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ECO -SAV V Y APPS | TOURS FOR ALL ABILIT Y LEVELS | LOVE IS KING OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 2020

FREE!

E L E V AT I O N O U T D O O R S . C O M

You deserve this YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WINTER DELIVERS INFO ON THE RES ORTS, C OVID-19 PRECAUTIONS, AND THE BEST NEW GE AR

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LESSONS FROM THE MASTER BOOTFITTER

road trip to telluride: Social Distance and Endless Terrain

Inclusivity on the Slopes

IS BLUEBIRD BACKCOUNTRY THE NEW NORMAL?


OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 2020

SHRED SEASON: Emilé Zynobia touches heaven at Jackson Hole, which will be operating on

a reservation system this winter due to COVID-19 (see page 20). Photo by Sofia Jaramillo

DEPARTMENTS 7 EDITOR'S LETTER Stay safe and take the CAIC Forecast Pledge. 9 QUICK HITS Love Is King seeks guardians to stand up for equity in the outdoors; Bluebird Backcountry is the perfect escape for socially distanced skiing; Crested Butte’s Alley Loop; eco-savvy apps; and more... 13 HOT SPOT These four winter backcountry excursions will please adventurers of all ability levels. 14 FLASHPOINT The pandemic is causing a new migration of families to mountain towns. This is why they are making the move. 16 STRAIGHT TALK Larry the Bootfitter tells us his secrets to success.

17 NUMEROLOGY The slopes are all too often white spaces—we give you the history, and future, of Black skiers and snowboarders. 31 HEAR THIS Download these four hot new albums for the long drive to the resort. 32 THE ROAD Dani Reyes-Acosta gave up van life (and the covert racism of resort towns) during the pandemic but must navigate overt racism in her new rural community. 34 ELWAYVILLE Peter Kray reminds us that every day is a gift.

FEATURES 20 THE WINTER THAT WILL BE As we move into a strange ski and snowboard season at the tail end of a challenging

year, we consider what really matters and look at what resorts are doing to manage COVID-19 and find inclusivity in a privileged sport. 22 THE PERFECT WINTER GUIDE Our annual special section delivers all the details you need when it comes to beta, lessons, lodging, pandemic precautions, and deals at some of our favorite destinations in the Rocky Mountain West. 28 WINTER GEAR From skis to boots to beer to wax—we have all the goodies you need to get out there and play.

ON THE COVER Dynafit athlete and holistic health and endurance coach TJ David splashes into unadulterated bliss in the backcountry of Loveland Pass. By Liam Doran liamdoranphotogrpahy.com Instagram @liam_doran_outdoors

WANT MORE? CATCH UP ON PAST ISSUES, YOUR FAVORITE BLOGGERS AND DAILY ONLINE CONTENT AT ELEVATIONOUTDOORS.COM

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LOCAL GOODS W I L D ER NE S S S PO RTS

Before hitting the resort or heading into the backcountry this season, you need to be equipped and ready. This legendary shop has you covered.

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fter last season’s premature ending, it’s safe to assume that more people than ever are thinking about heading out on adventures off the beaten path this year. The lure of the backcountry has never been stronger. From long nordic treks through frozen glades to epic lines of untracked powder, everyone is going to be searching for hidden gems. But before you head out, you need to make sure that you are prepared for anything that nature might toss your way. That’s why you should stop by Wilderness Sports in Dillon, Colorado, before you head out. As the local’s shop, it has been servicing the residents of Summit County and beyond since 1976. It’s the perfect one-stop shop where you can make sure you have the best gear and latest information for a perfect outing. The locally-owned store offers gear for alpine touring, splitboarding, telemarking, nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and just about any other winter (and summer) pursuit your heart desires.

COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS: As with every other business, Wilderness Sports has adapted its

operations to ensure the safety of both guests and its team. Social distancing measures are in place and will be updated as needed this season. The shop is also cautiously optimistic about offering some educational experiences with limited capacity this winter—and Wilderness Sports is always brainstorming ways to provide the same level of experience and service, despite the limitations of COVID-19.

RETAIL AND RENTAL: Plain and simple, Wilderness Sports is one of the premiere gear shops

in the Rockies. It offers a wide array of items for sale in the store with products from all of the top brands, plus some smaller ones you should know about. Wilderness Sports offers full backcountry setups for rent along with an avalanche kit that includes a beacon, probe, and shovel. One of the store’s best offerings is a colossal demo fleet that allows you to actually take gear out and see how it performs on the hill before dropping some of your hard earned dough on it. Plus, if you do decide to buy, the cost of two rentals goes toward your purchase.

FULL-SERVICE TUNE SHOP: Nothing is worse

than poorly tuned gear when you are out and about, far from home. Ever had a binding keep popping loose on a powder day? Post hole hell. Solve those issues by stopping in and letting Wilderness Sports’ technicians make repairs or service gear before you head out. These folks know what you are getting into, they live and play here, so trust them to ensure everything is perfect. Want to learn how to keep your gear in top shape? Check out the new Waxing Happy Hour. Pre-book a time at The Bench, Wilderness Sports’ new learning and coworking space, and you can wax up your sticks or board to your own exacting specifications. Plus, the shop will provide all of the tools and supplies needed, plus a cold brew, kombucha, or can of wine.

EDUCATION: One of the things that Wilderness

knowledge available to any and all who ask for help. The shop’s open-door policy means they will never be too busy to take a few moments to ensure all of your questions are answered and you are fully equipped before heading out. Let’s not kid ourselves, the backcountry can be deadly so don’t end up a statistic this season.

EVENTS: While Wilderness Sports has had

to suspend educational events at the shop for now, employees can point you to guide services, classes, and anything else you might need to make sure you come back with a huge smile on your face. With a mission statement that says “We aim to educate, empower and equip you in your pursuit of a life fully lived,” you know they will be there for you. Wilderness Sports is stoked to welcome you to the backcountry family! •

Sports prides itself on is the wide array of

701 E. Anemone Trail, Dillon, CO wildernesssports.com 970.468.5687 O C TO B E R 2 0 2 0 / E L E VAT I O N O U T D O O R S . C O M 5


C O N T R IB U T O R S | 1 0. 20

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS WINTER? E DI TOR-I N -CHI E F

DOUG SCHNITZSPAHN

doug@elevationoutdoors.com PRE SI DE N T

BLAKE DEMASO

blake@elevationoutdoors.com PUBLI SHE R

CONOR SEDMAK

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LAUREN WORTH

lauren@elevationoutdoors.com EDITORIAL + PRODUCTION MAN AG I N G E DI TOR

CAMERON MARTINDELL

cameron@elevationoutdoors.com COPY ASSASSI N

TRACY ROSS

SE N I OR E DI TOR

CHRIS KASSAR

chris@elevationoutdoors.com E DI TOR-AT-LARG E

PETER KRAY

CON T RI BUT I N G E DI TORS

AARON BIBLE, ADAM CHASE, ROB COPPOLILLO, LIAM DORAN, JAMES DZIEZYNSKI, HUDSON LINDENBERGER, SONYA LOONEY, CHRIS VAN LEUVEN CON T RI BUT I N G WRI T E RS

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SUMMIT

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PUBLISHING

DOUG SCHNITZSPAHN

Some good news and the chance to explore backcountry stashes close to home.

conor sedmak

Cold temps, deep snow, and great trips through the Rocky Mountains with worthy company.

TRACY ROSS

Pass skiing with the family while base-ing in our new 1967 Mitchell & Sons camper.

Cameron Martindell

My 3-year-old was just about to snowplow last spring when the season got cut short. He’s been talking about it all summer.

chris kassar

Skiing over 100 days (mostly pow, I hope) and marrying the most amazing human I know.

Dani Reyes-Acosta

Spending more time inside (rather than in a van) with a real heater means I'll be ready to charge this winter. Ski-in-ski-out from a van 24/7 in the cold is tough.

Endria Richardson

I'm looking forward to visiting family on the East Coast, snowboarding, and re-reading the collected works of Toni Morrison.

Morgan Tilton

I’m excited to build more knowledge of my backyard terrain and deepen my relationships with my backcountry partners.

devon O’Neil

I’m looking forward to getting closer to the end of the pandemic, in a winterlong series of natural snow globes while on skis.

aaron bible

I’m ready for the peace, quiet, and personal and spiritual fulfillment that only skiing can provide.

Peter Kray Snow!


E D I T O R'S L E T T E R | 1 0. 20

IT’S SAFER IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS • BA C K C O U N T RY A N D N O R D I C SK I I N G • A V A LA N CHE SA FET Y • I C E C LI M B I N G A N D M O U N T A I N EERI N G • S N OWS H OEI N G • S PLI T BO A RDI N G • W I N T E R HI KI N G

BE SMART, SKI SAFE, STAY ALIVE T H I S W I N T ER P RO M I SE S TO B E B US I ER T H A N E V ER I N T H E B AC KCO U N T RY. A R E W E R E A DY F O R T H E I N S A N I T Y I N DA N G ERO US T ER R A I N ? by DOUG SCHNITZSPAHN

W

e loved the outdoors to the breaking point this summer. Trailheads were packed, bikes were out of stock, and everyone who had planned to be away on vacation or was just fed up with staring at a computer screen and suffering through Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting headed to the hills. And it wasn't just Coloradans. Carloads of tourists from every state in the U.S. came to the trails, crags, rivers, and park lands of Colorado to escape the drag of the pandemic. The good news? More people—and many people who have been shut out of the outdoors in the past—are falling in love with outdoor recreation and the healing power of nature, and, hopefully, that means more people will want to speak up and vote to protect wild places and public lands. The bad? All these new visitors are overwhelming public lands and the underfunded managers who are tasked with protecting them. And far too many of them don’t have experience in outdoor ethics and safety. Some are leaving trash, blasting music, stressing sensitive ecosystems, and sometimes putting themselves in dangerous situations. It’s not their fault. It’s ours. We need to be promoting education and finding ways to fund programs and staff to help mitigate crowds and encourage new visitors to have better experiences.

STOKE PATROL: FRIENDS OF THE CAIC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AARON CARLSON ENJOYS THE PERKS OF NON PROFIT WORK. photo by LIAM DORAN

This winter has the potential to be an even bigger problem. With resorts operating on COVID-19 precautions, more people are primed to try new winter sports, and, with so much economic uncertainty out there, the backcountry is going to be crowded. That represents a real danger. Backcountry snow can be deadly, and skiing and riding beyond the safety of the resort requires the proper training, equipment, experience, and solid mountain judgement. I am not trying to discourage anyone from experiencing the joys of wild snow, but I do implore all of you—no matter your experience level— to be informed and safe out there in this upcoming, unprecedented season. To that end, sign up for avalanche education classes and do not head out without the proper gear and partners you trust. Heuristic traps or the ways we justify accepting risks we know we should pay attention to can get us in deep trouble. Be willing to see beyond your fun-blinders. I always say that if one person in my group says no in a backcountry situation, it’s a no for the group. Leave dangerous terrain for spring days and stable snowpacks. Familiarize yourself with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center's (CAIC) daily report (avalanche.state.co.us). And go to forecastpledge.org to take the Friends of CAIC pledge to check that forecast every time before you head into the backcountry (or every day). I personally have had far too many friends and colleagues die in avalanches. I want you to stay safe and find joy in these uncertain times. And I hope to make turns with you one day.

SALES • RENT AL S • S E RV I C E CONSI GNMEN T • DE AL S Allow our friendly and knowledgeable staff help you on your winter journey!

30-50% OFF OUR REPS’ FALL ‘20 SAMPLE SETS!

2401 15th ST SUITE 100 • DENVER, CO 303.964 .0708 • WILDERNESS X.COM

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FLUX™ 1.5 L For long thru-hikes, the items you carry must earn their space in your pack. Lucky for the Flux, it packs down smaller than a deck of cards, weighs only 97g, and threads into 42mm water filters. Add in a spill-proof, drink-through cap, and it’s all that with extra space for kettle chips.

PHOTO COURTESY CHAD BROWN

Featuring ‘more space for trail snacks’ technology.


