them, yes, but don’t mess with the moose. Hiking your favorite paradise this summer, you might have witnessed on-the-hoof proof of Colorado’s moose repopulation. If you caught sight of this majestic animal, standing thigh high in a lake, his head raising and water spilling from his antlers like glass beads in the sun, you probably did what the rest of us did: froze in a breathless moment of awe. Twenty years ago, a moose would have been a rare sight. But the leggy, long-schnozzed animals are back and thriving, thanks to efforts by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to reintroduce them beginning in the Walden area in 1978. At one time, before pioneers settled the West and chased them out, moose were native to Colorado’s mountains. Now there are about 2,500 statewide. Moose have broad, flat antlers that can reach up to five feet across and weigh over fifty pounds. That’s a lot of bling to haul around, but they shed the antlers in early winter to be regenerated each year. Tall, dark and hefty, moose can weigh 1,500 pounds, stand six feet tall at the shoulder, and stretch nine and a half feet long (their tails account for only four inches of that). Their stilt-like legs enable them to wade deep into those scenic lakes so they can eat underwater plants; they also eat grasses, forbs and bushes. In the winter, they paw through deep snow for food (like willow branches and coniferous needles) and consume about 11 pounds a day, doubling that in the summer to 24 pounds. Moose are mainly solitary animals, or they may occasionally roam in small groups rather than large herds. Extremely territorial, a moose 24

will defend his ground to the point that he’ll severely injure or kill, which means that you, and your dog, don’t want to mess with a moose. Moose have no natural predators, they are not afraid of you in the least, and they can outrun you unless you can top fifty miles per hour. So stay well clear and use that telephoto lens for your milliondollar shot. An irritated moose may lick its snout, cock its head, raise the hair on its neck, roll its eyes or lay its ears back. If you’re close enough to see that, the moose will likely feel you’re being too up close and personal. Back off, slowly, in the direction from which you came, and pray the moose accepts your retreat as an act of submission. If not, may you be a skillful tree climber. Moose have been spotted in or around Peanut Lake, Grant Lake/ Skyland, Gothic, Kebler Pass, Irwin, Cottonwood Pass, Peeler Lake and Crested Butte South. An estimated 20 moose live in Taylor Park. Adult moose typically stake out their territory and stay there all year, though they may wander lower for better feeding opportunities. Young males, chased away by their elders, can venture up to 200 miles. A moose overwintered in the East River valley above Gothic last year, making its way through the deep snow to willows and water. Two young cow moose appeared in Gothic in June. Biologists at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory there suspect that increasing Colorado moose populations are prompting the animals to move about more, and milder winters are allowing them to live year-round at higher elevations. Your chances of seeing a moose around Crested Butte are increasing each year. Just remember to use caution and binoculars. They are sights to behold, from a distance. To learn more about Colorado’s cervid (moose) craze, visit


Professional Custom Home Builder

New Construction

Remodel & Historic Renovations

Photos Bob Brazell

Johnny Biggers General Contractor 970-349-5990 970-209-3261

Helping water

By George Sibley

do its work

The Nature Conservancy seeks to restore our watershed resilience one little stream at a time. Climate change presents the Upper Gunnison valley – along with the rest of the planet – with a tricky challenge: how do we prepare for changes when we can’t be sure what they’ll be? Recent studies based on global climate modeling show that we’re either going to get a lot less water from nature, or maybe a little more, or (most likely) broad fluctuations between those, with a longterm tendency toward less. The past two decades support this: strong fluctuations (look at 2011 compared to 2012) with about ten percent less water 1990-2010 than the 20th-century average. How do we get ready here in the headwaters of the Colorado River Basin (plus extensions like Denver), with some 35 million city-dwellers and the farmers of more than four million acres of land dependent on water that starts here? The managers of the public lands (four-fifths of the Upper Gunnison watersheds) are concluding that we must first try to maintain or restore the health of the land and its living systems. A Forest Service research report called it “focusing management actions on improving and sustaining watershed resilience.” At this point, a private-sector organization is leading the way in strengthening Gunnison County’s watershed resilience: The 26

Photos Betsy Neely

Bill Zeedyk and TNC crews do some “humble” watershed management.

Nature Conservancy (TNC), an organization usually associated with the purchase of private lands to convert them to environmentenhancing purposes. Betsy Neely, senior conservation planner for Colorado’s TNC chapter, is leading a project to improve problematic stream courses in our valleys. These streams have “gullied out” due to overgrazing or ineffective watershed management, or extreme weather events, or (usually) a combination of both. A stream that turns into a gully tears up a watershed, but it also changes the ecosystem from wet to dry by lowering the water table. Among other problems, this changes animal habitats and contributes to situations like the potential endangered status of the Gunnison sage grouse.


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Photo: Matt Berglund

Neely set her TNC project in action with a 2009 workshop that brought together representatives from the local, state and federal land and resource management agencies, local and regional educators, and other interested parties. The workshop focused on three conservation targets: sage grouse habitat, Gunnison River headwaters and alpine wetlands. The strategy that emerged was to develop ways to restore the watersheds’ ability to soak up and hold whatever precipitation fell, whether it was chronically too little or occasionally too much. This meant dealing with gullies and other deteriorations. For specific tactics, Neely turned to an old man who has spent much of his life learning “how water works.” Bill Zeedyk is a retired Forest Service ranger with a second career teaching people how streams make their way through healthy landscapes, what happens when streams begin to tear up a landscape, and how to reverse that through raising streambeds and reconstructing meandering flows in gullied areas. Zeedyk’s cumulative wisdom is collected in a book, Let the Water Do the Work. Neely and Zeedyk have been in the Upper Gunnison a number of times since 2009 and have stream restoration projects going on ranchland up Ohio and Cebolla creeks. In a culture that usually works with bulldozers, Zeedyk’s waterworks look small and insignificant – little damlets one rock high in gullying areas, or a weave of small trees laid down with branches pointing upstream to catch silt and nudge the water to wander rather than ripping straight down the slope. Success with one year’s structures will mean more small structures the next year, until someday a gully will be replaced by a meandering stream with a high water table again nurturing a wet ecosystem. “We have to be a little humble,” said Zeedyk. The water does not do all of the work, of course, and Zeedyk and Neely frequently work with young people from the Western Colorado Conservation Corps, an Americorps program for college students, and with volunteers from the university and community. It is labor-intensive work. For this to succeed, valley inhabitants will need to take over the work from The Nature Conservancy; it will need to become an ingrained part of what we do to keep the land healthy, resilient and more prepared for whatever climate change brings us.

Open daily 8 am – 6 pm Mountaineer Square Courtyard (970) 349-4045 27

The ups and downs

By Dawne Belloise

of skimo

Kevin Krill

2012 ISMF North American Ski Mountaineering Championships on Crested Butte Mountain.

Local lungs and legs are rocking the ski mountaineering race world. Though ski mountaineering competitions are a long and strong tradition in Europe, the sport took hold in America only in the past decade, and Crested Butte has become one of its hotspots. The small U.S. Ski Mountaineering Team typically includes multiple local residents. In December, Irwin will host the first International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF) race of the season, and in March, Crested Butte Mountain Resort will hold the U.S. Ski Mountaineering National Championships. Crested Butte’s women have already graced the national podium many times. Last year Janelle Smiley took first and Jari Kirkland second at the National Championships in Jackson, Wyoming. Smiley won the North American title in 2012, with Stevie Kremer, a Crested Butte second-grade teacher, in third. Smiley, Kirkand and Kremer have all raced well at the Worlds, even against veteran international competitors. On the men’s side, Brian Smith, Bryan Wickenhauser, Jon Brown and Marshall Thomson from the Crested Butte-Gunnison area have been strong contenders. Thomson, who has won several ski mountaineering events, including the Teva Mountain Games, took third in the 2013 Nationals and competed in the World Championships in France last February. Thomson and Kremer then won the co-ed title in Italy’s 28

legendary and grueling Trofeo Mezzalama last April. In ski mountaineering (or “skimo”) competitions, racers ascend, descend and traverse multiple mountainsides over rock, snow, ice or glacier. Using skins and crampons to climb, the racers carry beacons, probes and shovels as well as backpacks with food and water. Janelle Smiley (whose husband, Mark, is also a successful skimo racer) said ski mountaineering “combines climbing, skiing and this speed element. It requires technique, ski ability, fitness and mental fortitude…a perfect sport, really.” The competitions began in Europe to test the abilities of soldiers, Wickenhauser explained. “It started with the military protecting borders on skis in the Alps, and to boost the troop morale, they started competitions and climbing up to the top of the borders to keep in shape.” The first civilian races began in the 1920s. In America, the growing sport is predominantly based in the Rocky Mountains. The Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme is attempting to make ski mountaineering, by itself, part of the 2018 Olympic Games. Team Crested Butte came together eight years ago, Wickenhauser said, after the creation of the Colorado Ski Mountaineering Cup (COSMIC) series. “So many people here are so passionate about the backcountry and ski touring. That’s why I think the Crested Butte-Gunnison valley gets a lot of recognition,” he said. “We have a large pool of fit athletes, and it’s natural that some of them would be fast. We have

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a strong culture of ski touring around here, starting with Al Johnson [an 1800s backcountry skiing mail carrier who’s immortalized through the annual Al Johnson Uphill-Downhill Telemark Ski Race].” This winter’s international ski mountaineering season will open Dec. 7 with the Irwin/La Sportiva competition above Lake Irwin west of Crested Butte (accessible only by snowcat, snowmobile or a long ski). Irwin’s snowy microclimate, often producing 600 inches of powder per year, makes it prime for an early-winter event. Racers will climb/ski 5,000 vertical feet over about ten miles, made up of three laps (recreational participants will do two laps). La Sportiva President Jonathan Lantz commented, “Irwin shows off what the ski mountaineering scene is all about… with a gorgeous mountain setting, a tough course, and top athletes from all over the country chasing the podium.” In mid March, racers will vie for the National Championships on the slopes of Crested Butte Mountain. Last year’s skimo race on Crested Butte was rerouted due to low snow, but in the 2014 championships, racers will

likely face technical, roped climbs on the rocky crags of Guides Ridge and then speed down the steeps of the Extreme Limits terrain. “If we can pull off the whole planned course, it will be a world-class ski mountaineering event,” Wickenhauser said. Through his racing, Wickenhauser has scouted some wicked courses, like the Trofeo Mezzalama, a race across northwestern Italy known for pushing the racers’ technical abilities. “It puts the ‘mountaineering’ back into ski mountaineering,” Wickenhauser said of the race, which he entered with teammates Eric Sullivan and Mike Haney. Though Crested Butte only recently began hosting official ISMF events, it has a long tradition of uphill-downhill ski races. The Al Johnson telemark race (and costume extravaganza) was eventually out-grueled by the Grand Traverse, a 40-mile overnight ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen. Skiers also test lungs and legs on the backcountry Gothic Mountain Tour and the local randonee race series (a more light-weight version of uphillKevin Krill downhill skiing). Crested Butte Mountain Resort, embracing the idea that many are choosing to skin up the mountain, offers an uphill-only ski pass (no chairlifts).




and demo center

(970) 349-2211 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

RIDE Wide selection of alpine skis and snowboards for all abilities.


(970) 349-2278 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.





Photo: Nathan Bilow

find your true

Raynor Czerwinski

The official real estate brokerage of Crested Butte Mountain Resort offers unique benefits for sellers and buyers. For sellers, we offer unsurpassed access to new buyers through past and present guests, an exclusive on-mountain office located in the heart of the base area and unparalleled marketing for any property on or off the slopes – an approach that drives results. For buyers, stop by our convenient slopeside office or contact us today to explore opportunities throughout the entire valley.

Doug Duryea Managing Broker/Realtor 970-275-2355


Meg Brethauer Broker Associate 970-209-1210

Cindy Ervin Broker Associate 970-209-5233

Located in The Lodge at Mountaineer Square

Colette Kraatz Broker Associate 970-376-7304

Don Turk Broker Associate 970-209-5822

A task of Olympic

By Sandy Fails


As the United States’ chief medical officer for the 2014 Olympics, Dr. Gloria Beim says she’s “ready for anything.” The day Dr. Gloria Beim was named the U.S. Olympic Team’s chief medical officer (CMO) for the 2014 Olympics, she 1) jumped for joy, and 2) started studying Russian. She’s scarcely stopped moving since then. In September, Beim and two other medical team members scoped out the Russian venues, started on-the-ground organizing for their clinics and pharmacy, and began wading through administrative procedures and athlete medical histories. The logistical challenges are daunting (from transportation to uncertain Internet access), and Beim thrives on them. Once the Olympics begin on February 7, “I’m going to be everywhere,” Beim said. She’ll oversee three clinics and 50 health care professionals across many disciplines, from chiropractors to sports nutritionists. They’ll be prepared to treat everything from stomach flu to on-course injuries to large-scale emergencies. After working as a physician at five U.S. Olympic Committee events (the summer Olympics, Pan Am and World University Games), Beim has gained the athletes’ respect and trust. That, along with her boundless energy, patience, ability to multi-task, and willingness to pitch in, earned her the CMO job. “You’re going 18 to 20 hours a day for four weeks, and you have to be at the top of your game the whole time,” she said. “You also have to be a team player. I’m happy to sweep the floor, schlep luggage or equipment, whatever needs to happen. The medical people who sit in the corner waiting for someone to get hurt don’t get asked back.” Though she loved the summer Olympics, Beim said, “Winter is 32

Nathan Bilow

Dr. Gloria Beim and husband Erik Klemme with children Jakob and Skylar.

my passion.” A former hockey player, avid skier and orthopedist in the winter wonderland of Crested Butte and Gunnison, she added, “I’ll be able to use my own experience from working here, treating chronic problems and traumatic injuries.” The mingling of medics at world games allows Beim to trade knowledge with international colleagues. In 2011, she learned about diagnostic ultrasound and immediately incorporated the technique into her home practice, Alpine Orthopaedics. “The U.S. has the best medical technology in the world,” she said, “but other countries have things to teach us, too.” Beim already has a storehouse of Olympic memories, some of which have little to do with medicine. In Athens in 2004, she was the U.S. doctor on duty for a Judo match. When the judge disallowed a patch on the American athlete’s gi (Judo outfit), Beim found herself deftly suturing not a skin laceration but a square of fabric (ripped from her own white shirt) over the gi patch within the short time allowed. The athlete was permitted to compete – and won. Beim also served as the chief medical officer for the 2011 Pan Am Games. When a gymnast broke her patella three days before her event, people assumed she was out of luck. But the medical team went to work – using acupuncture, ultrasound, physical therapy and other modalities. Three days later, the woman not only participated in the event, but won it – and joined the Olympic team. Though it’s impossible to predict the scenarios that will face her in Sochi, Beim has spent countless hours studying, planning, and practicing her Russian. “I’m ready for anything,” she said.


Other Olympic veterans and hopefuls

"Take your real estate above and beyond "

Nathan Bilow

Freeskiing halfpipe contender Aaron Blunck.

The valley’s longest-running Olympic participant goes not to compete but to photograph. One of 82 American photographers credentialed by the Olympic committee, Nathan Bilow has ten Olympics (and countless world championships) under his belt. Bilow’s first was the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal, photographing for Eastman Kodak and several high-level publications. His work has been featured in Newsweek, Time, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and other publications. “The Olympics are crazy,” he said. “There are thousands of athletes everywhere. The opening ceremony is incredible – athletes from countries you never heard of.” The valley’s biggest athletic hopeful for the 2014 Olympics is freestyle skier Aaron Blunck, 17. Blunck grew up in Crested Butte (grandson of Robel Straubhaar, who founded Crested Butte’s ski school) and now attends Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy. He’s one of the top American contenders in freeskiing halfpipe, making its debut as an Olympic sport in 2014. Blunck will find out in January whether he’s one of the four American Olympians in that event. Meanwhile, he’s “working hard and staying humble,” said his mom, Lisa Blunck. PAST OLYMPIANS. The valley has had a disproportionate number of Olympians over the years. In the 2012 Summer Olympics, Emma Coburn proved to be the world’s ninth fastest woman in the steeplechase. Here’s a sampling of other local Olympians: Susan de Mattei, mountain biking; Rebecca Dussault, cross-country skiing; Wendy Fisher, alpine skiing; Jim Harlan, Paralympic handcycling; Nordic skier Jenny Stillo, the first Honduran winter Olympian; brothers Chris and Casey Puckett, alpine skiing; biathlete Josh Thompson; Ingrid Butts, cross-country skiing; and Jean Gaertner, the first woman to compete in the Olympics in two unrelated sports (high jump in 1960 and volleyball in 1964).

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b 33

After a tragic

By Erin English

avalanche, generosity snowballs

Wendy Chatham

Ian Lamphere in 2012 with Elizabeth and baby Madelyn.

