Friday, January 17, 2020

Search Results for: resort town life

Community calendar Thursday, March 24–Wednesday, March 30

THURSDAY 24
• 6-6:45 a.m. Meditation at Yoga for the Peaceful, by donation.
• 7 a.m. Core Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8 a.m. Ecumenical Meditation at UCC.
• 8:30 a.m. Women’s book discussion group at UCC.
• 8:45 a.m. Indoor Biking Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Gunnison County Branch Office is open at the Crested Butte Town Offices.
• 9 a.m. Nia Dance Workshop at Sunset Hall in CB South.
• 10 a.m. Mothering Support Group at Oh Be Joyful Church. (Last Thursday of every month)
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Yoga Basics at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 11:30 p.m. Duplicate Bridge at UCC. 349-1008.
• noon All Saints in the Mountain Episcopal Church Community Healing Service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church. 349-9371.
• noon CORE Stability. 970-901-4413.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• noon-1:15 p.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 4-5:30 p.m. St. Mary’s Garage. 300 Belleview, Unit 2. Free clothing and bedding. 970-318-6826.
• 4:30-6 p.m. Crested Butte Community Food Bank open at Oh Be Joyful Church (First Thursday of every month)
• 5:30 p.m. Communion Service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5:45 p.m. World Dance Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 6:30 p.m. AA Open Meditation at UCC.
• 7 p.m. Maundy Thursday at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church. 641-1860.
• 7 p.m. Women Supporting Women Group Discussion at the Nordic Inn.
• 7-8:30 p.m. Kirtan at Yoga For The Peaceful, by donation. 349-0302.
• 7:30 p.m. Narcotics Anonymous meets at 114 N. Wisconsin St. in Gunnison.

FRIDAY 25
• 6:30 a.m. All Levels Iyengar Yoga Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 7-8:15 a.m. Hatha Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 7:30 a.m. Barre Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:30 a.m. Alanon at UCC Parlour (in back). 349-6482.
• 8:30-9:15 a.m. Aerial Conditioning with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts. 349-7487.
• 8:45 a.m. Core Power Yoga Class at the Pump Room.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Warm Power Vinyasa Fusion / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9-10:30 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9 a.m.-noon Open Wheel Throwing with Laura Cooper Elm at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts. 349-7044.
• 9:15-10 a.m. Open Aerial Dance with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts. 349-7487.
• noon Closed AA at UCC.
• noon Metabolic Blast at CORE. 970-901-4413.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• noon-1:15 p.m. Restorative Yoga at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 1:30-3 p.m. Hot Power Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 4:30-5:45 p.m. Aprés Ski Yoga at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5:30 p.m. Communion service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Happy Hour Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 6-7 p.m. Poi Playshop at the Pump Room.
• 7 p.m. Good Friday Service at Oh Be Joyful Church. 349-6237.
• 7 p.m. Good Friday Service at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church. 641-1860.
• 7 p.m. Good Friday Service at Union Congretional Church. 349-6405.
• 7-9 p.m. Pick-Up adult Karate, Fitness Room at Town Hall.

SATURDAY 26
• 7:30 a.m. Open AA at UCC.
• 8 a.m. Indoor Biking Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9-10:15 a.m. Stretch and Shred / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9-10:30 a.m. Community Yoga at the Sanctuary Yoga & Pilates Studio, Gunnison.
• 9:15 a.m. All Levels Yoga Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday Local’s Session, alpine and snowboard clinics for adults at CBMR. 349-2211.
• 10:30 a.m. Hip Hop Community Dance Class at the Pump Room (above Fire House on 3rd & Maroon). 415-225-5300.
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Slow Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 1-3 p.m. Adventures in Knitting with Laura Elm at Kasala Gallery. 970-596-0015.
• 4:30-5:45 p.m. Aprés Ski Yoga at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 6:30-7:30 p.m. Guided Sound Meditiation at 405 4th Street.

SUNDAY 27
Happy Easter !
• 7-8 a.m. Meditation at Yoga For The Peaceful, by donation.
• 8:30 a.m. Mass at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 8:30 a.m. Easter Service at Oh-Be-Joyful Church. 349-6237.
• 8:30 a.m. Easter Breakfast at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church. 641-1860.
• 9 a.m. Easter Service at Union Congretional Church. 349-6405.
• 9-10:15 a.m. Slow Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9:30-11 a.m. Community Free Yoga Class / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 10 a.m. Easter Service at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church. 641-1860.
• 10 a.m. Easter Service at Oh-Be-Joyful Church. 349-6237.
• 10 a.m.-2 p.m. CB Nordic hosts the Backcountry Bistro at Magic Meadows Yurt.
• 1 p.m. Beading Class: Herringbone Wire Wrap Earrings at Pema Dewa. 349-7563.
• 4:30-6 p.m. Restorative Yoga at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5-6 p.m. All Saints in the Mountain Episcopal Eucharist at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church. 349-9371.
• 5-6:15 p.m. Hatha Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 5-7 p.m. Pick-Up Adult Basketball. HS Gym, CBCS.
• 6 p.m. AA meets at UCC.
• 6:15-6:45 p.m. Free Breath Work and Meditation / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 6:30 p.m. Duplicate Bridge at UCC. 349-1008.
• 6:30-8:30 p.m. Crested Butte Improv Writer’s Group in the Town Hall Community Room. (Open to all ages/types of writers & visiting writers).
• 7 p.m. Gamblers Anonymous meets at the Last Resort.

MONDAY 28
• 6:30 a.m. Strength and Conditioning with Janae or Pip at CORE. 901-4413.
• 7:30-8:30 a.m. Community Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 8:45 a.m. Core Power Yoga Class at the Pump Room.
• 8:45 a.m. Pilates at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9-10:30 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• noon-1 p.m. Slow Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 5 p.m. Mothering Support Group at the GVH Education House, 300 East Denver St. (First Monday of every month)
• 5:30 p.m. Communion Service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 5:30 p.m. Yin/Yang Circuit with Ginny and Jess at CORE. 901-4413.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Yin Yoga Nidra at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Gentle Restorative Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 5:30-7 p.m. Moms in Motion class at the GVH rehab gym.
• 5:45 p.m. Boot Camp Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 6:30-8 p.m. Women’s Domestic Violence Support Group at Project Hope. Childcare available upon request. 641-2712.
• 7:30 p.m. Open AA at UCC. 349-5711.
• 7:30 p.m. Narcotics Anonymous meets at 114 N. Wisconsin St. in Gunnison.