Love Is King

PHOTO COURTESY CHAD BROWN

A Navy vet who served in the Gulf War and Somalia,

Chad Brown suffers from PTSD. But he found solace in the wide-open spaces of the natural world and with his faithful companion, his service dog, Axe. Brown saved himslelf from inner darkness by embracing fly fishing and decided he wanted to share the restorative power of getting out on the water, so he founded Soul River (soulriver.org), a non profit that brings together at-risk youth and veterans who serve as mentors. Soul River puts them out on “deployments” in the wild, where they discover the powerful connections, self-awareness, and sense of self-worth that comes through adventure and contemplation in nature. The program has earned Brown numerous accolades, including a Breaking Barriers Award from Orvis and the Bending Toward Justice Award from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley. With so much unrest in the U.S. right now, Brown, who lives in Portland, Oregon, wanted to find a way to make a difference, to bring all people together to create a more equitable society. So he created the Love Is King initiative. “Love is King began as recognition, response, and acknowledgement that equality and equity doesn’t exist for people of color,” he says. “Love is King sees a world where nature’s lessons, beauty, nourishment, healing power, and strength are accessible to all people. Love is King is committed to providing equal opportunity to ensure equitable and safe access to the outdoors for children, families, and communities of people of color as a way to improve the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the most vulnerable among us.” To achieve that Brown is seeking Love Is King “Guardians,” a movement of people of “all ages, shades, and creeds” who love the outdoors and want to take action to make the outdoors truly accessible to all. White allies pledge to speak up for people of color, listen, and change the dominant paradigm in the outdoors and beyond that supports systemic racism. “The ultimate goal we should always practice is the art of the love ethos of a warrior,” says Brown. “This love is what it will take to bust down the forces of hate, ignorance, bigotry and racism.” Anyone who wants to become a Love Is King Guardian can go to loveisking.org to join. —Doug Schnitzspahn

WARRIOR OF LOVE: SUFFERING FROM PTSD AFTER SERVING AS A COMBAT VETERAN, CHAD BROWN FOUND HOPE IN WILD RIVERS. NOW, HE WANTS TO BRING THAT SAME COMPASSIONATE RESILIENCE TO CREATING EQUALITY IN OUTDOOR SPACES.

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Q U I C K HI T S | 1 0. 20

RESORT OF THE FUTURE WITH NO LIFTS AND A F O C US O N L E A R N I N G T H E B AC KCO U N T RY RO P E S , B LU EB I R D B AC KCO U N T RY I S P ER FE C T LY P OS I T I O N ED F O R PA N D EM I C SK I I N G . THE CLOSING OF SKI AREAS ON MARCH 14

GEAR WE LOVE TACTICAL TABLE

The Filson x Helinox Solid Tactical Hard Top Table limited-edition collaboration folds out for a lightweight and stable place to keep food and drinks above the dirt. Set-up is quick and easy thanks to its durable aluminum legs, nylon resin hubs, and easy-to-clean 600D polyester fabric tabletop. $165 | FILSON.COM

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THE NORDIC NORMAL L A S T Y E A R , T H E H I S TO R I C A L L E Y LO O P D R E W COS T U M ED CO M P E T I TO R S F R O M AC R OS S T H E P L A N E T. H ER E ’ S A LO O K B AC K AT T H E F U N . W E H AV E O U R F I N G ER S C R OS S ED F O R 202 1 . EVERY FEBRUARY FOR 34 YEARS, CRESTED

Butte, population of 1,700, swells with an additional 700 folks for the state’s largest cross-country ski race. The Alley Loop is an American Birkebeiner qualifier. Known as the Birkie, the iconic competition pulls 13,000 people to Wisconsin later in February. “The American Birkebeiner is a bucket list experience. Serious American cross-country skiers participate at least once in their life,” says Laura Puckett Daniels, marketing and development director of Crested Butte (CB) Nordic, the nonprofit that organizes the Alley Loop and maintains the cross-country trails. For international travelers, university athletes, and core racers, their performance today influences their Birkie wave placement. For recreational Nordicers, like us, the focus is our quirky appearance: The Alley Loop is arguably Crested Butte’s primo costume party. Throughout the morning, close to 1,000 skiers shove off from Elk Avenue in eight different swells. The distances range from 1K to 42K for skate, classic, and freestylers. The routes criss-cross streets, alleyways, and bridges over Coal Creek before fanning out onto

WINTER IS BACK: COVID-19 MAY BE LURKING BUT THE UNTRACKED LINES OF BLUEBIRD BACKCOUNTRY (ABOVE), ZANINESS OF THE ALLEY LOOP (OPPOSITE PAGE LEFT), AND OVER 2,000 SKIABLE ACRES AT TELLURIDE (OPPOSITE PAGE RIGHT) ARE ALL VIABLE OPTIONS TO FIND SOME NEEDED SANITY.

peripheral trails. The loops finish near the picturesque candy-cane colored Old Town Hall, erected 137 years ago. Back in 1986, 30 skiers inaugurated the Alley Loop. “Photos of ski racers in the narrow streets of European villages inspired the creation. I realized Crested Butte is snowy enough to host that type of event,” says Alley Loop Founder Gary Sprung, a.k.a. Gnurps, the CB Nordic Council co-founder. The event retains its genuine spirit. “The Alley Loop accommodates both the serious and silly. We may hold the silliest record for the slowest 5K: over 3 hours,” says Keith Bauer, former CB Nordic executive director. I’m entertained by everyone’s flamboyant, frivolous garb and don’t mind the congested kickoff. As my crew and I reach town’s edge, the fastest 5K skater finishes—far ahead of us—in 12 minutes, 35 seconds. Moments later, we jump aside for the first place 42K competitor, who’s on lap two. Beside us, a Tigger onesie, a bobbing Tyrannosaurus rex, and a troop of rocket ships disperse. Mount Crested Butte towers over us, like Mount Crumpit above Whoville. We dig in our poles, and skate. Planing for the 2021 Alley Loop with COVID-19 risk mitigation is underway. Check cbnordic.org for updates and info. —Morgan Tilton

TECHNOLOGY AN UP AND AT ’EM APP

New this year, TerraQuest is a trail route navigation app for backcountry users from mountain bikers to trail runners. It offers crowdsourced routes and leaderboard features to help set realistic expectations on how long it takes to complete a route—plus, it gives audible turn-by-turn navigation guidance. IOS/ ANDROID FREE (FOR NOW) | TERRAQUEST.COM

BOOKS 50 ADVENTURES IN THE 50 STATES

In this lavishly illustrated children’s book by Kate Siber and illustrator Lydia Hill kids can check off adventures that include a horseback ride through canyons with a Navajo guide in Arizona and sliding down a waterfall in Pennsylvania. Each adventure includes education about local flora and fauna and other wonders. $30 | QUARTOKNOWS.COM

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: ERIC PHILLIPS, VIISIT TELLURIIDE, COURTESY THORN NATURE EXPERIENCE

mentorship doesn’t scale properly. Bluebird provides that. We hope we can provide the full spectrum of backcountry learning, avalanche education, and a place to practice all of those skills in a relatively safe, controlled environment.” To attain that, Bluebird patrols and mitigates risk to the same standard as other resorts, employing professional ski patrollers who evaluate, ski cut, and open and close terrain as needed. Bluebird Backcountry plans to open for the season on Christmas Eve, earlier if snowpack allows, and operate Thursday through Monday with a maximum of 200 skiers per day. The “resort” will move about four miles northwest this year from its inaugural location. Operations on about 4,200 acres, 1,200 of which will be avalanche-evaluated and patrolled, including a contactless check-in station and warming huts. Important to its mission, Bluebird will be an official American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) course provider, and is offering Backcountry Skiing 101, 102, and 103 level courses throughout the season. So is Bluebird the future of skiing? One thing is certain: It will create more backcountry skiers away from the resort, and it's essential those new skiers know how to be safe out there. Season passes and day tickets will go on sale November 1 on the resort’s website, bluebirdbackcountry.com. —Aaron H. Bible

JESSE MELCHISKEY

in response to the novel coronavirus sweeping the nation spurred a bum rush on backcountry ski gear that, according to Aspen’s Ute Mountaineer, precipitated 10 days of Christmas-like buying as people scrambled to obtain the tools needed to keep them skiing. Now, with an impending ski season that promises closed bars, intimidating daily reservation systems, potentially crowded and/or limited parking, reduced amenities, and COVID-19era protocols that could take some of the joy out of our usual resort experiences, backcountry skiing is poised for a revolution. “This whole thing started almost four years ago when I took my brother backcountry skiing as a Christmas present,” says Bluebird Backcountry co-founder Jeff Woodward. “He had this amazing day, but it made me realize that it’s very hard to just safely try this sport.” Woodward and his partner Erik Lambert knew this much about backcountry skiing: The gear is expensive and intimidating, the activity potentially dangerous and inconvenient, and, says Woodward, it’s a mentorship model of learning, which isn’t easy to build into a business plan. So the two created a ski area without chairlifts, serving what they saw then— and even more so now—as a gaping hole in the world of backcountry. “We wanted to shape how people learn how to backcountry ski, give them a relatively safe place to practice, and have a way for them to bridge out of that, develop good habits, and develop the experience, knowledge, and confidence to go out of bounds themselves,” says Lambert. “Learning requires mentorship, but


LO O K I N G TO G E T AWAY D U R I N G S O C I A L D I S TA N C I N G ? M A K E T H E J O U R N E Y TO T H I S F O R M ER S I LV ER M I N I N G C A M P I N A SE C LU D ED B OX C A N YO N .

EAT

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: ERIC PHILLIPS, VIISIT TELLURIIDE, COURTESY THORN NATURE EXPERIENCE

JESSE MELCHISKEY

EAT, SLEEP, PLAY: TELLURIDE, COLORADO

Telluride Sleighs and Wagons (telluridesleighs.com) is a great way to imbibe the winter spirit. Guests are picked up in downtown Telluride and shuttled into the hills to the Aldasoro Ranch for a horse-drawn sleigh ride and to a toasty tent for a gourmet dinner which includes Rocky Mountain elk entrees and Colorado peaches in a cobbler for dessert (plus some kid friendly options). There are two meal times each evening with a familyfocused ride first and a later option intended for adults. On the ski hill, 30-foot windows reach from floor to the peaked ceiling of The View Bar & Grill at Mountain Lodge Telluride (mountainlodgetelluride.com), which looks out upon the snow-clad San Sophia ridgeline. The menu is loaded with a wide range of appetizers like pork rillettes pickled apricot and stickto-your-ribs steak and frites to replenish all those calories spent on the slopes. For the literal peak dining experience in Telluride, book a dinner reservation at Allred's Restaurant (tellurideskiresort. com) located at the top of the gondola.

SLEEP

Nothing beats easy ski-in/ ski-out accommodations and the Mountain Lodge Telluride (mountainlodgetelluride.com) is ideal for the skiing or snowboarding family.

The spacious multi-room condo units are surrounded by the ski slopes of the lower mountain (along a green run) so beginners and experts alike can simply strap in and go. The full kitchen in the condo makes popping in for lunch a snap to maximize time on the slopes. For non- or first-time skiing or riding members of the party, it’s an easy walk up to the free Intercept Gondola which provides direct access to the Telluride Mountain Village Center, where the ski and ride school is located as well as shopping, dining, and other activities.