Honoring her late fiancé, Elizabeth Lamphere created the IAN fund for families of avalanche victims. As Elizabeth Lamphere struggled to process the death of her fiancé Ian in the days following a backcountry avalanche on Colorado’s Loveland Pass, she often slipped into a state of denial. But even in the darkest hours, she was never completely lost. She knew she had to find the strength to provide for her infant daughter Madelyn. She needed to make Ian proud by moving forward with her life. And she had to start a nonprofit to help the families of other people killed in avalanches. Call it foreshadowing, premonition or coincidence, but Ian himself had made the suggestion just three days before he died. “It was a comment made out of the blue,” Elizabeth said. “Ian was in our office loft and he said, ‘Bubbee, I have a great idea. We should start a nonprofit to benefit the children of avalanche victims.’ There was no further discussion.” On Saturday, April 20, 2013, Crested Butte resident Ian Lamphere and five other men were caught in Colorado’s deadliest avalanche since 1962. Only one of the six skiers and snowboarders made it out alive. Ryan Novak, another Crested Butte man, also perished in the slide. 34

As word spread of the tragedy, locals flocked to support those closest to the two men. Especially heartbreaking was the story of the beautiful nine-month-old girl who had lost her father. People who knew the family, and even those who didn’t, scrambled to help. Mimi Chatwood, owner of Bliss Chiropractic, said, “Ian was a good human being, and he was so involved with that little girl. I thought, ‘I need to step up for this family.’” On a designated day, she gave all earnings from Bliss Chiropractic to Madelyn and Elizabeth, who has taken Lamphere as her last name. Some people stopped by just to give donations. “I’ve never seen such a cluster of good people in my life,” Elizabeth said. “When we arrived back to our house, we had meals brought to us, our fridge was stocked with food, and people were coming over all the time. It’s humbling to know that so many people are thinking of you. I don’t think that happens everywhere.” Within days, one of Ian’s family members started a fundraising campaign for Madelyn on the website, and quickly the goal was exceeded. “We had 670 people who donated to Madelyn’s fund,” Elizabeth said. “Our goal was $5,000, and $43,000 was raised. It tapped into a beautiful reality that everyone wants to help. It’s a great way to start the healing process, to restore your faith in humanity.” The generosity confirmed for Elizabeth what she was destined to do: with the help of friends and family of Ian’s, she would raise funds and

Warren Jones

Elizabeth and Madelyn Lamphere.

rally community support for individuals in situations similar to her own. A few days after Ian’s funeral, she started thinking of a name for the nonprofit, and the International Avalanche Nest-Egg (IAN) was born. Its mission is two-fold: to provide immediate and long-term financial support for the children and families of avalanche victims, and to foster a community spirit surrounding this type of tragedy. IAN will help families with expenses that accrue in the first six

months after an avalanche fatality, such as plane tickets for relative visits, funeral fees, and food and housing costs. Over time, IAN may also help address long-term needs for children left behind, like college fund contributions. Just months after the avalanche, Elizabeth and the IAN team had assembled an impressive list of sponsors, held a kick-off party in Vermont (Ian’s home state), launched a website, and planned several speaking engagements to spread the word about the nonprofit. “Instead of paying a psychologist, I’m doing this,” Elizabeth said. “Putting my energy into something positive is how I’m coping.” Local residents like Mike Horn, editor-at-large for Backcountry Magazine, agree a support system like IAN is much needed in the backcountry community. “When you lose someone to an avalanche, it’s a traumatic experience,” he said. “And while the incident itself is overwhelming, the aftermath – when the dust settles – is also an incredibly challenging time for the families of the victims.” As Elizabeth navigates her own aftermath, she’s grown to accept that the love of her life, the fun-loving man who outfitted their daughter’s Chariot with fat powder skis, is gone. But he won’t be forgotten. Through the ski community, their Crested Butte and Vermont friends, and little Madelyn, his spirit continues. Elizabeth recalled, “Ian would say, ‘I’m not going to do anything stupid now that I have a child.’ I’m not angry at him, because he didn’t do anything stupid. The whole avalanche thing was so crazy and unpredictable. No matter how experienced, prepared or clever you are, Mother Nature can always surprise you.” To contribute or find out more about the International Avalanche Nest-Egg, visit

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Gary Pierson, dean of students at Western State Colorado University, pedals for glory in the inaugural 2013 Crested Butte Fat Bike Race. 38


SNOW-FRIENDLY, BALLOON-TIRED FAT BIKES MAKE CYCLING A FOUR-SEASON SPORT. The streets of Crested Butte lay covered in snow, awaiting the next day’s famous Alley Loop Nordic Ski Race. But on that afternoon, instead of skiers, a fleet of monstrous mountain bikes littered Elk Avenue, their riders lined up 100 feet back, ready to embark on a Le Mans start and a 90-minute bike race on snow. These weren’t the normal mountain bikes seen around Crested Butte in the summer; they were so-called “fat bikes,” part of a trend toward riding bicycles in all conditions, including snow. As the gun went off, riders sprinted toward their bikes, jumped on their saddles, and attacked their first loop, including a climb up Old Kebler Pass Road and out the Red Lady Loop. Some cyclists chose to race solo and some formed relay teams, trading off the bike with each lap, but everyone was ready for a good time. The crashes came fast and furious as many fat bike newbies learned how to handle the bikes on off-camber turns and steep downhills in the soft snow, but afterwards the racers and organizers proclaimed the event an astounding success. As was expected, many of the fat bike racers showed up the following morning to contest the same course on skis.

Xavier Fané


improved fat bike technology, is the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a 350- or 1000-mile trek across Alaska from the small town of Knik to either McGrath or Nome. While early competitors used normal mountain bikes with traditional tires, the push soon came to widen tires and rims and make new frames to fit them. Fat bikes have gained popularity over the past couple of years as tire manufacturers have come out with a variety of tires. Frames have to be specially designed to fit the extra width, and improvements in frame geometry and decreases in prices have brought the bikes into the mainstream. These frames have extra wide forks and rear triangles to accommodate the massive tires, and other small changes make all the parts work together smoothly. For cold-weather riding, these bikes are normally outfitted with bar mitts to help keep hands warm when the temperatures plunge well below freezing. While many people worry about being cold while riding in the winter, they soon realize that the aerobic effort needed to power these bikes through snow will generally keep them warm if they dress in traditional Nordic ski wear.

FAT BIKE PARADISE For most people, the onset of snow in the Gunnison Valley traditionally meant hanging up the bike and bringing out the skis. This mentality is slowly changing as people discover fat bikes as an alternative mode of winter recreation. While Crested Butte’s groomed Nordic trails aren’t open to bikes on a regular basis, the valley boasts many areas to ride throughout the winter. With many valleys open to snowmobile traffic and several groomed areas that are not part of the Crested Butte Nordic Center trail system, the county has endless miles to explore on a fat bike when the conditions are right. Xavier Fané Ideal snow conditions consist of firm surfaces, most likely found in the morning before the sun The Fat Bike Race followed part of the course for the next day’s Alley Loop Nordic Marathon. has softened the top snow layer. Roads such as Kebler Pass are idea for fat bikes because of their gentle grade A HISTORY OF SUPER-FAT TIRES and frequent grooming by snowmobile clubs. While the presence Initially developed in Alaska, fat bikes first gained popularity in the of snowmobile tracks makes the riding more challenging, it’s not snowy climates of the north. Built specifically to ride on snow, the impossible, especially if there hasn’t been much fresh snow. Slate bikes needed maximum-width tires for flotation on soft surfaces. River, Brush Creek and Cement Creek roads are also excellent places Currently, fat tires are mounted on rims two to three times wider to take the bikes because of the consistent snowmobile traffic that than normal mountain bike rims, and the tires range from 3.7 to keeps the snow packed. For non-motorized areas, the groomed 4.8 inches wide. In comparison, a normal mountain bike tire is Snodgrass Trail is a local favorite, and some who are looking for a about two inches wide. These fat tires can be run at extremely low challenge will even ride their bikes up the service road at the ski pressures, which allows them to float on top of snow and sand without sinking and getting stuck. While they do have some flotation resort before and after chairlift hours. Down the valley in Gunnison, Hartman Rocks is regularly limitations, they can follow nearly any snowmobile track or groomed groomed for Nordic skiing, and bikes are allowed on these trails. The trail, as long as the snow isn’t too squishy. rolling terrain is ideally suited to bikes, and the regular traffic keeps Historically, only a handful of races have been contested on fat the trails packed. Also, cold temperatures keep the snow firmer for bikes in the snow. The most famous of these, and the catalyst for 40

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As with mountain biking, it was just a matter of time until people wanted to do more than ride fat bikes; they wanted to race them. Opportunities to race fat bikes around the state have exploded in the past three years. What started as a fringe sport in areas of Alaska and Minnesota is taking off throughout the snowy western states, with Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming leading the charge. The northeast is also starting to embrace the sport, with the Noquemanon Marathon in Michigan declaring itself the Snow Bike World Championships. As Nordic trail system operators sense the opportunity to expand their customer base, snow bikes are being allowed on an increasing number of trails nationwide, mostly those open to dogs as well. These trails require a tire that is 3.7 inches wide or larger to reduce the damage done to the trails. The largest fat bike race series in the state is hosted by the Leadville Cloud City Wheelers. Consisting of four races scattered throughout the area, including Leadville, Copper Mountain and Tennessee Pass, the series draws racers from around Colorado. New, single-day events such as Crested Butte’s are popping up. In Vail, the latest TEVA Mountain Games included both a fat bike criterium and a dual slalom event down the slopes. As in the other TEVA Mountain Game events, there was a cash payout that drew some of the top mountain bike racers in the state. Last year’s Fat Bike Race in Crested Butte, conceived by Dawn Passant and Tim Poppe and organized by Elk Mountain Events, will return on January 31 this winter, again on the eve of the Alley Loop.


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There’s nothing complicated about riding a fat bike. In fact, with the right snow conditions and a bit of practice by the rider, the bike can climb steep snowy slopes like a regular mountain bike climbs dirt, and the snow breaks any falls on the descents. Now that several local shops carry these bikes, it’s easier than ever to try out a new winter alternative. In time, Crested Butte may become more than a skiers’ paradise in the winter – bikes might have their place in the snow, too.



By Rachael Gardner Photos by Alison White Over the years, members of the Family Hartigan have donned a dozen different metaphorical hats: as restaurateur, massage therapist, commercial hood cleaner, KBUT DJ, youth hockey coach, hospice volunteer, bartender, raft guide, Reiki practitioner, preschool teacher, banquet staff and, last but certainly not least, parent. Originally from Kansas City, brothers Kevin and Sean are the youngest of the five Hartigan children. Given their close family ties, it’s not surprising that the brothers live in the same town and share a business, The Last Steep. But though the two might be cut from the same cloth, that cloth is printed with two completely different patterns. Sean’s wife Sarah also hails from a tight-knit family. Originally from Atlanta, she thrives on heat and humidity, yet watching her bustle around The Last Steep or cuddle her preschool students, it’s hard to imagine her anywhere but here. “I was only supposed to be here for a year,” she said. Like most of our community members, she came to play and never intended to stay. The story line isn’t much different for the Hartigan brothers. Sean discovered Crested Butte first through an invitation from friend and fellow raft guide Jason Lee. At the time, Sean and Jason were working for River Runners in Buena Vista. They took advantage of a day off and arrived in town for the George Porter, Jr. and Merl Saunders show at Rafters (which in its heyday booked some big-name acts, but has since been demolished). On that Monday, August 15, 1994, Sean strolled the picturesque town, watched the hanggliders coasting from the peak, and knew that Crested Butte’s vibe suited him.

The Hartigans: Sean with his wife Sarah, their sons Luke and Brendan, and brother/partner Kevin. 43

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Sarah at her preschool; soccer-dad Sean; and Kevin with daughter Ruby.

One of his first experiences that day echoed the lyrics of a Kenny Chesney song. Sean arrived at the old Brick Oven deck barefoot and shirtless and was served without a second glance. “No shoes, no shirt, no problem.” Over the next few years, Sean settled into a routine of Buena Vista raft guide by summer and Crested Butte bartender by winter. In the winter of 1997-98, he took up residence in Crested Butte full time. The word “residence” being used loosely: Sean’s new digs consisted of eight men, four teepees and a lot of snow somewhere off Kebler Pass. “Those things were nice!” said long-time friend and former teepee mate Erik Suazo. “Nice” meant carpet floors and woodburning stoves. For plumbing, most inhabitants of this teepee village relied on the great outdoors. Sean didn’t enjoy venturing out at night, so he kept what Erik referred to as the “pee bucket.” “It mostly froze at night, so it was okay,” Erik said in defense of the practice, and further justified: “Sean was older than us. He had to go to the bathroom more often.” When the young men weren’t quaffing brews at the Talk of the Town or clamoring for space on a buddy’s couch, climbing 30-foot trees and jumping into snowbanks sufficed as a good time. Yet another benefit of living in a teepee in the coldest town outside of Alaska. Before she became a Hartigan, Sarah Beck, a well-mannered young lady from the South, moved to town in 1997 and met Sean during her first shift at Rafters. It wasn’t love at first sight. They became great friends and remained so for years; perhaps Sean’s plumbing situation in the teepee village didn’t lend itself to romantic notions, at least on Sarah’s end. Sarah also became friends with Kevin, since she also bartended at Casey’s Restaurant where Kevin worked.

Sarah arrived from Atlanta with five years of teaching experience. “I did the real world first,” she pointed out with a laugh. Encouraged to spend a summer away from the Atlanta heat, Sarah was convinced by then neighbor and now local Adam Olmstead to cool off in the mountain air of Crested Butte. Entranced by a Crested Butte summer, Sarah decided to take a break from teaching and stay to ski for just one winter. Sixteen years later, she sat at her kitchen table and smiled, thinking how one winter turned into a lifetime. “So many things happened; it’s hard to say one thing was the reason,” she said. Ashley and Jackie Burt, also from Atlanta, were preparing to move and contacted Sarah regarding the purchase of their Crested Butte South house. The home included a small day care, and the Burts knew it was Sarah’s dream to operate her own. Within a month, the pieces had fallen into place – “like it was meant to be,” remembered Sarah. Sarah and Sean remained “just friends” until late one night in the Talk of the Town. Sean laid his confession on the table: he only had eyes for Sarah. As confessions are sometimes prematurely admitted in the Talk of the Town, Sarah wisely demanded next-day confirmation. She got it, along with a promise that she would not have to live in a teepee. While Sean and Sarah had found their places, Kevin wasn’t ready to settle down. He spent a few years doing what younger brothers do. He tried out college. He lived on the road for a year, following the Grateful Dead and then Phish. He re-grouped. He attended massage therapy school and began practicing in St. Louis. He took some epic road trips. “Basically, I ran out of money and needed a job,” Kevin said of his arrival in Gunnison in 1998 with little more than the 45

Berretta he drove and the U-Haul it pulled. Kevin stayed for the winter, earning his dollars at the Three Seasons Grocery, owned by Laura and Johnny Skelton, and Casey’s, a popular après spot operated by Crested Butte Mountain Resort. When winter ended, he was off again. In 2000, Sean asked Kevin to return and help him open The Last Steep. Even then, Kevin recalled, “I was only planning to stay a year.” Gradually, Crested Butte helped him make strong changes in his life. He attributes a lot of his inner stability and peace to the practice of Reiki energy work, which he began in 2002 at the Light Running School of Reiki. Over the years, Kevin said, Crested Butte “has provided a nurturing and sustainable place to become grounded to community and Spirit.” Community and family are one and the same for Kevin. Of the most important things in his life, his daughter Ruby (now eight), his sobriety and his sense of community top the list. In 2011, Kevin was named Vinotok’s Green Man, and that’s when he truly felt he had become part of the Crested Butte community. In a festival that can be laced with debauchery, his peers chose him to represent the spirit of

community, new growth and placing old grievances to rest. Being named a Green Man was an honor that touched Kevin and gave new meaning to making Crested Butte his home.

“I respected their work ethic so much and knew they would be a great addition to the Crested Butte community. They are everything you’d want your kids to be.” Other Hartigans have entered the picture as well. Kevin and Sean’s mother Georgine lived in Crested Butte for a while, and their older sister Shannon owns property here and visits often, jumping right in to help with the restaurant and family projects. Other family and childhood friends find their way to Crested Butte as well. Sean and Sarah have two children: Brendan, nine, and Luke, seven. Through the years, Kevin, Sean and Sarah have found a rhythm and a division of responsibilities that keeps life running smoothly at the restaurant and at home. This cohesiveness allows them each to pursue other work-related and recreational interests. But the three credit their employees and the

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Crested Butte community for their success. The restaurant business is a tough game in seasonal Crested Butte. So on the side, Sean operates a commercial hood-cleaning business, Sarah runs her preschool, and Kevin does Reiki and massage. These side jobs cushion the off-season finances and also feed them in other ways. Oddly enthusiastic about his hoodcleaning business, a dirty job that can only be executed in the middle of the night, Sean affectionately refers to his power washer as Greasy McGillicuddy. Sean had grown tired of the fly-by-night operators who came through town, charged a ton and did a poor job. In his usual spirit of jumping right in, he started his own business, which has expanded services all the way to New England, and got certified in wastewater management. When Sara started her preschool, her client roster read like a who’s who of Crested Butte business owners: Potaker, Garland, Divine, Pike, Sunter, Osmundson and Nichols. Those kids are grown up and now she lovingly cares for the children of a new generation of parents she is also proud to call friends. Two of her current students are the children of her old friend Adam, who initially

introduced her to Crested Butte. “It’s fun to see it come full circle,” she said with a smile. The Hartigans also contribute through volunteerism, such as Sean’s hockey coaching and Kevin’s weekly stint as a KBUT DJ. Through the restaurant, the Hartigans donate to about 100 events valley wide. Looking ahead, Kevin wants to do more service work outside of Crested Butte. When he mentioned some recent travels taken purely for relaxation, he said, “From now on, I want every trip I take to have a purpose.” Always looking for ways to better himself, Kevin noted that if he’s not thinking of others, he’s thinking of himself; he’d rather focus on the gratitude he feels toward the Crested Butte community and the locals who make his dreams a reality. Where does all this good energy and eagerness to help come from? Each Hartigan gives the same answer: “We had good parents.” Perhaps their parents would say they had good kids. Judy McGill, the building owner who provided the Hartigan brothers the opportunity to start The Last Steep, said, “I respected their work ethic so much and knew they would be a great addition to the Crested Butte community. They are everything you’d want your kids to be.”