TUESDAY 29
• 7 a.m. Core Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 7-8:15 a.m. Hatha Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 7:30 a.m. AA/Alanon Open at UCC. 349-5711.
• 8:45 a.m. Indoor Biking at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Warm Power Vinyasa Fusion / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Gunnison County branch office is open at the Crested Butte Town Offices, 507 Maroon Ave.
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Yoga Basics at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 11:30 a.m. League of Women Voters meeting at 210 W. Spencer in Gunnison.
• noon AA Closed at UCC.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• noon-1:15 p.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 1:30-3:30 p.m. Tech Tuesdays at Old Rock Library. 349-6535.
• 1:30-4 p.m. Women’s Tips, ski clinic at CBMR. 349-2211.
• 4-5:30 p.m. St. Mary’s Garage. 300 Belleview, Unit 2. Free clothing & bedding.
970-318-6826.
• 5:15 p.m. RedCord suspension class at Western Pilates Studio in Crested Butte.
596-1714.
• 5:30 p.m. Communion Service at Queen of All Saints Church.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Slow Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 5:30-6:15 p.m. Aerial Conditioning with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts. 349-7487.
• 5:45 p.m. All Levels Iyengar Yoga Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 6-7 p.m. Community Connection Night at UCC Parlour.
• 6:15-7 p.m. Open Aerial Dance with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts. 349-7487.
• 7 p.m. Alanon meeting at the Last Resort.
• 7-8:30 p.m. Blessing Way Circle support group at Sopris Women’s Clinic. 720-217-3843.
• 7-8 p.m. Movement & Meditation at Yoga For The Peaceful. $10 donation. 349-0302.
• 7-9 p.m. Pick-up adult Karate, Fitness Room at Town Hall.
• 7:45-9:45 p.m. Drop-In Adult Volleyball, CBCS MS Gym.

WEDNESDAY 30
• 6:30 a.m. All Levels Iyengar Yoga Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 7:30 a.m. Rotary meeting at the Grand Lodge.
• 7:30-8:30 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 7:30-8:30 a.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 8:45 a.m. Mat Mix at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45 a.m. Indoor Cycling class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Ashtanga-Vinyasa / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9-10:30 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9:30-11:30 a.m. Gray Hares meet at the CB Nordic Center for nordic skiing.
• 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Two Buttes Senior Citizens van transportation. Roundtrip to Gunnison. Weather permitting. Call first for schedule and availability. 275-4768.
• noon Closed AA at UCC.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• noon-1 p.m. Yoga Therapeutics at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 5 p.m. Mass at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 5:30 p.m. Prenatal Yoga class in Crested Butte South. 349-1209.
• 5:45 p.m. Boot Camp Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 5:45 p.m. Indoor Cycling at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 6-7:15 p.m. Kaiut Yoga at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 6:30-8 p.m. Restorative Yin-Yoga-Nidra / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 7 p.m. Move the Butte DVD Showing at Majestic theater, free for cast and $5 suggested donation
• 7-9 p.m. “GriefShare,” a grief recovery seminar and support group, meets at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, 711 N. Main St., Gunnison. 970-349-7769.
• 7:30 p.m. Alanon at UCC Parlour (in back). 349-6482.
• 7:45-9:45 p.m. Pick-Up Adult Indoor Soccer, CBCS HS Gym (through March).

Events & Entertainment 

THURSDAY 24
• 5-7 p.m. Sunset Soiree at The Umbrella Bar at Ten Peaks. 349-4554.
• 6:30 p.m. CBMT presents a Dinner Theatre Murder Mystery: Girl’s Night Out at AlpenChix Restaurant.
• 10 p.m. Karaoke upstairs in the Sky Bar at the Talk of the Town.
• 10 p.m. Naive Melodies play at The Eldo.

FRIDAY 25
• 5-7 p.m. Sunset Soiree at The Umbrella Bar at Ten Peaks. 349-4554.
• 5:30-7:30 p.m. Becky Chappell Artist Reception at the Piper Gallery of the Center for the Arts. 349-7487.
• 7 p.m. Evelyn Roper and Sean Turner play at The Talk of the Town.
• 9 p.m. KBUT’s Soul Train at Bonez with raffle at 11:45 p.m.

SATURDAY 26
• noon Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation presents Snow Fest 2016 at CBMR.
• 5-7 p.m. Sunset Soiree at The Umbrella Bar at Ten Peaks. 349-4554.
• 6-9 p.m. Wylie “Crazy Horse” Jones plays at Montanya Distillers.
• 10 p.m. Cranford Hollow plays at The Eldo.

SUNDAY 27
Happy Easter!
Old Rock Library is closed.
• 9 a.m. Golden Easter Egg Hunt at CBMR.
• 10 a.m. Easter Egg Hunt, cross country ski or snowshoe at The Crested Butte Nordic Center.
• 11 a.m. Kids 10 and under Easter Egg Hunt at the Mountaineer Square ballroom.
• noon Easter Egg Hunt in the lobby at the Elevation Hotel & Spa with an appearance by the Easter Bunny. 970-251-3030.
• 3-7 p.m. Happy Hour Sundays with Chuck Grossman at the Eldo.

TUESDAY 29
• 4:30-7 p.m. Colorado Parks and Wildlife Big game licensing open house at the Gunnison wildlife office, 300 W. New York Ave.
• 6-8 p.m. GCSAPP/Choice Pass is hosting a discussion with a police officer at the Crested Butte Community School multi-purpose room.

WEDNESDAY 30
• 7 p.m. Oh Be Dogful Rescue presents The Champions. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. 349-5047.
• 7 p.m. Flauschink Slide Show by Dr. Duane Vandenbusche & A Flauschink Tale w/ George Sibley upstairs at the Talk of the Town.
• 7:30 p.m. Pool Tournament upstairs at the Talk of the Town.

Kids Calendar

THURSDAY 24
• 9 a.m. Munchkin’s Music & Dance Class in the High Attitude Dance Academy in Gunnison.
• 9:30 a.m. Tumblebugs in Jerry’s Gym.
• 3-8 p.m. Youth Gymnastics, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall 349-5338.

FRIDAY 25
• 9 a.m.-1 p.m. 1/2 Day Little Innovators for ages 3-6 at The Trailhead. 349-7160.
• 11 a.m. Big Kids Storytime for ages 3-7 at Old Rock Library.
• 3:45-5:15 p.m. After School Art Classes at The Art Studio on Elk Ave. 349-7160.
• 4-5 p.m. Tang Soo Do Martial Arts classes for youth with West Elk Martial Arts, Town Hall Fitness Room. 901-7417.

SUNDAY 27
• 9 a.m. Golden Easter Egg Hunt at CBMR.
• 10 a.m. Easter Egg Hunt, cross country ski or snowshoe at The Crested Butte Nordic Center.
• 11 a.m. Kids 10 and under Easter Egg Hunt at the Mountaineer Square ballroom.
• noon Easter Egg Hunt in the lobby at the Elevation Hotel & Spa with an appearance by the Easter Bunny. 970-251-3030.

MONDAY 28
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 4:45 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for juniors at Town Hall. 901-7417.

TUESDAY 29
• 11 a.m. Romp & Rhyme Storytime for families and kids of all ages at Old Rock Library.
• 3-8 p.m. Youth Gymnastics, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall 349-5338.
• 3:45-5:15 p.m. After School Art Classes at The Art Studio on Elk Ave. 349-7160.