PLAY

Telluride has something for everyone, and for our family of four, it was skiing. The first day we were there a winter storm rolled in and brought a bunch of snow, but our 5-year-old was not excited about going to her ski lesson. If we want her to love skiing, we can’t force her into it. No problem—we popped into the Telluride Adventure Center adjacent to the ski school and booked her in the kids’ program, which included arts and crafts and hot cocoa so Mama and Papa could ski in the storm. The next morning, the sky was clear and she was ready to hit the slopes. tellurideskiresort.com —Cameron Martindell

LOCAL HERO: OAK THORNE T H E B I R D ER A N D ED U C ATO R I S S TAY I N G S A FE A N D S T I L L I N SP I R I N G YO U N G P E O P L E D E SP I T E COV I D -1 9. SINCE THE AGE OF 13, ECOLOGIST AND

educator Oakleigh Thorne, II, Ph.D., has been banding birds to study their

migration patterns. Now at age 91, he’s still at it, spreading his love of nature to over 250,000 Front Range youth since founding the original nonprofit as Thorne Ecological Institute, in Boulder, in 1954. In fact, one yellow-headed blackbird he banded showed up in Guadalajara, Mexico, five years later. From a one-acre nature center adjacent to the Sombrero Marsh Open Space, Thorne Nature Experience now teaches youth ages 2 to 15 about birds and bird banding, wildlife, insects, how water pollution affects cities, and many other aspects of nature. Birds are safely trapped, then children have a chance to touch them gently after they are banded and before being released. “To have contact with wild birds is very important. Most children have never touched a wild

STURDY TREE: 91-YEAR-OLD OAK THORNE (ABOVE) IS WAITING OUT COVID-19 AND READY TO TEACH BIRD BANDING.

bird in their lives,” he says. Many students have gone on to careers in biology and other STEM disciplines. Thorne grew up in East Islip, Long Island, on 60 acres of woods, streams, and a lake, and later honed his love of nature at Millbrook School in Millbrook, New York, which even has its own accredited zoo. After studying biology and conservation at Yale, he received his doctorate in biology at the University of Colorado and started a successful career as an educational film producer before turning to hands-on environmental education. To follow COVID-19 restrictions, Thorne is offering virtual programs during the school year. And Thorne is staying safe and using Zoom, though he misses being involved in person. “It’s fun to go to work everyday and connect kids with nature,” he says. “Little kids are nearer to the ground and often see things we adults sometimes miss.” thornenature.org —Jeff Blumenfeld

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BIG THINKING : GREEN APPS MAKE LIFE

THE BEST GREEN APPS O U R D I G I TA L D E V I CE S C A N H ELP US K EEP T R ACK O F J US T A BO U T E V ERY T H I N G — H ERE A RE A FE W A PP S T H AT I M PROV E T H E EN V I RO N M EN T A N D O U R ZEN . FOREST

When you need to focus, open Forest and plant a tree. Your tree will continue to grow as long as you remain in the app and don’t exit to check texts. Earn coins as your trees grow, and buy real trees for the nonprofit Trees for the Future. LITTERATI

Litterati puts crowdsourcing to use by connecting the global community in a world-wide clean-up endeavor while collecting data on litter. So far, the app's total litter count is 6,704,616 pieces.

FAREWELL, JANETTE HEUNG

INATURALIST

Snap a photo of any living organism and upload it to iNaturalist. Users can help identify a species and protect certain threatened or endangered species.

T H E F O R M ER A S SIS TA N T D I R EC TO R F O R T H E O U T D O O R R ECR E AT I O N I N D US T RY O FFI CE M A D E A R E A L D I FFER EN CE.

SEAFOOD WATCH

The Seafood Watch app allows you to search for restaurants and grocers who sell sustainably sourced seafood, sushi, and other marine products.

THE WRITER GRAHAME GREENE SAID;

“You can’t conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness or mercy of God.” To lose Janette Heung, who was so talented, so driven, and so focused on sharing her passions with all those around her, is a loss difficult to bear. While I was serving as the Director for the Outdoor Recreation Industry Office under Governor Hickenlooper, the momentum and visibility of the office was growing nationally and we secured funding for a deputy director. I didn’t want the person who filled the role to just

RECYCLENATION

For hard to recycle items, RecycleNation provides a comprehensive list on what and where to recycle, based on location. ANIMAL HELP NOW!

Report a wildlife emergency, conflict, or other animal issue. A network of athome rehabilitators and veterinarians are able to offer advice, send aid, or direct you to bring the animal in. —Abigail Scott

be there to answer emails and help with workload—I wanted someone who would take our work to the next level. That’s when Janette showed up. In the offfice, Janette was a rock star. She had an impeccable academic background with degrees from Tufts in Physics and Biomedical Engineering to a Masters of Public and Environmental Health from Harvard's School of Public Health. She attacked her work voraciously. This dedication led to the creation of OutdoorsRx, in 2017, a network that connects outdoor and public health professionals that states and universities use to this day. At heart, she was a dedicated and talented climber who deeply believed in the restorative power of the outdoors. I used to joke with Janette, who died in a tragic climbing accident last month, that she was exactly who we needed to show up and help lead the outdoor industry–someone who grew up outside the USA and understands how the world at large works, as well as someone highly educated and deeply passionate about the outdoors. Let us in this moment of loss allow her work to live on and continue to help define the impact the outdoor recreation industry can and does have on all of us. —Luis Benitez

THE LEGEND Do you know me? I’m the kind of friend that will take you places you’d never go alone. I’ll challenge you, dare you and flat out scare the s*** out of you. Come spend a day with me. The Legend 1,428 ACRES | 147 TRAILS | HIGH-ALPINE RUNS | OPEN BOWLS | STEEP CHUTES | SPRUCE FORESTS | ROLLING TERRAIN |

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7%

20%

49%

24%

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PHOTOS COURTESY ABIGAIL SCOTT (LEFT), COURTESY EVA KRCHOVA (RIGHT)

EASIER (LEFT), JANETTE HEUNG IN THE MOUNTAINS SHE LOVED (RIGHT)


PHOTOS COURTESY ABIGAIL SCOTT (LEFT), COURTESY EVA KRCHOVA (RIGHT)

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Four Winter Adventures for Everyone W I N T ER M AY LO O K A L I T T L E D I F F ER EN T T H I S Y E A R AT T H E R E S O RT S , B U T CO LO R A D O ' S P U B L I C L A N DS W I L L B E O P EN TO H I K I N G , S N OW S H O EI N G , A N D S K I TO U R I N G . W E G I V E YO U T H E S E F O U R O P T I O N S F O R A L L A B I L I T Y L E V EL S TO G E T A F T ER I T I N S T E A D O F S I T T I N G AT H O M E . by CHRIS KASSAR

Winter Walk

B E RG E N PE A K , E V E RG R E E N

Challenge yourself by tackling this 9.5-mile trail up and down 9,870-foot Bergen Peak near Evergreen. Nestled at the back of Elk Meadow Park, its 2,200 feet of climbing wind through meadows, high-country prairie, thick fir, and pine forest, and across a mellow ridge to earn views of mountains to the west, plains to the east, and the exceptional features of the foothill canyons. Just a short drive from Denver, Bergen Peak offers the chance to gain experience in snowy conditions without avalanche risk, and solid training for those aspiring to climb a fourteener.

Snowshoe Adventure

T WO R I V E R S L A K E , RO CK Y M O U N TA I N N AT I O N A L PA R K

Nestled in a shallow basin below the Continental Divide, Two Rivers Lake couples the opportunity for solitude with stunning views of jagged 12,129-foot Notchtop Mountain. Beginning along the Bear Lake Trail, this 6.4-mile roundtrip adventure weaves through forests and meadows to reach Lake Helene, a more-visited destination at the headwaters of Fern Creek. From here, the journey continues cross country to reach Two Rivers Lake, the headwaters of Mill Creek and a spectacular subalpine sanctuary. Plan to spend some time soaking up the quiet power of nature and enjoying Notchtop’s reflection in the ice.

XC Ski Tour

P E RU C R E E K ROA D, W H I T E R I V E R N AT I O N A L F O R E S T, N E A R K E YS TO N E

Ideal for an early season shakedown or for a newbie Nordic-lover, this 10-mile roundtrip cross-country ski adventure begins on the gentle, forested Peru Creek Road between Keystone and Montezuma. Ramble in

and out of the woods, with only moderate avalanche danger in spots, on this exploration with phenomenal vistas of the Continental Divide. Gaining only 1,000 feet total, the mellow route has huge rewards: Find peace passing through expansive valleys where wide swaths of alpine tundra and craggy peaks tower above. Step back in time while exploring open basins harboring remnants of the Pennsylvania Mine and the small town of Decatur. The gate just before Horseshoe Basin marks a logical stopping point (beyond here avalanche danger increases exponentially). Turn around and enjoy the sweet, mellow ski back to the trailhead.

Backcountry Tour

CH A LK C R E E K PA S S , G A R FI E LD, CO LO R A D O

Winter may be here, but it’s not quite time to send it (aka couloir season) yet. However, if you’re like us—itching

CURE FOR THE CRAZY: MONTHS OF QUARANTINE, POLITICAL INSANITY, AND ZOOM FATIGUE GOT YOU FEELING COOPED UP? SKIN UP TO CHALK CREEK PASS.

to get turns in a safe way that won’t end your season before it has even begun—check out this lovely, chill 12.4-mile roundtrip tour up the Middle Fork of the South Arkansas River to reach Chalk Creek Pass, a 12,000-plus -foot saddle offering stellar views of Hancock Lakes. By beginning a bit below Monarch Pass, you’ll enjoy a gradual forested climb along a jeep road to reach the Lost Wonder Hut, a cozy backcountry lodge perched at 10,878 feet with prime access to some terrific alpine backcountry (definitely worth a stay if you can snag a night). From here, follow the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) through a lush valley flanked by impressive ridgelines and multiple peaks. After 6.2 miles and 2,220

feet of ascending, top out on Chalk Creek Pass (12,128 feet), sandwiched between Van Wirt Mountain (12,024 feet) and Sewanee Peak (13,132 feet). If you have more time and energy (or have shuttled a car), drop down to the ghost town of St. Elmo and beyond. If not, head back the way you came, pausing periodically to check out all the opportunities for some fresh turns. Glades and bowls in the surrounding valley and trees, especially in the burn area across from the Lost Wonder Hut, offer plenty of fun ski lines. Avalanche dangers exist here, so consider making some turns in these lowerangle areas. Plus, you’ll pass right below bigger objectives that beg you to come back, including 13,745-foot Mount Aetna (and its iconic Grand Couloir), 12,972-foot Clover, and 13,369-foot Monumental Peak. Scope these lines and start building your list for spring.

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F L A S HP O IN T | 1 0. 20

The new mountan town migration COVID-19 IS SHIFTING DEMOGRAPHICS ACROSS THE COUNTRY AS PEOPLE RETHINK THEIR LIVES AND PRIORITIES— AND SKI TOWNS CALL TO THOSE LOOKING FOR A NEW LIFE. HERE’S HOW AND WHY T WO FAMILIES MADE THE JUMP. by DEVON O’NEIL

J

on and Amanda Bolan remember exactly when they decided to move to the mountains. They were watching a BBC television show called “Win the Wilderness,” in which an elderly couple give away their Alaska homestead after a competition between British hopefuls. At the end of the final episode, the 80-something patriarch looks into the camera. “A lot of people say, ‘We wish that we had,’” he says, summing up his life. “We can say that we did.” The Bolans looked at each other as the words sank in. They’d been yearning to head west for years, but never followed through. Now, sitting in their living room in Hartselle, Alabama, the phrase resonated. “It stung,” Jon recalls. “I was like, I’m ready to go right now. I want to be like that when I’m his age.” It was early July, mid-pandemic, with a heat index of over 100 degrees outside. Jon, a master carpenter, had recently finished building their dream home, a 3,200-square-foot castle on a cul de sac not far from his family’s 400acre farm. He and Amanda and their three kids had only been in the home for six months, but they knew right then that they’d be leaving, probably for good. “With COVID and the kids out of school, it was kind of like, if we don’t do it now, I’m going to look up and it’ll be 30 years later and I’ll be too old to get out and enjoy the mountains,” Jon says. “It wasn’t so much like pulling the trigger–it was more like lighting a fuse.” And so, in late August, after Jon secured a job at Copper Mountain, the Bolans moved 1,300 miles away to

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NEW KIDS IN TOWN: THE BOLAN FAMILY POSES IN THEIR NEW HOME STATE.

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Frisco, Colorado, joining a mountaintown migration that has spanned the country since the pandemic began. The influx of newcomers hit every high-country hamlet in Colorado this spring and summer, from Telluride to Steamboat. Nobody knows exactly how many pandemic-movers lit the fuse or where they came from most often. Anecdotally, though, anyone who lives in a mountain town has seen the swell and heard the grapevine stories.