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Crested Butte Search and Rescue volunteers invest brutal manual labor and long hours of training to help people and save lives. Their return on investment has nothing to do with money.


When Scott Krankkala stopped tumbling, he sprawled in semiconsciousness, his face bloody, body battered, and one foot pounding in pain. He lay in a treacherous, treeless rock field far from the nearest trail, with daylight dwindling. His one consolation: he knew the people who’d be coming to help. A member of Crested Butte Search and Rescue and formerly of Western State Colorado University’s Mountain Rescue, Krankkala had just pioneered a climbing route on the west face of Crested Butte Mountain with friend Mike Bromberg. Both the climb and the rappel back down had gone well. But when Krankkala scrambled up onto a ledge to retrieve a piece of gear, a section of rock came loose beneath his feet and slid off the edge, carrying him with it. He fell 25 feet to a small shelf, then cartwheeled more than a hundred feet down the steep scree below. By the time Krankkala came to his senses, Bromberg was already on his cell phone, calling in the best hands possible, their search and rescue teammates. “I had complete confidence in the team; I was pretty sure I was going to be okay,” Krankkala said. And so he was, after a rescue-byheadlamp that stretched long into the night. Serving an active population in mountainous terrain mostly unreachable by ambulance, Crested Butte Search and Rescue is an anomaly: small, all volunteer, with “probably the most qualified medical team in the state,” said long-time member and emergency medical technician (EMT) Bob Wojtalik. Team members include a physician assistant, four paramedics and a high percentage of volunteers certified in Advanced Life Support. Drawing from a community of outdoorspeople, the team has members with exceptional fitness and a huge diversity of skills, like high-angle and swift-water expertise, winter backcountry savvy, mechanical genius


and intimate familiarity with Crested Butte’s mountains. What’s missing from this picture is “alpha dogs,” Wojtalik said. “We’ve got the skills and leadership, but not the egos.” CBSAR veteran Erik Forsythe, now director of ambulance services for Gunnison Valley Health, said, “You’ve got these highpowered people with a high level of training who mesh easily with guys who know little but can carry heavy packs. We need everybody. There’s no room for ego; we’re there for the patient.” While large, urban search and rescue teams often have rankings and hierarchies, CBSAR remains informal. In a small town and even smaller climbing community, most members know and trust each other, and the team leaders can blend each person’s strengths in a rescue mission. CBSAR co-founder Ian Hatchett noted that every few years, when Mountain Rescue Association examiners put the team through test scenarios for recertification, “they always comment on how tight our team is. We’ve got each other’s backs.” Serving such a limited population, CBSAR gets less than three dozen calls in a typical year. But because the calls can involve extreme environmental challenges and occasionally make a life-ordeath difference, the team trains two or three times each month. Training covers search procedures, cliff/rock rescue, swift water, avalanche/beacon/probe, ice rescue, patient packaging, hypothermia and other extrication and medical techniques. There’s no charge for CBSAR’s services (but patients are responsible for the costs of medical helicopters or ambulances if those are called in). Missions typically begin with 911 calls to the Gunnison dispatcher, who contacts the sheriff, who pages out search and rescue. A team leader from CBSAR (or its sister group, Western’s Mountain Rescue in Gunnison) gets the page and sends out text

Crested Butte Search and Rescue members practice a high-angle evacuation.

Bob Wojtalik


Mark Ewing

CBSAR volunteers drill with Flight for Life and chill out after ice-rescue training.

Courtesy of CBSAR

messages to members. CBSAR has 40 volunteers on its roster, but typically six to twelve people are able to leave their jobs, parenting or other duties to meet at the equipment cache in the town bus barn. For involved scenarios, a second text goes out to volunteers, and Western might be paged for backup. Calls range from missing hikers (some of whom are later located at local bars) to sprained knees to backcountry body recoveries to critical injuries in precarious settings. “There’s nothing sexy about spending your Sunday carrying someone with a broken ankle eight miles out of Doctors Park – it’s just brutal manual labor,” said CBSAR President Nicholas Kempin. “It’s amazing that people get that text, know what’s coming and still show up at the cache.” The missions that most gratify volunteers are those where they tackle huge obstacles and use their skills to make a dramatic difference, Kempin said. A couple dozen people are now alive who 50

probably wouldn’t have survived without Crested Butte Search and Rescue: like a person thrown from a horse on a distant mountain ride, two victims of a plane crash near Yule Pass, a backpacker with high-altitude pulmonary edema, and a snowmobiler who crashed high on Purple Mountain. One memorable rescue was of a young man who had gone out Yule Pass with a friend for some springtime snowboarding. He fell, plunged down a steep slope of snow and rock and flew off a cliff. The 911 call came from his frantic friend. The rescue logistics were tough. The snow had mostly melted at lower elevations, but snowdrifts still blocked the higher roads to vehicle access. Crews struggled by foot up the rough, almost impassable gully below Yule Pass while Ian Hatchett, perched on a distant vantage point with binoculars, gave guidance via radio. Meanwhile, in the middle of the crumbly mountainside, the victim barely clung to life. Realizing the urgency, a medical helicopter pilot flew a few rescuers to a shoulder of land high above the victim. They scrambled down the precipitous terrain, treated and packaged the young man. Other team members arrived to set up anchors and ropes and lower the patient down the mountain to a gravel bar where the pilot had been able to land. Later, the hospital doctors said the young man wouldn’t have lived much longer. Eventually, though, he recovered fully. “That kid’s life was in the balance,” Hatchett said. “Those are the missions that really make you feel good.” CBSAR also gets paged for body recoveries, which can be “downers” for volunteers but crucial to the victim’s family and friends. “Of course if people are missing, their families hope they’re







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Courtesy of CBSAR

Courtesy of CBSAR

alive, but if they’re dead, they need that closure. You can see in their faces how important it is to get the body back, to see that it is treated with respect,” Kempin said. As with all search and rescue teams, member safety is paramount, which often complicates a mission. One of the toughest situations for Hatchett as a team leader was searching for a wellloved local who’d skied into the backcountry in severe avalanche conditions, without companions or an avalanche beacon. Hatchett wrestled to balance the extreme danger with intense public pressure to find the missing man. Using input from top snow experts, the team eventually ventured out and located the body of the man, who had perished instantly in a slide. The current incarnation of Crested Butte Search and Rescue started about 26 years ago “with some random beat-up equipment that should have been thrown away,” said Wojtalik. “Comparing the situation then to today’s team is like comparing a rotary-dial telephone to an iPhone 5.” Ski patroller Paul Barnett, Hatchett, BC Wasley, Rat Street, Scott Wimmer and other dedicated volunteers organized trainings, attended out-of-town courses, collected gear and networked with other teams. When Wojtalik became president, they decided to earn Mountain Rescue Association accreditation, a testing procedure now repeated every three years. In the early days, bake sales and raffles brought in meager funds for equipment – until Pete Davis reached out to Crested Butte’s generous second homeowners via annual mailings. “Through their largesse, we’ve never had another bake sale,” Hatchett said, applauding a few of his own guiding clients who have supported CBSAR over the years. Smaller funds come through annual Banff Mountain Film showings and the towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte, plus significant equipment donations from people who have been saved by CBSAR. The team’s enclosed snowmobile

trailer was funded by friends of a man who was evacuated by CBSAR after his stroke at the snowbound Doubletop Ranch. Over the years, the team has assembled some sophisticated equipment. The cache includes a titanium backcountry litter with an attachable wheel for transporting patients over trails; a vacuum mattress that wraps around an injury victim and helps immobilize the spine when the air is sucked out of it; a tentacled “octopus” that uses heat-generating chemical reactions to keep subjects warm; a lightweight, high-volume carbon fiber oxygen tank; six snowmobiles and trailer; an enclosed sled to protect patients during transport over snow; a variety of ropes and rigging tools for rock rescues; and two vehicles, a “tricked out” newer van and an old Ford 350 nearing its retirement. Two types of medical kits sit at the ready: a lighter one for the “hasty team” that speeds out to contact the subject first, and a heavier, more complete backpack brought in by the follow-up crew. In critical cases, where the patient could lose life or limb, CBSAR can request helicopter assistance from a private medical helicopter company like Flight for Life or sometimes from the military. The request must be approved by the sheriff’s office, and sometimes helicopters aren’t available or can’t fly because of weather. The medical helicopters are “ambulances with rotors,” Wojtalik pointed out; they aren’t equipped to perform actual rescues and can only land in certain areas. Volunteers must still reach, tend and transport the patient. Military helicopters are called in just for certain types of missions, such as a remote body retrieval in hair-trigger avalanche conditions near Marble two winters ago. “People think if you get hurt, a helicopter will be there in 20 minutes to scoop you up, but that’s a myth,” Wojtalik said. Most local missions involve ground troops, CBSAR volunteers who might be coaching soccer or up a ladder with paintbrush in hand when a call comes in. Even though dedicated volunteers often

Rescuers battled time and terrain to save a critically injured springtime snowboarder out Yule Pass.



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keep a CBSAR backpack ready to grab, it takes time to gather people and equipment. Depending on how remote the location, a rescue can take hours. CBSAR members earn nothing except the occasional beer after training. And for every rewarding, life-saving rescue involving hightech gadgets and helicopters, there are dozens of training sessions, hours spent carrying out people with sprains, hopeful searches that end up as body recoveries, and arduous missions in the dark and cold. So why do people do it? Scott Krankkala, who learned empathy for search and rescue patients after his Mt. Crested Butte tumble, has a ready answer. Serving on Western’s Mountain Rescue and CBSAR had a huge impact on him, Krankkala said. “The skills I developed, personally and professionally, are what define me. I developed a sense of teamwork and leadership, and the ability to stay calm when things get stressful. There’s a large sense of humility in search and rescue, to work as a team to care for a patient.” Inspired by that experience, Krankkala this summer applied for Physician Assistant school. A rescue/ambulance volunteer for almost two decades, Forsythe noted that search and rescue “attracts a certain personality type – people who want to be the best they can be. It takes a lot of training and commitment; you have to have that volunteer ethic.” The reward comes from forging connections and impacting people’s lives, he said. Nicholas and Tina Kempin just completed their paramedic training, not to further their careers (he’s an attorney and she’s a bank branch president), but to better serve as ambulance and CBSAR volunteers. “We do it because we love it,” Tina said, and Nicholas added, “You get to use your skills helping people – and the team is a great group of people to hang out with. Any time you’re part of a group that comes together because they want to be there, not because they want to get paid, it’s much more elevated and pleasurable. You get back more than you put in, but it’s not about money.” In the debriefing after a long, grueling but successful rescue, Ian Hatchett told his exhausted team members, “You worked really hard today. And when you wake up in the morning, you’ll know some young man just got his life given back to him because of you.”


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JEFF ISAAC INVITES COMMON SENSE INTO BACKCOUNTRY MEDICINE. By Sandy Fails Jeff Isaac’s favorite bumper sticker reads: “Question the dominant paradigm.” That’s his specialty, along with treating dire injuries in hostile environments. Which is why, a fellow medic said, “Jeff is changing the face of wilderness emergency medicine.” A physician assistant at clinics in Mt. Crested Butte and Lake City, Isaac is known internationally for his work in wilderness medicine (which refers to emergency treatment in situations far from hospital care, such as combat, developing countries and disasters like hurricanes, as well as remote natural settings). As an instructor and Curriculum Director for Wilderness Medical Associates (WMA), one of the foremost training entities in the world, Isaac advocates for field medicine that relies on knowledge, judgment and adaptation rather than rigid protocol. “What makes sense in a hospital or an ambulance might not make sense in a wilderness setting, “ he said. Up to 10,000 medics each year train under the WMA curriculum, which has influenced not only wilderness medicine but also the medical mainstream. This style of education empowers people with an understanding of the human body, so they can confidently make decisions and take action. “There have always been outdoorsmen; if they got injured, they took care of themselves,” Isaac said. “Somewhere in our level of civilization we started to specialize. Instead of doing everything ourselves, we became dependent on physicians, nurses, paramedics. We knew less about our bodies. In wilderness medicine, we teach what we all should have learned in seventh-grade health class: how the body works, what it looks like when it’s not working, what to do about it, and when you need a professional. We give people back this

Jeff Isaac and wife Laura Wininger.

sense of control. ‘Can I fix this myself or do I need help?’ They can begin to make benefit-risk analyses.” Isaac differentiates three categories of prehospital care: ambulance response, where medics have sophisticated equipment, lots of help and some protection from the weather; backcountry situations like ski patrol and most search and rescue missions, where weather and terrain present increased levels of risk and challenge; and true wilderness and disaster situations, with long-delayed access to care, high-risk conditions and very limited equipment. “The rules change depending on where you are in this spectrum,” he said. “For the ambulance, well-defined practice and protocol makes sense. For the backcountry and wilderness, a more elastic approach can save lives (both the rescuers and the rescued).” Though his father was a physician, Isaac discovered wilderness medicine more from his love of the outdoors than from a desire to be a doctor. He grew up sailing, canoeing and adventuring in upstate 55

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New York. In college he studied biology and geology and pursued graduate work in wildlife biology until he realized its limited job potential. Meanwhile, the lure of water exploration drew him to Outward Bound’s Hurricane Island school in Maine, where he taught and eventually became the de facto medical officer after getting his EMT certification in 1975. On Hurricane Island, Isaac met Peter Goth, emergency room doctor and wilderness medicine pioneer. Until then, wilderness medical training was similar to EMS (emergency medical services) training, but with a backpack instead of an ambulance. Goth developed a new model and instruction approach and established Wilderness Medical Associates. “EMS [ambulance] training is protocol driven, which is understandable. It’s pretty standardized, and we’ve done a good job of training our EMS folks,” Isaac said. “But it doesn’t always work well in unstructured environments.” Approaching emergency medical care as an outdoorsman, Isaac was quick to question the dominant paradigm, particularly standard procedures in nonstandard circumstances. “If what we’ve done forever doesn’t work, why should we keep doing it?” he asked. That question has changed what medics do – and don’t do – in wilderness situations. An IV, routine procedure in an ambulance, is hard to monitor when a patient has to be wrapped and transported over rough terrain. Strapping an injury victim to a backboard used to be automatic, even with no obvious spinal symptoms, but research shows this can be more risky than beneficial in the field; so these days a patient might hike out to a waiting ambulance. When hospital-level care is inaccessible, such as a medical crisis aboard an offshore sailboat, the aid-giver might need to perform procedures normally reserved for professionals, like catheterizing or injecting antibiotics. In 1980, Isaac earned his Physician Assistant license (which meant that, working under the auspices of a supervising physician, he was certified to do most of what a primarycontact doctor could do). In addition to teaching for Wilderness Medical Associates, he became its curriculum director. In the summer he taught Outward Bound courses and in the winter worked as a ski patroller and ran a medical clinic at Sugarloaf, Maine. An itch to adventure enticed Isaac to sail the Caribbean for a year with his brother and

later with his new wife, Laura. After returning to Sugarloaf, the couple decided to head west, and in 1997 they moved to Crested Butte. Laura got a job with architect Dan Murphy, and Isaac worked as a physician assistant first with Dr. Tom Moore, then with Dr. Roger Sherman at his ski area clinic. Isaac was quickly recruited part-time by the Crested Butte Ski Patrol and as a volunteer for Crested Butte Search and Rescue (CBSAR). Isaac now divides his time between two area clinics and each year teaches a dozen or so WMA courses around the world. He uses his instructing, field experience and feedback from other practitioners to refine the WMA curriculum and textbooks. “Wilderness medicine is still rapidly evolving,” he said. Though outwardly reserved, Isaac is witty and wickedly intelligent; his dry jokes sometimes catch listeners by surprise. “He’s an outstanding educator,” said Erik Forsythe, former ski patrol director, current WMA instructor and director of ambulance services for Gunnison Valley Health. “He can simplify complex topics, in both his training and his curriculum, and make them digestible. And he’s entertaining. He comes across as very serious in a clinical situation, but put him in a classroom and he’s a comedian.”

When he’s not teaching, seeing patients, volunteering, writing or researching, Isaac tries to find time to ride his horse or sail his boat. He and his wife are building a house (“a live-aboard barn”) on their 11 acres south of Crested Butte. In Isaac’s 16 years here, the Gunnison Valley has felt the benefits of having an in-residence wilderness medicine specialist. Locals have convenient access when he teaches a WMA course in the area, and his training has helped elevate the medical proficiency of the ski patrol and Crested Butte Search and Rescue (see related story). As a CBSAR team leader, Isaac is known for both his medical expertise and his nerves of titanium. “It’s hard to rile him,” said teammate Bob Wojtalik. On a critical mission, he quickly brings calm to chaos, assesses the situation, organizes treatment and rescue efforts and perhaps injects some humor to ease the tension. Team member and paramedic Tina Kempin said, “If I was broken in the backcountry, Jeff is one of the guys I’d want to see heading my way.” Wilderness Medical Associates employs more than 200 instructors and graduates 6,000-10,000 students per year in countries as far-flung as Canada, Iceland, Brazil,

Belgium, Finland, Japan, Africa and China. Other wilderness medicine training entities have proliferated as well. The idea of empowering non-physicians to make judgment calls and perform some advanced procedures has met considerable pushback from the medical establishment. Some people also fear potential liability from providing treatment without standardized guidelines. But lawsuits are rare against medical responders in the wilderness, partly because those medics generally have been well trained and partly because patients value receiving informed care in critical circumstances. “We’re under this cloud that doesn’t really exist,” Isaac said. Despite some opposition from traditionalists, the concepts of wilderness medicine are spreading not only into developing nations and but also into the western medical establishment. Forsythe said, “The wilderness medicine approach was ostracized by the standard system. ‘You can’t be doing that kind of stuff.’ Now some of the ideas are being embraced.” For example, there’s more room for improvisation in ambulance medicine, he said. “There’s not just permission but the expectation of using your own judgment.”