WEDNESDAY 30
• 9 a.m. Munchkin’s Music & Dance Class in the Fitness Room at Old Town Hall.
• 10 a.m. Munchkin’s Music & Dance Class in the Fitness Room at Old Town Hall.
• 11 a.m. Babies and Toddlers Storytime at Old Rock Library.
• 3:45-4:45 p.m. Tween Scene (ages 8-12) at the Old Rock Library.
• 3:45-5:15 p.m. After School Art Classes at The Art Studio on Elk Ave. 349-7160.
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 4:45 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for juniors at Town Hall. 901-7417.

Profile: Mary Boddington

Shredding the Life

by Dawne Belloise

She was born a mountain girl in the foothills, granddaughter of a 10th Mountain Division skier-warrior during WWII, one of the few who survived. Every summer Mary was sent out from her hometown of Colorado Springs for camp in Florissant, where she hiked, rode horses and climbed mountains as a self described “dirty, grubby little kid, for sure.” Her parents were wise in taking advantage of the great outdoors to tire out the four siblings.

Mary admits, tongue-in-cheek, her school years were “interesting… school and I didn’t mix very well. I just wasn’t into the cliquey scenes. Middle school sucks for everyone, especially girls. You’re going through puberty with raging hormones and there’s a lot going on,” she recalls.

She funneled all that young angst into snowboarding at the age of 12. “We were a family of skateboarders,” she says of the passion shared with her two brothers and one sister and fortunately, her parents supported the sport. The family trekked off to A Basin and Keystone whenever they could but Mary understood that as a family with four kids it was an expensive excursion to get everyone geared up and buy passes, and then there was the two-hour car ride with all those kids.

photo by Trent Bona
photo by Trent Bona

 

“It sounds like a nightmare, and I don’t even have kids!” she laughs appreciatively for the effort her parents put into it. Once she got her driver’s license she was on the slopes every weekend.

High school for Mary felt like it was going down that same annoying road as middle school but that’s also when she discovered that she was dyslexic. It seemed to explain a good part of the reason she disliked school so much.

She was enrolled in Education Opportunity Program (EOP), which is an alternative school. “Although we who attended called it Expelled Or Pregnant,” she grins. “That’s where things turned around for me. It was really open and because of that, the kids who were there really wanted to be there. They wanted to get their diploma or go to college and it didn’t have that cliquey scene. You got out of it what you put into it and the teachers all wanted to be there too. The classes were smaller so they could figure out everybody’s individual needs. The teachers were real.”

Mary graduated in 2004 and thought about going to art school but wound up in Crested Butte instead. Once she got here, as she tells it with a big smile, “I never left.”

She had arrived with winter shredding dreams in October 2005, convinced by friends that she’d love it, even though she’d never ridden this mountain before. Her first impression of town was, “Beautiful!” A liftie position got her a pass and as Ullr would have it, it was an epic snow year. “I got a taste of being able to snowboard every day and that kinda did me in right there.”

But half way through the powder year, people started talking about summer and convinced Mary to stay past her planned one-winter adventure before the expedition to college. If you plan on being in Crested Butte only for a winter, then never stay for summer. You’ll be hooked and you’ll never leave.

After spending a summer doing all those things we do in paradise, Mary shakes her head and just conceded her fate. “It was all over… I’m still here ten years later. I almost feel that’s everyone’s story here. It’s a hard place to leave. It’s a balance to be here, there are sacrifices made, but it’s worth it.”

That first summer, Mary met Ian Hatchett, who asked how she felt about being a lift op. “I told him I didn’t get to ride much because the ride breaks were short. He offered me a job in the Crested Butte Mountain Resort rental shop and said I could have three-hour breaks. I was sold.”

Mary was stoked. “That’s exactly what I wanted to do.” The friends she made became her guides to the back bowls of the mountain and after a few seasons on her board, in 2009, the Extremes for snowboarding returned to Crested Butte.

“I thought I should represent for Crested Butte and for the boarders… and it went well. I got second and was the first woman to receive the Young Gun Award,” which, Mary explains, is for anyone under the age of 23 who showed potential. “That totally got me fired up to compete. I had never competed before in snow sports.”

 

The following year, Mary committed to going to all of the competitions on the circuit, from Crested Butte to Snowbird, Kirkwood, and Crystal Mountain, and she earned her spot last year to go on the Freeride World Tour in Europe, competing in Chamonix, Austria, and Andorra in the Pyrenees.

“It was such an out of body experience, the mountains were so big and incredible. It’s crazy, they’re like these indescribable giants. It leaves you speechless when you’re there,” Mary says of the five-week experience. “Riding there was a game changer … scary… riding there, you had to step up your game a lot, mentally mostly. You have to be aware of where you are because there’s a rollover effect. You can’t really tell what’s on the other side until you get there, so it’s important to be in places where you know where you are, and with people who know the mountain. It was trickier to compete because you didn’t get to ride the face first, it was visual inspection only, so you sat with binoculars and picked out your line, hiked up and then, hopefully, do that line. That’s one of the mental challenges that I liked about all of that. You have to really respect the mountain.”

Mary and local competitor Francesca Pavillard-Cain were touring together, helping each other pick out the best lines. “That’s big mountain snowboarding, you have to be able to read terrain. That’s why I think it’s more of a mental challenge than physical. I’ll never forget the first competition in Chamonix, hiking up to the top of the venue and being so close to the helicopters flying around, one for filming and one for evacuation if someone got hurt, and it added a whole new element to the experience. It’s an exciting, humbling experience. I came home with a feeling of opportunity for mountains and life. Staring at giants like that every day, there’s the realization of how small you are in the grand scheme of things,” Mary says with gratitude as well.

Aside from it being an incredible experience of traveling and competitions, Mary feels it was also a pinnacle. “I’m not tapped out at all and I’d like to explore snowboarding in other ways. I bought a new snowmobile this year, just to be in the backcountry and explore our mountains more.”

With an expanded focus to pursue backcountry snowboarding, Mary also has experience in filming. “I’ve been filming for Crested Butte Mountain Resort and for Never Summer Snowboards for five years. Never Summer makes movies every year and I started riding with Andrew Buergin, who’d been filming for a long time,” Mary says of her boyfriend of half a decade.

Austin Gibney, another long time cameraman, is also onboard. The two guys took Mary under their collective wing when they started filming her rides. “We rotate turns doing the filming because we all want to go get our lines,” Mary grins. “We mostly go up into the Irwin area and the Slate and the surrounding trailheads. “So filming is what I’d rather focus on than the competitions.”

But Mary holds her competition days precious, having met many like-spirited, amazing women shredders. “I remember riding around the comps with 20 chicks and they’d all rip, jumping off of stuff. It was a pretty unique experience. I think a lot of us women helped each other grow as riders in ways that might not have happened unless we all met and talked each other up, like, ‘You got that.’”