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he surge has been particularly salient in Summit County, home to four world-class ski resorts, five mountain ranges, the Continental Divide Trail, and a reputation for launching ski-bum careers, including

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mine. I wanted to meet people who’d moved to town during the pandemic, if only to see if everyone really was here to escape reality in some form, as the local chatter made it seem, or if there were deeper draws at hand. I also wanted to hear what it was like to change hometowns and lifestyles during the strangest, hardest time in generations. A friend recommended a couple of families for me to contact, which is how I came to meet the Bolans for coffee one morning in September. Amanda, a 34-year-old Huntsville native, married Jon, a network administrator in the Army who was three years her senior, while she was in college. Six months after their wedding, Jon was deployed to Iraq—the first of

two lengthy deployments during his eight years of service. They settled in Alabama after he got out, and Jon spent the next four years designing and building that 3,200-square-foot home. But they couldn’t escape a gnawing restlessness. A lot of people who grow up in the South never leave. Others struggle to find their place. “If you don’t believe the same, vote the same, it can be brutal,” Amanda says. The Bolans had long considered relocating to a purple state, figuring they’d end up in Denver or Seattle. But with 10- and 7-year-old daughters and a 3-year-old son, uprooting at this stage was easier said than done. When the pandemic exploded, suddenly all three kids were

PHOTO COURTESY AMANDA BOLAN

Jon spent the next four years designing and building their dream home. But a funny thing happened after he finished: He and Amanda still couldn’t escape a gnawing restlessness.


PHOTO COURTESY AMANDA BOLAN

at home trying to learn, hovering over each other, bickering. “It was pretty awful at first,” Amanda says. Unrelated to COVID-19, she was being laid off by her European tech company in March, while Jon wondered what to do next as a builder. As spring turned to summer, the oppressive heat returned, along with their happy feet. Jon had skied at Copper Mountain while on vacation in February and had such a good time that he kept his eye out for job listings at the resort. Sure enough, in early July he saw a posting for a carpenter with his precise set of skills. He applied immediately and got the job. A frenzied apartment search led them to Frisco, an artsy mining town surrounded by towering summits and a glistening reservoir. They signed a lease in mid August and started driving a week later—Jon in a 26-foot U-Haul—to start a new life at 9,100 feet. Not surprisingly, most mountain-town pandemic movers are not eking by. Affordable housing is in higher demand since March, according to county officials in major resort communities, but movers typically are able to work remotely (which disqualifies them from workforce housing) and, in some cases, school their children remotely. It won’t be until 2021 that we know how many people actually relocated, either from updated school enrollments or, as Colorado demographer Elizabeth Garner suggested, craftier tools such as measuring water and power usage. But it is also worth noting that not everyone came strictly for fresher air and fewer people. Some came because mountain economies kept humming right along while their metropolitan counterparts fizzled. That was precisely the case for the second family I contacted. Thirtysomethings Austin and Mike Vasquez moved to Breckenridge in early August from sweltering Austin, Texas, with 4- and 1-year-old daughters. Mike, an Austin native, was the GM of a bar that got shut down and needed work. Austin’s brother had just opened Yo Mommas! cantina in Breckenridge and needed help running it. A temporary gig led to ownership shares, and within a month the entire Vasquez family had moved up from Texas. They paid $400 more per month for 1,000 fewer square feet, but they felt at home and that mattered more to Austin, who’d grown up in New Jersey. “I think I’m becoming a mountain person,” she says. She and Mike are wary of the seven-month winter to come, and nervous about what will happen to business if the virus spikes again. “Our livelihood—everything—

depends on a restaurant that opened in the middle of a pandemic,” she says. “There’s not a backup plan right now. This is not our second home. We have to make it work, otherwise we’re going back to New Jersey to live with my mom.”

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or all the uncertainty that comes with a pandemic move, the Bolans are certain they made the right decision, and their families saw it in their conviction. “I hate that you’ll be that far away, but I know why you’re going,” Jon’s mom told him. Amanda’s mom said: “Go find the place that brings you peace.” Jon still finds himself awestruck by the peaks around Frisco. “There’s something comforting about how small they make me feel,” he says. “Every time you round a corner, it’s like, man, I wonder what’s back there. I’ve always been outdoorsy, but this is a different level.” They enrolled their oldest daughter with the local ski club. Thanks to Jon’s job, they’ll pay $10 apiece for a season ski pass. Their kids bike to school and stack rocks by the creek for hours, fully engaged with nature. Amanda, who cofounded the tech company RippleWorx, which helps employees work remotely, got a message recently saying her screen time was down 55 percent since she moved. They appreciate how their new community embraces individualism after watching their 10-year-old struggle to conform in Alabama. “I don’t want to knock that area of the country because it’s still a huge part of us, but we didn’t want the mold to drive who our kids became,” she says. “I love that this shows them there’s more than one path.” When I met the Bolans, Amanda was preparing for a trip back to Huntsville to meet her sister’s new baby, finalize the sale of their house, and sell a vehicle—all in 48 hours. As the quaking aspen trees glowed golden high on Mount Royal, she admitted to feeling apprehensive about leaving Frisco, even though it’d only been a month since she arrived. “So far, it feels like we fit here, and I don’t know that we’ve felt that, maybe ever,” she says. “It’s the first time everyone in our family is happy.” She and Jon, like Austin and Mike Vasquez, resist being lumped in with second homeowners who have moved into their mountain retreats to ride out the pandemic. There is nothing temporary about their intentions, Amanda says. “We have wanted this for a long time, and COVID-19 just put things in perspective for us.”

it is also worth noting that not everyone came strictly for fresher air and fewer people. Some came because mountain economies kept humming right along while their metropolitan counterparts fizzled.

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S T R A I G H T TA L K | 1 0. 20

Larry Houchen

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T H E BO OT- FI T T I N G G U RU O F CO LO R A D O TA L K S A BO U T H OW H E GOT I N TO T H E B USI N E S S A N D H OW H E FI N DS L I K E M I N D ED EM P LOY EE S .

by CAMERON MARTINDELL

B

orn and raised on a homestead in northern Montana where he could ski right out of his back door, Larry Houchen fell into boot fitting because the shop he was working at in Denver was having a sale and they needed more help getting people into boots. This was in 1979. Plastic ski boots were only 10 years old and Larry noticed two very important things while working four days straight in the boot department. First, being out with customers and interacting with them was more fun than unboxing incoming shipments in the back of the house, and, second, the other boot fitters knew about as much as he did—practically nothing. They were all learning as they went. Houchen wanted to learn more about how to help people find the right fit. While in graduate school for business in Denver, his elective courses included kinesiology, anatomy, and biomechanics so that he could learn as much as possible about movement and feet, and how they relate to boots and skiing. I sat down with Larry in his famed, intimate shop, Larry’s Bootfitting (larrysboootfitting.com), on Folsom St. in Boulder, Colorado, to learn more about him and how his name became synonymous with the perfect ski boot fit. What else did you do beyond the elective courses you took in graduate school to further your knowledge about footwear? I heard about a guy named Roberto LaRosa (then known as Bob Rose) at Colorado Boot and Shield. They built a whole variety and array of footwear oriented towards being active in the outdoors including leather hiking boots and leather telemark boots—they were really on top of it. I’d take a bottle of wine over to their shop and ask if we could talk. They finally relented and I ended up learning a lot from guys like Hans

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Woodman and Bob Rose. Then I went to the Northwest Podiatric Laboratories in Blaine, Washington where I met Dr. Chris Smith, Dennis Brown, and Sven Coomer. I spent a couple summers with them learning how to grind orthotics, read prescriptions, and find out more about feet. It was insane that a guy like me who didn’t have any practical podiatric experience spent so much time up there with these men who had dedicated their lives around taking care of people’s feet. It was awesome. An incredible experience. These were the people who ended up starting Superfeet, the insole company. How did you end up getting your own boot fitting shop? Through the ’80s and into the ‘90s, I worked at various shops as a manager, hardgoods buyer, and bootfitter in Denver and Boulder. Each time one of those shops sold to a corporation, I moved on. Finally, someone said to me, “Hey stupid, if you want to work for a shop that’s not owned by a corporation, you should start your own because no corporation will buy you.” And I took that as a compliment and started this shop in 2003. Any story behind naming your shop? My wife at the time reminded me that

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THE MASTER: LARRY HOUCHEN LIVES FOR ONE THING—FINDING THE PERFECT FIT. AND HE'S BEEN DOING JUST THAT FROM HIS HUMBLE SHOP IN BOULDER SINCE 2003.

while I was working at other shops, people looking to have their boots fitted would walk in and say, “Where’s Larry?” So, I tried to name my shop “Where’s Larry?” But someone already owned that name so I wrote him a letter offering to take care of all his boot-fitting needs if he’d let me use the name. Well, I got a letter back and this Larry wasn’t much into skiing, more into sailing. It was Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle. But, that’s why there’s a question mark in the footprint in the logo we use now—to represent that original question: Where’s Larry? But really, all I had to sell was my name and reputation so we went with Larry’s Bootfitting. How would you describe the philosophy of your shop? You can find any of this stuff in a myriad of locations, but what we have to sell is time—time to talk about skiing. We want the experience here to be like going into somebody's living room and asking questions so they continue learning and sharing about skiing. I like having people

around me who remind me every day that skiing is fun. The folks who work here are the ones who camp out knowing snow is coming in—”I was up in the dark to go skiing this morning.” I never thought of myself as an employee, even when working at other shops. I was just doing my work. And now as a shop owner, I’ve never thought of the people that work with me as employees— they’re my co-workers. The only difference is they haven’t been doing this for 40 years. Hiring is usually through the process of someone coming in regularly to learn about boot fitting and they have to be into it. If they show they can work well as part of the team, they get invited to join us for a clinic and we get to know them even better. I care about everyone who works here like family and we all have the same goal: to do the best job possible for each customer. We check each other’s work, we learn from each other and the whole team is part of a huge range of decisions about this shop. I even close the shop for the industry trade show that happens in Denver so we as a team can go and check things out. Larry’s Bootfitting will be open by appointment only this season due to COVID-19 precautions.

PHOTO COURTESY LARRY HOUCHEN

I’ve never thought of the people that work with me as employees— they’re my co-workers. The only difference is they haven’t been doing this for 40 years.


Black in the White Room THE NUMBERS TELL T H E S TO R Y O F BL ACK SKIERS AND SNOWBOARDERS, W H E R E T H E Y H AV E GONE, AND WHERE T H E Y A R E H E A D E D. by ENDRIA RICHARDSON Skiing, and its unruly younger cousin snowboarding, have been enjoyed by humans in the United States since the 1800s at least, and this enjoyment continues to grow, reaching more and more people each year. Some 9.2 million people skied or snowboarded in the U.S. in 2018, down slightly from a peak of 9.7 million in 2010. And while downhill snow sports are still dominated by white people today, Black folks have been slaloming, McTwisting, curving, carving, and otherwise tossing their bodies down long, cold chutes of joy all over the country for decades.

9 PERCENT Black people accounted for 9% of all people who participated in winter sports in 2016-17 (up from about 5% in 2003), and 5% of all skiers, according to participation studies conducted by Snowsports Industries America (SIA). White people comprised 75% of all skiers. The high cost of equipment, lift tickets, lessons, gear, and transportation may make skiing and snowboarding materially inaccessible to many Black people and Black families. Meanwhile, the lack of racial diversity in the sport may simply make it unappealing.

PHOTO BY TOM WINTER

PHOTO COURTESY LARRY HOUCHEN

N U ME R O L O G Y | 1 0. 20

3,500 Members of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, a national organization of Black skiers and snowboarders that connects 55 ski clubs across the country. The NBS has hosted an annual Black Ski Summit each year since 1973, drawing thousands of skiers and snowboarders together for a week to enjoy the slopes, and to raise funds for the NBS Olympic Scholarship fund, which provides financial support to young people of color who are training for international or Olympic competition in winter sports. nbs.org

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REPRESENTING: BEAVER CREEK'S

.1%

The percentage of the population that is Black in Jackson, Wyoming. Popular ski resort towns often lack racial diversity, making living a ski bum life more challenging and less appealing for Black people and other people of color. Other ski towns’ demographic breakdowns? Breckenridge, Colorado, is .53% Black; Vail, Colorado, is .4% Black; Aspen, Colorado, is 2.8% Black; Salt Lake City, Utah, is 2.3% Black; and Olympic Valley, California, is .35% Black.

