Steamboat Magazine Mountain Ed. 2023

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C l i e n t s a p p r e c i a t e h i s e x t e n s i v e m a r ke t i n s i g h t , h a rd w o r k a n d p e r s o n a l c a r e t o e d u c a t e t h e m o n t h e m a r ke t , w h i l e l o c a t i n g a n d n e g o t i a t i n g t h e i r S t e a m b o a t h o m e a n d p ro t e c t i n g t h e i r i n t e r e s t s t h ro u g h o u t t h e e n t i r e p ro c e s s .

We worked with Doug over a period of several years in the Steamboat area and can gladly say that he is the best real estate professional we have had the pleasure to work with. He combines a depth of knowledge of the market with great negotiating skills and an extensive network of resources. He went the extra mile to help us find the right property and went even further to close the deal!

STEAMBOAT MAGAZINE | MOUNTAIN 2023 | 1 837 LINCOLN AVE • STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO • • JACEROMICKGALLERY.COM ROLAND REED GALLERY RWR THREE GALLERIES. ONE LOCATION. High Plains Drifters, Jace Romick Greywind. Oil Painting, Gregory Block Lazy Boy, Roland Reed circa 1912 The Home of Jace Romick's Fine Art Photography and The Collection of Roland Reed's Native American Photography Circa 1905-1912 Also Representing Fine Artists Including Brian Bonebrake, Gregory Block, Chula Beauregard, Israel Holloway and Sandy Graves
2 | ONLINE AT WWW.STEAMBOATMAGAZINE.COM * We are now a Hubbardton Forge dealer FURNISHINGS / FULL SERVICE DESIGN STUDIO 345 Anglers Dr. • Sundance Plaza | | 970-879-1893 5,000 sq. ft. warehouse BUY AMERICAN MADE, SHOP OLIVIA’S
58 | Slide into Skiing The new Greenhorn Ranch learning area opens at Steamboat
– by
60 | Steamboat Powdercats Turns 40 A look at the past four decades of one of the longest-running snowcat operations in Colorado. – by Eugene Buchanan 68 |
The author witnesses a surprise meeting in
families and cultures. – by
Skeeter Werner gives her brother Buddy a congratulatory kiss following an Alpine ski competition in 1955. Storm Mountain was renamed Mount Werner in honor of Buddy following his death in an avalanche in 1964. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest American skiers who has ever lived. Courtesy of Tread of Pioneers Museum/image colorization by Rod Hanna Contents Visitors’ Guide VG 2 Welcome Letter VG 14 SKI On the Slopes of Mount Werner VG 15 What’s New at Steamboat Ski Area VG 16 Howelsen How-To VG 19 Night Skiing Tips VG 26 VG 32 PLAY Play Outdoors and Indoors VG 33 Head up North VG 38 VG 46 REVIVE Finding Your Bliss in Dreamboat VG 47 Après, the Steamboat Way VG 48 Shop Therapy VG 51 Music in the Mountains VG 52 DIRECTORY VG 54 City Map VG 56 Winter Highlights 2022-23 VG 57 Activities VG 58 Dining VG 62 Lodging VG 63 Flight Map VG 64 Outdoors VG 67 Real Estate VG 68 Services VG 70 Where to Worship VG 71 Shopping DEPARTMENTS 16 Publisher’s Note The City We Built – by Deborah Olsen 18 Letters 20 Contributors Julia Ben-Asher, Casey Hopkins, Matt Tredway 24 Genuine Steamboat Steamboat in Pictures Longtime ski area photographer Larry Pierce shares his collection of iconic Steamboat images. 34 Food & Drink A Smoking Success – by Suzi Mitchell 36 People Kyle Ruff: Curator of Steamboat Comedy – by Julia Ben-Asher 40 Music Music on a Mission: 10 Years of WinterWonderGrass in Colorado – by Sophie Dingle 44 Arts & Culture Boldness defines the latest Steamboat Art Museum exhibit. Taking Art to Powder – by Casey Hopkins 48 In the News Upgrades at the resort: remodeled Christy Sports; the new employee childcare facility. 74 Media Nonfiction for everyone: One Book Steamboat keeps the community read real. – by Jennie Lay 78 Staff Picks What we’re looking forward to reading this winter. 79 Crossword Puzzle Rocky Mountain High – by Victor Fleming 80 Why Stop at the Last Page? The last page is only the beginning: continue the journey with Ski Town Media’s online offerings.
the Decade
Resort celebrates six decades.
by Eugene Buchanan
Sophie Dingle
A Chance Encounter
Nepal, uniting
Matt Tredway
Jim Temple, one of Steamboat Resort’s founders, does a Royal Christie on Headwall in the 1960s. COURTESY OF JEFF TEMPLE

74-acre horse property just 5 miles from town. The property offers an exquisite 5,100 square-foot primary residence, a caretaker apartment, an RV garage, a hay barn, and a 6-stall Morton horse barn with a roping arena. The property sits on two lots with no HOA and an irrigated meadow.

BEREND & group The BOYD BEREND & group The T H E B O Y D & B E R E N D G R O U P 970.846.8100 | 970.819.3730 BOYDBERENDGROUP@STEAMBOATSIR.COM R A N C H I N S T E A M B O A T C O M $ 5 , 4 5 0 , 0 0 0 #3485003
STEAMBOAT MAGAZINE | MOUNTAIN 2023 | 7 B I G V A L L E Y R A N C H L A N D C O M B U R G E S S C R E E K L O T S C O M One of the last large, undeveloped land on Emerald Mtn, this breathtaking property spans 430 ac & is platted as 11 parcels. Scenic, heavily forested & borders 4,000 ac of BLM land. Three adjacent lots on Burgess Creek offer 1.25 acres of privacy among towering pine trees right below Thunderhead Lift. Easy skiing access without the crowds of the base area. $ 8 , 5 0 0 , 0 0 0 #2067096 $ 1 , 8 0 0 , 0 0 0 #6217144 H A Y D E N A I R P O R T L O T S C O M Rare development opportunity at Yampa Valley Regional Airport. Six 0.6 ac lots—a total of 3.7 ac. Hayden is booming w/growth & development—a prime time to invest in the area. $ 1 , 0 0 0 , 0 0 0 #5457057

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Steamboat Magazine is published by Ski Town Media, Inc. The Home 2023 edition will be published in April 2023. For advertising rates and subscription information contact Steamboat Magazine, P.O. Box 880616, Steamboat Springs, CO 80488. Phone: 970-871-9413. Subscribe: Single copy mailed first-class $9.50. No portion of the contents of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the publisher. © 2023 Ski Town Media, Inc. All rights reserved – ISSN 2164-4055.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Sophie Dingle SALES AND MARKETING DIRECTOR John Sherwood ART DIRECTOR Melissa VanArsdale DIGITAL DIRECTOR Trey Mullen MEDIA EDITOR Jennie Lay OFFICE MANAGER/STAFF WRITER Casey Hopkins STAFF WRITER Suzy Magill PROOFREADER Christina Freeman CONTRIBUTORS Julia Ben-Asher Eugene Buchanan Victor Fleming Suzi Mitchell Matt Tredway PHOTOGRAPHERS Ron Dahlquist Larry Pierce Noah Wetzel
Mountain 2023 – Volume 45, Number 1


When home is slopeside at the gondola, you step out of your slippers and into warm ski boots. Ownership at One Steamboat Place frees you from the traditional hassles and expenses of owning a second home so that you can start vacationing the moment you arrive. Access to the Timbers Reciprocity Program opens the doors to 14 other properties worldwide within the Timbers Collection. Whether your choice is Whole Ownership or a Deeded Fractional Interest in our Private Residence Club, you will quickly discover why so many have made One Steamboat Place their home away from home.

C ® ONTACT Todd Allsberry | 970.846.4897 | |WWW.ONESTEAMBOATPLACE.COM/HOME Aspen Bachelor Gulch Cabo San Lucas Jupiter Kaua‘ i Kiawah Island Maui Napa Scottsdale Snowmass Sonoma Southern California Steamboat Springs Tuscany U.S Virgin Islands Vail 8,
90, 000 ,

made effortless

BD | 4.5 BA | 3,889 SQ FT | $8,000,000

Penthouse 711 has expansive up mountain views from large vaulted windows in the living room as well as from the deck. ree of the bedrooms enjoy plaza views high above the base area improvements. A dual sided replace in the Owners Suite allows you to cozy up to enjoy the re in the adjoining sitting room, the perefect place to unwind a er a day of mountain fun. Penthouse 711 has approximately 300 additional square feet of living space including a

sitting room, media room, and entrance foyer closet that has not yet been replated. e media room is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a movie, or allow the kids to enjoy video games. is Penthouse comes with the furnishings and an incredible art collection, meaning you can move in and enjoy the mountain lifestyle immediately.

STEAMBOAT MAGAZINE | MOUNTAIN 2023 | 15 Aspen Bachelor Gulch Cabo San Lucas Jupiter Kaua‘ i Kiawah Island Maui Napa Scottsdale
Steamboat Springs Tuscany U.S Virgin Islands Vail
Snowmass Sonoma Southern California
711 Contact Todd Allsberry | 970 846 4897 | tallsberry@onesteamboatplace com | www onesteamboatplace com Penthouse 711 ST EA M BO AT OWNERSHI P

Editorial Advisory Board

Sarah Floyd

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club

Betse Grassby

Steamboat Art Museum

Larry Mashaw

The Resort Group

Marta Miskolczy

Gal Friday Ed

Lisa Popovich

MainStreet Steamboat

Lindsey Reznicek

Yampa Valley Medical Center

Ulrich Salzgeber

Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors

Ray Selbe

Selbe Farms

The City We Built

You didn’t know you came to make a city, Nobody knows when a city’s going to happen... – “Elegant Dust” by Thomas Hornsby Ferril, Colorado Poet Laureate, 1979

The first time I skied Steamboat was over Presidents Day Weekend 1984, the legendary winter when it snowed for 40-plus days. I caught the last two days of the storm, followed by a glorious bluebird day, when snow crystals filled the air and so much powder covered the slopes that a lot of it went untouched, despite the holiday.

I went home and packed my bags.

I didn’t move here to be part of a community, to hold down a serious job, or to pursue a noble endeavor. I came here to ski. Oh, and to party like a rock star.

In those days, après began at The Tugboat, the infamous saloon that still sits, boarded up, in the middle of Ski Time Square. I remember the day we all met outside the “Tugger” at 5 p.m. to watch local bartender Mark “Shoobi” Knutson skydive into the parking lot with Tanya Tucker in his arms.

Steamboat has changed. It’s no longer the last remnant of the Wild West, where horses gallop into bars and hippies bathe in Oak Creek. It’s a city, complete with housing, water and employee shortages, plus traffic congestion, development pressure, and yes, even homelessness.

As Steamboat changed, so did I. I joined a church, supported nonprofits, sat on boards, spoke at City Council meetings and lobbied for the environment. I caught the Steamboat spirit.