Another part of Mary’s reasoning in leaving the competition tour is to coordinate trips with her Buttian buddies to just ride pow, because, she says, “It’s all about being with your friends in the mountains. That’s the pureness in snowboarding—giggling with friends on mountaintops.”

However, as a last-minute escapade, Mary signed up to compete in last weekend’s Free Ride World Qualifier held on our mountain—and won first place. She claims that it was all just for fun, to represent Crested Butte and also for fear of missing out. She doesn’t plan to take it any further and actually go to the rest of the comps, but there’s that mischievous curl in her smile that makes you think she could just possibly spontaneously go for it.

“All my homies that I met through the years showed up at the comp Saturday and it reminded me I why I do these!” she laughs heartily. “The people, the riders, and mostly the women. They inspire more than words can express. So—I might try to enter another one….”

Despite her love of winter, Mary does actually look forward to summer too, working as a bartender at the Talk of the Town at night so she can play in the day. “That opened up a whole new world of mountain biking and hiking and I have friends who let me ride their horses.”

It’s perfect employment for her to follow her winter passion as well. “My three days a week of happy hour bartending allows me to snowboard every day and live the life I like. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Joel, the owner, is so supportive of my snowboarding. It’s a good gig.”

Mary feels the Crested Butte mountains are particularly special, “and the people and the lifestyle, you can’t beat it. I don’t see myself moving.” Mary shakes her head and says emphatically, “Uh-uh,” and adds with a giggle, “only if I think about it never snowing here again. Other than that, I see no reasons to leave, but I think it’s important to travel when you live here. You’ve got to get out, in a way, because we can be in our bubble here.”

Mary heads straight for Denver shows and getting her fix of “city grunge,” but she says the best part of leaving town is, “It’s never hard to come home. Nowhere else do you live that you want to go home at the end of your vacation. You know it when you come around the bend by Crested Butte South and see Paradise Divide and you just smile and know you’re home. It’s impossible for me to be unhappy here. You can have a bad day but you can’t feel too sorry for yourself when you go outside and look around.”

Profile: Steve Hecker

by Dawne Belloise

Steve Hecker very much appears to be a walking portrait of the mountain man: a big, burly guy with a smile to match his magnitude, someone you’d definitely want as a guide on excursions into the winter backcountry.

He arrived in the Gunnison valley almost 30 years ago in 1987 when he headed west from Illinois with friends, he chuckles, who were a couple of hippies with a bunch of crystals.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do out of high school. I was working at a gas station all through school and then some, and I decided I had better do something, so I enrolled in Southern Illinois University in construction management. It was an easy curriculum but a failed attempt,” he laughs. With no hint of remorse he adds, “I enjoyed myself a little too much in college, but I made quite a few friends. I left college with a couple of hippie friends and we were on our way to the West Coast, but first we went to Arkansas to mine crystals.

“The hippie friends were way into the metaphysical crystal stuff and I was basically along for the ride, providing the car and U-Haul to transport these crystals to festivals, concerts and whoever wanted to look at these rocks. They were beautiful quartz crystals. We loaded up the U-Haul with about 500 pounds of these rocks,” he says. They headed off to the West Coast to hit up a few Grateful Dead shows in Steve’s little Datsun B210 and a trailer full of quartz crystals.

photo by Lydia Stern
photo by Lydia Stern

 

In the middle of the Colorado Rockies, the trio came to a harsh realization. “We get to the bottom of Monarch pass and my poor little car, named Sunshine Daydream, just couldn’t make it up over, so we had to unload some of these stones.”

They committed the crystals back to the earth, Steve recalls, carefully picking through the quarter ton they had lugged over a thousand miles, and keeping the best ones. “They’re probably still up there somewhere,” he says. He thinks about them every time he goes over that pass.

But it was wonderful springtime in Gunnison as they finally descended into the valley and decided to stop and visit friends who were attending Western State College. “We were there doing what college kids do, standing around a campfire drinking beer and smoking weed. A couple of those students said that I really needed to go up to Crested Butte and check that place out, and I said, ‘Crested what?’”

Since Steve had driven in at night, he hadn’t grasped the beauty of the area and didn’t fully get it until he actually drove up to Crested Butte that next day. “It was apparent that Crested Butte was an extraordinary place. I’m sitting on the bench on Third Street, in front of the [old] Paradise Café and the [former] Laundromat, soaking up the beauty, and a young lady sits down and asks if I’m new in town and I said, ‘Dunno, I’m kinda thinking about it.’”

Steve recalls the young woman’s beautiful French-Canadian accent turned his head as much as the town itself. “It’s off-season and I felt like she and I were the only people in town. It was odd that there was nobody around.” That girl with the accent offered Steve a cabin to rent for $100 a month. “That got my attention. I had to run it by my hippie friends, explaining that we could live in this cabin here. So in a single day I got a place to live, a girlfriend and a job,” which meant a variety of kitchen jobs in the newly transitioned Oscar’s, formerly the Grubstake.

Eventually, his hippie friends headed on down the road, grabbing the best crystals and leaving him with the rest of the pile of rocks.

“This was the beginning of my time here,” Steve smiles about the allure of his newly acquired Buttianess. “I was a young guy, a fresh face, moving to the mountains. It was magical for me.” Even though rent was incredibly cheaper back in those days, and rental places were far more plentiful, Steve would live with half a dozen people at times and when that became too much to handle, he’d pitch a tent up the Slate for some solitude while he worked his typical three jobs.

“The French girl is long gone. I’m working construction, doing kitchen work and operating as a snowmobiling guide,” he says. He notes that the latter is what most people in town know him as. He spent three years with Irwin Lodge, in his first job as a sledneck guide, later moving to Action Adventures when Irwin Lodge sold. Steve tells stories of his 11 years of guiding at Action, sledding around celebrities like president Jimmy Carter and his family. And in 1991, he took the Allman Brothers out to the backcountry—Warren Haynes, Alan Woody, Greg Allman and Dickey Betts—which left quite an impression on him.

“Getting to take these guys out snowmobiling was a dream come true. They were doing a benefit concert at Rafters. Tickets were expensive but they wound up giving me four tickets and a hundred dollar bill as a tip.”

He was invited to hang with them in their hotel room, doing what rock stars do, as he puts it, and he accompanied them to sound check where he recalls his excitement as they launched into their song Whipping Post: “As soon as I heard that first bass line of the song, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.”

Having worked construction for the larger companies in town, Steve felt it was time to strike out on his own. “I felt like I was stagnating and I needed to do something different and take another step forward, so I started my own construction company, Cement Creek Construction Company.”

He started out building smaller homes, and moving up to larger ones when he was contracted to construct trophy homes in 2007 in Prospect on the mountain.

Steve was initially hired by developers to build five houses up there, but the market crashed after the first was completed. Then, midway through completion of the second house, the first one burned to the ground. It was deemed arson.