The year 14-year-old Seba Johnson competed in the Winter Olympics for the U.S. Virgin Islands, becoming the first Black woman, and youngest alpine skier, to compete.

The year Andre Horton became the first Black skier on the US Alpine Ski Team.

Number of medals (one silver and two bronze) won by Bonnie St. John at the 1984 Winter Paralympic competition. Bonnie became the first Black woman to medal at a Winter Olympic or Paralympic game.

60%

The percentage of skiers and snowboarders in 2016-17 who had incomes of at least $100,000, up 50% the previous year.

“The First”

1988

2001

ZACHARY VARÓN COMPETES IN THE FREERIDE WORLD TOUR.

1958 The year the Jim

Dandy Ski Club, the first and oldest Black ski club in the U.S., was formed in Detroit. Frank Blount, William Morgan, and Reginald Wilson founded the club in order to create an environment that was friendlier for Black skiers than what was available in the college ski clubs in the area. jimdandyskiclub.com

$17,150 The average net worth of a Black family in 2016, according to Brookings Institute (brookings.edu). The average

net worth of a white family in 2016 was $171,000. The enslavement of Black people in the U.S. for over 200 years, followed by Black Codes and segregation laws that limited employment and migration, and widespread redlining that inhibited Black people’s access to property have all contributed to a wealth gap that has compounded over centuries. Black families do not have the same generational wealth that can be passed down to their children and grandchildren as white families. Looking at median income and net worth across race can give a more complete picture of the wealth differences in the U.S., that can impact everything from access to education, housing, and employment to leisure activities, like skiing and snowboarding.

A position of honor and precarity; the position many relatively young Black pro skiers and snowboarders hold today. Zeb Powell became the first Black snowboarder to win gold at the X Games in 2019; Ben Hinckley was the first Black snowboarder to win silver twice. Gabby Maiden was the first Black woman to become a professional snowboarder in 2006; Russell Winfield became the first Black pro snowboarder in 1991.

2020

The year that the first nonwhite skiers were inducted into the Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame: NBS founders Arthur “Art” Clay and Benjamin “Ben” Finley.

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L IF E IN T HE PA ND E MI C | 1 0. 20

THE WINTER THAT WAS, THE WINTER THAT WILL BE Y E S , W E W I L L B E SK I I N G A N D SN OW BOA R D I N G AG A I N T H IS SE A SO N — B U T W E C A N N O LO N G ER P R E T EN D W E L I V E I N T H E S A M E WO R L D T H AT W E L EF T B EH I N D L A S T M A RC H . H ER E’ S H OW W E H O P E TO FI N D N E W P ERSP EC T I V E S , SO C I A L D IS TA N C E, A N D, Y E S , J OY O U T O N O U R FAVO R I T E M O U N TA I N S I N 2020 -2 1 . by DOUG SCHNITZSPAHN

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PHOTOS BY SOFIA JARAMILLO (OPPOSITE), LIAM DORAN (TOP), LAUREN DANILEK (BOTTOM)

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t the end of August, during the long blur of the pandemic summer and constant haze of wildfires, Vail Resorts announced its plan to open up again for the 20-21 winter season with strict COVID-19 precautions. At the same time, the news was still sinking in that a teenager shot protestors seeking justice for the murder of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The fabric of our country continued to rip further apart and expose the rot of racism at its core. The idea of skiing—which has to be the most privileged sport besides golf—fell flat for me. And, of course, there was nothing I wanted to do more than ski, to feel that freedom of gravity and grace. Skiing has saved me throughout my life, given me a respite in which nothing matters beyond the simplicity of being. It’s a self-indulgent activity, but it’s also one that makes us feel incredibly connected to our bodies, the secret anatomy of a mountain, and, quite often, the other like minded fools who get out there with us. There is no doubt, however, that mountain resorts are the province of the privileged. That must change. Beyond the inequities in the sport, skiing and snowboarding still provide a lot of joy to a wide range of people. Sure, there are those rich stuffed shirts who come to drop cash on condos and never venture past the safe space of private lessons, but the heart of this sport will always be those of us who don’t exactly fit into the cubicials of normal careers–and that oddly seems like a good choice in these times of pandemic—but come alive when we fly down a mountain. Being a ski bum in all the glory of that term is an experience that should not be limited by skin color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, body shape, or any other way in which some humans try to assert superiority over others. But, just as it has doused so many other things that bring us together as people and friends, COVID-19 has made skiing and riding more difficult this year. But let’s put it into perspective, those difficulties pale in comparison to the suffering and death the disease is causing.


PHOTOS BY SOFIA JARAMILLO (OPPOSITE), LIAM DORAN (TOP), LAUREN DANILEK (BOTTOM)

T

he last day I skied last season was an idyll. My 16-year-old daughter and I drove up to Mary Jane. We sang and drank coffee on the ride up so that we couldn’t care less about the traffic. Since we got up late, we found a spot right up front (early birds get the worm, but the early worm gets eaten, as the saying goes). And then spent a casual day making turns up in the bowl with the blue skies and the big breezes of March feeling clean amongst all the uncertainty of the pandemic beginning to erupt. We did stay out of the lodges, even for the bathroom, but otherwise it felt like just another day up on the hill and we were looking forward to so many more in this our favorite season of spring storms and lengthening light. And then it was over. The resorts were shuttered and we went into this quarantine that continues, even in modified form. Yes, A Basin opened up in May, but then it closed down again before we had the chance to make a reservation. The summer has been miserable, full of angst, and protests, and murder, and political poll watching, and the endless haze and smell of wildfires eating up the West. There is no real end in sight when it comes to the pandemic. The winter could make things even worse. But we do have skiing again. This season will be different. We will need to make reservations to ski. We will need to wear masks. We will miss the simple pleasures of meeting up with friends spur of the moment to grab some turns and of conversations with strangers on the lifts. We won’t be able to laugh over beers. Resorts will be running tight to stay in business and so many who rely on them to make a living will be out of luck. There will be no parties on the A-Basin beach, no carpooling, no dancing. But there will be skiing. Embrace the joy of it. Look up the pandemic modifications at your favorite mountain. Buy that season pass. Wear your mask. Make your reservation. It will all be worth it when you get up on the mountain, when you find that powder stash, when you do find ways to ski socially distant with friends. The modifications may mean a bit less traffic and fewer people snaking those fresh lines. And skiing and snowboarding beat the time that seems unending that we have all spent locked at home. Skiing and riding can shake us out of our collective funk. Here is one more thing I ask you to do. Find a way to share this. Make skiing and riding more equitable. Donate or get involved with organizations like SOS Outreach that bring kids who might not have the chance up to the hill. I personally am going to become a Love Is King Guardian (see page 9) to speak up for people who have been marginalized. Or maybe just reach out to people you might have judged before, change your perspective. Most of all listen. Then get out and feel it fully. When I was working building trails for the Forest Service and helping lamb up in Montana’s Madison Valley, a cowboy once asked me what I was planning on doing for the winter. Feeling a little embarrassed, I told him I was going to ski bum at Big Sky and Bridger, worrying that he would scoff at me for not working harder in the off season. “Best thing you can do with your life,” he said. I agree.

SOCIAL DISTANCE: AIRING IT OUT IN THE JACKSON BACKCOUNTRY (OPPOSITE PAGE), GETTING DEEP IN BRECKENRIDGE (TOP), SKINNING AT ARAPAHO BASIN.

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S PE C I A L A DV ERT I S I NG SECTIO N

GRAND TARGHEE, WYOMING TAKE A MUCH-NEEDED BREAK AND SOAK UP THE GOOD VIBES THAT PERMEATE EVERY ASPECT OF THIS LEGENDARY GEM.

y

GrandTarghee

grandtarghee.com

ING OF

R E D W PO DREAM

2020

mountain. That can-do vibe still extends across all of its 2,602 acres where you can find amazing powder stashes, minimal lift lines, ample hike-to terrain, and the only catskiing operation in all of Wyoming. This year, to ensure everyone’s safety, Targhee will be expanding its outdoor experiences and creatively remodeling daily operations to promote social distancing practices. You can still drop the little ones off at the Kid’s Adventure Zone, where they will spend the day learning how to ski and ride in an intuitive learning environment, while you make some memorable turns on your own! And the colossal Nordic, Snowshoe, and Fat Bike trail system offers an alternate way to enjoy some social-distanced fun before heading to your affordable slopeside lodgings.

2020 has not been easy, but the good news is ski resorts in the Rockies are ready to open—with some modifications for safety. You may have to re-envision your idea of “perfect” this year, but some things, like fresh powder and the promise of the mountains, never change. So dig into our guide to the best resorts to bring you back to yourself this season. FLIPPING OUT: ELDORA HAS PLENTY OF TERRAIN TO KEEP YOU HAPPY AND COVID-18 PRECAUTIONS TO KEEP YOU SAFE (SEE PAGE 21).

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GRANDTARGHEE.COM • 800.TARGHEE • ALTA, WY

INTRO PHOTO COURTESY ELDORA MOUNTAIN RESORT

THE PERFECT WINTER

Each year, over 500 inches of pristine powder paint the slopes of Grand Targhee, sending out the call to adventure seekers from across the world. But, it’s the unique ski culture and mountain lifestyle that keeps them coming back to this legendary gem year after year. Over 50 years ago, the resort was carved into the Tetons’ western side by locals looking for a place to build their home

PHOTO COURTESY GRAND TARGHEE

Grand Targhee offers the only cat-skiing operation in all of Wyoming.


the guest experience this winter. A few highlights include:

ELDORA MOUNTAIN RESORT, COLORADO

PHOTO COURTESY GRAND TARGHEE

WHEN TO COME AND WHAT TO EXPECT THIS WINTER AT COLORADO’S FAVORITE LOCALS’ MOUNTAIN.

COURTESY ELDORA MOUNTAIN RESORT

While so much has changed in the world recently, two things have not: One, winter weekdays at Boulder County’s backyard mountain are pure bliss; and, two, sliding on snow in the mountains is a healthy and naturally socially distant way to have fun. Why weekdays? As Boulder County skiers and riders know, traffic to their beloved local winter playground, just 20 miles west of downtown Boulder, is scarce Monday through Friday. The place feels a lot like a private ski area, with plenty of parking, zero lift lines, and wide-open slopes. And given Eldora’s close proximity to Boulder and Colorado’s Northern Front Range communities, it’s entirely possible for locals to grab a couple hours on-snow and then have the rest of the day to get back to work or home. Like mountain resorts across the country, Eldora has been busy preparing a thorough and adaptable operations plan that prioritizes the things that matter most during these dynamic and unprecedented times: keeping guests and employees healthy and safe and staying open for skiing and riding all winter long. Maintaining social distance is the key, and while it’s easy to stay apart on the slopes, Eldora is implementing measures to enable appropriate distancing across

@eldoramtnresort

@eldoramtnresort

for Front Rangers to grab a couple hours

Parking on snow and then Reservations: have the rest of the A new online day to get back to work or home. parkingreservation system will help reduce crowding on peak days. Whether you’re a season passholder coming for a few powder-day laps or a family looking to enjoy time on snow together, you will need to let Eldora know you’re coming.

Modified Lift Experience: Due to the length of skis and snowboards, it’s easy to stay distant within lift queues, but guests will notice additional spacing measures including extended maze designs and more lateral spacing. Guests will self-group and load chairlifts with their traveling party. While things will look a little different at Eldora this winter, local skiers and riders can still look forward to a banner season and feel confident that the mountain is working hard to offer a safe, fun experience. To stay updated on Eldora’s evolving operations plan for Winter 2020-21, please visit eldora.com.

eldora.com

INTRO PHOTO COURTESY ELDORA MOUNTAIN RESORT

EldoraMountainResort

A Later Opening Day: By starting the season slightly later than usual, Eldora plans to open with more acreage and lifts, which will help guests spread out and provide a highquality on-snow experience from It’s entirely possible day one.