In the ‘80s, we struggled to get the word out about Steamboat. Today, Steamboat is known globally, and despite (or because of?) its remote location, it has become a mecca for retirees, remote workers, urban refugees, families in pursuit of the American dream – and ski bums, I hope.

What brings all these people here? Award-winning schools, extensive medical facilities, two museums, two orchestras, a dozen art galleries, the Winter Sports Club, brew pubs, distilleries, fine dining, a quaint Old Town, music venues, a showpiece library, a college on the hill, public hot springs, Howelsen Hill and a truly world-class ski area.

We built that.

Sometimes, that makes me proud. Other times, I think, “Oh God, what have we wrought?” So long as the Steamboat spirit grabs newcomers like it did me, we’ll be OK. If not, we’ll kick them off the island. It’s happened before.

Think snow,

Amy Charity SBT GRVL Scott Engelman Carl’s Tavern and Truffle Pig Cathy Wiedemer
Grateful Beds Deborah Olsen telemark skis on Buffalo Pass with Steamboat Powdercats. COURTESY OF STEAMBOAT POWDERCATS

Cover beyond words @travis_luxemag_colorado says via Instagram: “Just got mine, killer cover image!!!”

About the cover:

The cover photo, by Ben Duke, depicts Vicente Katz skiing fresh powder at Steamboat Resort. The photo was voted as the Ikon Pass’s Best Picture of the 2021/2022 winter season. Katz is a Chilean-born skier who is currently living in Steamboat, working as a professional big mountain skier and backcountry guide.

To Send Letters to the Editor: Email:; U.S. mail: P.O. Box 880616, Steamboat Springs, CO 80488

Springs, Colorado
visit us in person
Central Park Plaza
STEAMBOAT MAGAZINE | MOUNTAIN 2023 | DISCOVER UPLAND PRESERVE THE FINAL 13 HOMESITES RELEASED HOMESITE 49 HOMESITE 46 HOMESITE 47 HOMESITE 48 HOMESITE 50 HOMESITE 51 HOMESITE 52 HOMESITE 53 HOMESITE 54 HOMESITE 56 HOMESITE 57 HOMESITE 63 The Upland Preserve at Alpine Mountain Ranch & Club features a stunning collection of homesites that enjoy unmatched panoramic views of the South Valley and are accessed through a set of distinguished monument pillars. Many of the 5-acre homesites border National Forest and feature commanding views of the ski area and unmistakable Flat Tops mountains and wilderness area. All Upland Preserve homesites enjoy bright sunlight, convenient access to hiking trails, and are teeming with majestic wildlife. EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY PREVIEW BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. CALL 970.846.0817 TO BOOK A TOUR.


Abby Jensen Photography

Julia Ben-Asher

Julia Ben-Asher is a freelance writer based in Steamboat Springs. For her story on Kyle Ruff, founder of Steamboat Comedy, she learned how much serious work went into creating and growing the organization. “I found myself cheering for the group’s success,” she says. “I hope this article supports our collective appreciation of the comedians we’re so lucky to have in the Yampa Valley.”

Casey Hopkins


Magazine staff writer Casey Hopkins was excited to write “Taking Art to Powder” because he has followed the story’s interviewees, Chris Benchetler and Travis Parr, for several years. He even managed to get a pair of 2022 Bent Chetlers for this ski season. Of the duo, he says “I’m very excited to see the work these two rippers put out in the future!”

Matt Tredway

Matt Tredway has spent much of his life outdoors. His story in this issue, A Chance Encounter, urges readers to look up and recognize people of your own tribe and to understand there might be more than one reason you are where you are. SM

Images available for purchase Gallery: Pine
Fine Art 117 9th
970-879-2787 •
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
St., Steamboat Springs, Colorado
–Albert Einstein
STEAMBOAT MAGAZINE | MOUNTAIN 2023 | 21 Denver 303.399.4564 Aspen 970.925.8579 Crested Butte 970.349.5023 Steamboat Springs 970.879.9222 Telluride 970.728.3359 Vail 970.949.5500
interior landscapes that delight the senses
22 | ONLINE AT WWW.STEAMBOATMAGAZINE.COM 730 Lincoln Avenue, Steamboat Springs (970)871-1822 | LIMITED EDITION FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY Connect with Nature Experience the wonder of nature through the lens of Thomas D. Mangelsen Gallery Close-Out Sale Save 20 to 60% off images in stock and on custom orders *Not available through other Mangelsen Gallery locations or online.
STEAMBOAT MAGAZINE | MOUNTAIN 2023 | 23 James WW McCreight DDS, Wendy M McCreight DDS | 970.879.4703 | CARING COMPREHENSIVE PROGRESSIVE What makes you smile? TM B rooke W elch P hotograPhy OUR PASSION Your Smile EST. 1998

It’s who we are

Iconic Steamboat scenes

Longtime Steamboat Resort photographer Larry Pierce shares some of his most famous images in honor of the resort’s 60th anniversary.

Genuine Steamboat
Barb Shipley, Olive Broiler, Jeff Broiler, John Shipley and Brent Romick on horseback at Lake Catamount in 1987.

J.C. Trujillo, world champion bareback rider and member of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, also helped to establish the Cowboy Downhill, held every winter in Steamboat Springs.

Genuine Steamboat

Hazie Werner, the “grand dame of Steamboat,” was the mother of three Olympians, including Buddy Werner, after whom Mount Werner is named. She was renowned for her hospitality and grace. Her family owned Werner Storm Hut, the town’s first ski shop.


Vintage ski area signs show up in unexpected places, like an old barn in rural Routt County.

Jon Smalley gets a face shot in the powder on Twister-Cane, 1984.

Tom Barr (otherwise known as T-Barr) plows through powder on the cornice in 1992. T-Barr was among the first people to bring snowboarding to Steamboat Resort in the 1980s.

Genuine Steamboat

Glen Plake, whose signature Mohawk came to epitomize extreme skiing in the 1980s, skis with Steamboat skiing ambassador Billy Kidd. Both are members of the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame. more @ To see more images from the past, visit


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LAKE CATAMOUNT CABIN $2,975,000 #9022625

DAKOTA RIDGE WITH STUNNING VIEWS $3,400,000 #4023201 This 3 BD, 3.5 BA, 2,370 SF coveted Catamount Cabin boasts high-end finishes, convenient main-level living, A/C and stunning views.

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| 33
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A Smoking Success



Vegetables of your choice, sautéed in a pan with oil, garlic, thyme, rosemary and white wine.

3 shallots

1 cup green onions

1 cup basil

½ cup lemon juice


Winden has a penchant for pickling. So much so, the head chef at Laundry Kitchen & Cocktails in downtown Steamboat is fondly known as “Nicholas Picklelas.” Truthfully, it was a term coined in childhood that serendipitously prophesied his career in the kitchen.

“You can pickle just about anything and if you want to work here, you have to be a pickler,” he says laughing. His weekly line up features a rainbow of 12 flavors from pickled Fresno chilis and green beans (the boss’s favorite) to broccolini and carrots. His personal preference is red onion because, he says, it goes with everything.

“Watermelon radish is the gnarliest, for sure,” he says. “You have to block your nose in the process of making it, but the taste is great.” The stronger the pickle, the more it calls for an acquired taste. “People don’t just love sauerkraut or kimchi.”

His sous chef and fellow pickle fanatic, Ryan Hoath, agrees. He’s currently working on an experiment he describes as a play on sauerkraut: horseradish cabbage. “I’m a fan of all foods,” Ryan says.

The duo and their team rely on the perfect ratio of fresh fruit or vegetables, with pickling methods and tastes ranging from sweet and salty to spicy. “It’s all down to texture,” Nick says. “You want to achieve that snap when you bite into a pickle and that relies on using the freshest produce to begin the process.”

Some pickles are best eaten immediately, like sesame pickled cucumber served with dumplings. Chutneys or raw beets are a slower affair, and the latter won’t make it to the plate for at least five months.

Everything takes time at Laundry, where cured foods are given as much attention as their pickled accoutrements. An

½ cup miso

1 cup sundried tomatoes with liquid

2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard

1 cup roasted garlic

2 cups water


Soak sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 15 minutes.

Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.

Line a plate with the blended sauce and cover with the sautéed vegetables.

outdoor wood-fired smoker is put to work on a weekly basis, come rain, shine, wind or snow. The elements play their part in the ability to maintain heat and control smoke flow. Snowy days can be great for a cold smoke but hold less appeal to the operator. “The person with the biggest coat usually gets the job,” Ryan jokes.

Although a more commonly used electric smoker would make life easier, Nick prefers the flavor he can achieve using wood. “I’ve cooked over a campfire my whole life,” says the Colorado native. “It’s all about creating and maintaining the fire to achieve the flavor you are after.”

He believes the wood at Laundry is key to his success. It hails from an apple orchard in Grand Junction, where the wood has cured for over a century. “The smoke is so light, there is nothing like it,” Nick says.

Everything from tofu and brisket to trout and aged cheddar does time in the smoker. “We see smoking as a ritual; you can’t just set it and forget it.” Even the preparation is down to a fine art, with an orange, chili and ginger rub for fish or a chili rub followed by a soak in brine for the pork Tasso.

“People ask me for recipes, and I am always happy to share them, but the secret is not the recipe – it’s the time and energy you need to put in to do it right,” Nick says. SM

Food & Drink
TREY MULLEN Laundry offers a selection of house-made pickled vegetables along with three types of house-made mustards.
STEAMBOAT MAGAZINE | MOUNTAIN 2023 | 35 frisco | kremmling | steamboat

Kyle Ruff Curator of Steamboat Comedy

In hindsight, Kyle Ruff’s early years are an obvious opener for his current position as Northwest Colorado’s comedy curator. As a kid, he participated in theater; as a student, he was the class clown.

But Ruff was always where a comedy scene wasn’t. He grew up in rural Ohio, attended college in northern Michigan, and then spent a few years working seasonally in Steamboat and Montana’s Glacier National Park – hours from the comedy clubs and classes of a larger city. Then, in 2018 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ruff found a comedy open mic night.

“I saw a lot of pretty great comedians and some really bad ones,” he says. “I thought, ‘even if I’m terrible, I’ll be better than that guy!’”

By January 2019, Ruff was in Steamboat year-round, his comedy itch along for the ride. When he and some comedyminded pals saw that the former BrauHaus would be hosting an open mic night, they wrangled friends to fill the audience and “crashed” the event, one stand-up set after another, to a positive response. To keep the momentum going, they brought their sets to open mics at The Press. Then, with only a few shows under their belts, in what Ruff calls “a very bold move,”

the rookie comedians organized a show at Old Town Pub.

Ruff realized he was serious about comedy and decided there was a legitimate opportunity for it to grow locally. So he bought a PA system, had a logo designed and t-shirts made and he formed an LLC, thus taking responsibility for what is now Steamboat Comedy. The group hosted weekly open mics and shows, and launched its first podcast in July 2019. Group members came and went but Ruff was constant. The core crew alongside him grew to include Matt Newland, Kalynn Smith and Drew McElhany.