“Along with the house, my construction company went poof,” he explained. The out-of-state developer never paid for any of the work, and although it was never proven who the arsonist was, the developer took down several people in shady dealings.

The developer later hung himself in a Spanish jail cell rather than be extradited from that country when he was indicted for murder and theft of $300,000 in the U.S.

“And here I am involved with this guy on a daily basis,” Steve shudders. “It was the darkest time of my life. I pretty much lost everything and it left a really horrible taste in my mouth. I got burned figuratively and literally. Everything was so ugly.”

Afterwards, in 2010, Steve had rented the Forest Queen building to run a bar. “I was trying to keep my head above water with the Forest Queen. Running a bar business is a lot like being a rock ‘n roll star… lots of late nights.”

At one point, he actually attended a hot dog school—no, not for skiing, for real hotdogs. He muses that it was a great program, more like a seminar on how to promote a successful hotdog biz. “I’m from Chicago, you know, I love hot dogs. I sold Chicago-style food in the Forest Queen, Italian beef, hot dogs and more. I got a certificate—HDU—Hot Dog University!” Nevertheless, when his lease expired, he decided not to renew. “So, I said to myself, ‘What am I gonna do?’”

He went back to his first love and something he excelled in. “I went to my old friend James with Action Adventures Snowmobile and asked him if he thought it was crazy if I wanted to come back and be a guide.”

It’s now Steve’s sixth year back guiding and he couldn’t be happier about it. “I absolutely love it and it was the best thing for me, especially after all the turmoil. This is where I needed to be. I truly love taking people out into the backcountry and showing them what a beautiful place this is. You get these average Oklahoma and Texas families who’ve never seen a snowmobile in their life and then you get them up into Irwin or some place where there are just these spectacular views. Just to see the smiles on their faces makes it all worth it.”

When summer finally comes to the high country, Steve switches gears and heads for the water. “For the past three summers I’ve worked as a dock hand and fishing guide at the Elk Creek Marina on Blue Mesa Reservoir. That was pure luck to have landed in Sapinero,” he says of his home for half the year before winter takes him back to snowmobile guiding, the perfect yin-yang balance of seasonal resort work.

“There’s no other place I’d rather be. What really keeps me here are my kids [Kyle, who is graduating from WSCU this May, and Natalee, a junior at CBCS] and the relationships I have with my friends, and oh my God, the natural beauty of where we live. I do a lot of road trips but I always feel really great when I get back here. During the off seasons, I load up my van and hit the road to places all over the country, every corner. But I consider Crested Butte my home. I’ve been here 30 years, fer Pete’s sake, I have roots here. There’ve been some difficult times up here, but we’re a family in this town.”

Community Calendar: Thursday, January 28–Wednesday, February 3

Events & Entertainment  

THURSDAY 28
• 6:30-9 a.m. Gunnison Valley Health Early Blood Tests at Queen of All Saints Parish Hall. 642-8417.
• 10:30 a.m. Novel-Tea discusses South of Superior at the Old Rock Library.
• 11 a.m. Fat Bike Worlds Race at North Village.
• 6:30 p.m. High Ground plays at The Adaptive Building, 325 Belleview Ave.
• 7 p.m. Bill Dowell plays at the Princess Wine Bar.
• 10 p.m. Karaoke upstairs in the Sky Bar at the Talk of the Town.

FRIDAY 29
• 6:30-9 a.m. Gunnison Valley Health Early Blood Tests at Queen of All Saints Parish Hall. 642-8417.
• 11 a.m. Fat Bike Worlds Conference Ride.
• 4-8 p.m. CB Titans’ Family Fun Night at the High School Gym.
• 6 p.m. Evelyn Roper and Sean Turner play at The Talk of the Town.
• 7 p.m. Doctor Robert plays at the Gunnison Arts Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
• 7 p.m. Dawne Belloise and Chuck Grossman play at the Princess Wine Bar.
• 7-10 p.m. The Crested Butte Avalanche Center is holding their 3rd annual fundraiser, Go Deeper, a beer tasting event at the Brick Oven.
• 10 p.m. Greener Grounds play at the Eldo.

SATURDAY 30
• 11 a.m. Fat Bike Worlds Race behind CB Community School.
• 2:30 p.m. Lez Zeppelin plays at the CB Gravel Pit.
• 3:30 p.m. CB Unplugged presents Stephen Kellogg at Butte 66.
• 7 p.m. Craig McLaughlin plays at the Princess Wine Bar.
• 7:30 p.m. Crested Butte Mountain Theatre presents The Marmots at the Mallardi Cabaret Theatre. 349-0366.
• 10 p.m. Analog Son plays at the Eldo.

SUNDAY 31
• 9-10 a.m. 1st annual Blue Mesa Black Ice Races hold the Trail Skate Marathon at the Elk Creek Marina. 275-1229.
• 11 a.m. Fat Bike Worlds Downhill at CBMR.
• 1 p.m. Hockey Breakaway Race as part of Blue Mesa Black Ice Races.
• 3-7 p.m. Happy Hour Sundays with Chuck Grossman at the Eldo.
• 4-6 p.m. Young Musicians of Crested Butte play aprés ski music in the lobby of the Elevation Hotel.
• 7 p.m. Tyler Lucas and Katherine Taylor play at the Princess Wine Bar.

MONDAY 1
• 7 p.m. Sam DeRaimo plays at the Princess Wine Bar.

TUESDAY 2
• 7 p.m. Chuck Grossman plays at the Princess Wine Bar.

WEDNESDAY 3
• 5 p.m. Last SkiMo Race, presented by Griggs Orthopedics, at the base area of CBMR.
• 6:30 p.m. Coloring and Conversation at the Old Rock Library.
• 7 p.m. Evelyn Roper plays at the Princess Wine Bar.
• 7:30 p.m. Pool Tournament upstairs at the Talk of the Town.
• 9 p.m. Mighty Diamonds & The Meditations play at the Eldo.