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Spring-time racers swap ski boots for swimsuits as they slide, roll and float to the CB3P finish line.

There’s now a perfect way to make the transition from winter to summer. It involves late-season skiing, early-season bike riding, baring of cloistered skin to sun and water and, just to stay hydrated, throwing back a frosty brew or two. The CB3P, which debuted last April, is a pole, pedal and paddle race that literally follows the spring run-off from the snowy peaks surrounding Crested Butte to the river running through Gunnison. It blurs the lines between pure sport and pure fun – a carnival of athleticism, you might say. The race is the brainchild of Tiff Simpson. Simpson has been all over the West, spending time in towns such as Bend, Oregon, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Salida, Colorado, before settling in Crested Butte. Having been involved with other pole, pedal and paddle races, she felt the Gunnison Valley was perfect for such an event. “The valley has that magical combination in the spring; you can ski, bike and paddle all in the same day,” she said. The event is open to individuals and to two-person and threeperson teams. It starts with a randonnee (uphill/downhill) ski race

on Crested Butte Mountain with 1,500 feet of climbing, switches gears to a 27-mile bike race from the mountain to the outskirts of Gunnison, and finishes with a seven-mile paddle on the Gunnison River. In an effort to attract people of all abilities, the CB3P offers both race and recreation classes. Last year’s inaugural race brought out an amalgam of local athletic prowess — aging stars (e.g. Milo Wynne) and top-level athletes (Brian Smith) – as well as a collection of self-proclaimed kooks (Mikey Shorts). Even the high schoolers got involved, with Patrick Curvin skiing, Josh Gallen biking and Kai Sherman paddling to a third place among men’s teams and ninth overall. “It brings out the hard-cores and the wingnuts,” said Wynne. A contingent from the Durango area made the trip for the CB3P, and a Colorado Springs man came to enter his first-ever multisport competition. And then there was James Young. Young is an Englishman living in Crested Butte who had neither hiked uphill on skis nor paddled down a river before. He completed the course in one piece, after a brief downriver swim, and crossed the finish line 59

From rock to roll: trading skis for bikes in the Mountaineer Square transition zone.

well deserving of a carbo reload. In addition to the range of athletic talent, the race brought out a variety of gear and technology. For going up and down snowfields, there was everything from the latest in rando race ski gear weighing as little as a loaf of Wonder bread to a split board set-up weighing as much as a bin of sourdough starter mix. The bikes ranged from $5,000 streamlined carbon fiber trials bikes to a one-speed townie complete with a bike rack. And the boats — well, the boats provided an insight into downriver racing advancements over the past 50 years. The day before the race, many of the 50 competitors were scrambling for river crafts. One search led a team to a back-alley garage. When the doors creaked open and slivers of light penetrated the pitch dark, the outline of pure beauty came into view. The boat was a masterpiece: cutting-edge design with a low profile, sharp edges and fiberglass weave, light in weight and sturdy in construction. It was the finest downriver racing kayak ever created. The only trouble: this particular downriver racing kayak was created in 1968. Nevertheless, there it was, and with the proper modifications, i.e. gorilla tape, it was river worthy and raring to go. 60

“I counted 35 pinner holes in one of the boats,” Wynne said. Meanwhile, other teams and individuals were pulling out their high-volume creek boats and surf kayaks and fabricating spray skirts with hemp rope and trash bags. On the other end of the spectrum, seasoned veteran Evan Ross, fresh off a pole-pedal-paddle win in Salida the week before, unveiled his downriver craft that was designed not only for maximum speed but also quite possibly for a launch to the moon. “Those boats are the fastest boats ever created by man…for another man,” added Wynne. Now, as one might imagine, dressing for such a race can prompt some confusion. Solo participants had to dress for the uphill/ downhill ski (i.e. layers that provided a modicum of warmth but also breathability), for the bike ride (not so different, except for switching the shoes and adjusting to the temperatures rising with the sun), and then for a paddle down frigid water (i.e. warm and waterproof layers with no breathability). Some competitors went with speed wear, Lycra and such. Others mixed in Gore-Tex with polypro and wool blends, avoiding cotton at all costs. The recreation-class entrants showed a little more imagination, like the competitor who dressed to the nines in a houndstooth coat and Japris – jeans with a Capri cut and Gu power food duct-taped to the leg. The houndstooth-coated young man proclaimed at the start that it was a “beer-in-hand day” and added, “We got a 30-pack and tequila, so we’re good.” Solo racer Zach Guy set the tone early. Guy is known for long ski tours, firing off a number of summits in one day, and he came into the initial transition from skis to bikes in first place. Billy Laird of Team Green flew into the Mountaineer Square transition area just seven seconds back. Brian Smith, who has seen his share of success on the professional mountain bike and off-road triathlon circuit, gave Team Green the overall lead for good, pedaling the 27 miles to Gunnison in 58 minutes, the fastest bike split of the race. But the most notable bike performance came from Rhett Griggs, who has some years on the aforementioned athletes. When he headed out on his bike as part of Team Griggs Orthopedics/Crested Butte Mountain Guides, he was in tenth place. Griggs laid down the second fastest bike split of the day to move his team into second place when he tagged off to the final team member for the paddle section. The motley assortment of watercraft awaited the paddlers where the Gunnison River flows beneath Highway 135 (across the street from Garlic Mike’s). Shane Sigle, out of Durango, posted the fastest time on the river in his space-age downriver racing craft. But Wynne and Scott “Scooter” Gates also set the water ablaze in their respective 1968 fiberglass specials. Wynne captured the team victory for his men’s team, and Scooter’s effort passing other boaters sealed the coed win for Team Eldo, with Flauschink King Pete Curvin setting the pace on skis and Leslie Miemietz continuing it on the bike before the handoff to Scooter. Evan Ross carried his domination from Salida to the west side of the Continental Divide, winning the CB3P men’s solo title and placing second overall. Sarah Stubbe took the women’s title to add another trophy to her growing case after a second place finish in the coed division of the Grand Traverse. The Mile High Club of Emily Davis, Sarah Stoll and Keitha Kostyk powered to the women’s team title.

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MC Dave Ochs and his assistant at the CB3P finish-line celebration.

As the rest of the field emerged from the water, an impromptu party ensued, mixing the CB3P participants with shirtless and sunbathing Western State Colorado University students. Warmed by the afternoon sun, kids and dogs splashed in the shallows of the Gunnison River, MC Dave Ochs kept up his playful commentary, and the New Belgium Brewery booth rehydrated the thirsty racers. Custom-made shot skis, helmets, hand-crafted bottle openers and a truckload of prizes from local sponsors were handed out to race and raffle winners. Then the post-race celebration followed the course in reverse — from the river to the Last Chance Saloon in Gunnison and eventually the Eldo back in Crested Butte. This year’s CB3P is slated for Sunday, April 27, and Simpson expects the number of entrants will double for the second annual. “I was thrilled with 50 participants,” she said. “It was so much fun, I have no doubt we’ll have more people this year.” She already has a course change in mind to up the ante for the higher-caliber athletes. “We’re definitely going to tweak the ski course to make it a little more challenging for people in the race category,” she said. “Everything else will stay the same.” That’s good news for both serious competitors and not-so-serious 3Pers who are in it for the beer and sunshine. “This race is going to take off because people can do it however they want,” said Wynne. “I’m probably going to do the whole shootin’ match next year.” Sign up at and look for early-registration discounts.



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Mary Boddington and Andrew Buergin examine a slide out Washington Gulch triggered from a distance by their approach.

Matt Berglund


By Molly Murfee

Avalanches terrorized alpine miners a century ago and still claim backcountry recreationists each year; but they steal fewer lives when given the respect they’re due.

> 65


A snow release below the skier caused this deep crack in the snowpack at his feet.

ranks third in the world for avalanches, behind France and Austria. The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) reports that Colorado accounts for 22% of the avalanche fatalities in the country. That’s higher than Alaska (19%), Montana (15%), Utah (14%), Washington (7%), Idaho (7%) and Wyoming (8%). Other mountainous regions such as California and Oregon have so few avalanche fatalities, their numbers barely register. An avalanche occurs when snow, in the form of loose snow, wet slabs or hard slabs, slides down the mountainside. For this to occur, the slope has to be steep enough – from 25 to 60 degrees. So the flat streets of Crested Butte hold no risk, and the groomed slopes of the ski resort are painstakingly controlled to prevent avalanche danger. Unfortunately, though, the backcountry slopes we like to ski the most, those from 38 to 40 degrees, also slide the most. Snow doesn’t like rapid change, so when elements are added quickly – such as fast wind-loaded snow, a heavy dump in a short period of time, or the sudden weight of a skier – it can slide, and take with it everything in its path: trees, boulders, people. When an avalanche releases, it can travel as fast as 80 miles per hour. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, February and March bring the greatest number of avalanche accidents. Ninety-three percent of avalanche victims are males, with 25-29 being the biggest age range. Snowmobilers get caught in avalanches twice as much as any other winter recreationists – skiers, climbers or snowboarders. Ninety percent of these avalanches are caused by someone in the victims’ party. The weight of a person applied in 2/10 of a second is considered a very rapid change for a snowpack.

THE HISTORY OF AVALANCHES IN CRESTED BUTTE Avalanches were feared long before backcountry hedonists began prospecting for untracked fields of white gold. They’ve wreaked death and destruction for residents of Crested Butte and neighboring communities since those communities began to form. In the 19th-century mining era, avalanches roared through the mountains of the Gunnison Country with great 66

Matt Berglund

A skier-triggered avalanche up Kebler Pass.

Matt Berglund

frequency, many times taking the lives of the hearty miners trying to pick their way through a fortune of rock and ice in brutal winter conditions. Local historian Duane Vandenbusche estimates that in the preciousmetal mining days of the 1800s, an average of seven to ten people per year were lost to avalanches in the mountainous mining camps around Crested Butte. His “history bible” of the area, The Gunnison Country, records some of these notable incidents. The winter’s journey up Spring Creek to the mining communities of Moscow and Spring Creek City were particularly dangerous. In 1920, disaster struck at Snow Slide Bridge. There a freighter party of teamsters, pushing ahead in blizzard conditions, was in the throes of turning tail and running when an avalanche took out its wagon. While Ed Adrian’s son was killed, he was spared by an air pocket created by the head of his horse; the beast had managed to keep its head above the sliding snow. John Phillips described Poverty Gulch as a place where “miners who worked in the winter had to be provisioned and stay there, for it was worth a man’s life to leave there and escape the snow slides to reach the outside world.” The camp lost six men in 1904 when, out of fear of staying at the Augusta mine one minute longer, nine

miners began their escape, only to be caught by an avalanche. Irwin, with auto traffic closed by deep snow for six months out of the year, endured a massive avalanche off of Mount Owen in 1883 that “smashed into the Durango, Ruby Chief, Old Sheik and Howard Extension mines, sweeping away shaft houses and burying eight men.” Eight years later, an avalanche off of Ruby Mountain destroyed the Bullion King boardinghouse, killing two.

FINDING THE SAFETY ZONE Avalanches will occur as long as there are mountains and snow. They rarely have to claim lives, however. The residents of modern-day Crested Butte are more fortunate than the miners of the 1800s. We have an invaluable resource – the Crested Butte Avalanche Center – that provides the community with weather, travel and backcountry information, including ratings of the avalanche danger and safe travel techniques. These people are not just sitting behind their computers with reams of statistics and guestimates. They’re the ones out there, guiding, skiing and constantly evaluating the avalanche hazards. Utah reports that 90% of avalanche fatality victims never called their avalanche advisory number to check on current conditions. It’s a

shame not to use such a resource. Simply calling a number, however, will not keep you safe unless you know how to act. Crested Butte Mountain Guides offers avalanche education courses on evaluating avalanche conditions and terrain and then making proper traveling and group decisions. Sometimes it’s better to ski the resort’s groomed slopes, cross-country ski in the wide-open meadows, or stay inside with some hot tea and admire those backcountry mountainsides from a distance. Getting caught in an avalanche is no longer an everyday risk as it was for the miners in Poverty Gulch, Irwin, Woodstock or Tomichi. But we are outdoor-oriented people. Whether you use skis, snowshoes, a snowmobile or snowboard to recreate, knowing about and respecting avalanches is your obligation in this snowy country. You may not mean to wander into avalanche terrain, taking a simple, flat tour. But look around you, above and below. Check with the avalanche center (www. or listen to KBUT Radio’s daily snow reports. If you venture out often, consider taking a snow safety course. The Elk Mountains are steep, and you’re in the snow zone. Put yourself also in the “know zone” and have a safer time playing in our winter wonderland.



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Wilderness: from both sides now

With fifty years of hindsight, a look at how Wayne Aspinall and the Great American Wilderness Debate shaped our public land use. “Civilization created wilderness.” – Rod Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind


he coming year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Wilderness Act, a seminal act in the history of American public lands – and one that has changed land management in the upper Gunnison River valley. Since passage of that act in 1964, more than 800,000 acres of the Gunnison high country have been designated as wilderness in eight different Wilderness Areas. There continues to be a cultural discussion over how much wilderness is enough; Colorado Congresswoman Diane DeGette has been trying since the late 1990s to get another 700,000 acres of public land added to the 3.5 million acres of designated Colorado wilderness areas, and there are relatively equal and opposing cultural forces arguing that we have more than enough now. But the wilderness discussion today is just a sideshow to other environmental concerns, making it easy to forget that, politically, “the Great American Wilderness Debate” of the early 1960s was really the opening engagement in an ongoing struggle to bring an ever-expanding economic civilization into balance with the planet’s natural systems and resources. The Great American Wilderness Debate is worth a second look through the long glass of half a century – especially in a place like the upper Gunnison River valley. The wilderness debate was a collision between two American visions – one passing its peak, the other just emerging. The first was a three-century socio-economic “American dream” of a stable, wealth-generating civilization bound together by networks of transportation, technology, finance, and democratic principles like open access to opportunity (including open land and its resources). On the other hand was an emerging urbanbased vision of reforming that very civilization to restore a “paradise lost” in careless pursuit of the first ideal. By the late 1950s, most Americans – white Americans anyway – seemed to be on the way to achieving that first

Bureau of Reclamation

By George Sibley

Wayne Aspinall speaks at the 1980 dedication of the newly renamed Wayne N. Aspinall Unit (formerly the Curecanti Unit) for the three Gunnison River dams.

vision, a cultural wealth unprecedented for such large numbers. But the costs of that wealth were increasingly unignorable: deteriorating air and water quality, forests falling to feed an insatiable appetite for housing, mining companies creating open pits visible from outer space, and growing pressure on public lands from a population freed up by new leisure and automobiles (and horrified at the consequences of mineral, tree and grass mining on those public lands). So that second vision emerged among people who had grown up taking middle-class wealth for granted but were newly confronted with its debris. Their goal: landscapes restored from human depredations – and, where still possible, protected by boundaries beyond which our civilization could only visit. That vision, however, made little sense to shrinking populations of miners and ranchers still living in rural places like the upper Gunnison. They were only beginning to get paved roads in the 1950s, and the concentration of wealth fed by urbanization and industrialization did not spread to their declining communities. They were also well acquainted with nature at its wildest – wildfires, avalanches, hailstorms, and


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continued snowmelt rivers that carried a year’s worth of water away in a two-month spring flood and became trickles when it was time to finish crops. Taming or avoiding nature’s wildness was still a front-line experience in such places. They considered themselves “conservationists” – as Teddy Roosevelt and his colleague Gifford Pinchot had defined “conservation”: it included the careful and efficient use that is part of “conservation” for the modern metro citizen, but it focused first on conserving resources “wasted” by nature. Stopping forest fires, storing water from an unusable spring flood to nurture crops through a growing season – that was “conservation” in that earlier American vision. Reclamation was conservation. And “wilderness”? “You can’t eat scenery,” grumped rancher Tony Kapushion in the mid-‘60s at his bar in Crested Butte (Coors on tap, 8-oz. glass for a dime). Two factors made western Colorado places like the upper Gunnison ground zero for that 1960s collision of visions. One factor was the advent of serious mountain recreation industries early in the decade, like Crested Butte’s ski resort, which began to attract – well, people like me. I moved to Colorado in 1964, the year the Wilderness Act finally passed, and arrived in the Upper Gunnison valley a couple years later, so the real debate was over. I was consciously in retreat from the American mainstream, despite being unconsciously cocooned in it. Like most of the people moving to the state in the 1960s – and we were legion – I didn’t really know a lot about the Great American Wilderness Debate, but who could be against protecting the natural places we haven’t yet ruined? I got a generally gentle education on that point in Tony Kapushion’s bar. Because I was a pretty good listener, and because town life encourages softer voices than public hearings, I learned that those opposed to the idea of designating places where human presence would be ephemeral were not all minions of Satan. An important discussion needed airing about appropriate, inappropriate and no uses on public lands. That discussion would not have been aired nationally were it not for the second factor that made western Colorado ground zero for the Great American Wilderness Debate: western Colorado’s Congressman,

Wayne N. Aspinall. There was only a great noisy wilderness debate because Congressman Aspinall was in a position to insist on it. Otherwise, the American mainstream juggernaut would simply have rolled right over any protest from the rural outposts of that older American vision. Wayne Aspinall was a son of that vision. He came to awareness as a boy in the Grand Valley while the federal Bureau of Reclamation was building the High Line Canal there, and never lost his awe at how storing and channeling water changed the West into two lands, one above and one below the ditch. His political sensibilities were what we once thought of as “Main Street conservative,” but he entered politics as a Democrat during the 1920s because the Ku Klux Klan – yesteryear’s Tea Party – controlled the Republican Party in much of the West. After terms in Colorado’s General Assembly, both houses, he was elected to U.S. Congress in 1948 and was reelected 11 times – despite running as a Democrat in a district that was mostly very conservative. He stands as an argument against term limits, which would preclude any congressman from the interior West from ever ascending to a position of real power. By his fifth term, Congressman Aspinall had moved up through the ranks of the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs to the chairmanship. He became a master of the arcane procedural rules of the House and used them to run his committee – and to some extent, the entire House – autocratically. Bills that came under the purview of the House Interior Committee (nearly everything involving public lands) did not advance to the full House until Aspinall had the best deal possible for the vision still prevalent in most rural districts, of converting a rough natural world into strong, stable human communities. That was the situation when the idea of “wilderness” as a form of public-land management came before Congress. The first wilderness bill came to Aspinall’s committee in 1956, shortly after Aspinall had finally engineered passage of the huge Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP) Act authorizing Glen Canyon, Blue Mesa, Flaming Gorge and Navajo dams, as well as smaller irrigation projects. Passage of the CRSP Act had become an unprecedented struggle for what had been, before World War II, a national commitment to “conserve” the limited waters of the arid West for purposes of human settlement.