“I have worked in a lot of positions that require creative compromise yet organizing a bunch of solo artists to create and sustain a shared artistic performance is one of the most difficult tasks demanded of a leadership role,” Smith says. “Kyle manages to accomplish this and still keeps us all laughing. That is why this group is one of the best communities I’ve ever been a part of in Steamboat.”

Ed Andreoni, owner of The Press, has witnessed the group’s shows over the years. “Getting up on stage every week, that’s tough, yet they just keep on going,” Andreoni says.

Once he realized his passion for comedy, Kyle Ruff founded Steamboat Comedy, bringing humor to the Yampa Valley. Kyle Ruff COURTESY OF KYLE RUFF COURTESY OF KYLE RUFF

All the while, Ruff has invited increasingly well-known talent, from L.A. to New York, to be part of Steamboat Comedy’s shows and podcasts. “Bribing people with ski passes helps,” he quips.

New York-based comedian Sean Patton has performed across the world, appeared on Conan and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and his special, Number One, premiered on Peacock in December. In early 2020, Patton was in Steamboat when Ruff reached out to him, invited him onto the podcast and offered to show him around town. In Patton’s words, those were a “magically awesome” few days. Patton is now a semi-regular collaborator with Steamboat Comedy.

“I love the little world of comedy Ruff and his buddies have assembled,” Patton says. “It’s rare to find little enclaves of people who love [comedy] so much that they don’t care about anything else [like] industry reps in the audience or TikTok followers.”

Steamboat Comedy has also collaborated with Shane Torres, Sammy Anzer, Steve Gillespie, Stephen Agyei, Eddie Ifft, Cipha Sounds, Mike Stanley, Robbie Bernstein and MK Paulsen. “I think a lot of local folks don’t understand how big these names are,” Ruff says. “But it’s something I’m really proud of.”

Then, right as Steamboat Comedy was hitting its stride, the pandemic hit.

The group hosted free outdoor shows and limited-capacity open mic events. Over one particularly memorable weekend, they hit max capacity of 50 at four sold-out shows in two days.

They diversified their shows, performing at corporate events and private gigs.

“It’s unique being in a small town with more of a bluegrass, jamband scene,” Ruff says. “The opportunities are different.” With only so many folks interested in performing, Steamboat’s aspiring comedians get 10 or even 20 minutes on stage, compared to the three they might get in a city venue. And Steamboat’s steady stream of tourists makes for fresh, eager audiences.

“These kids don’t have any competition to keep them honest. What keeps them honest is the love of the game,” Patton says. “An education of comedy is very important, obviously, but passion is the most important thing and Steamboat Comedy has it in droves.”

It’s what keeps the group going through the fun parts and the tough parts.

“Comedy is hard,” Ruff says. “When someone’s on stage telling a funny joke, what you don’t see is that they’ve tried it 50 times before that, fine-tuning it.”

“Sometimes you’re in front of 100 people, a sold-out crowd, and it’s electric. Other times, you’re in front of four people and they don’t like you and you’re just up there drowning,” he adds. “You gotta be OK with all of it.”

Keep up with Steamboat Comedy at @steamboatcomedy and at SM

970-846-0905 Creating unique architecture in harmony with the environment
38 | ONLINE AT WWW.STEAMBOATMAGAZINE.COM General Contractor Residential • Commercial 970-757-3250 •

Music on a Mission

Ten years ago, in a parking lot in Edwards, snowflakes swirled as The Infamous Stringdusters strummed the first notes of their headline set. This was the beginning of WinterWonderGrass: a blizzard, 12 bands, a sold-out show and a path to the future of the festival.

On that snowy night in the Vail valley, the festival’s founder, Scotty Stoughton, knew he was in the right place at the right time.

“It was a time when places were disappearing in the valley which had a big music scene and I felt like there was a hole,” Stoughton says. “People were upset and sad. This was when a new generation of bluegrass and jam was coming around, and I felt like it was a good time to try a wild idea.”

That wild idea turned into a sold-out, two night show – and it stuck. He later moved the festival to Avon for more space but realized that something was missing.

“I was really seeking more integration on the mountain and the opportunity to do shows on the hill and around the town,” he says. “I wanted a more cohesive partnership with the community and the resort.”

He fell in love with Steamboat Springs during a site visit, first moving the festival here and then moving his family.

The Infamous Stringdusters perform on stage at WinterWonderGrass in Steamboat Strings. The band will return in March to headline this year’s festival. COURTESY OF DYLAN LANGILLE
This March will mark the festival’s sixth year in Steamboat.

“The first year in Steamboat was pretty special,” Stoughton says. “I had a sold-out festival in the Vail valley and I moved it –like, that’s crazy! But I was on a pursuit to find the right answer and this felt really right.”

This March will mark the festival’s sixth year in Steamboat and 10th year in Colorado. Along the way, Stoughton has expanded to create WinterWonderGrass events in California and Vermont as well as other festivals like Campout for the Cause and Revival as well as RiverWonderGrass and his latest, BajaWonderGrass.

At the heart of each event is authenticity, community and of course, the music that ties it all together.

“We never want to grow just to grow,” says Stoughton. “We’re all about quality, not quantity. With Steamboat and Tahoe, we have two communities that are happy to support growth but we also commit to them that we’re not looking to grow but rather to be an impactful event in both of those communities. We want to be better, but not necessarily bigger.”

That concept – paired with Covid-19 – led Stoughton to pause some of his events, like WinterWonderGrass in Vermont, Campout for the Cause and Revival, while adding new ones that, as he puts it, “felt right.”

Several years ago, when Stoughton became involved in the river community, he paddleboarded the Grand Canyon and lived on the river for 21 nights.

“I was enamored with how good I felt and how clear and healthy I was,” he remembers. “I wanted to figure out how to share that.”

And so RiverWonderGrass was created with artists like Buffalo Commons, Lindsey Lou and Tyler Grant signing on to participate in the guided river trips. Now in its fourth year, Stoughton says the plan is “more purpose, less party.”

“It’s about shedding layers and having really sweet, vulnerable conversations with one another,” he says. “We’re very one-way communicative with social media and in life we’re so busy – this is a chance to slow down.”

The newest iteration, BajaWonderGrass, is also a chance to slow down. The already sold-out event is a small gathering of about 350 people with a few bands in a remote location along the Sea of Cortez.

“It’s no thrills, no hype, midweek, one bar, no hotel packages,” says Stoughton. “Just strip it down.”

Back in Steamboat though, there is a fair amount of hype – because this year’s WinterWonderGrass marks the 10 year anniversary of the festival. Stoughton has brought his two original headliners, Greensky Bluegrass and The Infamous Stringdusters, back for this year’s anniversary event.

“This is one of the coolest and most interesting festivals that we play,” says Travis Book, who is the bass player for Infamous Stringdusters. “We’re really honored to be headlining and it’s nice that we’ve kind of grown up together – our band and the festival have come a long way in the last decade.”

Book points out that the festival hasn’t drifted far from its ethos of positivity and musical exploration in the past decade.


“Scotty [Stoughton] and his team have cultivated a really unique and positive environment and the lineup is always just stacked with contemporaries and good friends of ours,” he says.

A positive environment is exactly what Stoughton is aiming for.

“What really gets me is when we bring new bands into the fold and they see the power of our community and the love that these bluegrass players exude,” he says. “Lack of ego in a hugely ego driven music industry – it’s really what gets me inspired.”

“Neal is out of the box,” he says, “but it’s authentic music. At the end of the day, you’ve got to be a real artist. If the power goes out, you can keep playing. If the snow comes down, you’re gonna embrace it. And more than your song and your talent - although that’s hugely important –it’s your desire to promote positivity and kindness and love and camaraderie. Those things get you booked at WinterWonderGrass.”

One decade later the festival that has moved parking lots, added bands and fans, and cultivated kindness and community returns to Steamboat Friday - Sunday, March 3-5. And while some things

The Infamous Stringdusters dobro player Andy Hall flanked by bandmates Jeremy Garrett on fiddle and Chris Pandolfi on banjo at WinterWonderGrass in Steamboat Springs. COURTESY OF DYLAN LANGILLE

“internationally collected, locally created” Represented by Pine Moon Fine Art, R Diamond Collection, and currently showing at the Steamboat Art Museum.


Divergent. Inspiring. Provocative.

Boldness defines Steamboat Art Museum exhibit

Until 1962, the world had a preconceived notion of what Indigenous art should entail. Scenes from everyday life –primarily buffalo and deer – were expected. Native American flatstyle painting, which emphasizes contour and shape without shadow and dimension, was de rigueur.

That all changed with the birth of the Institute of American Indian Arts 61 years ago. Innovative administrators, acclaimed instructors and a handpicked group of talented students converged in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with a common vision: push the boundaries, create something new, and keep it real. The synergy created at IAIA amidst an era of social unrest, war and President John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier resulted in the birth of an art form: contemporary Western art.

“The time was the 1960s, when social change was rocking the world. The place was IAIA in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where a few major talents upset the status quo, blew the doors off the curio shop, and buried the Noble Savage forever,” explains author Suzanne Deats in her definitive work, “ndn art: Contemporary Native American Art.”

Work by these artists forms the core of SAM’s winter exhibit, “The New West: The Rise of Contemporary Indigenous and Western Art.” The exhibit traces this art form from its IAIA roots to the present, and is SAM’s most ambitious project to date.

“I find this a very exciting and fascinating exhibit in the diversity of the artists, and the genre. These brilliant artists came together to create this work that really redefined contemporary Western art, and we’re able to tell the story,” says SAM Executive Director Betse Grassby.

The story begins with internationally acclaimed artists Fritz Scholder, Allan Houser and Charles and Otellie Loloma, who were faculty members at IAIA in its early years. Among the first students were such celebrated artists as T.C. Cannon, Earl Biss, Kevin Red Star, Linda Lomahaftewa and Doug Hyde. Together, these early IAIA students so profoundly changed the direction of Indigenous art that they have been dubbed “the miracle generation.”

At some point, the students may have eclipsed, or at least influenced their teachers. Of the ‘60s IAIA artists, Cannon may be the most well-known. “Red Tipi Warrior” is the signature piece of the SAM exhibit. Cannon, who enlisted in the military shortly after graduating from the IAIA, was a Vietnam War hero. During the Tet Offensive, he earned two Bronze Stars as a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division. Critics say his military service impacted his style, and he was prolific following his return to civilian life. He and Scholder presented a two-man show at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Collection of Fine

Arts & Culture
“The New West” art exhibit at Steamboat Art Museum displays art by Indigenous and Western artists. TREY MULLEN

Arts in 1972. Cannon’s career was cut short in 1978, when he was killed in a car accident.