THURSDAY 28
• 6-6:45 a.m. Meditation at Yoga for the Peaceful, by donation.
• 7 a.m. Core Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8 a.m. Ecumenical Meditation at UCC.
• 8:30 a.m. Women’s book discussion group at UCC.
• 8:45 a.m. Indoor Biking Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Gunnison County Branch Office is open at the Crested Butte Town Offices.
• 9 a.m. Nia Dance Workshop at Sunset Hall in CB South.
• 10 a.m. Mothering Support Group at Oh Be Joyful Church. (Last Thursday of every month.)
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Yoga Basics at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• noon All Saints in the Mountain Episcopal Church Community Healing Service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church. 349-9371.
• noon CORE Stability. 970-901-4413.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• noon-1:15 p.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 12:30 p.m. ACBL Sanctioned Open Bridge Game. 349-5535.
• 4-5:30 p.m. St. Mary’s Garage. 300 Belleview, Unit 2. Free clothing and bedding. 970-318-6826.
• 4:30-6 p.m. Crested Butte Community Food Bank open at Oh Be Joyful Church (First Thursday of every month.)
• 5:15-7:45 p.m. GCSAPP’s Winter Program Thursday Evenings at the Multi-purpose building in Gunnison (runs through March 10th). 642-4667.
• 5:30 p.m. Bikram Yoga with Laura at Core Studio, next to Clark’s Market. Reservations recommended/drop-ins are welcome. 928-699-1024.
• 5:30 p.m. Communion Service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5:30-7:30 p.m. Silversmithing at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts (Thursdays through February 11). 349-7044.
• 5:45 p.m. World Dance Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 6:30 p.m. AA Open Meditation at UCC.
• 7 p.m. Women Supporting Women Group Discussion at the Nordic Inn.
• 7:30 p.m. Narcotics Anonymous meets at 114 N. Wisconsin St. in Gunnison.

FRIDAY 29
• 6:30 a.m. All Levels Iyengar Yoga Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 7:30 a.m. Barre Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:30 a.m. Alanon at UCC Parlour (in back). 349-6482.
• 8:30-9:15 a.m. Aerial Conditioning with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts. 349-7487.
• 8:45 a.m. Core Power Yoga Class at the Pump Room.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Warm Power Vinyasa Fusion / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9 a.m. Juliette’s Balance Barre at Western Pilates Studio in Crested Butte. 596-1714.
• 9-10:30 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9 a.m.-noon Open Wheel Throwing with Laura Cooper Elm at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts. 349-7044.
• 9:15-10 a.m. Open Aerial Dance with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts. 349-7487.
• noon Closed AA at UCC.
• noon Metabolic Blast at CORE. 970-901-4413.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• noon-1:15 p.m. Restorative Yoga at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 1:30-3 p.m. Hot Power Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 4:30-5:45 p.m. Aprés Ski Yoga at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5:30 p.m. Communion service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 5:30 p.m. Bikram Yoga with Laura at Core Studio, next to Clark’s Market. Reservations recommended/drop-ins are welcome. 928-699-1024.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Happy Hour Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 6-7 p.m. Poi Playshop at the Pump Room.
• 7-9 p.m. Pick-Up adult Karate, Fitness Room at Town Hall.

SATURDAY 30
• 7:30 a.m. Open AA at UCC.
• 8 a.m. Indoor Biking Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9-10:15 a.m. Stretch and Shred / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9-10:30 a.m. Community Yoga at the Sanctuary Yoga & Pilates Studio, Gunnison.
• 9:15 a.m. All Levels Yoga Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 10 a.m. Saturday’s Local Session, alpine and snowboard clinics for adults at CBMR. 349-2211.
• 10:30 a.m. Hip Hop Community Dance Class at the Pump Room (above Fire House on 3rd & Maroon). 415-225-5300.
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Slow Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 4:30-5:45 p.m. Aprés Ski Yoga at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 6:30-7:30 p.m. Guided Sound Meditiation at 405 4th Street.

SUNDAY 31
• 7-8 a.m. Meditation at Yoga For The Peaceful, by donation.
• 8:30 a.m. Mass at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 9 a.m. Worship Service at Oh-Be-Joyful Church.
• 9 a.m. Worship Service at UCC Church.
• 9-10:15 a.m. Slow Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9:30-11 a.m. Community Free Yoga Class / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 1 p.m. Winter Beading Class: Wire Wrapped Tree of Life Pendant at Pema Dewa. 349-7563.
• 3-6 p.m. Valentine’s Paint Your Own Pottery at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts. 349-7044.
• 4:30 p.m. Bikram Yoga with Laura at Core Studio, next to Clark’s Market. Reservations recommended/drop-ins are welcome. 928-699-1024.
• 4:30-6 p.m. Restorative Yoga at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5-6 p.m. All Saints in the Mountain Episcopal Eucharist at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church. 349-9371.
• 5-7 p.m. Pick-Up Adult Basketball. HS Gym, CBCS.
• 6 p.m. AA meets at UCC.
• 6:30 p.m. Duplicate Bridge at UCC. Call 349-9296.
• 7 p.m. Gamblers Anonymous meets at the Last Resort.

MONDAY 1
• 6:30 a.m. Strength and Conditioning with Janae or Pip at CORE. 901-4413.
• 7:30-8:30 a.m. Community Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 8:45 a.m. Core Power Yoga Class at the Pump Room.
• 8:45 a.m. Pilates at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9-10:30 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• noon-1 p.m. Slow Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 12:30 p.m. ACBL Sanctioned Open Bridge Game. 349-5535.
• 1:30-3 p.m. Hot Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 3:45-5:45 p.m. Valentine’s Paint Your Own Pottery at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts. 349-7044.
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 5 p.m. Mothering Support Group at the GVH Education House, 300 East Denver St. (First Monday of every month.)
• 5:30 p.m. Communion Service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 5:30 p.m. Yin/Yang Circuit with Ginny and Jess at CORE. 901-4413.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Yin Yoga Nidra at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Gentle Restorative Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 5:30-7 p.m. Moms in Motion class at the GVH rehab gym.
• 5:45 p.m. Boot Camp Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 6:30-8 p.m. Women’s Domestic Violence Support Group at Project Hope. Childcare available upon request. 641-2712.
• 7:30 p.m. Open AA at UCC. 349-5711.
• 7:30 p.m. Narcotics Anonymous meets at 114 N. Wisconsin St. in Gunnison.

TUESDAY 2
• 7 a.m. Core Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 7-8:15 a.m. Hatha Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 7:30 a.m. AA/Alanon Open at UCC. 349-5711.
• 8:45 a.m. Indoor Biking at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Warm Power Vinyasa Fusion / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Gunnison County branch office is open at the Crested Butte Town Offices, 507 Maroon Ave.
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Yoga Basics at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 11:30 a.m. League of Women Voters meeting at 210 W. Spencer in Gunnison.
• noon AA Closed at UCC.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• noon-1:15 p.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 1:30 p.m. Women’s Tips, ski clinic at CBMR. 349-2211.
• 2-4 p.m. Tech Tuesdays at Old Rock Library. 349-6535.
• 4-5:30 p.m. St. Mary’s Garage. 300 Belleview, Unit 2. Free clothing & bedding. 970-318-6826.
• 5:15 p.m. RedCord suspension class at Western Pilates Studio in Crested Butte. 596-1714.
• 5:30 p.m. Communion Service at Queen of All Saints Church.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Slow Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 5:45 p.m. All Levels Iyengar Yoga Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 6-7 p.m. Community Connection Night at UCC Parlour.
• 6-9 p.m. Valentine’s Paint Your Own Pottery at Montanya Distillers with the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts. Discounts on drinks, pottery and apps. 349-7044.
• 7 p.m. Alanon meeting at the Last Resort.
• 7-8:30 p.m. Blessing Way Circle support group at Sopris Women’s Clinic. 720-217-3843.
• 7-9 p.m. Pick-up adult Karate, Fitness Room at Town Hall.
• 7:45-9:45 p.m. Drop-In Adult Volleyball, CBCS MS Gym.