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Suddenly reclamation-as-conservation was being challenged by powerful urbanbased organizations like the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society that could launch an avalanche of telegrams to any Congressman’s desk. These organizations advocated a new brand of conservation. Roosevelt’s efficiency and intelligent use were still part of it, but reclamation was gone; there was a new emphasis, not on saving needed resources from the vagaries of nature, but on saving nature and its resources from the careless and destructive depredations of human use! When Pennsylvania Congressman John Saylor – Aspinall’s nemesis on the Interior Committee – put the first wilderness bill forward in 1956, after the “New Conservationists” had pared down his Colorado River Storage Project, Aspinall called it “a crazy idea.” But Aspinall was an intelligent politician, and when the bill came back the following year, from organizations that knew how to move large numbers of followers, he realized that eventually there would be a Wilderness Act. He then devoted himself to making sure that the inevitable would happen within the context of the development of use-oriented public land law. This was consistent with the difficult challenges Aspinall faced through most of his tenure in Congress. On the one hand, he had to persuade his own conservative western constituents to accept a modified version of something they didn’t want, while on the other hand, persuading the representatives of a generally indifferent urban majority to accommodate the concerns of minorities out on its fringe. This majority-minority balancing act is one of the most fundamental problems of democracy. I am embarrassed to say that back in the 1960s, even while I was the editor of a newspaper in Crested Butte, I did not understand what Wayne Aspinall was trying to do in, and for, the West. And really, for the concept of democracy in America. Ultimately, the Great American Wilderness Debate that Aspinall, from his committee chair, forced America to engage in was not a debate about whether “wilderness” as a land-management concept was a good, bad or just “crazy” idea; it was a debate about how wilderness designation on public lands would integrate

with existing uses (good, bad and crazy) and future needs. Aspinall took a beating in the national media for insisting that the new vision for public lands not eradicate the older vision, but he held firm, and gradually the wilderness purists (like the “multipleuse” purists) came to the middle. Aspinall got much of what he sought in the 1964 Wilderness Act. Public lands that met “wilderness” criteria would be so designated, but existing usage (primarily grazing) could continue there. Mining interests would have twenty years (until December 31, 1983) to explore for minerals on “primitive” lands proposed for wilderness designation, to make sure that some “higher” use was not being precluded. And there would be no kingly power granted; Congress, not the executive branch, would do the horsetrading to set aside wilderness areas. But if a water project on wilderness land were deemed essential to a region, the president could override Congress to allow that project to happen. How, at the 50-year mark, have those compromises worked out? In our own valley, the big molybdenum deposit,

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continued mapped out during that 20-year period, may or may not have precluded part of Mt. Emmons being included in the Raggeds Wilderness extension, and there may still be water development issues to resolve in that wilderness. There is a lot of grazing in our wilderness areas – but that preserves the open space we value down in the valleys, and it takes a small mind to obsess on cowpies out in one of our spectacular wilderness areas. Overall, the worst predictions from both sides have not materialized: Americans can revisit something close to their wilderness heritage, and the traditional western uses have not been any more devastated by wilderness designation than by everything else going on in the West. That early-‘60s collision of visions generated a lot of dust and smoke, and in that I did my share of beating up on my Congressman. Now, with the dust settled at 50 years, I think Congressman Aspinall probably rose to the level of “statesman” – one who sees beyond the dust and smoke – in his insistence that wilderness

Mark Ewing

be accepted as a new “use” in the context of public-land law evolution, not as the first step in a revolutionary change in public land usage. The scars from that and other ruralurban, minority-majority confrontations resulted in his defeat in 1972, not by a Republican but by his fellow Democrats in a primary. But the whole experience radicalized him; he joined James Watt’s Mountain States Legal Foundation, abandoning his great negotiating skills, and became a “Sagebrush Rebel,” riding off into a sunset of irrelevance. I wish I’d understood then what Aspinall was really up to, in his efforts to get the “right” wilderness bill through. I love the time I’ve spent in our wilderness areas, but am at best a lukewarm adherent to the polarizing concept today. We need Aspinall’s vision of farmers, ranchers, miners, rafters, skiers and who-all at work on the land, but informed by the vision of land treated sensitively and carefully. We are seeing that recreation and resort development can be as rough on the land as any other heavy use. Wayne Aspinall may have had something important to say that we still need to hear.


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Launched 35 years ago to help an injured ski patrolman, the Attitude Adjustment Party is mid-winter’s biggest mood booster.

Sandra Cortner

Jim Crowley at his first Attitude Adjustment Party following his 1978 injury.

By Sandra Cortner

In February, when you’re halfway through a long winter, and smiling while serving folks is getting ever harder, hightail it to the Crested Butte Professional Ski Patrol’s Attitude Adjustment Party. Hoist a beer and buy a raffle chance; not only will it raise your spirits, but your money will go to nonprofit organizations or people in need throughout the county. The charitable aspect of the party stems from its roots. Its founding purpose in 1978 was to contribute toward ski patrolman Jim Crowley’s medical bills after he was critically injured in a car wreck. It was a somber impetus for a long-standing tradition that is anything but somber. In the wee hours of the morning on May 25, 1978, Tim Shinn, who lived in a house beside Highway 135 near Jack’s Cabin, heard a horrific crash. His wife called the Highway Patrol, and Shinn, Crowley’s fellow ski patrolman, ran out to investigate. “A green Toyota Landcruiser was way off the road in a meadow on the west side. I had seen Bobby Sommers and Jim Crowley the previous afternoon, and my first thought

was that it might be them,” recalled Shinn. (In 1978, everyone knew what kind of car you drove.) Shinn found Sommers near the car with a lacerated head. He put his coat over Sommers for warmth and asked his wife to watch the injured man, then went looking for Crowley in the darkness. After an extensive search, the state trooper who responded to the accident suggested there was probably only one person in the car. Shinn, normally quiet and retiring, insisted, “I’m certain Jim would have been with Bobby. Will you help me look just a little longer?” Luckily, the officer agreed. The pair pushed through deep sage and brush. Shinn recalled, “Finally we heard a strange gurgling or snoring sound. With the trooper’s big flashlight, we found Jim unconscious against a fence quite a distance from the car.” Shinn accompanied Crowley in the ambulance to the Gunnison Hospital and helped to revive him each time he stopped breathing. From there Crowley was flown to a Grand Junction hospital where he spent 81

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several months in a coma. During the spring and summer, several fundraisers contributed to a trust in Jim Crowley’s name. June 9th was the biggest — a potluck hosted by the Wooden Nickel and the Grubstake. Each person threw in $5, drank and danced at the Grubstake, and ate steaks next to the Wooden Nickel, which donated its beer sales. A large drawing of a thermometer measured the “Help Jim Get Back to Normal” fund. Hundreds of locals chipped in $2,632.03 that night. After the patrollers returned to work in November, they began discussing ways to help offset Crowley’s growing medical costs. Several of them remember Chuck Pulsinelli at their early-morning meeting throwing out the idea of a kegger party and raffle that might also lift people’s mid-winter spirits. “From the get go,” said Woody Sherwood, former patrol director, “it was called the Attitude Adjustment Party.” The patrol set a date when the ski business was slow. Accounts differ as to whether Crowley had recovered enough to attend the first party. He did attend in future years in his wheelchair or scooter, still trying to regain motor coordination and speech. What everyone does remember, however, is the party’s location — “the barn” — in the bottom of the Whetstone Building. The original barn was one of the Malensek Ranch log buildings on site when the ski area started. The name stuck even after crews moved the log structure and constructed a new building in its place. In the late afternoon on party day, many people helped to set up. Polly Oberosler, a lift maintenance employee, said, “We spent hours cleaning the barn…lugging snowmobiles around and parking the snowcats outside, sweeping and finally hosing it all out. We needed room to dance. There was only one restroom, so they gave it to us girls…the guys peed outside. I was on the throne when Mark Schumacher came in. He just looked at me and smiled and walked over to the urinal. Of course I was hugely embarrassed.” Patrollers built a makeshift stage for the band and set up a bar with kegs of beer. “Everyone had a job,” said former patrol leader Tim Rolph. “Some took tickets or manned the beer sales. We sold raffle tickets for $1 at the door or 12 for $10. It was two bucks a head to get in. The patrollers had scrounged raffle prizes. I won an Atomic sweatshirt, and I was the Atomic ski rep.” He added, “It was certainly not what it became several years down the road when

we were raffling helicopter skiing trips to Marble and season ski passes. We netted $200 the first year. By the time I left the patrol, we were clearing $10,000.” Although the only advertising was word of mouth and flyers on ski area bulletin boards, people from all departments of the ski resort, townsfolk and even some Gunnison residents attended the first party. Most said that it was the best party of the year, even if it was in “the barn.” Moreover, they could embrace a cause — helping one of their own. After several years, ski area management allowed the patrol to hold the beer bash in the cafeteria of the Gothic Building (now razed) and later in the upstairs restaurant and bar, Rafters. By then, the ski patrollers were wearing identical printed t-shirts to identify themselves for organizational and security purposes. Later the patrol started selling different colored shirts, always designed by one of their members, to earn more money. Each year the party grew, in prizes donated, money raised and number of attendees. After Crowley received his insurance settlement, the patrol found other worthy causes to support. Sherwood explained that the patrollers nominate possible recipients. “It eventually evolved to a few sustaining nonprofits, like Jubilee House, the Two Buttes Senior Center, the Gunnison Senior Center, the Gunnison Hospital and Six Points. Then we talked about who needs what in the community — individuals or special-case situations the patrol feels are politically neutral.” Added current patrol leader Bill Dowell, “We all feel good about being able to help people who are having a hard time.” For a few years, the party fell by the wayside, but it has been resurrected in the Butte 66. “The patrolmen wear white shirts and ties to distinguish ourselves,” said Dowell. His band, Hi Nowhere, has played, as has the Robert J band. These days, Crowley, still using a scooter, divides his time between Minneapolis and Playa del Carmen, Mexico. A mutual friend reported, “He is quite the local funnyman there. Everyone loves him.” Although Crowley doesn’t remember the accident, friends and family have told him about Shinn’s role in his rescue. He can be thankful that even-tempered Shinn insisted on searching a little farther in the sagebrush. And that his community launched a party in his honor that to this day adjusts attitudes and raises money for others in need.



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John Holder

The first time I ever held hands with a boy was in Crested Butte, when I was a 12-year-old tourist. This was back when Rafters was the token source of nightlife on the mountain, but outside, the evening was hushed and still. My parents were attending a ski trip masquerading as a conference, and I had a ginormous crush on this kid, the tow-headed son of family friends. Few things are more exhilarating than going for a stroll on a snowy night with the object of your affection, especially when he’s just let you kick his butt at Asteroids. Thirty-two years later, I found myself back in Crested Butte for the first time since that oh-so-romantic trip. I remembered the handholding incident as I drove up the mountain road to the Nordic Inn; I can no longer remember the name of the hotel where we once stayed, nor pick it out of the forest of newer properties. Recently single and relocated back to Colorado, I was also thinking as I drove to the ski area that it’s sad how, as adults, we increasingly lose the ability to feel that childlike sense of possibility and excitement. Even for those of us who make our home in the Rockies. Although I’d never resided in Crested Butte, I’d lived in Colorado off and on for nearly 20 years, in Vail, Telluride and Boulder. A lifelong downhill skier, I’d given up the cause a couple of years prior because it had become prohibitively expensive for my freelance-writer lifestyle. My youthful enthusiasm (read: lack of fear) for the sport had also waned. As a travel writer, I’d found plenty of other outlets for my adrenalin-junkie proclivities, and while I didn’t hesitate to fly in clapped-out bush planes, trek the Andes, or run Class V whitewater in developing nations, I’d become painfully conservative on the slopes. Tree skiing scared the bejeezus out of me, and forget about bombing the hill. I’d become impatient with my own wariness. I was increasingly interested in exploring the various Nordic sports (see sidebar). Fueled by my love of the outdoors and snowy pursuits, I wanted to find something more suited to my anemic bank account and independent nature. (For some reason, I never liked to alpine ski alone – another reason I wanted to make the transition to cross-country.)

By Laurel Miller

Alpine touring I’d found an increasing number of people who’d made and yurt dining: the conversion to Nordic Crested Butte sports, or at least divided their Nordic claims loyalties between alpine and Nordic, even if they lived in ski another convert. towns. With the economy still in the toilet, it was an affordable way to enjoy the mountain lifestyle, and it was convenient (and I-70 corridor-free) even if you lived at lower altitudes. I resided in Boulder and depending on what kind of winter we were having, I could either head out the door or drive less than 30 minutes to play in the snow. I’d dabbled in snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, but I’d come to Crested Butte to give alpine touring (AT) a try, through a half-day outing with Crested Butte Mountain Guides (CBMG), owned by Jayson Simons-Jones since 2007. I suspected AT might be a good fit for my toned-down ski persona. What I wanted in winter recreation was a good workout with stellar scenery — and minimal chance of paralysis. My goal was to find a Nordic sport that suited me, so I could get my avalanche certification and start making regular, multi-day trips to the 10th Mountain Division Huts in the snowy hills. My visit happened to coincide with the Crested Butte Nordic Center’s Full Moon Yurt Dinner at Magic Meadows. Lame confession: Despite living in ski towns, I’d never snowshoed at night. Actually, it never occurred to me. In Vail, I had an intense schedule attending culinary school and working on-mountain that left me uninspired to try anything new. In Telluride, I worked or played during the day; and the town’s primary nocturnal activities were warming barstools, hitting house parties and attempting to watch badly scratched DVDs rented from the library. Crested Butte, I discovered, places more emphasis on round-theclock outdoor pursuits. Even though it’s the proverbial little ski town 85

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with a big drinking problem (I mean this in the fondest possible sense), the locals I met liked to play hard even if it was dark outside. During my visit, I received various suggestions to skin up this peak to watch the sunrise or attend a late-night bonfire on that mountain. This, I realized, is a town that knows how to have a good time — without amassing huge bar tabs or hurling empty PBR cans at a scrambled TV screen. Crested Butte Nordic’s yurt dinners are well known among both visitors and locals. In addition to full-moon Nordic jaunts, there are also holiday-themed dinners, including New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. Five courses, prepared by Josephine Kellett of Creative Catering, will run you $70 (beer and wine are separate). It’s a hell of a deal (and great fodder for a food/travel writer like me), featuring well-executed dishes like Jumpin Good Goat Dairy chevre and pesto bruschetta, roasted red pepper bisque swirled with crème fraiche, wild mushroom risotto, and classics like chicken cordon bleu, paradise chicken and encrusted salmon. The yurt dinners are less about the food, however, than about the atmosphere and camaraderie. Said Nordic Center Director Keith

Bauer, “As a nonprofit, we’re always searching for ways to increase revenue while offering a unique experience to our members and guests. Five years ago, we experimented with yurt fine dining, and folks love it. The ski in isn’t that long [about one mile], but it’s far enough that guests can connect with the natural surroundings. They’re always surprised to walk into this toasty yurt with savory aromas coming from the kitchen, candlelight and a crackling woodstove. It’s pretty special.” I rounded up some snowshoes to try out a yurt dinner, and it was pretty special, for the reasons Bauer described. I also found enjoying a meal with people who shared my passion for the outdoors — even if they were complete strangers — thoroughly gratifying. So too was the trip to and from the yurt, the only sounds the crunch-squeak of my shoes on the snow and distant shouts and laughter from fellow diners. “Exhilarating” might be too strong a word for snowshoeing by moonlight along a groomed trail, but I’m now officially hooked on nocturnal Nordic excursions. Late the following morning (damn you, Kochevar’s), I loaded my rental AT gear into my car and met up with part-time CBMG guide (and Gunnison Wanderlust

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Hostel owner) Amy Stevens. Stevens was the kind of trip leader you dream about: friendly, competent, encouraging, yet not a taskmaster. She was also remarkably patient with me while I attempted to align my AT boots with the pins on the toepieces of my bindings. (Said Stevens, “People are often intimidated by winter adventure. Hiring a good guide provides comfort, safety and knowledge of the area, and an adventure can be tailored to your ability.”) Although I was in good shape and used to altitude, I was a bit concerned about my AT ability. Stevens reassured me there was no pressure, and I could set the pace. We started up the Snodgrass trail, and any concerns I had about my physical condition evaporated. I was surprised by how quickly I got into a groove. I’d never skinned up a mountain, and while it was a workout, it was fun rather than punishing. Stevens made for great company, and in between pointing out landmarks and giving me the lowdown on life in Crested Butte, she shared some harrowing stories about her adventures as a guide in Alaska. At the summit, we flopped down, snacked on chocolate, dried fruit and chamomile tea she’d thoughtfully provided,

and admired the view of town below. We had the mountain mostly to ourselves. With dusk looming, we skied down the rolling slopes (fun, but not scary) to the Snodgrass parking area. There we exchanged contact info and warm goodbyes. I was buzzing, but it wasn’t from my residual hangover. I was elated to be back in Colorado and reminded of what it’s like to ski — this time with groovy convertible boots and bindings -- under a bluebird sky. I’d found a new sport that excited me (indeed, weeks later I did an AT hut trip in the Hunter-Frying Pan Wilderness), and I was already dreaming of end-of-season ski swaps. I also realized that part of my adolescent crush all those years ago wasn’t on the towheaded boy but on Crested Butte itself. I might be older now and certainly more jaded, but I can still find that childlike sense of wonderment, even without a boy to hold my hand; Crested Butte makes me positively giddy. The friendly communal vibe I experienced at the yurt dinner is, I’ve learned on subsequent visits, a reflection of Crested Butte as a whole. Even without a downhill ski pass or a local zip code, what I feel in Crested Butte is jazzed, relaxed and genuinely welcome.