For decades, the work of Indigenous artists was largely under-appreciated, often exhibited in natural history museums alongside bone and pottery shards. That began to change in the late 20th century, when nationally renowned art museums created homes and built exhibits showcasing the work of Indigenous artists.

Since its tumultuous beginnings, contemporary Western art has spread around the world. Artists like Logan Maxwell Hagege, Kim Wiggins, Donna Howell-Sickles, Duke Beardsley, Nelson Boren, Maeve Eichelberger, Sandy Graves and Billy Schenck, whose 21st century work expands on contemporary foundations, are among those with work in the SAM exhibit.

Not unlike the convergence of talent that led the IAIA artists to international fame in the 1960s, the SAM exhibit would not have happened without a serendipitous confluence of integral parts.

Guest curator Seth Hopkins, director of the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia – named by USA Today as the best art museum in America three years in a row – was crucial to “The New West.” Hopkins has been an adviser and collaborator with SAM for much of its 16-year existence. “This exhibit seeks to make visitors aware of the perceived boundaries of Western art, show how those boundaries are being redrawn, and attract new audiences to the museum,” Hopkins says.

The determination and vision of SAM board member Jim Heckbert, who spearheaded the project, was a central force. Institute of American Indian Arts board member Barbara Ells, who has a residence in Steamboat and who is one of the sponsors of the exhibit, introduced SAM to the work of the IAIA and lent her knowledge and connections to “The New West.”

Another critical component was the Tia Collection in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which lent more than a dozen pieces to the exhibit – plus a wealth of knowledge. Private collectors from throughout the country also lent pieces to SAM.

“It’s so exciting to be bringing in pieces of this size and scope from notable museums and collections throughout the country,” Grassby says. “They are pieces that Steamboat audiences might otherwise never get a chance to see.”

The exhibit takes SAM in a new direction, offering contemporary art that represents a facet of the West the museum has not previously explored. “Different is what you find herein,” Hopkins explains. “So browse not only with your eyes open, but your mind, heart and soul as well. Observe, explore and question your feelings. Be inspired or be turned off; either is fine. Just have a reaction. You owe it to the artists and the art.”

Steamboat Art Museum, 801 Lincoln Ave., is open TuesdaysFridays, 11 a.m.- 6 p.m, and Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit

– Deborah Olsen is the publisher of Steamboat Magazine and president of the board of Steamboat Art Museum. SM

DELIBERATE CREATIVE PROCESS ELEGANT DESIGN SOLUTIONS 970.819.1320 Steamboat Springs, CO Photo Credit: David Patterson

Taking Art to Powder

When someone mentions the art of skiing, people may think of a perfectly executed tele turn, elegantly carved edgework on a groomer, efficient but powerful form. And while all of these are real chef’s-kiss material to the seasoned skier, we’re speaking of art in the more literal sense. What is involved in designing the intricate images that adorn skis and who are the creatives who design them?

In 2006, soon-to-be founder of Icelantic Skis, Ben Anderson, got together with his co-founder, artist Travis Parr. “Ben and our other good buddy, Travis Cook, came down to my college graduation and convinced me to move back to Colorado and start this ski company with them,” Parr says. After establishing a line of five separate skis, the new company took its products to a skiing trade show in Germany, where they won an international award for ‘Winter Hardgood of the Year.’ Since then, Icelantic has been producing skis for powder junkies around the world.

Not long after Icelantic got its start, one of the world’s top freestyle skiers, Chris Benchetler, signed a deal with Atomic Skis, which, at the time, didn’t have a prominent creative

vision in the freeride and big mountain scene, as the company focused primarily on ski racing. “They actually came to me,” Benchetler says. “Now looking back, it was one of the greatest decisions I’ve made in my career. I threw out the idea of having the opportunity to have creative control of my own ski and be able to influence not only the artwork, but the actual shape and design element.”

Since then, both Parr and Benchetler have been sending their creative visions to the slopes.

For the 2022-23 Icelantic line, Parr’s art ranges from geometrical designs and greenspaces to topographic landscapes and scorching phoenixes. “I’m just letting all the flavors of life dictate that journey,” Parr says. “You take it off the wall and you put it into the culture, and that’s where I find my artwork actually living a better life.”

For Benchetler, much of his work is inspired by mountain scenery. “I take all the lessons I’ve learned in life and in the mountains, staring at some of the most beautiful places in the world, and I’m just constantly downloading that and translating

Chris Benchetler shows off skis of his own design for Atomic.

it onto a canvas,” Benchetler says. “There’s a certain beauty and awe in what mother nature looks like and provides us. I think that resonates with people globally.”

“The beginning years were fun,” Parr says. “It was just super raw. I used to stretch the canvases exactly the same size as the skis and paint them to go directly onto the skis.” But after a few years, his technique began to change and he began making smaller, separate but similar pieces that would go on separate lines of skis, following an overall theme.

“Doing it for 20 years, I’ve built up my library of images and textures and placements. I can pick a piece from [the library] and use that, then pick another piece from something else and use that and create an original piece of artwork to encompass all that, then just mix them all together to create the ‘Icelantic

Stew,’ so to speak,” Parr says.

As far as taking the piece of art from a canvas to a ski, Benchetler says it’s a pretty straightforward process.

Photographer Christian Pondella shoots photos of the artwork, which are then transferred to Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. They’re laid out by designers at Atomic with room for branding, with care taken to ensure the ski looks as beautiful as possible.

The famous filmmaker and original ski bum Warren Miller once said, “A pair of skis is the ultimate transformation to freedom.” While skis are constantly being re-shaped and re-defined, one thing is for certain: the work these two artists have created for the past decade and a half has transformed ski artwork and aged it for a new era, full of beautiful, colorful and not-yet-imagined possibilities. SM

Travis Parr etches a design.
970-879-2787 | 117 9th St. Steamboat Springs CO 80487 PINE MOON fine art @pinemoonfineart

UPGRADES FOR Steamboat Resort

Stay in the loop with these new and noteworthy happenings


Christy Sports has opened its doors at the base of the mountain once again, after a months-long renovation process. The renovation reflects the company’s mission of service and emphasizes its service departments including rentals, tuning and hard goods. The three-story space features a rental department on the bottom level, alongside daily rental lockers; an expanded retail department on the middle floor; and a state-of-the-art repair shop and boot-fitting area on the top floor.

This area was a main focal point of the renovation, as the process for boot fitting can take up to an hour. Now the space features a 360-degree bench and large windows alongside personalized work stations for employees. In the tuning room, the Wintersteiger Jupiter is a fully automated servicing system for skis and snowboards. And now, Christy Sports uses Wintersteiger hardware and software for all rentals, making the process mess and paper free. Already one of the leaders in snowsports rentals in the U.S., the new technology has cut processing and fulfillment time in half – a big win for everyone.

In the News
Snow falls on opening night at the newly renovated Christy Sports. The open-concept layout creates a bright, airy space. TREY MULLEN TREY MULLEN


In early 2021, several employees at Steamboat Resort faced the difficult decision to continue working or to stay home with their children. The lack of childcare in the valley was evident but instead of giving in, these employees created a solution – in the form of a new childcare center for children of resort employees which opened midDecember. After receiving a grant from the state, the project was also chosen to participate in a program from a company called Colorado EPIC which created a design lab to help companies start an employer-based childcare facility. The company guided the resort through the process of opening the facility, including educating them on licensing and requirements, how to serve food, financial structure and tuition, and more. Ten companies were selected to participate in the

program and Steamboat Resort was the only ski resort among them. Loryn Duke, director of communications for the resort, calls the program “vital to our success.”

Now 19 children of resort employees attend the new childcare facility which is located at the intersection of Walton Creek Rd. and Lincoln Ave. Since the space has the capacity for 35 students, the resort opened up remaining spaces to the community and is now operating off a waitlist. Any resort employee can take advantage of the childcare center which is run in a priority system with full-time employees prioritized, down the line to seasonal workers.

Children ages two months to five years can attend year-round and the center has three different rooms for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

“It’s great not only for retention of employees but also for recruitment of new ones,” says Duke. “It makes us stand out as an employer not only in the community, but also in the ski industry.” SM

The new childcare facility has the capacity for 35 students, ages two months to five years.
| RUMORDESIGNS.COM | @rumordesigns

“Ernie Arnold owned a key piece of property at the base of Storm Mountain that stretched up to the top of Bear Claw. This was ski area co-founder Jim Temple’s first purchase. Temple met with Arnold many times, but he wouldn’t sell. One day Arnold mentioned he needed a new tractor, and Temple said, ‘I have just the tractor for you!’ Temple drove his Ford tractor 52 miles from Focus Ranch in North Routt County to deliver it to Arnold’s ranch, and with it Temple received an option on Arnold’s place: One hundred acres for $4,600. Today this includes Vogue, Voodoo, See Me and All Out (See Ya).”

–Jeff Temple

Cub Claw (Headwall) Pomalift: The lift opened Dec. 22, 1961, marking the beginning of lift-served skiing at Steamboat Resort. Martin Kleinsorge was the lift operator. This lift was replaced by a chairlift, which was removed in 2007. Its present-day track would be from the gondola terminal to the mid-station of the Christie Peak Express chairlift.


On opening day, “I wanted to charge $3.75, and John insisted that it be $3.25. He won that argument so that’s what we charge.”

–Storm Mountain financial investor, Hank Perry


“We only had one customer that first day. And Hank Perry backed into him in the parking lot. There was one single car in the whole lot, and Hank managed to hit it.”

–Ski area pioneer John Fetcher

By the Decade

Steamboat Resort celebrates six decades

Hank and Rosie Perry with family at the base of Steamboat Resort. Perry, an investment broker, was involved in funding the resort’s early years. A Poma lift takes riders up the mountain behind them.


the Grateful Dead. Because what a long, strange trip it’s been, indeed, for Steamboat Resort, which heralds in its 60th season this year with its biggest investment in resort history, and – perhaps more importantly – great early season snow.

Alterra Mountain Co., a joint venture between KSL Capital Partners, LLC and Henry Crown and Co., purchased parent company Intrawest five years ago, joining Steamboat with 12 other resorts in North America. The ski area is wrapping up the second phase of its $200 million Full Steam Ahead base area redevelopment and onmountain improvement project. This winter you’ll see a new après ski plaza, a ski beach, Skeeter’s ice rink and Steamboat Mountain Stage for live performances.

Lift-wise, this season you’ll also see the new Wild Blue gondola, leading to the Greenhorn Ranch beginner’s area near Bashor Bowl. Next year, Wild Blue will become the longest and fastest 10-person gondola in the U.S., taking riders from the base all the way to the top of Sunshine Peak. New lifts and terrain, including a 650-acre expansion into Pioneer Ridge, will make Steamboat the second largest resort in Colorado at 3,620 acres.

“It’s exciting times,” says resort President and COO Rob Perlman. “Celebrating our 60th anniversary as the Full Steam Ahead project comes to life illuminates how far we’ve come. The spirit and vision that created Steamboat Resort 60 years ago is truly alive and well.”