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LOVELAND SKI AREA, COLORADO SOME OF THE BEST SNOW IN THE ROCKIES IS ONLY ONE SHORT CAR RIDE AWAY. TIME TO HEAD TO LOVELAND SKI AREA.

COVID-19: Like everyone else Loveland has had to adapt this season to ensure

that the area is offering to head for beginners all visitors a safe or little ones. Geared Loveland has been experience. Some towards beginners welcoming riders since significant changes the Valley is home to it opened back in 1936 and still retains for this season include Loveland’s Ski and a nostalgic vibe that is advance reservations Ride school, two chair becoming increasingly will be required for all lifts, a magic carpet, harder to find at the rental gear, lessons and and enough terrain crowded corporate lift tickets, face coverings to keep any beginner resorts nearby. will be required pretty busy for the day. much everywhere, and lift capacities will Season Passes: be lowered to ensure Loveland recognizes social distancing. Unfortunately, the Ridge that everyone is anxiously awaiting the Cat will be out of operation this year and chance to hit the slopes this year after last all on mountain warming cabins, including season ended prematurely, so the area is Ptarmigan food service will be closed. The guaranteeing you 130 days of operation Basin and Valley lodges will be open but this season. If Loveland is forced to close at limited capacities, so plan accordingly, due to COVID-19 it will offer a prorated especially on bad weather days. Visit credit for next season. Couple that with Loveland’s website before coming up to Loveland’s partnership with the Powder ensure you have the latest details. Alliance and several other areas and you get a whopping 96 more days at several Family Friendly: The Loveland Valley other skis areas in Colorado and beyond. area, tucked into its own separate nook If that does not fulfill your socially distant away from the crowds, is the ideal spot snow needs nothing will.

LovelandSkiArea

@lovelandskiarea

@lovelandskiarea

Tickets: As part of its commitment to its customers, Loveland has always strove to offer some of the most affordable day passes in the state. You can grab an adult day pass here for $89 and kids can ski for just $35. Discounted adult tickets will be available if you purchase in advance. But the real deal is Loveland’s Unrestricted 4-Pak. For just $169 you get four lift tickets good for any day all season, plus you can share them with friends and family. 4-Paks are only available through November 22, so act fast to take advantage of Colorado’s best lift ticket deal. Lessons: Loveland’s Ski and Ride School will help everyone fall in love with the sport. Consistently recognized as one of the best in the state, it’s the perfect environment for beginners to learn or to help intermediates ski the trees and navigate the bumps like a pro. Note that this season, Loveland will be requiring advance reservations to ensure everyone can keep socially distant and safe during a fun day learning on the slopes.

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PHOTO COURTESY LOVELAND SKI AREA

Let’s not kid ourselves, Loveland Ski Area is mythical for so many good reasons. The snowfall is epic with 422 inches of fresh powder every year; it’s just 53 miles from downtown Denver; and, best of all, nothing is better than ripping turns while watching the unfortunate souls below you battle the traffic on I-70. But this storied hill has even more to offer. Proudly independent, Loveland is an integral part of Colorado’s skiing history. It has been welcoming riders since it opened back in 1936 and still retains a nostalgic vibe that’s becoming increasingly harder to find at the crowded corporate resorts nearby. Perched on the Continental Divide, Loveland offers you the chance to shred one of the highest ski areas in the U.S. and it rarely has long lift lines. Plus, Loveland is one of the first areas to open every year. On the mountain, you get 1,800 acres of terrain, one of the best ski and ride schools in the state, and the core cred of riding an indie legend.


RETURN TO THE WILD JACKSONHOLE.COM

RETURN TO THE WILD BY HEADING NORTH TO FIND ADVENTURE AND SOLITUDE AT THS LEGENDARY MOUNTAIN. Let’s not kid ourselves, anyone who loves billowing through fresh powder deserves unlimited snow days after all we have been through this last year. So go ahead and treat yourself with an extended visit to Jackson Hole. Tucked into the heart of Wyoming’s Teton Range, this is the place where legends are born. So make some of your own. Inside the resort’s expansive boundaries you can find couloirs to get your heart pounding, beautiful bumps, and plentiiful pockets of powder, all thanks to over 450 inches of annual snowfall. When you are not tearing it up on the hill, you can soak up the cowboy-country vibe that permeates Jackson’s DNA while enjoying the resort’s world class amenities. Lessons: The Solitude Station Learning Center, located mid-mountain, is the place to take the kids when you visit. It offers you a much-needed break while your little ones learn how to carve turns and porpoise through fresh powder from some of the best instructors in the business. Plus, you can rent all your gear here, grab a bit to eat, and relax while soaking up the beauty of the mountain. Even better, book a lesson for yourself and spend the day touring the mountain

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@JHSKI

@jacksonhole

jacksonhole.com

Lodging: Teton Village is the perfect place to stay when you visit. It provides a large selection of hotels, lodges, and cabins to choose from, all just minutes from the lifts. If you are looking to stay in the town of Jackson just up the road, you can access the resort from the free shuttle that runs all season long. Once again, Jackson Hole will be offering its stellar Kids Ski and Rent Free program: A four-night stay at the resort earns you huge discounts as well as free lift tickets and gear for all kids under 14. Getting There: Three different airlines offer daily flights into Jackson Hole throughout the season. If you book your airfare, lodging, and lift tickets through the resort’s website you will get a $300 per Do it the best way person airline this year by hiring credit. one of Jackson Hole’s professional guides to ensure a safe and memorable day.

Backcountry: Heading outside the ropes has always been a tradition for expert skiers at Jackson Hole. Unlimited hucks and untracked lines await just outside marked gates. Just make sure you have avalanche gear, proper training, and obey all closures. Or do it the best way this year by hiring one of the resort’s professional guides to ensure a safe and memorable day.

COURTESY JACKSON HOLE

JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING

with your own guide while skiing hidden powder stashes.


COURTESY JACKSON HOLE

YMCA OF THE ROCKIES, COLORADO FAMILY FUN AND ADVENTURE FOR EVERYONE ARE CLOSE TO HOME AND EASY TO BOOK. With gorgeous snow-tipped vistas in every direction, both YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch and Estes Park Center provide the perfect outdoor playgrounds for your winter getaway. Pick your destination this season, get out of the house, and rack up the memories at these socially distanced open spaces.

PHOTO COURTESY YMCA OF THE ROCKIES

YMCA of the Rockies – Snow Mountain Ranch is the perfect getaway for families looking for adventure and relaxation. Quality time happens at its own pace out here. With over 5,000 acres to explore, there’s something for everyone in the family. Glide across the snow on the award-winning Nordic ski tracks, or find peace in the frosted pines on a self-guided snowshoe excursion. Feel the power of being pulled behind a team of huskies on a dog-sledding experience. View the property from a horse-drawn sleigh, then warm your toes by the campfire. If it gets too chilly outdoors, take things inside! The craft shop is the perfect place to express your creativity with a wide array of crafts. If you’d rather snuggle up by the fire in your cozy cabin or relax in your lodge room, grab a take-nmake craft from the craft shop and create at your own pace.

YMCARockies SnowMtnRanch

@ymcarockies

@ymcarockies @snowmountainranch

YMCA of the Rockies – Estes Park Center is where you can take inspiration from nature in the quiet season and your whole family will have the chance to explore, rest, and reset in a safe environment. Located next to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park Fell the power of Center helps you being pulled behind get outside and a team of huskies find adventure at on a dog-sledding your own pace. experience or view Grab a sled and the property from a horse-drawn sleigh. glide down the hill after a winter storm. Set out on a snowshoe adventure around the property, or venture out into Rocky Mountain National Park for a big day of wonder. Or just strap on your skates and glide around the outdoor iceskating pond. If the weather outside is too frightful, head indoors and experience the nostalgia of the roller skating rink or check a book out at the library. You can create the perfect keepsake at the craft and design center, visit the museum, hit the climbing wall, or test your mental skills in the fun and challenging escape room. Lodging: YMCA of the Rockies offers a wide variety of lodging options to fit the needs of your family. Choose a private family cabin or a cozy lodge room with a mountain view. Lodging covers all price ranges to ensure you spend less time planning and more time playing.

snowmountainranch.com

YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch Estes Park Center

Fresh Air. Wildlife. Open Spaces. “ We will become yearly customers for sure!” - Courtney, Kansas City

Cabins | Lodge Rooms | Activities

snowmountainranch.org ymcarockies.org Y-2020-Elevation-Outdoor-9.125 x 5.75.indd 1

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T HE W IN T E R G O O D S | 1 0. 20

To the Resort and Beyond

COVID-19 COULDN’T STOP ALL THE SHIPMENTS OF THE LATEST, GREATEST GEAR FOR SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING. HERE’S WHAT’S NEW,HOT AND ON THE SHELVES NOW. CHECK IT OUT HERE AND THEN HEAD TO YOUR LOCAL RETAILER TO GEAR UP WITH ALL YOU WILL NEED FOR A WINTER OF SOCIALLY DISTANCED BLISS ON THE SLOPES. by DOUG SCHNITZSPAHN

NO RDIC A

SANTA ANA 104 FREE

Nordica has been wowing us with its women's skis for the past several seasons and this all-mountain big gun (132/104/121 in a 158cm length) continues that run with a ski that’s perfect for a resort powder day or a morning spent seeking stashes in the trees. The wood core and a carbonreinforced layer that runs the length of the ski combine for a ride that’s supple but engages when you want to rail. $850; nordica.com

VÖ LKL BLAZE 106

This is the weapon of choice for that skier who seeks stashes out in the trees and deep in back bowls. At 146/106/128 mm in a 186cm length, this big, light (about 4 pounds) ski navigates terrain like a much smaller stick and plenty of rocker in tip and tail mean it can levitate on deep days and handle chewed-up crud. Credit its ability to eat up bad snow to Völkl’s Suspension Tip, a rubbery layer in the tip and tail edges that powers through junk. $600; voelkl.com

DPS ALCHEMIST YVETTE 100 RP

This women’s touring ski will porpoise through powder and make quick work of the skin track. With a snappy 15-meter turn radius and dimensions of 122-10011mm in a 163cm length, it

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proves playful yet stable in a wide range of conditions. Though it’s best for the backcountry, the carbon ski, which is built in Salt Lake City, Utah, can hold its own on the occasional groomer run. Men will find similar performance in the Wailer 100 RP. $1,299; dpsskis.com

BLI Z Z AR D

BONAFIDE 97

Here’s that ski that you rely on for most days at the resort (you know, the ones reported as “packed powder”). At 136.5/97/118.5 in a 183 cm length, this all-mountain workman won’t feel undergunned when the mountain’s skied out. Blizzard’s TrueBlend Flipcore construction gives the it resilient oomph on frontside runs and in the bumps by layering various woods down the length and across the width off the ski like a grid for a natural flex. $650; blizzardtecnica.com

W NDR VITAL 100

Built for stability, this light (about 4 pounds) ski

can dominate groomers and imparts confidence on steep, hard snow—but it will still float and drive when a storm dumps fresh stuff. At 126-100-118mm with a 24-meter turning radius, it’s a classic shape that feels dreamy at high speeds. But the big story here is microalgae. Yes, based in the U.S.A., WNDR creates the plastics in the core from triglycerides derived from microalgae and later combined with wood. That not only cuts down on petroleum products, it also makes for a ski that’s surprisingly stiff for its weight. $699; wndr-alpine.com

S A L O M O N SHIFT PRO 130

Here’s your pick for a day-to-day alpine boot—compatible with Salomon’s Shift MNC tech bindings— that can get out and tour when you want to escape the resort. It’s light enough for skin trail laps at approximately 3 pounds, 9 ounces, yet hale enough for hammering on piste. The boot is available for men and women and also comes in 120 and 100 flex options. $970; salomon.com