WEDNESDAY 3
• 6:30 a.m. All Levels Iyengar Yoga Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 7:30 a.m. Rotary meeting at the Grand Lodge.
• 7:30-8:30 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 7:30-8:30 a.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 8:45 a.m. Mat Mix at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Ashtanga-Vinyasa / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9-10:30 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9:30-11:30 a.m. Gray Hares meet at the CB Nordic Center for nordic skiing.
• 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Two Buttes Senior Citizens van transportation. Roundtrip to Gunnison. Weather permitting. Call first for schedule and availability. 275-4768.
• noon Closed AA at UCC.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• noon-1 p.m. Yoga Therapeutics at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 1:30-3 p.m. Hot Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 5 p.m. Mass at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 5 p.m. Pairs Skimo Race at CBMR. skicb.com/skimo.
• 5:30 p.m. Prenatal Yoga class in Crested Butte South. 349-1209.
• 4:30 p.m. Bikram Yoga with Laura at Core Studio, next to Clark’s Market. Reservations recommended/drop-ins are welcome. 928-699-1024.
• 5:30-7:45 p.m. Ladies Night – Hand-Lettering & Collage for Valentines at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts. 349-7044.
• 5:45 p.m. Boot Camp Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 5:45 p.m. Indoor Cycling at the Gym. 349-2588.
• 6 p.m. Celebrate Recovery Meetings: 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month, Oh Be Joyful Church, Crested Butte. 970-596-3846.
• 6-7:15 p.m. Kaiut Yoga at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 6:30 p.m. Alanon at UCC Parlour (in back). 349-6482.
• 6:30-8 p.m. Restorative Yin-Yoga-Nidra / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 7-9 p.m. “GriefShare,” a grief recovery seminar and support group, meets at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, 711 N. Main St., Gunnison. 970-349-7769.
• 7:45-9:45 p.m. Pick-Up Adult Indoor Soccer, CBCS HS Gym (through March).

KIDS calendar

THURSDAY 28
• 9 a.m. Munchkin’s Music & Dance Class in the High Attitude Dance Academy in Gunnison.
• 9:30 a.m. Tumblebugs in Jerry’s Gym.
• 3-8 p.m. Youth Gymnastics, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall 349-5338.

FRIDAY 29
• 11 a.m. Big Kids Storytime for ages 3 and up and Old Rock Library.
• 3:45-5:15 p.m. After School Art Classes at The Art Studio on Elk Ave. 349-7160.
• 4-5 p.m. Tang Soo Do Martial Arts classes for youth with West Elk Martial Arts, Town Hall Fitness Room. 901-7417.

MONDAY 1
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 4:45 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for juniors at Town Hall. 901-7417.

TUESDAY 2
• 11 a.m. Romp & Rhyme Storytime for families and kids of all ages at Old Rock Library.
• 3-8 p.m. Youth Gymnastics, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall 349-5338.
• 3:45-5:15 p.m. After School Art Classes at The Art Studio on Elk Ave. 349-7160.

WEDNESDAY 3
• 9 a.m. Munchkin’s Music & Dance Class in the Fitness Room at Old Town Hall.
• 10 a.m. Munchkin’s Music & Dance Class in the Fitness Room at Old Town Hall.
• 11 a.m. Babies and Toddlers Storytime at Old Rock Library.
• 3:45-4:45 p.m. Tween Scene (ages 8-12) at the Old Rock Library.
• 3:45-5:15 p.m. After School Art Classes at The Art Studio on Elk Ave. 349-7160.
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 4:45 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for juniors at Town Hall. 901-7417.

Profile: Carol and Brian Dale

Four decades of ice and rocks: Ice Mountain Jewelry

by Dawne Belloise

Inside Ice Mountain Jewelry, there are still a few cabinets sparkling with gems, jewels and artifacts, while some of the glass cases are empty, their contents either sold or stored as Carol and Brian Dale prepare to close their business of more  than 40 years.

Through the years, Ice Mountain Jewelry evolved and expanded, growing more specialized, changing names and locations that involved sharing space with other local artists and craftspeople.

The couple’s love affair with Crested Butte, and consequently each other, started back in 1969, when Brian attended Western State College (WSC) as a way to explore the west and a reason to live in the valley where he could ski. He arrived from Michigan, just north of the Motor City, where he learned to ski under the night lights, where, as he recalls, “It was cold as hell, especially with those leather ski boots.” One of his WSC professors (Harry Dodge) schlepped a group of his students up to meet the old-timers in Crested Butte, where Brian fondly remembers meeting some now long-gone characters.

The ski area was in its infancy at that time, having cranked up the first lifts in 1962 and Brian observed the early metamorphosis from mining town to ski resort as the remaining old-timers took jobs at the new resort. “There was a transition. Some of those who were working in the mines were now running the gondola. The gondola was pretty cool and people thought it was beautiful. They [the lift ops] had to stabilize the thing when it swung into a metal shed and you got out. Back then, the ski area was like Nordic skiing is now—every now and then you’d run into someone on the runs,” Brian says as he recalls the sparsely populated slopes.

photo by Lydia Stern
photo by Lydia Stern

Carol was passing through Crested Butte in 1971 on a camping trip with friends. Coming in from San Francisco, but hailing from Maryland, she was on her way to Santa Fe, just taking some time off after graduating from college before starting her real life. “We were camped out on the other side of Kebler, and we’d come to town to drink beer at the Grubstake,” she says. After spending a few days enjoying the town, Carol decided she wouldn’t go on to Santa Fe with her friends.

She smiles about her decision to stay in Crested Butte. “I don’t know what I saw. I wasn’t even a skier. But I thought everybody was real. These were real people here and I felt very fortunate to have discovered this place. You could be who you were—you are your own person here.”

Brian met Carol in town and, when she eventually decided to head to Santa Fe to take a metal working class, he went along to help pay the rent, working construction jobs. When Brian met Carol’s metal teacher he became intrigued with silver working, which was going through a popularity renaissance in America at the time.

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They spent a spring, summer and fall studying and working in Santa Fe before asking the ultimate question: “What are we gonna do now?”

They chose to return to Crested Butte, “specifically because it was a better climate for what we wanted to do, which was skiing and hanging out.” Brian laughs that the year that he should have graduated from WSC, he and Carol decided instead to open their first business. He was already doing what everyone else in the sleepy town was doing to survive, fighting fires, working construction and anything and everything else.

They opened Coal Creek Cabin in Eric Roemer’s cabin behind Penelope’s, a cooperative shop where several artists came together to sell their craft—silver worker Diane Johnson; Sharon Nelson, who tailored high-end custom cowboy shirts; leather worker Rob Wolfe; and Wally White, who imported rugs from Middle East.