For a trip down memory lane, we combed the archives for a few decade-by-decade highlights from the ski area over the past 60 years.


Steamboat Resort by the Decade


1963: Steamboat Resort opens on Jan. 12 with Storm Mountain Express double chairlift and an A-frame warming house, with total lift ticket sales tallying $13.75 (at 25 degrees below zero). Cowboy hats off to ranchers and resort pioneers Jim Temple and John Fetcher, who drove to California to pick up the bullwheels.

1964: Billy Kidd, soon to become Steamboat’s director of skiing, wins silver in slalom at Innsbruck Olympics, joining Jimmie Heuga (bronze) as the first American men to win Olympic medals in Alpine skiing; Olympian Buddy Werner dies in avalanche in Switzerland.

1965: Storm Mountain renamed Mount Werner in honor of hometown Olympian Buddy Werner (locals hint: tap his statue’s head at the top of the mountain for good luck); Thunderhead lift is installed.

1968: Buddy’s Run is named by Olympian Gordon Wren, honoring Buddy Werner; Four Points lift – the first in the country to feature bullwheel loading/unloading – is installed; Thunderhead Restaurant opens at mid-mountain.

1969: LTV Recreational Development Inc. begins a $10 million base area development; White Out run is cut.

The first race was on Storm Mountain in 1959. Racers, including Olympic ski legend Moose Barrows, rode switchback to the top of Bear Claw in a Jeep prior to lift access.

Skeeter and Buddy Werner are two members of Steamboat’s “first family.” Both were Olympians. After Budddy’s death in 1964, Storm Mountain was renamed Mount Werner in his honor.

Hot singles “Surfin’
The Beach
The Fireballs “The End Of The World” Skeeter
Top country “Still” bill Anderson “Act Naturally” Buck Owens “Ring of Fire” Johnny Cash Create a decades soundtrack based off of the top songs of Steamboat Resort’s 60 years. 1963
Gilmer and


1970: Stagecoach six-passenger, three-tower Bell gondola is built (reaching a height of 252 feet with a record 3,330-foot span) to the top of Thunderhead; sportscaster Verne Lundquist first visits Steamboat; Billy Kidd wins gold at the World Alpine Championships and becomes the resort’s director of skiing; Summit Poma lift is added, opening the face of Storm Peak.

1974: The Cowboy Downhill started in 1974 when six-time All-Around World Champion cowboy Larry Mahan and Billy Kidd invite cowboys from the Denver Stock Show up for a day of racing. (“Larry called me up and said, ‘I want to learn to ski,’” Kidd says. “The next year, he brought up a couple friends, and when you get rodeo cowboys together, you’ve got a contest. That was the beginning of the Cowboy Downhill and we haven’t looked back since.”)

1977: Drought forces the resort to close, but it reopens March 5; Ethel Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Olympian Bruce Jenner attend the inaugural International Winter Special Olympics; Chute One opens.

“Everybody in town was broke because there was no snow so there was no work. But everyone still participated somehow – I mean even the biggest loadies in the bar were involved... they were out there shoveling snow out of the woods.”

–former ski instructor Irene Nelson on the efforts to reopen in March 1977 for the International Winter Special Olympics, following an early closure due to drought.



Hot singles

“Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” Tony Orlando and Dawn “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” Jim Croce

“Killing Me Softly with His Song” Roberta Flack

Top country

“The Most Beautiful Girl”

Charlie Rich

“Spiders and Snakes”

Jim Stafford

“Behind Closed Doors”

Charlie Rich

Olympian and Steamboat ski ambassador Billy Kidd wears his iconic cowboy hat. Today Kidd dons a helmet.


1980: The Cardboard Classic debuts.

1981: Another bad snow drought year; snowmaking is installed on 160 acres serviced by nine lifts.

1983: Sundown and Storm Peak triple chairs are installed and Summit Poma is removed.

1984: Rendezvous Saddle and Ragnar’s restaurant open.

1985: Rolex is named after Loris Werner requested the use of the watchmaker’s name to go with the other time-themed runs (France’s Jean-Claude Killy visits to ski it for its official opening); Rudi’s Run is named in honor of Rudi Schnackenberg.

1986: Stagecoach gondola is replaced with Doppelmayr (“Silver Bullet”) gondola, ballasttested by beer kegs, becoming world’s first eight-person gondola; Hazie’s restaurant opens; Valley View run is cut.

1987: Snowboarding is allowed for the first time.

1988: The resort locks away a time capsule for its silver anniversary.

1989: Steamboat Resort is purchased by Japan’s Kamori Kanko Co. Ltd.; the resort hosts two women’s downhill and giant slalom World Cups; Tom Barr becomes the first official snowboard instructor.

“There was just a super-small group of us at first, maybe a dozen or so riders, but it didn’t take long for kids to start moving here just to board.” –Nagano ‘88 Olympic bronze medalist, Shannon Dunn


The late Ron Dahlquist, who went on from a distinguished career as a ski photographer to become one of Hawaii’s most famous surf photographers, snowboards in the 1980s. The photograph was taken by Dahlquist’s then-apprentice Larry Pierce.



singles “FLASHDANCE...
Police “BEAT IT” Michael Jackson Top country
In The Stream”
Rogers with Dolly Parton
Over You” Sheena Easton
the Last Dance for Me” Dolly Parton


1990: A halfpipe is added in Bashor Bowl; Chutes Two and Three and Christmas Tree Bowl open.

1991: The Billy Kidd statue is installed at the base area.

1992: Storm Peak Express and Sundown Express highspeed quads are installed; Nelson Carmichael wins Olympic bronze in moguls (he is the first Steamboat skier to win an Olympic medal and Nelson’s Run is named after him).

1993: President Gerald Ford drops into Hazie Werner’s home (unannounced) for lunch.

1994: Snowmaking reaches 390 acres.

1995: Mountain cams are installed.

1996: The resort sets a single-day summit snowfall record at 29 inches on Thursday, Jan. 25; Morningside Park, 179 acres with CTEC triple chairlift, opens.

1997: American Skiing Co. purchases Steamboat Resort from Kamori Kanko Co. Ltd.; 260 acres in Pioneer Ridge are developed for hike-to access.

1998: Pony Express high-speed quad is installed in Pioneer Ridge; “More Steamboat, Less Otten” bumper stickers emerge, created by anti-Ski Corp locals lambasting CEO Les Otten.

1999: The Park Smalley Freestyle Complex is dedicated.

just weren’t listening. They started to have these huck-offs on this big jump that they built on the side, and anybody who wanted to could hike up there and go. Then you’ve got 3,000 drunk people trying to make their way down from the top of the mountain. In the beginning, it was about watching these guys like Bob Dickey, Al Dietrich and Pat Burka – watching them launch some incredible air.” –Bump-Off competitor, Mike Deimer (The Bump-Off competition ran from 1988-2000) (STEAMBOAT: SKI TOWN USA BY TOM BIE © 2002)

Hot singles “WHOOMP! (THERE IT IS)” Tag Team “CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE” UB40 “FREAK ME” Silk Top country “Chattahoochee” Alan Jackson “I Love The Way You Love Me” John Michael Montgomery “Easy Come, Easy Go” George Strait
Nelson Carmichael, the first Steamboat skier to win an Olympic medal (bronze, moguls, 1992, Albertville), catches air on Storm Peak in 1995. LARRY PIERCE

Steamboat’s three terrain parks are designed for different skill levels. Mavericks Park, Steamboat’s largest terrain park, features jumps, rails and a full-size half pipe. Mavericks is when you’re ready for the big leagues.


2000: Steamboat Grand Hotel opens; First Tracks program starts; Bear River Bar & Grill opens.

2001: Mavericks Superpipe is installed.

2004: Wind-powered Burgess Creek chairlift is installed.

2005: New commercial-grade espresso coffee machine goes in at Gondola Joe’s; mountain bike racks are installed on gondola.

2006: Sunshine Express high-speed quad opens; Cody St. John is

voted 2006 Colorado Ski Country USA Patroller of the Year.

2007: $16 million in improvements include installation of Christie Peak Express, the resort’s first six-pack; Deb Armstrong is named technical director for Steamboat Resort while Scott Anfang is named snowboard technical director; Wildhorse gondola is installed.

2009: Private developments One Steamboat Place, Edgemont and Trailhead Lodge come to the base area.

56 | ONLINE AT WWW.STEAMBOATMAGAZINE.COM Hot singles “UNWELL” Matchbox Twenty “IGNITION” (REMIX) R. Kelly “IN DA CLUB” 50 Cent Top country “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett “The First Cut Is the Deepest” Sheryl Crow “19 Somethin’” Mark Wills 2003


2011: Steamboat Bike Park previews first three downhill trails; base area promenade opens.

2012: On Monday, Feb. 20, Steamboat sets a single-day midmountain snowfall record (27 inches overnight); Gondola Square Plaza debuts with promenade and outdoor stage; Steamboat Bike Park opens.

2013: Night skiing opens on the lower mountain.

2015: Steamboat air program grows to service nonstop flights from 11 major cities.

2017: The resort is purchased from Intrawest by a new ownership group comprised of Henry Crown & Co and KSL Capital Partners, LLC, lumping Steamboat together with 12 other resorts (including Mammoth Mountain and Deer Valley); Outlaw Mountain Coaster opens.

2018: Timber & Torch opens in Gondola Square; Taco Beast onmountain snowcat debuts.

2019: A new Doppelmayr gondola replaces the current gondola.


2021: The Gondola Square building is demolished; a new gondola terminal is installed off the promenade; grading of the new Greenhorn Ranch begins; an escalator is installed at the resort entrance.

2022: Phase II of the $200 million Full Steam Ahead project is completed, including a new après ski plaza, ice rink, Steamboat Mountain Stage, and stage one of the new Wild Blue gondola, leading to Greenhorn Ranch. SM 2013

Imagine Dragons “THRIFT SHOP” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz “MIRRORS” Justin
Hot single
2023 “About Damn Time” Lizzo Top country “Cruise” (Remix) Florida Georgia Line with Nelly “That’s My Kind Of Night” Luke Bryan “Sure Be Cool If You Did” Blake Shelton Top country Jan. 2023 ”Gold” Dierks Bentley
vertical feet of terrain is illuminated for night skiing at
& Jan. 2023 Hot singles 2013 “RADIOACTIVE”
That was when newcomers would suggest that we ought to dissuade more people from moving here. She would always say, “We
for you, didn’t
thing ever really made Hazie angry.
made room
we?” –Hazie Werner (STEAMBOAT: SKI TOWN USA BY TOM BIE © 2002)
Five-year-old twins Brynn and Dash Bird ski a freshly groomed trail at Steamboat Resort. LARRY PIERCE

Slide into Skiing

For those of us who actually remember learning how to ski, it was often an experience fraught with fear, impatience and resistance – especially if you were over the age of 10 when you learned. Making effortless turns down the side of a mountain and stopping on a dime once you reach the bottom is a vision that most new skiers – especially new adult skiers – struggle to enact.