DALBELLO

LUPO PRO HD

Made for hard-chargers this 4-pound, 6-ounce AT boot features tech inserts and a stiff tongue for power on piste that you can pop out for long skins.The Italian brand uses the same stiff polyurethane in the Lupo as it does in racing boots, meaning it can both take abuse and deliver a lot of control and power on the down. $900; dalbello.it


D Y NAF I T

HOJI FREE 110

Dynafit has enraptured us with its Hohi series of boots, which use a lock system that pulls together the easy-touring shell and upper to deliver all the performance of a full-on alpine boot in a light (3 pounds, 7 ounces) package. With 110 flex, the aggressive Free version will work in frame and hybrid AT bindings as well as tech bindings. $750; dynafiit.com

MAR K E R

DUKE PT 16

Marker’s new hybrid freeride binding features the Quad Lock Ride & Hike toe system. Locked down it offers security up to DIN 16 for hard chargers. But when you want to tour, remove the toe housing sections and you shave off 8.8 ounces per foot and cut down on the bulk. It’s designed to work with a wide variety of soles, too, so you don’t have to worry about upgrading your boots. $825; marker.net

JONE S

STRATOS

Melding freeride and freestyle philosophies, this directional board was designed to take on anything the hill throws at you. Narrow sidecut and plenty of flex mean it can slice and dice the

groomers, but you won’t have to bring a powder board when it snows thanks to an easy taper and plenty of rocker. It initiates turns easy and holds them with aplomb when you hit full speed.$580: jonessnowboards.com

C AP i T A

SPRING BREAK POWDER RACER

Austrian brand CAPiTA integrated post-consumer recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) from plastic bottles into ultra-thin strips of Polar and Paulownia wood to form an advanced hybrid core in this floaty board. That green construction proves its worth whether stomping cut-up powder or carving screaming lines on the groomers. $500; capitasnowboarding.com

L E K I GUIDE

EXTREME V POLES

With a carbon upper and aluminum lower shaft this four-piece collapsible pole was designed to withstand the bumps and travails of serious use on the hill and deep in the backcountry. The short edge on the basket will scrape ice off the bottoms of your skins if they glop up on a tour.

the chance of a concussion and molded impact shields mitigate a big hit. Plenty of venting and integration with googles like Sweet’s Interstellar seals the deal. $159; sweetprotection.com

MOUN T AIN F L O W ECO-WAX HOT WAX

This bio-based glide magic does not pollute the snow with all the fluorocarbons of the great majority of ski waxes. $19; mountainflow.com

Z E AL

OPTICS BEACON

Zeal’s newest goggle, the Beacon, taps into the physics behind air traffic control towers. The Observation Deck Technology makes this the first goggle system that replicates the eagle’s view of the mountains to help you see every inch of the line below you. $159-$279; zealoptics. com

BCA

TRACKER S

BCA’s most streamlined transceiver yet features real-time display, reliable signal locking, and nononsense multiple-burial searching. It’s a beacon that’s intuitive to use and since it doesn’t include all the bells and whistles professional rescuers want, it rings up at a reliable price, making it ideal for more casual backcountry skiers and riders. $300; backcountryaccess.com

$250; leki.com

SWE E T PROTECTION LOOPER MIPS

The main job of your helmet is, of course, to protect your brain. The MIPS technology here minimizes the sloshing of impact in order to lower

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S E I RU S INNOVATION

F J A L L R AVE N

You will have to wear a mask when you head to the resort this year, so why not go with a model made by alpine glove and face-covering manufacturer Seirus. It’s more breathable than most and the HeiQ V-Block antimicrobial treatment helps to keep you healthy and others safe. $21;

Waterproof and burly, these ski pants from the iconic Swedish brand can endure season after season of abuse. Best of all, the breathable Eco-Shell fabric uses recycled polyester and no harmful PFCs to provide protection from the elements. $480; fjallraven.com

EVO ARC MASQUE

seirus.com

OUTDOOR RESEARCH DEMING SENSOR GLOVES Simple and tough, these goat leather gloves are lined with comfy Sherpa fleece, polyester, and acrylic wool. They break in to the shape of your hand and offer a lot of dexterity when you are stuck in the cold. $140; outdoorresearch.com

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BERGTAGEN ECO-SHELL TROUSERS

RIPPLE QUICKSTICKS

These lightly flavored cannabis Pixy Sticks make it easy to get a discrete dose of your medicine with no hassle. They come in different strengths that correspond to the day you have planned: The Pure (10 mg THC) delivers a solid buzz, the Balanced (5 mg THC and 5 mg CBD) is the perfect combination to ease

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pain and help shake of the anxieties of the world, and the Relief (20 mg CDB and 0.5 mg THC) is ideal for those who don’t want the high but do need the anti-inflammation benefits of CBD. stillwaterbrands.life/ripplequicksticks

O S K A R B L U E S CAN-OBLISS IPA

The perfect end to a full day in the mountains, Oskar Blues’ latest run of IPAs are crisp, refreshing, and just hoppy enough. The Citrus imparts just a touch of sour to even out the bitter and makes for a beer that’s powerful but not overwhelming. oskarblues.com

F LY L O W LUCY

Soft and stretchy, the Lucy can shuck off the worst weather the mountain will toss at you thanks to three-layer

waterproof/breathable protection, but it doesn’t have the stiff feel of the typical hardshell. And in typical Flylow fashion, its low-key style means it can slip into any après occasion. $400; flylowgear.com

down nicely for riding the lifts and making the occasional foray beyond the ropes. Big bonus: A removable mat inside makes for an impromptu seat on wet snow. $180; deuter.com

AIRBLASTER

THE MAN BEHIND THE MAPS

NINJA SUIT

CLASSIC

The ninja suit (aka the grown-up onesie) makes a lot of sense on the mountain since it eliminates the fuss and futzing of a base layer top and bottom. This new take on an old classic keeps you warm and dry all day long. $120; myairblaster.com

DEUTER 34L+

FREERIDER PRO

With plenty of space for a full array of backcountry essentials, this pack is the perfect size for a wide variety of tours—but it also battens

If you ski or ride, you know James Niehues. He’s the guy who illustrates all those ski maps you shove in your pocket when you go to a new hill and pull out on the lift to plan your run. And this book—an outstanding procrastination tool—collects all those illustrations from resorts across North America and beyond. It’s the perfect gift. $90; jamesniehues.com


HE A R T HI S | 10.2 0

Fresh tunes

D OW N LOA D T H E SE N E W M US TH E A R A L B U M S TO JA Z Z U P YO U R D R I V E TO T H E R E S O RT O R B AC KCO U N T RY.

by JEDD FERRIS

Lydia Loveless

“Daughter”

D E TA I L S: Alt-country rocker Lydia

New Covers

Loveless just returned with her first new album in four years, channeling the emotional upheaval of a divorce and road exhaustion into the songs on her latest effort, “Daughter.” Following a period of deep reflection and a move to North Carolina, where she slowly crafted her new album’s 10 tracks, Loveless traveled to Chicago to record at Wilco’s studio, The Loft. The result features Loveless at her most candid, especially in the lead single “Love is Not Enough,” which laments a draining relationship.

O W N W O R D S: “For the first time I felt completely insecure about what I’d made,” she explains. “But recording brought things back into focus. I couldn’t back out of playing and explaining my songs and vision.”

The War and Treaty “Hearts Town” D E TA I L S: Coming off the lauded 2018 breakout effort “Healing Tide,” husband-and-wife duo Michael Trotter and Tonya Blount-Trotter roared into September with another set of uplifting gospel-rock highlighted by the couple’s intimate and energetic vocal interplay. The new effort shifts between roots-based styles, from the classic soul of the heartfelt love songs “Five More Minutes” to the haunting rock dirge “Beautiful,” which features an appearance by singer songwriter Jason Isbell on guitar. The album’s title comes from the nickname the group has for their loyal fan base.

O W N W O R D S: “Hearts Town is a

neighborhood strictly made up of people who all share the same kind of heart: hearts that love, hearts that heal, hearts that don’t see division,” says Trotter. “There’s all different types of people within that neighborhood, but they’re still somehow all working together—which is exactly the kind of town we want to live in.” HEARTS AND MINDS: THE WAR AND TREATY WOWED US WITH A HOT NEW ALBUM.

Steep Canyon Rangers “Arm in Arm”

Delta Spirit “What Is There”

D E TA I L S: Southern bluegrass aces

D E TA I L S: Delta Spirit had big plans for

Steep Canyon Rangers have been on a prolific streak, following up last year’s two releases—the live record “North Carolina Songbook” and collaborative “Best Still Moses,” which found the band working with the Asheville Symphony and the R&B outfit Boyz II Men. “Arm in Arm,” the band’s 13th album, which will be released on October 16th, is a studio set of 11 new originals, recorded in Nashville with producer with Brandon Bell (Zac Brown, John Prine). The Grammy-winning pickers keep stretching their acoustic borders, embracing anthemic country-rock in new album standout “Every River.”

O W N W O R D S: “The record is all over

the place. It captures a lot of different layers of the Rangers and some new layers,” lead singer and guitarist Woody Platt told the band’s hometown newspaper, the Asheville Citizen-Times, back in the summer.

their long-awaited reunion, including a lengthy tour and high-profile festival appearances. The shows will have to wait until (hopefully) 2021, but in the meantime the band just released “What Is There,” their first album in six years, last month. After a restorative hiatus, the indie roots-rock mainstays sound rejuvenated on tracks like the soulful, dance-ready “It Ain’t Easy.”

O W N W O R D S: “I’m really proud of our body of work, but especially proud of where everybody has gotten to now,” front man Matthew Logan Vasquez, said in a statement, admitting the 15-year old band really needed the break before being able to reunite for recording sessions in Texas. “I have a lot of hope for us. There’s a lot of raw honesty in the music. It’s a record for right now, instead of pandering to the past. It’s the next step.”

In late summer, two covers-based albums surfaced that reinterpret familiar material in new ways. Fruit Bats—the performing moniker of indie folk singer-songwriter Eric D. Johnson—recently dropped a full reboot of the Smashing Pumpkins’ 1994 landmark “Siamese Dream.” Johnson plays all of the instruments on the record, and in his hands the album loses its angsty fuzz in favor of dreamy acoustic arrangements. Most lovely is his take on the ubiquitous radio hit “Today,” which sways effortlessly as a pastoral folk waltz. Also, flat-picking guitar wiz and introspective singersongwriter Molly Tuttle released a full LP of various songs by some of her favorite artists called “… But I’d rather be with you.” The title comes from lyrics in the Grateful Dead’s “Standing on the Moon,” which Tuttle imbues with an emotive country lilt, but the eclectic collection features tunes by a wide range of acts, including the Rolling Stones, FKA Twigs, and Harry Styles. Tuttle started the project while sheltering at home in Nashville back in March, and then, as pandemic collaborations go these days, remotely worked with producer Tony Berg (Phoebe Bridgers) and some guest musicians, including Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes and Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor. The album’s standout is a delicately futuristic reading of The National’s “Fake Empire,” which replaces the original’s dark piano chords with airy, percussive acoustic guitar, adding an atmospheric, soul-searching layer to the song’s message of apathetic indifference. —J.F.

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La Raíz de mi tierra A F T ER Y E A RS O F L I V I N G O N T H E ROA D, A N A DV EN T U R ER SEEK S TO FI N D WAYS TO RO OT A N D G ROW I N U N C ERTA I N T I M E S . by DANI REYES-ACOSTA

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y van sits parked, battery unplugged. Several days have passed since I drove El Torito Blanco, and the three ducks—Carlita, Panchita, and Silver— nestle their feathered bodies beneath the undercarriage, quacking softly. They like the gravel, the warm river rock cradling them. Hearing them is a welcome backdrop to the banging of Johnny’s hammer or the roaring of passing pickups. I sit in the van, working, as I often do. It’s cozy here, and after all, it’s still the closest thing to home I know. The shipping container dwellings remain unfinished, and the morning autumn air nips too much to work at the picnic table. Both the library and the coffee shop remain shuttered, an analogy for opposing social sentiments in this part of rural southwest Colorado. COVID-19 and church—who knew acts of science and God would unite to impede my remote work schedule? I wonder, often, if I am losing myself out here, far from so much that I know. On the horizon, jagged peaks beckon. Between here and there, clear blue skies promise a canvas of possibilities. But my palette, my energy, and this pandemic told me: slow down. Don’t move. Deja de huir. So down valley we went—to park the vans, plant a garden, and grow what we could as the world turned upside down. I accepted the challenge, but was this discomfort, distress, and duress ‘normal’? What does normal mean anymore?