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Xavier Fane

People use the terms “Nordic” and “cross-country” interchangeably, but there are shades of difference. Chris Frado, president of the Cross Country Ski Areas Association, noted, “Nordic is the umbrella term for any type of skiing that isn’t downhill (a.k.a. alpine) skiing. It refers to non-fixed heel sports such as ski jumping, cross-country, alpine touring and telemarking. Snowshoeing is a gray area, because it’s not skiing, but it’s considered a Nordic sport [you may see it referred to as Nordic walking].”

HERE’S SOME COMMON NORDIC TERMINOLOGY. CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING/SKI TOURING. Using narrow skis and long poles, this involves propelling oneself across the snow, using the “kick” provided by a fish-scale texture or kick wax on the bottom of the skis (or pine tar back in the day). Crosscountry bindings clip the boots to the skis only at the toes, so the skier can lift his or her heels in propelling the skis forward. In classic cross-country, the skier moves the skis in parallel lines (often in a groomed double track). Skate skiers use a motion similar to ice skating, with diagonal ski strides. AT (alpine touring) and randonee. Alpine touring uses convertible bindings. When a skier is in “tour” mode on flats or ascents, the heel is free. But it can be locked into place, much like alpine bindings, for skiing downhill. Some AT (and telemark) bindings also have adjustable steps, which make going uphill easier by providing lift to the heel. AT boots are lighter than their downhill cousins, and switch from a flexible mode for walking to a locked-forward position for stable descents. Randonee is a super-light form of AT that is more oriented toward racing and resort-uphill skiing. SKINS. Self-adhering strips (now synthetic, but in the early days made from animal skins) are fitted to the bottoms of skis for ascending the slopes. Backward-angled fibers grip the snow and keep the skis from sliding back. The skins can then be removed for skiing downhill.




TELEMARKING. Historically, people used free-heel skis to get around and developed the telemark turn (which looked like a moving genuflection) for negotiating the downhills. Today, with stiffer boots and sturdier skis, telemarking is more similar to AT or alpine skiing than to cross-country. The modern telemark turn involves only a slight heel lift of the uphill foot. Until recently, telemarking was the choice mode of transportation for backcountry skiing due to the free heel and ability to climb with skins on the skis. But AT, with its much-improved gear, has overtaken telemarking for backcountry play.

GOING NORDIC To reserve a yurt dinner or find other Crested Butte Nordic events, go to The Magic Meadows yurt is also available for private rentals and catered events. Crested Butte boasts over 34 miles of groomed Nordic trails, six of which are dogfriendly (ski-joring, anyone?). Purchase trail passes at the Nordic Center for $18/day, $185/season; they’re required for all the Nordic Center’s trails except the Town Ranch loop (which is flat and friendly for skiers and dogs). You can also strike out into public lands on your own or with a guide, on snowshoes or Nordic skis. Where the snowplow stops, the adventure begins: up Snodgrass Mountain or out Cement Creek, Brush Creek, Slate River, Washington Gulch or Gothic roads (Kebler Pass road is open to skiers, too, but it’s a prime snowmobile playground). Research the avalanche conditions and weather forecast before you venture into the backcountry, and be prepared for the unexpected.

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How Crested Butte looks through the eyes of a happy child, restless teen and re-enchanted adult. By Chris Garren


“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” — Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

When I was 18, I couldn’t get out of Crested Butte fast enough. So why am I back? Born and raised here, I’ve often been asked about small-town living. Reflecting now, I see how much my answers have changed over time. My early childhood was filled with Pleasantville-type memories. I peered out from my dad’s backpack as he hiked and skied the local peaks. I played with friends in the towering skunk cabbage, skipped stones by the Gunsight bridge, and biked off dirt jumps in the empty lot next to Kochevar’s. I spent hours skating and playing hockey. My most serene memory is speeding across the ice, the rink lights painting cones of huge snowflakes lazily floating down. I remember hopping from boulder to boulder below the summit of Mt. Crested Butte, and exploring the forts blended into the aspens flanking the Woods Walk. Crested Butte was a natural jungle gym. Sure, I had some hiccups and misadventures – like accidentally locking myself in the bathroom as a toddler at the old Bakery Café, so the fire chief had to set down his croissant long enough to stage a rescue. In a spurt of budding entrepreneurialism, I picked “wildflowers” from my neighbor’s immaculate garden and tried to sell them. Twice my friend Zach and I ran away from our babysitter. After hours of spy-movie maneuvering and a pit stop for maraschino cherries at the Avalanche, we were escorted home by an amused police officer. Our parents weren’t

laughing. But life was mostly a joy. I was given freedom to learn and fail, and to find my own limits. I felt wonder in my surroundings and a sense of complete safety. A small-town upbringing came with lots of lessons but few rules. Kids could roam without the supervision demanded by city dangers. I was encouraged to make my own judgment calls and understand their consequences. I camped, hiked and biked to my heart’s content and acquired an invaluable set of “tools.” Partly, this included practical essentials like setting up a tent and cooking on a camp stove. Equally important, I was taught to respect all living things. Nature wasn’t a concept but rather something immediate, vital to the soul, and worth protecting. The biggest gift of childhood in Crested Butte was discovering that contentment was contingent on neither wealth nor man-made stimulus. Fairly abruptly, when I was nine, my family moved to Ft. Worth, Texas, to care for my grandparents. My world flipped upside down. Oh, the oppression! Sketchy, graffiti-riddled parks and confining sweeps of suburbia were anathema to my love of exploration. Compared to Crested Butte, the attitudes seemed rigid and the prevailing world view guided by fear. I fell into that trap and created my own unreasonable worries about robbers, snakes and such. I’d seen “Twister” and assumed that

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each coming storm would bring tornadoes and flying cows. Confined and out of my element, I slowly lost a part of myself that would take years to find again. My daredevil playfulness wilted into timidity. There were some redeeming elements. With a new friend, Brian, I learned to play soccer and spent hours kicking a ball against the brick side of our house. The “beautiful game” became my passion and provided strength and direction. And I loved the diversity of the city. I ate home-cooked Indian food at my friend Patel’s house and heard tales of another friend’s narrow escape from Bosnia. I enjoyed knowing kids with different interests from those found in a Colorado ski town. I sensed I was learning subtle lessons that couldn’t be taught in the comfort of a small town. Those experiences helped sow the seeds of my later wanderlust. Two years later, my family moved back to Crested Butte, but everything had shifted. Life revolved around watching “South Park” and running away from upperclassmen trying to twist your nipples. Middle school passed in an odd blur of happiness at being back in the mountains and awkwardness trying to reintegrate with old friends. Perhaps my likeness to Harry Potter and my brief stint as a competitive rollerblader didn’t help. Some talents are cooler than others. In high school, life was less tumultuous and more comfortable. More than ever, school and sports became my measure of success. Small towns provide ample room for recognition, and the pursuit of accolades reinforced my healthy desire to achieve goals and my pure love of sport. I leaned heavily on my soccer prowess for confidence. My friends and I were active and practiced hard. As one sport season ended, another began. Though more settled, my life was crammed with homework, track meets and soccer games, leaving little time for discoveries beyond the routine. We were often outside, but usually confined to a track or a sports field. We camped, but mostly to get away from adults. In winter, we played in the powder and pushed to see who was the boldest on the ski slopes. In the summer, we swam in Long Lake, jumped off rocks at Irwin, played pool at the rec center, golfed at Dos Rios and waged war with paintballs. Yet somehow, we were frequently bored. Our complaint, “There’s nothing to do in this town,” was met with little sympathy from adults. Now I see it wasn’t just this place, but the simmering restlessness of being a teenager.

I was built up by the support of this amazing community, but that was accompanied by pressure to be one of the kids who “makes it.” There were degrees to earn and prestigious jobs to win, a hometown to impress. I also tired of small-town dynamics. In close-knit places like this, people know too much about each other’s business, and people are labeled. Young people are often put into neat little packages: good kids and bad kids. At some point kids need to break free, shed old skins and try on different personalities. We must leave Paradise to meet the “real world.” By the end of high school, my wings felt clipped. I needed to experience new joys and suffer new perils. I wanted to try new lifestyles and new ways of looking at the world. I needed space to create the truest version of myself. Driven by career ambitions, I went to the University of Denver for a degree in International Business. I was happy to be away from Crested Butte and setting myself up for success. In Denver, I hung out with dumpster divers and heirs to large corporations. Every person in that wide spectrum had a different background, perspective and story. I soaked it in. I was refreshed to meet people who didn’t care how big a cliff you just jumped and who didn’t know a couloir from a Coleman. A funny thing happened, though. Almost immediately, the very town that I had to leave became my most defining characteristic. If someone asked, “Who are you?” I’d proudly respond, “I’m from Crested Butte,” as if that explained everything. As if that would imply my best qualities. I wanted people to know I wasn’t a city kid. I was a mountain man. I had the de rigueur beard and poor parallel parking skills to prove it. As I became disenchanted with the ladder of success many of my classmates were fighting to climb, I became more appreciative of my “hippie” hometown. I couldn’t wait to show off Crested Butte to college buddies. Imagine seeing Vinotok for the first time or skunk cabbage-wearing biologists marching down Elk Avenue on the 4th of July. While stuck in city traffic or watching a new McDonalds being built, I’d boast of coming from a town without chain stores or stoplights. At DU, I got outside as much as I could. My passion shifted from soccer to climbing. The former is a sport with winners and losers. The latter, at its best, provides victory

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in the experience. As climber Alex Lowe professed, “The best climber in the world is the one having the most fun.” I played around Denver but spent many weekends and breaks back in Crested Butte. I took friends to the Devil’s Punchbowls, hiked to Aspen, sat on the bench at Third and Elk, and climbed local peaks. All I heard from college friends was “Are you kidding me?” and “This place is unreal.” I felt lucky and proud to have grown up here. Again, I was an adventurer in my own land. I had a foot in two worlds, though. As I rekindled a love for the outdoors, I was still buried under essays and exams. After graduation, I fled the city and bicycled across the U.S. with my friend Eli. That trip brought clarity. I decided to make Crested Butte my new home base. It was the perfect place to work, play and plot future escapades. I live here for all the amazing things a small mountain town can offer. I also travel whenever possible, so I don’t feel stuck and so I can continue to grow and experience new cultures and ideas. To me, that’s the necessary balance. Now I see Crested Butte through different eyes. Sunset Ridge is no longer part of a rocky peak I’ve viewed from a distance my whole life; now it’s a route to be climbed. Nordic skiing is about taking in the views, not racing until my lungs feel pierced by daggers. I see the support within the local business community, the thriving of arts and music. I get to climb, navigate new trails, learn about the flowers, and sleep under the stars. For the first time, I truly register the silence here. Petty problems are no match for the expansive night sky. All the things that didn’t matter to an angst-filled group of teenagers. Crested Butte has taught me I don’t have to follow a traditional path. Who here has? I’m inspired by those around me. It’s remarkable how this town rallies for those in need. People volunteer, teach and give. I love when a passing road biker or a dog-walking stranger gives me a wave. The gesture seems to imply solidarity. “This is my home. This is your home. Good choice.” The hardest part of my day is narrowing down all the fun options here. I may wander and I may still complain about some aspects of small-town life – but I promise never to be bored here again.



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The sum of its arts Our culture-rich towns prove you don’t need a huge canvas to create a beautiful composition.

Why do people feel so happy, healthy and alive in Crested Butte? Certainly the natural beauty, active lifestyles and freedom from urban stressors affect people, whether they’re here for decades or just a rejuvenating weekend. But perhaps there’s another element: the arts. Last winter, Crested Butte was named one of America’s top 12 smalltown arts destinations by ArtPlace, a collaboration of national foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts. Its report called Crested Butte an “art-centric” town with “a robust arts scene.” The economic advantages of having a lively art community are well documented. An Arts & Economic Prosperity Study showed that nonprofit arts and culture represent a $7 million industry in Gunnison County, one that supports 171 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $463,000 in state and local revenue. More fascinating is how the arts enhance the well being of communities, their residents and visitors (like us). Neuroscience and longterm studies have shown correlations between exposure to various art forms and independent thinking skills, immunity, hormone/biochemical balance, healing, cognitive abilities, emotional health, social intelligence, pain perception and the operation of the autonomic nervous system. Ah, science confirms what we already know: we function and feel better when there’s a little creativity in our lives. So maybe we’re happy, healthy and alive in this valley because after our great day hiking, we can be moved to tears by a world-class opera performed up close and personal. Or get our hands into some clay at our first-ever try at a pottery wheel. Or sit transfixed by an innovative dance performance. Or write a ten-minute play and have it produced on stage. Or take a winter photography course set in a backcountry cabin. Or watch a plein-air painter transforming blank canvas into beauty. The scope, breadth and quality of our visual and performing arts rival much larger cities. “Any community grows stronger and more viable when the arts play a prominent role in its development,” noted Harry Woods of the Crested Butte Mountain Theatre. Even in its earliest days, Crested Butte’s hard-working miners pulled

Alex Fenlon

Nathan Bilow

out the accordions and stirred up a polka at every opportunity. Then came young city-refugees, who dreamed up collaborations like the Crested Butte Mountain Theatre, now more than four decades old and the longest running community theater in Colorado, and the Crested Butte Arts Festival, recently named the 35th best arts show (among 1,200) in the nation. Their fun-spirited ingenuity drew other creative people and endeavors like the Crested Butte School of Dance, still kicking, tapping and twirling at 30 years old. A few years later people rallied to fund the transformation of an old metal utility building into the Center for the Arts. For 25 years, the Center has provided both a community performance/gathering facility and arts programming: live music, dance, theater, exhibits, speakers and the popular outdoor Alpenglow concerts. Creativity continues to feed on itself, and the last few years have brought renewed dynamism to Crested Butte’s cultural scene. The new Crested Butte Dance Collective and Crested Butte Film Festival both wowed their audiences from day one. The Center has tripled its program offerings in the last three years; added a satellite Art Studio for art exhibits, classes, pottery painting and studio space; launched a Wine and Food Festival; and partnered with the Film Festival on a year-round film series. Painter Shaun Horne noted that beautiful places draw both artists and art consumers, and Crested Butte adds a ski resort and high quality of life to the mix. “That’s why we have so many artists here,” he said. Amid this gusto, residents and visitors are tapping into their own longforgotten artistry through inclusive classes and soirees. Imagine parading around in your own costume creation after the Art Studio’s evening of “Mardi Gras Masks and Margaritas.” While the arts are becoming more accessible, organizations are also raising their level of quality and sophistication. The Crested Butte Music Festival presents six weeks of world-class music each summer in opera, symphony, jazz, chamber and bluegrass, drawing artists who have performed on the world’s finest stages (like Marcello Giordani, Joyce DiDonato, Junior Mance, Sam Bush and the Emerson String Quartet). Last summer, 170 artists traveled from 12 countries to perform at the festival.