Imagine a redesigned learning system that includes a designated learning area – eliminating the terrifying occurrence of a more experienced skier whizzing by you – complete with a gentle slope and unbeatable mid-mountain views. This is Greenhorn Ranch, Steamboat Resort’s newest terrain for neverevers and early beginners.

The new area uses a concept known as Terrain Based Learning, trademarked by a company called SNOW Operating, which helps ski resorts across the country improve first-time skier and rider’s experiences from start to finish. It has been working with Steamboat Resort for the past three years, primarily on first-time guest experiences, including the prearrival and arrival experience of renting skis and finding the Snowsports School, and culminating with the on-snow learning experience at Greenhorn Ranch.

“There’s a huge opportunity to change the way that guests learn to ski and ride,” says Eric Lipton, SNOW Operating’s COO. “The traditional way is a lot of standing and waiting and not a lot of sliding time. But Terrain Based Learning is just the opposite of that – it’s a lot of sliding.”

Lipton explains that Terrain Based Learning allows skiers and riders to experience high level sensations – the sun on their face, the cold wind, the beauty of their surroundings –at beginner speeds.

“What makes people fall in love with skiing and riding is the wind in their face, lots of slide time and mitigating the fear,” he says.

Beginners move through a five-step process that starts flat and allows skiers and riders to learn a range of motions, including walking in their boots and sliding on snow. Step two is known as the “mini pipe,” which looks like a halfpipe but is on flat terrain. This is designed so that never-evers can learn to traverse, side step and turn, all while being able to see exactly where they’re going and, more importantly Lipton says, where they’re going to stop.

Step three is the rollers, or what could best be described as really long speed bumps. The slope now is graded at 5% and the intention is that when skiers and riders crest the roller, they move forward, figuring out their balance.

Step four is a bank turn and step five is known as the “perfect slope,” which Lipton describes as “basically a regular

ski run with the edges of the trail curved up so that the skier is directed back to the center.” By the end of the process, the newbie is on a 15% angled slope and is ready to head to a green trail.

Essentially the idea behind Terrain Based Learning is to manipulate the environment so that the athletes’ natural tendencies make them successful, explains Nelson Wingard, director of Steamboat Ski and Snowboard School.

“It’s shaping the terrain to remove fear and do something that they’ve done before,” he says, “which is stand.”

The process of building this nearly 19 acre area – it will occupy the space that used to be Rough Rider/Bashor Basin –began in 2021 and as Wingard says, “We had to move a lot of dirt.” But doing it correctly is important; creating the ideal pitch in the ideal space will have lasting effects on the resort in many different capacities.

Loryn Duke, director of communications for the resort, says Greenhorn Ranch is the ideal locale for Terrain Based Learning because it gets beginners out of the base area and up onto the mountain. Accessed by the new Wild Blue gondola, Greenhorn Ranch will eventually serve as a midstation while more experienced skiers and riders will continue on to Sunshine Peak.

“It gets new skiers and riders not only on the snow, but really envelopes them into the outdoor playground so that they can see why they should fall in love with the sport and the outdoors and the whole concept of winter play,” says Duke.

Duke points out that Greenhorn Ranch has value not just for beginners but for the staff and locals as well.

“It really immerses new skiers into the mountain so they’re not relegated to the base area,” she says, “and what that does, too, is open up our base area. You used to arrive at the resort and it was cluttered with Snowsports School – kids and parents who didn’t know where they were going – and that was your first impression of the resort. But a really great perk, not only for guests, but for staff and locals, is that creating Greenhorn Ranch opened up the base area and created a space that allows people to gather.”

Lipton agrees. “The fact that the learning area is midmountain is a big deal,” he says. “At most resorts, you learn at the base. But people have an expectation that when they’re skiing, they’re in the mountains, not near the parking lot. A midmountain learning area is really a step above.”

And while Lipton acknowledges that “world-class” is a term that gets thrown around a lot, he can’t think of another way to accurately describe Steamboat Resort.

“If you want to learn how to ski in the Rockies,” he says, “Steamboat is the place to do it.” SM



Powdercats Turns 40

Forty years

of fostering untracked turns for people is certainly worth celebrating. Those are the candles Steamboat Powdercats is blowing out this ski season, after serving up blower pow to its guests atop Buffalo Pass since 1983.

The milestone makes it one of the longest-running snowcat operations in Colorado. The reason behind its longevity is simple: the product – uh, that’d be powder – and the people. Its permit area atop Buff Pass gets some of the deepest snowfall in the state (along with Wolf Creek Pass in southern Colorado); the terrain is varied and user-friendly; its clientele benefits from its proximity to Steamboat Resort; and its guides, many of whom have been there nearly since the company’s inception, are some of the best in the business.

“It’s the culture,” says manager and self-described “master of chaos” Kent Vertrees. “We help create a culture of stoke for our guests. Our guides, combined with our terrain and incredible snow, just truly make it an amazing experience which reflects the magic of the place.”

The company was founded in 1983 by locals Jupiter Jones and Barbara Taylor, who long knew the area’s snowfall and terrain would be the perfect combo for a snowcat operation. The idea, Taylor says, blossomed while on a heli-skiing trip to Canada, and when they returned to Steamboat they got the treads rolling, with Taylor putting up her house as collateral to buy their first snowcat. It was a huge snow year that season, she remembers, which affirmed their decision.

“The year we opened was just astounding,” she recalls. “It was one of the biggest winters we’d ever had. We didn’t really know what we were doing – we were just a mom-and-pop kind of operation – but we learned the ropes. And it’s just such a wonderful area that everyone’s incredibly happy when they ski up there.”

Jones and Taylor ran the operation for the next 17 years, taking guests on some of the most magical powder in the state. And the clientele list often read like a Who’s Who of the skiing world, with local celebrities like Billy Kidd and Moose Barrows joining the likes of Warren Miller, Glen Plake, Klaus Obermeyer and

Evergreens open to a powder field on Buffalo Pass.

Dumping snow only adds to the adventure. Powdercats guides load skis and snowboards after a descent before heading up for more freshies.

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Building green since 1980.

Evolution of Steamboat Powdercats’ cat: Blue Sky West with Warren Miller, Moose Barrows, Billy Kidd and Skeeter Werner.

Blue Sky West is followed by the red Powdercats’ cat. Pictured in front of it are Jupiter Jones, Mike Rakowski and Steve Roth.

The new red state-ofthe-art Powdercats’ cat of today with a group of clients.

even former Olympians Steve and Phil Mahre. Country singer Clint Black once joined Powdercats for a session of schussing, as did former Colorado Governor Richard Lamb and tennis star Martina Navratilova.

In 1999, Steamboat Powdercats was sold to a group of Front Range investors who remodeled the warming cabin, purchased new snowcats and brought in a new management team, which included Vertrees and current operations director Eric Deering.

Taylor is glad the tradition is still going strong. “It couldn’t be in better hands with the current group,” she says. “Jupiter would be over the moon with the way they’ve kept it going all these years.”

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groves on Buffalo Pass offer an abundance of powder stashes. Happy60thAnniversary toSteamboatResort

After a series of environmental assessments, including one allowing it to expand into Soda Creek, the company now has five snowcats (with three maximum operating at once) and a permit for up to 2,200 user days per season, which it’s been filling since 2005, Vertrees says.

Perhaps the biggest testament to its success is its return customer rate, with more than 80 percent of their guests coming back year after year for the same high-quality experience.

“We’ve helped raise many of our guests’ kids and even their grandkids,” Vertrees says. “We’ve gone out with some families for more than 20 years.”

The company’s blueprint remains the same: provide the best skiing and customer service experience possible. “Jupiter and Barbara created that culture and we’ve been able to take it to that next level,” Vertrees says, crediting guides like Mike Rakowski, who has been with the company since 1989 and used to drive around in a van picking guests up at places like Mazzola’s and the Tugboat.


A bluebird day with endless powder. Steamboat Powdercats’s guide Luke Strickland on Soda Mountain.



Powdercats strives to take care of the land as much as its guests. “We pride ourselves on being good stewards,” Vertrees says. “We’re a true partner with the Forest Service and try to help them as much as we can.”

As members of the Routt County Recreation Roundtable, Vertrees and Deering help in the planning process of the Forest Service’s winter recreation plan. “Environmentally, we help educate users on best management practices for the area in winter and summer,” Vertrees says. “And we take it seriously because it’s such a benefit for so many people. Hopefully, the public respects us as much as we respect the public’s use of the area.”

Powdercats is also active in river conservation, helping protect a region that comprises one of the main headwaters of the Yampa River. This involves everything from sponsoring the annual Yampa River Basin Rendezvous seminar to being involved in wetlands preservation and wildfire mitigation. The company also uses green power as much as it can, purchasing energy credits from YVEA to offset their use of carbon, cuts down on food waste, encourages the use of recyclables and encourages its guests to follow similar best-use practices.

Powdercats is also contemplating eventually switching over to a new breed of green snowcat that runs on bio-diesel and/ or electric power. While the technology isn’t quite there yet, Vertrees says, it’s on their radar for the future. “We’re doing everything we can,” he says, listing the fight against climate change as a top priority. “We’re super sensitive to the shortening of the seasons we’ve been experiencing. As aridification takes hold in the West, we realize we’re at the whim of Mother Nature.”

Still, the company’s guides, terrain and snowfall keep customers like Andy George coming back year after year. “I try to come every year and I’ve made some lifelong friendships with other guests and the staff,” says George, a Wisconsin eyeglass retailer. “It lets you meet like-minded people and share a love of skiing. And their guides make sure everyone has a great time.”

While the company is possibly looking to expand, including leading guided backcountry ski touring trips and bike tours, it’s staying true to the roots its founders instilled four decades ago. “We’re taking what Barb and Jupiter started and are building on it, while keeping its family-based feel,” Vertrees says. “All this has helped elevate us to the top of our industry. But we’re incredibly lucky that we have such an amazing place to operate in.” SM


A Chance Encounter

I’m up early today. Somehow time is more punctuated in the shadows of huge peaks. I’ve been swallowed by Nepal.

I grab my pack and shuffle over for tea, coffee and food before we set out. Anticipating another in a string of many stellar mountain days, I search for my camera. Today would be a terrible time to be without it, in the middle of the three-pass circuit. This iconic trail, Renjo La, will tweak our spirits and bodies. It will also serve as a moving acclimatization in lieu of bouncing up and down the slopes of Ama Dablam, which is our ultimate goal.

We head out in the dark. Each day’s trek with Chhiring Dorje Sherpa begins the same way: with singing and chanting. There is no modesty. Chhiring sings with gusto. Intuitively, I know he is signaling the mountain gods as to our intentions for the day, though I don’t understand a single word. I look forward to hearing it every morning; it sets the tone for the climb and just about anything we do. It becomes a part of my meditation, my church experience. It spurs me to feel the joy of life and tune in to where I am and what I am doing. The song begins and ends with no warning or fanfare, but is received with soul-wrenching appreciation. And Chhiring has plenty to sing about.