NEI T HER HERE NOR T HERE

There is a creeping tension to which I have become accustomed as a vanlifer. Over six years of constant travel ingrains the urge to constantly move. There have been different reasons: Seasonal change, the next big adventure, personal tragedy, and work opportunities all spur migration. The dance of a life untethered welcomes unknown steps. Movement is medicine. Maybe this is because I’m ni de aquí ni de allá (from neither here nor there), and my DNA knows only motion. Even when I am anchored to a place or a community, I often feel caught in-between. Cultural attitudes, traditions, expectations, foods, and languages can’t fully represent la raíz de mi ser, the root of my being. In the well-touristed, wealth-injected economies of mountain towns, it used to be easy to overlook my sixth- and secondgeneration immigrant identity. I learned to blend, to code-switch like a boss. I can make myself backcountry broheim as easily as bougie brunch babe, dependent upon

ROCK SOLID: THE AUTHOR CLIMBS OTTO'S ROUTE IN COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT.

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my outfit and the location. Blending wasn’t just a matter of survival: It was success, acceptance. When I lived in separatist Spain during the 2003 Iraq invasion, my American identity and accent invited hostility. Back in the USA years later, I found adventure partners by adopting their language, the lexicon of rocks, snow, and trails. Blend, baby, blend. This spring’s string of racially-motivated murders—Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Philando Castile, and Andrés Guardado, to name a few—showed me that many of my adventure-town friends lived in a world of pernicious privilege—aka the sixth circle of whiteness—ready to diminish my experiences with elitist, oblivious attitudes and appropriate my culture, even as they scoffed in disgust when hearing “All Lives Matter.” My friend Joanna corroborated this: “Even in ‘woke’ Telluride, sometimes the most progressive among us is guilty of a self-congratulatory performative progress.” Protests and candlelight vigils popped up in mountain towns. “We’re In This Together,” proclaims the public art underneath Telluride’s gondola. After COVID-19 first erupted in spring of this year, I withdrew. I hid out in the AirBnb I’d rented for a month in Driggs, Idaho, to get out of my freezing van, away from the woman who’d verbally accosted me after skiing one morning, and into a space of healing after I’d broken my back. I did not contribute as I normally would to social media: murder, pandemic, and a broken body put me on the sidelines. Was this my story to tell? What was my role? I couldn’t sleep, or I slept too much. The silence of dirt roads in the flat Idaho countryside amplified a deafening roar in the cacophony of my mind. Yet my keyboard keys clacked productively; I wrote that I might never see the light of day. I developed workshops that remained unlaunched. I could not move, literally. Thankful to COVID-19 for making an Airbnb affordable in a mountain town, I lay on my couch and watched fluffy snowflakes fall in April. Nothing about skiing uphill, backcountry splitboard days, or winter vanlife is easy. Yoga tells us that embracing healthy discomfort is a way to accept growth, a path to find something bigger than ourselves. But alone in this dark room, in pain and feeling more alone than ever, I asked myself: was choosing the hard way the only thing I knew how to do?

DOW N VA L L E Y

I didn’t grow up in a ski town, so when I first started living in them I tired of shoveling snow, quickly. Maybe the 2019 “Februburied” winter in the Sierra exhausted me. Daily pre-dawn shoveling to escape the Sno Park’s snowplow grew old, fast. Or my first winter in an Andean ski town, freezing my nalgas off in an uninsulated cabin, could have set a precedent. Maybe it was the constant search for internet to be able to work, or the hounding of friends who wouldn’t show up to ski. Or maybe, just maybe, something else moved me to settle in. I met Johnny in 2015, while climbing at Refugio Frey in Argentina. He was the

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reason I moved to Colorado in 2016—he “imported” me (a non-local) into Crested Butte. I remember walking out of his house in CB South awestruck in the wee hours that first day. The embrace of the tall peaks excited me; the sub-zero temps froze my eyeballs. Over the years, we’d travel across continents and states, together and apart. Our hunger for adventure and our taste for creation defined us. We pushed each other—sometimes too much. I couldn’t understand his self-centered drive to ski and climb until I, too, caught the bug. I discovered that I love sandy cracks and steep couloirs; but I was constantly cold, and I hated him for showing me this new love. Colorado helped push me, higher up into places where I really wanted to be. This relationship, rife with chances for growth, kept us both moving. And movement, as they say, is medicine. After Vail Resorts acquired CBMR, Johnny traded the cozy condominium for a plot of bountiful land in remote, rural southwest Colorado. This new experiment, close to both Telluride and Moab, offered endless possibilities with

"

ROO T ING

INNOCENCE AND IGNORANCE: PANCHITA, CARLITA, AND SILVER STRUT THROUGH THE NEW NEIGHBOHOOD.

its long growing season and vast tracts of BLM land. At last, there wouldn’t be any snow shoveling. I would drive to the mountains, just an hour away. And food sovereignty— not to mention housing security— were both within reach. After years of facing housing scarcity in mountain towns, this was a chance for something tangible. It was the next year—when we returned in the spring to plant a garden—that the

It’s not the Trump signs and Confederate flags that make me uneasy. It’s the statements from the town’s former building inspector like “I’m going to make an example out of you,” at public meetings blocking permits for our shipping container dwellings that do.

SILVERTON

trouble began. I’m still not sure if it was the shipping container homes-to-be or the composting toilet that ruffled our neighbors’ feathers. Unlike many of our neighbors, we didn’t want to live in a prefabricated home. Of course, we’re also an interracial couple. It’s not the Trump signs and Confederate flags that make me uneasy. It’s the statements from the town’s former building inspector like “I’m going to make an example out of you,” at public meetings blocking permits for our shipping container dwellings that do. Or maybe it was the cowboy who spit at my feet after a morning run. Or the man recording me on his phone as I rode my bike down a dirt road. This experiment in stillness got to me. We were being singled out for our differences, punto. Overlooked for our value.

Our garden grows, endlessly, abundantly. Our love blossoms more fully and vibrantly than ever before. We are dandelions, thriving everywhere. I embrace my heritage as a cultivator, the offspring of farmworkers and craftsmen. I focus on the beginning of generational wealth creation. With regenerative gardening and a commitment to help southwest Colorado shift to a recreation-driven economy, the future looks bright. We find local adventures with a new community of friends, people who reject the privilege of indifference many Coloradans choose when they escape the city for the mountains. Our vans purr on weekends, transporting us to local adventures so that we can recreate responsibly. We love it here, even if we’ve traded the covert racism of privileged mountain towns for the overt racism of conservative Colorado. In her reckoning of race in the outdoors, in the world, Latria Graham writes: “…when the violence of white supremacy turns its eyes toward you, there’s nothing I can give you to protect yourself from its gaze and dehumanization.” But my existence, my joy here, is resistance itself. As I watch the world burn around us, I encourage you to consider the same strategy: Take a lesson from plants. Under the harsh gaze of light overhead, grow and thrive. Turn to your heritage, the DNA of who you are, and think of the future you can grow.

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The Big Story G E T I N TO UCH W I T H T H E WO RLD AG A I N A N D TA K E T H E T I M E TO REM EM B ER E V ERY DAY IS A G I F T. by PETER KRAY

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ey there! It’s been awhile. How are you? Have you found some time to get outdoors and enjoy this magical state? I know the trails are packed because the stadiums and theaters are empty—losing a season at Red Rocks really hurt our ability to dance under the stars and support our favorite local and international artists—but whether you’re a mountain biker, hiker, climber, camper, stargazer, or s’mores culinary artist, I think being outdoors in the Rockies in the fall is still better than anything else. It’s been a hard change to our lives and our lifestyles since the first reports of the pandemic in Colorado ILLUSTRATION BY KEVIN HOWEDESHELL KEVINCREDIBLE.COM

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swept through the high country in early March—especially for first responders, caregivers, and the millions of people who have contracted and even died from this virus. And it's been tough for every one of our friends in the outdoor/ entertainment/food/fun industry who show us the best lines and secret trails, brew the most amazing local coffee, get us out of our seats with a sing-along encore, or pour another cold brew of our favorite pint.

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miss all of you. I miss handshakes and hugs and hucking hand sanitizerfree Frisbees across long fields as the weather cools and the peaks go pink and blue in the early sunsets. Here at the house, our homecooking, kitchen-cocktail-making, dogwalking, Zoom-talking, and old-friendcalling-game has greatly improved over the past few months. I have also taken advantage of the quiet time to do some deep reading. Along with Amazon, UPS, US-save-the-freakingPost-Service-mail-in vote, FedEx, and alcohol sales (or edibles), I’m thinking books—online or otherwise—have done pretty well through all of this.

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I steamed through The Ship of Dreams, a haunting take on the sinking of the titanic and the “End of the Edwardian Era,” (which took me so completely inside the glorious voyage that I was shocked when the great ship started to sink), rocked the celluloid soundtrack of Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and his Cosmic American Music, went full patriot over No Time for Spectators: The Lessons that Mattered Most from West Point to the West Wing, and I am learning yet one more lesson in incredible writing while enjoying Joseph Conrad’s incomparable Nostromo, which seems to promise another novel in every perfect paragraph. Which got me thinking: What great books are being written right now that will define this penultimate moment in American history? Are any of you currently writing one of them? We’d love to hear about it. In regards to one more famous Mark Twain quote about producing great content, “Write what you know,” there’s certainly no shortage of worldchanging material to mine as we live and learn through all of this.

Sure, George Orwell’s 1984 and The Hunger Games get namechecked daily in Twitter and Facebook references to the current crisis, but I am convinced there will be new postapocalyptic Westerns set against the drama of unchecked pestilence and raging wildfires descending on the brave inhabitants of small mountain towns, as well as searing exposes about a soulless collective of grifters continually lying about the truth before our eyes, saying inaction was the best course of action so as not to “create a panic.” I believe the next generation of science fiction will continue to look more like reality does today. And that action thrillers in which one lone hero must battle the stinking rot of corporate/political corruption will continue to find the stink goes “straight to the top.” And extended essays on finding an end to racial injustice will continue to quote the Constitution, saying that every American has the inalienable right to, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” On a side note, it always blows me away how our nation’s founders wanted to make it crystal clear we all need to have the freedom to “pursue Happiness.” It makes me think of us all skipping through wildflowers, skiing down snowy slopes, and falling in love with each other as we embark in an ongoing search for smiles and laughs. Which is why I believe there will be love stories, too. Stories about survival and comprehension and redemption. Stories about the faith we place in each other, our families, our neighbors and our immediate friends, and how that faith is rewarded again every time we remember to embrace it. I look forward to reading those stories more than anything, because it does feel like we are all living in a novel right now. Every day there is some new drama unfolding, something momentous about to take place. History is not happening around us, it is happening to us, and we need to be part of it.

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few weeks ago I turned off everything except my phone, and every day I went out my front door and started to walk— sometimes with my dogs, sometimes my wife, sometimes all four of us, but mostly by myself. It felt good to be part of the world again—not society and culture and bustle—but of the planet. It felt good to watch the day break away on its own special arc. To feel my own feet propel me, and like I still had more stories to tell. Stories about how life is such a gift, for the world and for all of us. —Elevation Outdoors editor-at-large Peter Kray is the author of the God of Skiing. The book has been called “the greatest ski novel of all time.” Don’t believe the hype? Buy and read it here: amzn.to/2lmzpvn


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Elevation Outdoors October-November 2020  

Elevation Outdoors October-November 2020

Elevation Outdoors October-November 2020  

Elevation Outdoors October-November 2020

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