“In the fast-paced world of increasingly shorter sound bites, the Forum’s goal is to slow down the pace of hyperbole and give everyone a chance to listen to an intelligent presentation by an informed speaker on global topics that can affect our lives.” – Public Policy Forum

Ivy Walker

“We came to Crested Butte first for the mountains, but we come back for the Crested Butte Music Festival,” wrote Robin and George Chandler of Germantown, Tennessee. Young people are reaping the benefits of this cultural renaissance in dozens of ways, like “Teens on Stage” productions at the Mountain Theatre; interactive exhibits, play areas and art/science programs at the Trailhead Children’s Museum; classes for older kids like “street art” at the Art Studio; and the Film Festival’s free Mountain Kids Film. The Arts Festival’s ARTreach this year brought a mobile art gallery to the Crested Butte school, trained students to be docents, hosted a school Day of the Arts, and sponsored a student art-buying program during the festival. With so much creative energy, the performing and visual artists of the valley have joined forces to bring some cohesiveness to their efforts. Artists of the West Elks (AWE) offers free membership and website space to novice, emerging and professional artists. AWE organizes monthly ArtWalks of local galleries and studios and hosts educational and social events. Fifteen of the valley’s arts and cultural organizations also formed the Arts Alliance. These organizations provide music, theater, dance, film, visual arts, workshops, speakers and children’s programs. The Alliance spans many disciplines (including the Crested Butte Writers Conference and the Public Policy Forum) and unites the valley (encompassing the Gunnison Arts Center and Western State Colorado University). Under a common umbrella, the organizations can coordinate the dates of their events, share information, and strengthen the valley’s cultural identity. “By working together toward the common goal of making the Gunnison Valley a national arts destination, we’ve reduced competition among our organizations and found ways to collaborate on events and marketing strategies,” said Jenny Birnie, executive director of the Center for the Arts. As arts leaders envisioned the cultural future of the valley and completed a needs assessment, they realized the necessity of additional, larger performance space. From that vision came plans for the 500-seat Mt. Crested Butte Performing Arts Center. Depending on the pace of

Nathan Bilow

fundraising, construction could begin next fall, with an opening in June 2016. (See related item on p. 106.) Shaun Horne, president of the Arts Alliance, said Crested Butte is just beginning to use the arts to create “destination events” that draw cultural tourists. “The ingredients are here; art can be a big tool for this valley.” Dance, jazz, drama, painting, bluegrass, pottery, film – so many ways to balance our biochemistry and hone our social intelligence while we think we’re just having a great time. “The arts are so vital, and what we’re offering is so diverse and at such a high level,” said Susan Gellert of the Crested Butte Music Festival. “I believe the arts are making a huge difference here, for our economy, for the people who live here, and for the people who visit.” For a winter arts calendar, go to

ARTS ALLIANCE MEMBERS Art Studio of the Center for the Arts, Artists of the West Elks, Center for the Arts, Crested Butte Dance Collective, Crested Butte Arts Festival, Crested Butte Film Festival, Crested Butte Mountain Theatre, Crested Butte Music Festival, Crested Butte School of Dance, Crested Butte Writers Conference, Gunnison Arts Center, Mt. Crested Butte Performing Arts Center, Public Policy Forum, Trailhead Children’s Museum, Western State Colorado University,


A performing arts center planned for Mt. Crested Butte will help the arts continue to thrive. The performing arts in Crested Butte have outstripped the facilities that house them. So over several years, arts and community leaders have developed a two-pronged plan: build a state-of-the art Mt. Crested Butte Performing Arts Center (MCBPAC) and then update the Center for the Arts and add a dance studio, art gallery, classrooms and meeting rooms. The new Mt. Crested Butte performance facility will have a 500-seat performance hall with an orchestra pit, theatrical fly tower and flexible seating options to accommodate diverse events such as lectures, theater, dance, rock bands, string quartets, symphony and opera. In addition, plans include rehearsal space, a terrace and lounge, plus multiple “break out” rooms for private gatherings or conference workshops. The facility will be built at the north end of the current ski area parking lot. A parking garage is under construction just south of the site. Depending on the pace of fundraising, the target date to begin construction is fall 2014, with a projected opening in June 2016. Proponents of the MCBPAC this year launched a Community Match Campaign with a goal of $3 million to secure the $3 million Founders Challenge, plus $6 million offered by the Town of Mt. Crested Butte. Crested Butte Mountain Resort and the Town of Mt. Crested Butte, which owned respective portions of the building site, both agreed to donate the land to the performing arts facility. Several other large donations are on the books, including two $1.25 million “naming” donors, but the fundraising committee welcomes contributions of any size. The Center for the Arts board and staff strongly support the plan, said Laura DeFelice, the Center’s program director. The Center’s 200 seats fall well short of the capacity needed to attract many high-caliber performers or mid-level conferences, or to house the Crested Butte Music Festival. Woody Sherwood, MCBPAC executive director, added, “Arts and culture are well established elements of our community. This is a chance to take those to a higher level. And it’s economic development that’s compatible with the environment.”



“It was the mountains that brought us to Crested Butte. It is the that will bring us back!”

Music Festival

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Crested Butte: By Kathy Norgard

Dusty Demerson

A gathering place for artists

What sparks an artist’s creativity? For the artists who visit or congregate in Crested Butte, does inspiration come from this beautiful valley or from the company of other people engaged with the act of creating? Over the course of a year, an estimated 200 artists visit, take art classes, or reside

part or full time in this small valley. Strolling down Elk Avenue or a side street almost any day of the year, you might see a plein air artist enlivening a canvas with pen, oil or watercolor. In Gallery 3, you might watch longtime local Susan Anderton’s talented hands


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sketching a historic building, which she will later ink or paint. “Artists have always been drawn to beautiful places. I was drawn to Crested Butte also for its sense of community and history,” Anderton explained. “My art is a contribution to preserve the historic authenticity of this town. I love our old buildings and I want to preserve them forever on paper.” When Jo Tubb, a watercolorist who splits her time between Crested Butte and southern Arizona, was asked about what ignites her art, she thought for a moment before answering, “I’m inspired by the landscape and nature’s beauty.” Crested Butte’s artists defy the stereotype of introverts who seclude themselves to produce their art. Through classes, informal get-togethers and more structured discussions like the Center for the Arts’ Art Talks, they share experiences, advice and inspiration. They also formed the Artists of the West Elks (AWE), which hosts member gatherings as well as ArtWalk Evenings to highlight local offerings. Another umbrella organization, the Arts Alliance, brings together visual and performing arts groups (see related story). Galleries play a pivotal role in the arts scene, combining forces with each other and with their artists. At the Rijks Family Gallery, Teresa Rijks said, “We love art and we love artists. We display and sell their work so local artists, inspired by the place, can focus on creating.” Because each individual has a different taste in art, Jozef and Teresa Rijks encourage customers to take time and find the piece that’s just right for them. “If we don’t have it, we send them to one of the other galleries in Crested Butte that might have what they want,” Rijks said. Kate Seeley summarized the prevailing attitude. “Art is not about competition but rather cooperation,” she said. “I hope to see Crested Butte become an ‘art destination’ with all of the galleries and artists collaborating to be the best we can be.” This winter’s ArtWalks will be held 5-8 p.m. the last Thursday of each month (except December’s New Years Eve event): December 31, January 30, February 27 and March 27. Participating galleries include inAWE, John Ingham Fine Art, Cleavage Candy, ArtNest, Paragon, Icehouse Art & Atelier, Gallery 3, J.C. Leacock Photography, The Art Studio of the Center for the Arts, North Rim Glass, Rijks Family Gallery, Mabuhay, River Light Art Gallery and Oh Be Joyful Gallery.



Allan Ivy


suspended animation

It’s graceful, spellbinding and tough: no wonder aerial dance has become a Crested Butte passion.

By Sandy Fails They twirl, lift and leap, but even the most light-footed dancers must land once more on earth. Or maybe not. During the first aerial dance performance by the Crested Butte Dance Collective (CBDC) four years ago, the audience was floored – because the dancers were not. Aerial dance looks like a cross between a circus act, gymnastics, movement art and playground time. Dancers use a suspended apparatus or long double lengths of super-strong fabric (called “silks”). The most common apparatus is a lyra, or hoop, hung from the ceiling by a cable; but for one performance, the CBDC had a local welder fashion an aluminum cube, which spun in space as three dancers formed artful shapes within and around it. With the floor-length hanging silks, dancers can ascend, do dramatic drops, or use wraps of fabric to support graceful poses. “Suspended in the air, you don’t have limitations,” said Laura DeFelice, instructor and program director for the CBDC aerial program. “For the dancer, it’s like being a kid again playing on the swing set. For the audience, it’s stunning.”

Letting go of the ground can be both thrilling and difficult. Yet the CBDC’s aerial dance and aerial conditioning classes have taken off. “This is such a fitting community for aerial dancing,” DeFelice said. “People here are so fit and always looking for new, fun things to do.” Aerial dance has been part of the circus arts for centuries. Perhaps fueled by Cirque du Soleil, a buzz has stirred around the art form in recent years. Studios, festivals and performance troupes are popping up, primarily in urban areas. Aerial dance came to Crested Butte via Joan Grant, a long-time dancer and former rock climber. In Durango, she and friends staged two popular performances dancing on a rock face while hanging from climbing ropes. “Then I discovered the lyra, and I could never go back to the ground. It was a whole new world,” she said. “Little did I know that aerial dancing was becoming a phenomenon.” When Grant moved to Crested Butte a few years ago, there were few performance opportunities for adult dancers, so she performed with the Salida Circus. She and 103

Allan Ivy


From the simple to the sublime, collectable fine art prints and canvases of Crested Butte and Colorado. Visit the gallery on Elk Avenue for a personal tour.

327 elk avenue, crested butte / 970 901 0087 / 104

friends KT Folz and Adge Marziano formed the Crested Butte Dance Collective to stage one show, but people loved it, demanded more and began asking about classes. The collective took root and grew, eventually becoming partners with the Center for the Arts. (See the full CBDC story in the Crested Butte Magazine, winter 2010-2011.) Grant first taught aerial dance at the Gunnison Recreation Center, where Barb Haas had used grant funds to equip and create a low-flying trapeze class. DeFelice, former captain of the dance team at Western State Colorado University, learned from Grant and found aerial dance both scary and captivating. “When you learn new things, there’s a little bit of fear. For people who live around here, that’s something we like,” she said. Though the lyra intrigued her, DeFelice loved dancing with the silks. “It’s so dynamic, with endless possibilities,” she said. As it grew, the Crested Butte Dance Collective began teaching aerial dance, an activity unlike anything else in Crested Butte. Using the stage at the Center for the Arts, they started three years ago with basic aerial classes, incorporating both lyra and silks.


Then they added more advanced classes as well as aerial conditioning, which is great for newcomers to gain fitness and learn basics. “Crested Butte has grown into a niche market for aerial dance,” Grant said. “We’ve had a huge spectrum of students: kids, men and women, people who have never danced, people who have danced all their lives.” Last summer the CBDC hosted a children’s class, with great feedback. “Kids can do everything,” DeFelice said “They’re strong, tiny, flexible and fearless.” Aerial dance is a worthy challenge for newcomers. It requires most students to build upper-body strength, overcome nerves and get used to flipping upside down. “Most people are wobbly when they start. Your proprioception changes when you’re upside down; you have to learn where your body is,” Grant said. “It’s incredible for the brain. And you get to know and trust your body.” To distinguish the CBDC’s aerial dance from studios with dubious safety practices, DeFelice is participating in a new fabrics training program pioneered by two wellknown aerialists. She’ll be the only certified silks aerial instructor on the Western Slope.

Working with insurance companies, “We’re trying to show that if done properly, this is extremely safe,” she said. Every aspect must be done properly, from the ceiling beam to the apparatus attachment points to the crash pad beneath the dancer. The silks used by dancers are tested to hold 2,500 pounds of load. “Rigging human beings is far more complicated than hanging objects. Dynamic load is much greater than your body weight.” The equipment and training are expensive, she noted, but safety and credibility are paramount. Eventually, the dance collective would like to draw students from beyond the valley. “This is our passion; we want to see it grow,” Grant said. Meanwhile, the aerial dancers have begun to perform original productions for private events like weddings and parties. To entertain Red Lady Ball celebrants, they turned the airspace of Montanya into an aerial playground. In the last two years, the dancers have also used the lyra and silks to work with Adaptive Sports Center clients. “It’s a humbling experience to take somebody who has lost some body function – because they’ve been

Nathan Bilow

severely burned, for example – and put them in a lyra so they can feel this freedom they haven’t known,” Grant said. “It’s elating, to see the power it can bring to people’s lives. They learn to trust their own bodies and trust another person. And they’re doing something blissful. You can’t be thinking about something else when you’re aerial dancing.” With children, the instructors often work with silks, wrapping the fabric into a “bundle of giggles” around their young charges. Grant said, “It’s very playful, but it can be transformative as well.”


Learn more about CBDC classes, events and aerial programming at 105



to enjoy the arts this winter.

“teocalli and Castle peak” 24”x44” plein Air by shaun Horne


Take a friendly class in linoleum block printmaking, Photoshop, ski-accessed plein-air watercolor, winter photography, nature drawing, encaustics, chalk pastels, photo images on clay or other activities at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts.


Be amazed at a Move the Butte performance by the Crested Butte Dance Collective.


Watch artists at work or hang out and drink coffee with the creative minds at the ArtNest.


See a Crested Butte Mountain Theatre play.


Tour local galleries and studios during the ArtWalk Evenings (or make the rounds on your own if it’s not the last Thursday of the month or New Years Eve).


Try a winter culinary class offered by the Crested Butte Arts Festival.


Enjoy the Rijks Family Gallery’s exhibit (opening Dec. 15) of William Henry Jackson photography from the late 19th and early 20th century.


Paint your own pottery at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts.


Learn to belly dance with the Crested Butte School of Dance (or take ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop or contemporary dance).

pure lAndsCApe Crested Butte:

409 third street Crested Butte, CO | 81224 (970)349-5936


333 West Colorado Avenue, unit 1 telluride, CO | 81435 (970)728-6868

10. Catch the monthly Crested Butte Film Festival film series. 11. Take your favorite youngsters to Kids Create at the Trailhead 106






UNITING ARTISTS, ART LOVERS AND THE GREATER COMMUNITY We support novice, emerging and professional artists in the West Elk region and promote the Visual Arts through education, events and artistic excellence.


Children’s Museum or play in the outdoor Music Garden. 12. Listen to famous country and western singer-songwriters perform during the Crested Butte Songwriters Festival. 13. Check the Gunnison Arts Center schedule for performances, classes and exhibits. 14. Create your own custom art class (individual or with a group of friends) through the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts or directly with an artist. 15. Try aerial conditioning classes with the Crested Butte Dance Collective. 16. See a new collection of landscapes by acclaimed painter Don Sahli at Oh-Be-Joyful Gallery for the New Years Eve ArtWalk. 17. Join Artists of the West Elks, our regional organization of artists, galleries and supporters of the arts. 18. Enjoy performances and presentations at the Center, bars, library and coffee/book store. 19. Enroll in a class or enjoy a concert at Western State Colorado University in nearby Gunnison. 20. Plan your summer to make sure you’ll be here for the Crested Butte Music Festival’s opera, bluegrass and jazz; Crested Butte Writers Conference; Crested Butte Film Festival; Crested Butte Arts Festival; and free outdoor Alpenglow and Live! from Mt. Crested Butte concerts. 107

Winter events




“Harry’s Hotter at Twilight,” CB Mtn. Theatre Teens on Stage


Opening day, Crested Butte Nordic Center


Ski free opening day, Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR)


Thanksgiving Training Camp, CB Nordic


Mark Ewing

Alex Fenlon



CB Avalanche Center’s Beacon Bash, Town Park


CBAC Avalanche Awareness Night at the Center


Holiday Bazaar, Crested Butte Community School


Irwin/La Sportiva ISMF Ski Mountaineering Race, Irwin

11, 18

Wednesday Night Wax Clinics


Santa Day (Guinness record for skiing Santas?), CBMR


Light Up Night, Elk Avenue in Crested Butte


Rock on Ice, sculptures of ice, CBMR

14, 28

Citizens Nordic Races


Full Moon Party at Uley’s Cabin, CBMR


Moonlight Snowshoe Tour, CBMR


“Into the Mind,” film series, Center for the Arts

19-23, 26-29

CB Mtn. Theatre’s Holiday Play, Mallardi Cabaret


Solstice Yurt Dinner


Junior Qualifier/FIS Points Race, CB Nordic


Magic Meadows Yurt Dinner


Gingerbread House competition display, CBMR


Torchlight Parade & Santa’s Sleighride, CBMR


Delta Saints concert, Center for the Arts (CFTA)


Torchlight Parade & Fireworks, CBMR


New Year’s Eve Yurt Dinner & Party, CB Nordic


ArtWalk Crested Butte galleries


Learn to skate ski for free, CB Nordic


Xanadu Performing Arts workshop, ASCA

4, 11, 18

Citizens Nordic Races


USASA Rail Jam & Slopeside Competitions, CBMR


Willy Porter, Center for the Arts


“The Crash Reel” film series, CFTA


Crested Butte Songwriters Festival


Moonlight Snowshoe Tour


Full Moon Yurt Dinner, CB Nordic


Roost the Butte Snowmobile Competitions


Singer/songwriters performance, CFTA


CB Nordic Team Yurt Dinner fundraiser


Head for the Hills, CFTA


CB Nordic Team coaches skate clinic


ArtWalk, Crested Butte galleries


Alley Loop Pub Crawl and Snow Bike Race

JC Leacock


Alley Loop Nordic Marathon


IFSA Jr. Freeskiing Competitions


Learn to skate ski for free, CB Nordic


CB School of Dance performances, CFTA


Silver Queen Pageant


Trailhead Sleighride Adventure to Uley’s


Freeskiing Extremes


Valentines Dinner at the Yurt, CB Nordic


Valentines Swing Night, CBDC at the Center


Moonlight Snowshoe Tour, CBMR


Gothic Mountain Tour


Full Moon Yurt Dinner, CB Nordic


Twister of Love Speed Dating, CBMR Twister Lift


Mysto the Magi at the Center


The Duhks at the Center


“And While We Were Here” film series, CFTA


Move the Butte, CBDC productions at the Center


Prater Cup U14 Junior Championships, CBMR


Magic Meadows Yurt Dinner, CB Nordic


ArtWalk, Crested Butte galleries


Red Lady Salvation Ball


Ski for Hope Nordic Challenge for Living Journeys Dusty Demerson


Winter events




CB Nordic Magic Meadows Dozen


Magic Meadows Yurt Dinner


Seven Hours of Banana, CBMR


Mardi Gras celebration


Learn to skate ski for free, CB Nordic


Banff Film Festival, CFTA


IFSA Jr. Freeskiing National Championships, CBMR


Big Air on Elk


Full Moon Yurt Dinner


U.S. Ski Mountaineering Nationals, CBMR


Full Moon Yurt Dinner


Moonlight Snowshoe Tour, CBMR


Patty Larkin at the Center


“Muscle Shoals” film series, CFTA


FestEVOL music & eco-village, CBMR


Al Johnson Telemark Race


ArtWalk, Crested Butte galleries


Grand Traverse gear check & vendor expo


Grand Traverse ski race, CB to Aspen


KBUT’s Soul Train fundraiser


Crested Butte Mtn. Heritage Museum’s Beach Ball Express

APRIL Alex Fenlon


Burlesque: The House of Shimmy Shake, CFTA


Flauschink winter-flushing celebration


Slush Huck/Pond Skim, CBMR


Closing day, Crested Butte Nordic and CBMR


Ultimate Snowmobile Event, CBMR


Film series, Center for the Arts

JC Leacock

Also check out the programs at the Trailhead Children’s Museum, classes at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts, and events through Yoga for the Peaceful, the Crested Butte Mountain Theatre, the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum, Crested Butte Dance Collective, and Crested Butte Spirit, Mind, Body. For the latest information see 110

Winnie Haver owner 970.349.7563


Beads, Minerals, Jewelry, Tapestries and more Local art and gifts

Vacation Home Chef Services Celebrations & Special Events

970.349.7563 / Located at 326 Elk Avenue

In Home Private Dinners Cocktail Parties Parties & Small Events from 2-20+ Casual Cooking Classes Interactive Cooking Parties Tim Egelhoff, Chef 970.209.3004 Tim Egelhoff is a locally famous world class chef with over 30 years of professional culinary experience.