A Nepalese guide with an infectious personality and a giant belly laugh, Chhiring and I first crossed paths in 2008 when he came with our friend Dr. Eric Meyer to work in the United States for a summer. I hired him before meeting him to be a part of our construction crew. I soon found out that the more you are around him, the better he gets.

His gregarious charisma makes him seem almost fictional. I’ve been on multiple international expeditions with him; partnering with him in the mountains is what it must feel like for a high school basketball coach to shoot hoops with Michael Jordan. He can speak six or seven languages and does so consistently whenever we encounter international groups. He has the uncanny ability to get along with everyone, perhaps due to his hardships growing up.

Chhiring was born in the Rolwaling Valley in 1974. The valley, which stretches along the border of Tibet into northern Nepal, is home to many of the most successful climbing sherpas in history. Reaching his town required a six or seven day walk from the end of the nearest road.

At age 12, Chhiring’s mother died during childbirth. Chhiring’s father was paralyzed with anguish over the loss, and with his family in dire financial straits, Chhiring took it upon himself to work harder than ever while also raising his siblings.

His uncle, Sonam Tsering Sherpa, was a well-respected climbing sherpa who had connections to trekking companies in Kathmandu. Still a young boy, Chhiring begged to be given a chance. So Sonam helped him find his way onto a trekking group to prove himself.

| MOUNTAIN 2023 | 69
Chhiring Dorje Sherpa is an accomplished mountaineer and well-respected guide. STEAMBOAT
Ama Dablam, meaning “mother’s necklace,” is a peak in the eastern Himalayan range of Province No. 1, Nepal. The peak measures 22,349 ft.

The first crux was to navigate his way to Kathmandu as a 12-year-old boy. Chhiring walked for days, trying to keep up through a mostly unknown world, and with little money. He carried a note from Sonam to present to the head of a trekking company if and when they met. When he finally arrived, the city was in the midst of a political revolution. People were uprising, revolting against the power of the king. Chhiring witnessed riots and huge crowds of screaming people throwing rocks –frightening behavior he had never dreamed of in the Rolwaling Valley. Eventually he found the trekking company that Sonam had referred him to and was rewarded with work.

For 60 days straight, Chhiring carried enormous loads throughout the Annapurna circuit. He received $100 for his efforts, a goldmine at the time. He returned home with bags of supplies for his family: food,


Chhiring Dorje Sherpa, one of the most renowned guides in mountaineering history, was awarded the prestigious Tenzing Norgay Award for his heroic rescue of climbers following the K-2 icefall collapse of 2008. He makes his home in Steamboat Springs.

clothes, money and critical climbing equipment that would help his ability to repeat that windfall. More importantly, Chhiring established that despite his small size, he was a capable worker with a golden demeanor.

Over the years, he moved through the ranks from porter to kitchen boy to cook. Then he was a climbing sherpa and finally a Sardar, or field general. He evolved into a leader amongst the sherpas and now, with 50 expeditions and 16 Everest summits to his name, he continues onward.

We move upwards along the rocky trail and round a corner, revealing an expansive view as dawn breaks. The horizon is packed with jagged lines. Light begins to spill in around them, creating art. Black sky gives way to grays and purples, streaked with the red of morning. I am in awe of the mountains and their possibilities. Their sheer vastness is otherworldly.

Soon, we are at the top of Renjo La soaking up the day’s fresh light and breathing the cold, thin air. Strings of weathered and faded prayer flags flutter with the occasional breaths of air. The sun’s rays are still fresh, casting a beckoning glow as I sit

A yak train hauls gear on the three pass circuit of Khumbu.

on a rock to marvel at the vastness. Having reached the day’s highpoint, I’m happy to take off my pack and rest.

Another group arrives at the top of the pass, coming from the opposite direction. We condense to share the narrow exposed saddle. Among its members are two European trekkers and a sherpa girl who places her pack on the rocks next to mine. I strike up a conversation with her despite my desire to gaze into the vast Himalaya without interruption.

“Where are you from?” I ask, assuming the name of one of the local villages would bubble up.

“France,” she answers.

A quick double-take and a sincere jolt of interest; I could have bet the farm she was Sherpa. I study her face while we engage in small talk and then we rejoin our respective groups. Chhiring, unsurprisingly, recognizes their guide and begins talking with him. He reveals to us that they are from the same valley.

“Let me take a picture of the two Rolwaling boys,” I say.

As they pose for the photos, the French girl approaches the two. She exchanges quiet words with Chhiring, whose

A young porter rests his loaded basket on a boulder.
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Dan Bell and Chhiring Dorje Sherpa on the top of Lobuche. In the background, Khumbu region mountains include Mount Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse.

face suddenly flushes. She steps back and stares at him, then simultaneously they are both in tears. This highpoint in the trail has become uncharacteristically emotional.

A choked explanation begins: Chhiring’s uncle and mentor, Sonam Tshering Sherpa, is at the center of this story. One of the only expeditions that Chhiring and Sonam experienced together was Sonam’s final summit on April 22, 1993. Tragically, Sonam died on descent, along with Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the first Nepalese woman to summit. They disappeared after being stranded on the south summit when a storm moved in. Chhiring, though distraught at the loss of his mentor, had to continue on with the expedition. In addition to suffering the loss, as a family member, he was charged with returning to Rolwaling to share the horror with his aunt.

Arriving at Sonam’s house, Chhiring quickly found this task would be exponentially more difficult; his aunt had given birth to a daughter while Sonam was on Everest.

With a family to care for her and no possibility of extra income, Chhiring’s aunt – now a widow – made a heartbreaking decision to give up her newborn for adoption, praying that she would have a better life elsewhere. The baby girl went to a pair of French trekkers who happened into the area.

Now in her 20s, the girl and her adoptive parents had returned to visit her homeland. And Chhiring has now bumped into her, his cousin, at the top of this pass. I am learning that there are no chance encounters in life.

We watched Chhiring and his cousin gaze across the valleys to the shoulders of Everest, prominent on the horizon. They were taken back to the spot where their lives would first intersect. Chhiring painted a picture of her father, a strong and skilled climber and a loving uncle. From the moment of the accident, miles, continents and cultures have separated them.

Had our paths crossed on the way up or down the pass, instead of on top, neither group would have spoken. Because of the exertion everyone would have kept inside their own head. Had Chhiring not recognized the other Sherpa and had there not been an offer to photograph the two Rolwaling boys, the connection would never have been. If there was not the interest and effort of a young French woman to understand her past and Chhiring’s continued love of the mountains, set in motion so many years ago by his uncle, these ships might have sailed past each other.

We go our separate ways after a lingering, joyful departure. We descend in silence for a few moments until the quiet is broken by a fervent song emanating from an emotional sherpa. I have never been part of a more unexpected and uncharted experience, set on the world’s most beautiful stage. Those chance meetings, the ones I avoid, they may have the energy to change everything. I have taken the lessons to heart, or strived to. People we encounter are meant to be in our lives somehow, even if only for a moment. SM

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The Community That Skis Together Reads Together


A conversation with Ted Conover, author of “Cheap Land Colorado”

Finally, an authentic Western drama.

Ted Conover, famous for riding the rails, working and traveling with Mexican migrants, and signing on as a prison guard at Sing Sing for past journalism projects, has returned to his Colorado roots and hunkered down with locals in the ill-mapped reaches of a remote alpine valley. His new book, “Cheap Land Colorado: Off-Gridders at America’s Edge” unravels a modern Rocky Mountain landscape with which few Coloradans are likely acquainted.

Sure, you’ve been to the Great Sand Dunes. But a distinctly different part of the San Luis Valley rightfully claims the honor of “Wild West.” Out on the flats, there’s a dry lawless expanse of subdivided open prairie, unchecked zoning, self-reliant characters, poverty, charity, drugs, guns, conspiracy theories, possible alien encounters and a strong vibe for alternative everything. It’s a space riddled with hope and desperation,

having bloomed out of the unholy matrimony of developers selling mail-order real estate dreams and a county’s questionable (2023 update: terrible) 1970s land planning.

To write “Cheap Land Colorado,” Conover moved right in. He bought himself one of those parched 5-acre parcels with a ramshackle trailer, then honestly got to know his neighbors. The nuanced story he tells in this book covers the myriad social, environmental, logistical and historical angles of an outcast community doing its best in the West.

“Cheap Land Colorado” is a modern rendition of a neverending pioneer story. It’s a tale that wouldn’t be possible without a multi-layered colonial legacy of land grants and vast public lands. With that in mind, did Conover set out to write a portrait of a people or a landscape? “My book is about life in a particular Colorado place, so it’s about both,” he says. “One takes meaning from the other.”

Our interview slipped into Conover’s admirable investigation and impressions about crafting “Cheap Land Colorado.” The nonfiction book is this year’s One Book Steamboat community read, and Conover appears live on Wednesday, June 28, at Bud Werner Library to talk with the Yampa Valley community about it.

It’s notable that Conover shared his fond personal connection with the Yampa Valley, too. He’s excited for a long overdue return: “I have a lot of good Steamboat memories, including winning the first trophy of my life (in skijoring, because I had a fast horse) during the Winter Carnival, when I


was about 10. And skiing Concentration, one of the great bump runs anywhere, in springtime, repeatedly, when I was a teenager.”

Jennie Lay: Aside from certain glamorous outposts in the Rockies and Denver, much of Colorado can be lumped in what the coasts call “flyover country.” For Coloradans, the flats you write about in the San Luis Valley take that even deeper – fly-by country. What was your point of reference with the San Luis Valley before this project?

Ted Conover: I’d been to the San Luis Valley as a kid growing up in Denver, on a family car trip – we stopped at the sand dunes en route to Mesa Verde and the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge railway. And after I had my own kids, my wife and I brought them out for a very similar trip. But no … until about 2016, when I saw people living in modest homesteads on similar land in South Park, I knew nothing about people living off-grid on the prairie there. I told my sister in Denver about them, and she told me about La Puente’s outreach to off-gridders in the San Luis Valley.

JL: Your deep reporting is a style you’ve branded as immersive vs. investigative. What do you define as differences between the two approaches?

TC: Actually, I do consider my immersion reporting to be a kind of investigative reporting – just not the classic, Woodward-andBernstein, exposé kind of investigative reporting. The hidden things that spark my curiosity are mainly people’s lives, lives that mainstream people tend to know little or nothing about.

JL: How are readers and reviewers from the West vs. the East responding to your profile of the San Luis Valley?

TC: I don’t really see regional differences in the ways that readers are reacting to the book. Coverage in the San Luis Valley has been positive overall. I do remember being told, as I was writing it, that I needed to add some background information for city people who might not understand what a cattle guard is, for example, or why being able to see or smell smoke from a big wildfire doesn’t necessarily mean you need to evacuate immediately.

JL: Land use management is a big, complicated topic, but what do you think led to the current state of affairs on the flats?

TC: So as you know, in the 1970s, real estate developers turned a lot of ranchland in the area I’m writing about into 5-acre lots— about 45,000 such lots, in fact, in Costilla County alone. Cheap land was a new thing at the time, popularized in California and Florida by developers like M. Penn Phillips, who understood the tremendous appeal of owning a piece of even if undistinguished land. He and others saw how selling by mail, for little or no money down, a developer could make a little bit of money on a lot of small properties and come out ahead.

First they needed to sell their ideas to county commissioners, and at first blush the numbers made sense for county governments: subdivided residential land could generate a lot more tax revenue than agricultural land. The problem is that county commissioners often didn’t look ahead to the day when

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people might move in and the county would need to provide services – maintaining roads, making room in local schools, sending deputy sheriffs when there was trouble, expanding social services.

JL: Readers will undoubtedly feel a general sense of lawlessness prevail in “Cheap Land Colorado,” but how do folks on the flats perceive their social order? And how did your perception change from the beginning to the end of this project?

TC: I arrived right after a period of zealous code enforcement had forced many prairie dwellers to leave and had alienated and politicized many others. I happen to believe in housing codes, but lots of my neighbors out there had never been made aware of the rules or forced to comply. The sudden crackdown led to a lot of hard feelings toward the county. Those feelings softened, I think it’s fair to say, when the county pulled back and adopted a more measured approach to enforcement. I’d say my neighbors are generally glad that the sheriff’s office is there to help when things go wrong. That said, we don’t often see law enforcement out there, and most are fine with that.

JL: How would you have felt about flats life if you never had the luxury of leaving? You are a second-home owner out there, after all. TC: Obviously it would be much different. That goes for every immersive reporting experience I’ve ever had: the fact I can leave means I’ll never fully understand the lives I’m trying to learn about. That said, you can learn a lot by putting yourself out there and investing the time. You just need to be modest about what you can claim to know.

JL: One topic you touch on lightly is water and the lack of it in a valley with some of the oldest water rights in the American West. There are some dramatic water stories unfolding in the San Luis Valley, and water is top of mind for most everyone on the Western Slope these days – so what’s the deal with wells and water storage out there?

TC: Water scarcity is probably the main limitation to off-grid living on the prairie. During my first two years out there, I bought countless 79-cent gallons of water at Walmart and showered at a gym in Alamosa that sells a $10 day pass; I washed my clothes at laundromats in town. A few prairie dwellers have wells; others fill giant plastic cubes called “totes” at a handful of local springs. The really big users of water in the valley, though, are farmers and ranchers with senior water rights; some of them get it from canals and others pump it from the aquifer and spray it using pivot irrigation. As you know, Douglas County and other Front Range suburbs are thirsty and eyeing the valley’s water; I hope they don’t get it, since subtracting agriculture would make the valley a less desirable place.

JL: Not to romanticize it, but do you sense there is a magic euphoria in “big nature” that helps mend hard lives and grievances that define day-to-day existence on the flats?

TC: I think that natural beauty can’t help but make things better. That said, it’s not a solution to those serious problems.

JL: Do you still feel affection for the San Luis Valley, now that it’s no longer a project? A place to just be?


TC: I will definitely keep going there. Since I turned in my book manuscript a year ago, I’ve visited five times. It’s part of my life now. Learn about Steamboat’s community read at www.steamboatlibrary. org/events/one-book-steamboat.


Author and flyfishing guide Chris Dombrowski’s elegant new memoir is “The River You Touch: Making a Life on Moving Water.” The prose is equal parts awestruck nature writing and revelatory coming-ofmiddle-age fatherhood introspection. His relatable experience is that of a devoted 21st century transplant in the West; the story is a poignant reckoning with his local Montana wilderness, peppered with the places, people, plants and animals he encounters along the trail. It’s one man’s memory and a beautiful rumination on the effects of living and loving in the outdoors. Dombrowski visits Steamboat Springs for a live author talk on Wednesday, March 15, at Bud Werner Library.


Common Reader is a system-wide literature program that includes all the Colorado Mountain College campuses. This year they’re focused on “Woman of Light,” a novel by Kalie Fajardo-Anstine, a Denver native who has been a finalist for some of America’s top literary awards. Her latest novel is historical fiction set in 1930s Denver—a multi-generational story that puts fresh perspectives on Colorado history and the people who’ve settled here. Best of all, the author leans heavily on the Chicana and Indigenous voices of her heritage, revealing lesser-known circumstances and lively characters moving in new ways through a recognizable landscape. Fajardo-Anstine is hosting livestream talks about her book at the end of March.


If you saw the latest Warren Miller ski flick, “Daymaker,” you already know that comedian and “professional leisure athlete” Katie Burrell was the star of the show. Keep your funny bone tickled with her ongoing leisure sport shenanigans on Instagram. @katieburrelltv. SM

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Staff Picks: Books

Sophie Dingle - Editor

“The Candy House”

by Jennifer Egan

Sitting on my desk, the book is on most ‘Best Books of 2022’ lists and I’ve yet to read it…but, better late than never!

Casey Hopkins - Office Manager “Fairy Tale” by Stephen King

Like I mentioned in the ‘Staff Picks’ for the Ski Edition, I fell deep into the Stephen King rabbit hole during COVID. While I tend to read more non-fiction, King has a way of reeling me in and keeping me buckled for the entire ride. This novel comes in at 608 pages (for the hardcover edition), making it the longest writing by King I’ll have in my repertoire (though I’m currently part of the way through Under the Dome, a daunting 1074 pages). Here’s to waiting in hopeful anticipation!

Suzy Magill - Staff Writer

“Powder Days” by Heather Hansman

The book covers the history of skiing and ski bums across the country, looking at the past, present and future of skiing. I’m excited to read it and learn about how ski bums keep all of us on the mountain.

Trey Mullen - Digital Director

degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from CU Boulder, the lines between religion and spirituality, science and faith, all began to blur as I began to shape my own perceptions of the world and varying cultures around me.

If you’ve ever embraced the phrase “be here now,” practiced meditation or yoga, tried psychedelics, or supported anyone in a hospice, prison, or homeless center, then the story of Ram Dass is also part of your story.

Deborah Olsen - Publisher “Everything The Light Touches” by Janice Pariat

I’m known for having said “to be without art is to be without heart.” I’m anxious to read a book about a character who says “to be still is to be without life.” I can’t wait to see how the two ideas intersect. Plus, the Ski Town Media staff gave me this book for Christmas, and I’m honored they chose a book in which the prose reads like poetry.

Melissa VanArsdale - Art Director

“Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver


Ram Dass” - Autobiography by Ram Dass (formerly Richard Alpert)

I was fortunate enough to stumble upon Ram Dass early during my continued path to spirituality. Growing up in a conservative Christian household and then later earning a

I met Barbara Kingsolver at a book signing in Boulder in the early 90s. Kingsolver wasn’t very engaging when I gave her my book to sign. Let’s just say, I swore I’d never read one of her books again. Jump forward 30 plus years: I scroll through the New York Times top 10 books of 2022 and I run across “Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver. The description of a contemporary Charles Dickens’s “David Copperfield” intrigues me. Time to let bygones be bygones and pick up a Kingsolver book once again. SM

STEAMBOAT MAGAZINE | MOUNTAIN 2023 | 79 1234 5678 9 101112 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 2021 22 23 2425 26 2728 29 3031 32333435 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 4445 4647 484950 51 52 5354 55 5657 58 5960 61 62 63 64 65 66 Crossword Across 1 Forest growth 5 It offsets a gain 9 Adobe material 13 Capri or Wight 14 Guthrie of folk music 15 “Been ___, done that” 16 Upper ovine part? (8,615 ft.) 18 Auspices 19 ___ salad 20 S cene seen from Little Toots? (12,303 ft.) 2 2 7 2 at Rollingstone Ranch, e.g. 2 3 Dr. Seuss’s turtle 24 Bridge between buildings 2 7 “Am not!” comeback 29 Involuntary movements 30 Annapolis inst. 32 Canceled 36 Incoming flight info 37 Crew cut alternative (12,106 ft.) 39 O ld name for Tokyo 4 0 “Ditto” 42 P t. of NBA 43 Blow it 4 4 Having little lumps, as fabric 46 Jittery 48 Capital on the Hudson 51 Durham sch. 52 Flaky particles at Fort Knox? (13,382 ft.) 55 “Fine by me” 58 Annually 59 Small fruit on a mound? (7,680 ft.) 61 “Delicious!” 62 Worshipped celebrity 63 “Peek-a-boo,
64 “ When
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workplaces 3 Nodding-off
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more @ For the answers to this edition’s puzzle, visit NY Times cruciverbalist Victor Fleming REMODELING SPECIALISTS • 970.692.4332
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Party on the mountain: WinterWonderGrass celebrates 10 years in Colorado this March.

Why Stop at the Last Page?

Celebrating 10 Years of WinterWonderGrass

The WinterWonderGrass festival returns to Steamboat Springs for its 10-year anniversary with a weekend full of live music and craft beer at Steamboat Resort. Be sure to visit www., and follow @SteamboatMagazine on Instagram and Facebook, to read exclusive interviews with the festival’s headlining artists including Infamous Stringdusters and Kitchen Dwellers, and stay in the loop regarding festival news and announcements. WinterWonderGrass takes place FridaySunday, Mar. 3-5.

Steamboat Wedding Day Talks Venues

Planning a wedding in the Yampa Valley and looking for the perfect reception venue? For our list of the Top 8 Steamboat Springs Venues for Rehearsal Dinners and Welcome Parties, be sure to pick up a copy of the newly designed Steamboat Wedding Day, visit or follow @SteamboatWeddingDay on Facebook and Instagram. From big, bold and beautiful to subtle, small and sweet, we take a look at our favorite venues in Steamboat to gather with family and friends. is the number-one resource for planning your special day in Steamboat Springs.

Arts and Culture in the Yampa Valley Art galleries, exhibitions, museums, live music, theater, dance –Steamboat Springs has it all. For an in-depth exploration of the current Steamboat Art Museum exhibit, “The New West: The Rise of Contemporary Indigenous and Western Art,” or for a look into upcoming performances at Strings Music Festival, be sure to visit and follow the Yampa Valley Arts Facebook page for the latest in the thriving arts and culture scene in the Yampa Valley.

All Things Food and Drink

In addition to the beautiful surrounding landscape we call home, the Yampa Valley offers an abundance of options for authentic mountain dining. From world-renowned chefs and elevated slopeside cuisine, to casual watering holes and latenight pizza windows, Steamboat Springs has something for the foodie in you. Learn more about Steamboat’s best food and drink locations on, or follow @SteamboatMagazine on Instagram and Facebook. SM

more @ Visit for more original, timely content.

Why Stop Here?
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