K B U T Community Radio for the Gunnison Valley

90.3 FM


88.7 FM


OFFICE (970) 349-5225 / STUDIO (970) 349-7444

Music Variety :: Rock, Soul, Bluegrass, Jazz, Classical, Jam & everything in between KBUT.ORG WORLDWIDE Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air Weekend, News & Culture :: NPR’s Democracy Now!, A Prairie Home Companion, Radiolab & more Calendar, Lost & Found, Ski & Avalanche Local Relevance :: Weather, Community Report, West Elk Word, & Local / State News Stories SINCE 1986 Party (late March), Fat Tuesday Parade, Community Events :: Soul Train DanceFemale Arm Wrestling Tourney (February)

Experience, expertise, exceptional service.

Reggie Masters 970-349-5313 Office Bighorn realty 970-596-3568 Cell Each Office is Independently Owned and Operated 970-349-5145 home New Location! 305 Sixth Street, at the 4-way stop Crested Butte 970-349-5313 111


Dusty Demerson




Crested Butte’s premium vacation rentals. We work with each client to provide the perfect vacation -- arranging accommodations, activities, tours and more.

Cozy B&B with European ski lodge charm. Homemade Continental breakfast. Hot tub with mountain views. Private baths. Near free shuttle; walk to shops & restaurants.

Historic inn located in a residential neighborhood of downtown Crested Butte. Just two blocks off the main street. 19 rooms individually decorated. Some with balconies.



Vacation Rentals 510 Elk Avenue Crested Butte


Bed & Breakfast Hotel 621 Maroon Avenue PO Box 427, Crested Butte


Bed & Breakfast Lodge PO Box 148 129 Gothic Avenue, Crested Butte






Specializing in highly personalized property management and vacation rentals. Expect more.

The warmth of a family inn; value, convenience & amenities of a hotel. Home-made afternoon snacks, yummy breakfast. Rooms with two queens or one king bed. On shuttle route, stroll to shops, restaurants & trailheads.

Established in 1939, inside National Forest, only 12 minutes from town. 8 clean and cozy cabins, with Cement Creek running through the property. Fully equipped kitchens, comfy beds, fireplaces and more. Dog friendly, open year round.



Rental Homes PO Box 168, Crested Butte




Hotel & Family Inn PO Box 990 708 6th Street, Crested Butte


Rustic Cabins 2094 Cement Creek, South of CB



Luxury Bed & Breakfast PO Box 3801 624 Gothic Avenue, Crested Butte Luxury B&B with full breakfast, private baths and concierge in historic Crested Butte. Also pampers pets with in-room dog beds, crates, home-made treats and dog-sitting service.

Rustic Log Home, Crested Butte Beautiful 7 bedroom, 8 bathroom home. An ideal vacation home and great location for the whole family. Sleeps 19. 1.970.209.6376

1.800.390.1338 AD PAGE 87



JC Leacock

The warmth of a family inn...

...the value and convenience of a hotel Complimentary WiFi and continental breakfast Hot tub • Designated pet-friendly rooms • Non-smoking

(888)349-6184 • A TripAdvisor GreenPartner and 2013 Certificate of Excellence winner

Perfect Vacation Rental

Inside the National Forest but only 12 minutes from Crested Butte with Cement Creek winding through the property. 8 adorable cabins with fully equipped kitchens, comfy beds, fireplaces and more! Snowshoeing, xc skiing, fishing, mtn. biking and hiking trails right from your cabin door.

View cabins inside and out at 970-349-5517 OPEN YEAR ROUND

Pooches Welcome

* 7 Bedrooms, 8 Baths, Sleeps 22 * Complete Gourmet Kitchen * Steps to Free Shuttle to Crested Butte Mountain Lifts * Stunning Views, 1 Block to Center of Town of CB * Sunroom, Steam Room, Library, Internet & Wireless * Location is perfect for walking to Shops, Restaurants, and the Historic Center of Town

970-349-0445 E-mail: 113

Wide-ranging kudos Dogs, bikes, skiing, kids, art and elders. Alex Fenlon

Crested Butte and the Gunnison valley were ranked this year as great places to: 1.

Live long. Gunnison County has the second highest life expectancy in the nation for males (81.65 years) and seventh highest for females (84.33 years), according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. See


Raise the next freeskiing world champion. Crested Butte was chosen among National Geographic Adventure’s 25 Best Ski Towns in the WORLD. Editors describe it as “funkier, saltier, more altimeter watch than Rolex,” citing the locally painted buses, backalley restaurants, dearth of chain stores and the Elk Mountains, “one of the most eclectic, adventurous playgrounds in the Rockies.” The writers praise the ski resort for beginner and kid-friendly terrain and blue groomers, but attribute the mountain’s “cult-like following” to adventure skiing “as hairy as any in the country.” Perfect, they say, for grooming future ski champs.

A Distinctive, Unique, Historic Inn Downtown Crested Butte




Be a dog (or have one). In Elevation Outdoors’ Best Colorado Mountain Towns survey, Crested Butte was voted number one in three out of ten categories (a better showing than any other town). In honoring “dog town” Crested Butte, the magazine noted the local newspaper’s dog obituaries and quoted pet store owner Evan Kezsborn: “There’s no dog park because this is one huge dog park. If you were going to come back to this world as a dog, there’s no place you’d rather be.” See


Ride (and adore) your bike. Elevation Outdoors’ second award for Crested Butte: best Colorado bike town. In publishing the voters’ choice, the magazine quotes John Chandler, president of the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association: “Why is this such a great bike town? Proximity to multiple great trail networks. Townies everywhere all the time. Healthy happy people loving riding bikes. It’s fun to be part of it.”


Go a-wandering. Crested Butte also won Elevation Outdoors’ best trail town tally, for the quantity of its backcountry trails, the wealth of wildflowers and the variety of destinations: fourteeners to climb, alpine lakes to fish, handicappedaccess paths, hikes to Aspen, and trails into vast wilderness where you might see no other soul.


Buy, sell, enjoy or make art. ArtPlaces named Crested Butte one of America’s top dozen small towns for the visual and performing arts. (See story on p. 96.)


Vacation with Junior. The website gave Crested Butte its number one billing as a family ski resort. The “small resort with some big action” kept the researcher’s two children entertained in a safe, beautiful, uncrowded setting. The writer also touted the ski instruction at Camp CB and the bungee trampoline, rock climbing, tubing, mini-golf and air-bag jump at the Adventure Park. Crested Butte’s “vibe is fantastic,” she wrote.


JC Leacock

baccHanale • 349-5257

brick Oven • 349-5044

The all-new Bacchanale is a modest Italian restaurant from the team that launched django’s. Our fresh and light menu will re-introduce you to simple flavors, colorful salads, artisan flatbreads and handmade specialties. Join us daily at 7am for coffee and breakfast, and come back for dinner nightly from 5-10pm. Reservations accepted and can be made online.

Pizza-by-the-slice, deep dish, thin crust & specialty. Fresh subs, appetizers, burgers, largest salad bar in town. 30 beers on tap, high end tequila, spirits and wine. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. FREE DELIVERY.

Breakfast / Dinner

Lunch / Dinner

209 elk avenue, downtown -

Ad pg. Back Cover

djangO’s • 349-7574

223 Elk Avenue, Downtown

Ad pg. 117

Courtyard of Mountaineer Square, Mt. Crested Butte Enjoy award-winning cuisine in a relaxed modern setting. Our small plates have captured national attention and combine Spanish and southern European flavors with the freshest seasonal ingredients. Join us apres ski from 4 p.m. every Tuesday-Sunday, with dinner served 5-10 p.m. Reservations recommended.


Ad pg. Back Cover

dOnita’s cantina • 349-6674

tHe ice bar at Uleys • 349-2275

last steeP • 349-7007

Mexican. Down-to-earth eatery specializing in good food, ample portions and fun service. Fabulous fajitas, enchanting enchiladas, bueno burritos. Local favorite for over 30 years!

Serving gourmet lunches daily inside the cozy, remodeled cabin and signature drinks outside at our legendary bar made out of ice. At night, embark on an epicurean dining adventure. Enjoy a starlit ride in a snowcat drawn open sleigh to a charming cabin in the woods, then delight in a gourmet dinner. Call for dinner reservations.

Sandwiches/soup/salads. Casual family dining. Affordable menu with Caribbean island flair; Cajun chicken pasta, curry shrimp and coconut salad, artichoke-cheddar soup in bread bowl. Happy hour and daily specials.


Lunch / Dinner

Lunch / Dinner

4th & Elk, Downtown

Ad pg. 119

MARCHITELLI’S gOUrMet nOOdle • 349-7401 411 Third Street, Downtown

Italian Offering generations of family recipes in a cozy, relaxed atmosphere. Featuring unique pasta sauce combos, traditional and regional Italian, seafood, veal and elk. Reservations recommended.


Ad pg. 118

Mid-mountain at the base of twister lift

Ad pg. 28

208 Elk Avenue, Downtown

Ad pg. 117

Maxwells • 349-1221

Mcgill’s • 349-5240

Fine Dining. CB’s newest steakhouse. HDTVs for watching the games. Hand-cut steaks, seafood, pastas, lamb, pork, burgers, salads, appetizers, kids’ menu. Extensive wines & beers.

Old-Fashioned soda fountain. Malts, shakes, sundaes, banana splits, libations, home-cooked breakfasts and lunches prepared to order. Historic locale, casual atmosphere.

Lunch / Dinner

Breakfast / Lunch

228 Elk Avenue, Downtown

226 Elk Avenue, Downtown

Ad pg. 119

Ad pg. 116

Pita’s in Paradise • 349-0897

ryce • 349-9888

sOUPcOn . 349-5448

Gyros, kabobs, sliders, fresh made hummus and baba gannoush, pita nachos and homemade soups. Greek and tahini salads, spanokopita and curly fries. Outdoor dining. Happy hour specials. Serving everyday.

Bringing you the best culinary treats from Thailand, China, Japan and Vietnam. Spacious riverside dining room and an atmosphere that is perfectly casual. for hours and menu.

Romantic, petite bistro featuring traditional French technique using local ingredients married with the finest cuisine from around the world. Open seven nights a week. Two seatings nightly. Reservations recommended.

Lunch / Dinner

Lunch / Dinner


3rd and Elk, Downtown

Ad pg. 118

west end PUblic HOUse • 349-5662 2nd and Elk, Downtwon

“Elevated,” comfort food. The ONLY house-smoked BBQ in CB! Fresh oysters, small plates, steaks, seafood, salads, sandwiches, burgers, kids menu, and more. Eclectic wines, craft beers, and specialty cocktails. HDTVs, 8ft. digital screen upstairs to watch the game or play X-Box Kinect!

Lunch / Dinner

Ad pg. 116

120 Elk Avenue, Downtown

Off Elk Avenue on Second, Downtown

Ad pg. 117

Ad pg. 116

wOOden nickel • 349-6350

wOOdstOne grille • 349-8030

Steaks, prime rib, king crab. USDA Prime cuts of beef, Alaska King crab, ribs, pork and lamb chops, grilled seafood, burgers, chicken fried steak and buffalo burgers. Reservations recommended.

The WoodStone Grille offers a generous breakfast buffet to charge you up for the day’s adventures. Come back to rest by the fire while sipping your favorite drink, and stay for a pub-style dinner suited for the whole family. Serving breakfast, après ski and dinner daily.


Breakfast / Dinner

222 Elk Avenue, Downtown

Ad pg. 61

The Grand Lodge, Mt. Crested Butte

Ad pg. 119 115

of christ. for christ. in christ.

OH BE JOyful cHurcH 625 marOOn avEnuE

join us for 9 a.m. Sunday morning worship

Join us at

Crested Butte’s First GastroPub • Elevated Comfort Food • • house smoked bbq • • Colorado & Global Craft Beers • • Full Bar & Specialty Cocktails • • Eclectic Wine List •

Killing ‘em Softly

creekside & patio dining Private Dining Rooms large parties Weddings

Two Seatings Nightly. Reservations Required. 970.349.5448


970.349.5448 CB, CO 81224

201 Elk Avenue 970.349.5662






208 Elk Avenue, Crested Butte

The Last Steep Bar & Grill



Dinner Nightly • Downtown Crested Butte

Use the FREE Explore Crested Butte mobile app to find out more information about lodging options in Crested Butte and so much more!



Bar and Grill Vegetarian Dishes • Gyros • Shrimp, Chicken & Tofu Pitas Hummus, Pita Nachos, Salads & More!



Featuring 5 homemade soups


Wings, Burgers, Potato Skins & Queso Drink Specials • Rootbeer on Tap

Daily Happy Hour: $1 PBRs, $2 Wells, $2 Beam Shots, $3 Drafts, $4 Wines


970-349-0897 • TAKE-OUT AVAILABLE 3RD & ELK AVENUE • DOWNTOWN CRESTED BUTTE Open 7 days a week for lunch & dinner 118

Download the app and start exploring Crested Butte today!

Join us for Crested Butte’s Finest Made-From-Scratch Mexican Food. Visit

DONITASCANTINA.COM for specials, hours, reservations, menus, gift certificates and the

POPULAR CANTINACAM! 4th & Elk, Downtown Crested Butte


Start the day with a generous breakfast buffet. At the end of the day, rest by the fire with your favorite drink and enjoy a casual dinner suited for the whole family. Open seasonally winter and summer.

(970) 349-8030





wines from around the world

beer on tap

trent bona photo

hand cut steaks

226 elk avenue crested butte 970.349.1221



Xavier Fané


24/7 urGent injury Care Call 970.349.1046

CliniC • surGery Center • fellowship trained speCialists in sports mediCine, knee, shoulder, hand and pediatriCs • fraCture, disloCation and laCeration Care • diGital x-ray, diaGnostiC ultrasound • patient presCription serviCe to save travel to Gunnison • sCheduled appointments and walk-ins • total knee and total hip replaCement serviCes • pediatriC orthopaediC speCialists with aCtive staff at denver Children’s hospital Find us on the Explore Crested Butte Mobile App. Gunnison

Crested Butte

112 W. Spencer Ave.

405 Elk Ave.



dr. Gloria Beim

Chief medical officer team usa 2014 winter olympics in sochi, russia. us ski and snowboard team physician.



Chef Kate Ladoulis is giving travelers a major reason to visit Crested Butte, Colorado—and it has nothing to do with the ski slopes. Her artful Mediterranean-inspired small plates, supplemented by her husband Chris’s clever wine pairings, have all the locals and visitors talking.

– James Beard Foundation

The same team that brought django’s to national acclaim in 2008 has reinvented the Bacchanale. Italian food so good you’ll want to visit everyday.

ddjango’’s dj THE LIGHTER SIDE OF ITALIAN Open Every Day at 5 p.m.



209 Elk Avenue, Crested Butte

exceptional i l spot for... unforgettable small plates.”

django’s restaurant


mountaineer square, mt. cb

Crested Butte Magazine / Winter 2013/2014  
Crested Butte Magazine / Winter 2013/2014  

Crested Butte Skiing, Dining, Real Estate and Life Style of this historic town!