They both recall the dirt street days of Crested Butte, dilapidated Elk Avenue buildings, many of them empty, and cheap rent in un-insulated houses where the snow and winter winds would blow through the walls.

Carol thinks back to their first house at First Street and Elk Avenue, where they loaded coal into a stove for heat. “Behind our house there was a shed that we turned into a shop we called Open Air Lapidary. It was basically a porch with a little overhanging roof and a couple of posts for support.”

Brian chimes in, “This was the second coming of Coal Creek Cabin, and it was only for one summer. Then we moved to the Four-way Stop in 1977 and renamed the business the Crested Butte Gem and Mineral Society.” They worked out of a garage-turned-shop for five years, hauling their water since there was no plumbing to the old building.

They built their current space in 1984, moving the old garage-shop off of the property, and hammering every nail of their new store. Jim Gebhart built the matching separate space at the same time. Back when Carol and Brian were in Santa Fe, Carol was working in a restaurant where the owners were Jim Gebhart and Jerry Deverall. When Gebhart and Deverall came to visit the two in Crested Butte in 1973, they unanimously declared, “Holy crap, we’re moving here!” which they eventually did after they sold their restaurant.

Meanwhile, after the Dales built their shop, they began to help populate town. Their daughter, Taylor, was born in 1978, and their son, Hunter, came along in 1982.

At the time of Taylor’s birth, the two were living out at Wildbird. “We had to hike in with a new baby,” since no cars were allowed past the parking area back then, nor are they now.

Brian felt he wanted to take his craft further and started the process of becoming a certified gemologist. “Becoming a gemologist is a long, murderous process. There was no Internet back then so I’d have to study and study and then go take a test. In the meantime you’d have all these correspondences through the mail for studying and taking tests. But education is the foundation for a healthy business.” Brian explains that the gem and mineral business is international. “If we’re at a show, we’re dealing with people from all over the world. And if you’re into getting the best for your customers, that’s the way business is conducted.”

Brian also did some prospecting in these local hills. “Back in the ‘70s, I worked for a geologist here, Henry Truebe, who was part of our original Gem and Mineral Society. We had a business with Denis Hall and Henry called Far Out Mines.”

He jokes that he and Denis were basically the grunts of the high-altitude miners (Denis Hall is now utilizing his geologist degree though, in addition to being one of the Crested Butte News’ regular column writers). “That’s how we originally got into the mineral thing, Henry was a tremendous researcher who scouted for mineral locations. Back then, the theory was that these mountains had been prospected for gold and silver but not minerals and gems. We were grubstaked [financed] by Tommy Jacobs, who owned the Grubstake bar, to go dig Italian Mountain. We dug prospect pits all over the side of that mountain, basically camping out and living on the mountain.

“At one point we had a prospect operation for orthoclase [a mineral], for the study of crystal structure on this side of Maroon Pass.” Brian pulls out a beige-colored piece of rock naturally angled into perfect triangular and 90-degree square cuts by millions of years of formation.

For several years in the ‘90s they operated two stores—one in the basement of the Treasury Center on the mountain in addition to Ice Mountain, and after closing the slopeside shop, they opened on Elk Avenue in the Grubstake building for three years.

The Ice Mountain store was higher end, with the Grubstake shop offering more sterling and less fancy gemstones. For decades, the duo has made many of the wedding rings that grace the hands of locals and visitors alike.

Carol feels that Brian’s custom jewelry work was the backbone of the business. “I did the counseling and he did the metalwork,” she laughs about helping couples’ decision-making and adds, “We could get them married. It’s nice to be in a small town where a bunch of our work is still circulating.”

And getting a design that’s going to last in this brutal Crested Butte lifestyle is a challenge, Brian says. “We’ve worked with three generations of families, kids of kids of kids coming in to get their wedding rings.”

So, after 40 years of watching town change, kids grow up and working practically nonstop, Carol and Brian have decided it’s time to be less serious, although Brian will still be dabbling in the art. “I plan to keep my workshop open in the back of the building. I’ll still be making something, probably just melting down the same piece of gold and remaking it into another piece of jewelry,” he chortles.

Carol adds, “We have a lot of expertise, having been in this business for so long and it’s sort of hard to walk away from being involved in some way.”

One of the many facets of their work is building mineral collections for other enthusiasts, and they’ll continue to do that for interested clients. On a wall is a case with a collection in progress for a private client: Spiked multi-colored crystals, rocks whose hidden contents have been cracked open to reveal deep reds, oranges or purples, rare polished stones from all over the globe—a treasury to be cherished and repeatedly admired.

There will be life after Ice Mountain for Brian and Carol, who have already applied for multiple river runs. “If we get any of the permits, we’ll be gone during the summer prime time, just like normal people are able to do. We’ll be able to hike during the weekdays instead of just the weekends around here,” Brian says. He’s counting on doing a lot more biking and kayaking as well.

Carol has plans for her pet projects, too. “I want to work on my vegetable garden and make it perfect this year…. there’s always hope in the spring. And we have grandkids in New Mexico,” she says, adding that they’ll be visiting the grandchildren a lot. “We have no plans to go anyplace else except to travel more in the winter.”

Both agree that working less and recreating more is not going to be too hard, and Carol sums it all up with, “We’re staying. We love it here, we love the land, and this valley. Our friends are here. It’s home.”

Contact Carol and Brian Dale, and the continuing journey of Ice Mountain Jewelry through icemountainjewelry.net.

Why bother?

Dear Crested Butte:

Pottsville, Northern NSW, Australia. Heard of it? Doubtful.

Heard of Byron Bay? Most have. About 20 kilometers north of Byron on the beach is Pottsville, where my family lives. We are on the hippie fringe, south of the Gold Coast strip. Between there and Crested Butte there are hundreds of places to snow ski. Whether it is summer or winter, I can find a place to ski that would be a whole lot closer to home than Crested Butte.

A 20-minute drive and a four-hour flight can put me in Queenstown, New Zealand with Alps all around and lift-served peaks. A day’s drive in the months of July to September puts me in Australian alpine villages, skiing amongst gum trees with no time zone change and very little altitude change. Between December and April a world of opportunities opens up. One flight would get us to Japan and its legendary powder dumps; there is only a two-hour time difference, abundant snow and villages built for westerners. The mountains aren’t thin-air-high so there is little chance of the headaches, nausea, shortness of breath and general complications that occur after arriving in the Butte.

photo by Lydia Stern
photo by Lydia Stern

So, let’s say instead of Japan you make the 12-hour flight to LAX and decide to bypass skiing in California or Utah or Nevada because you really want to ski in Colorado. After a three-hour flight to Denver, how many ski resorts are along the Front Range within a three-hour drive down wide highways serviced by door-to-door shuttles from Denver Airport? These are easy, seamless, comfortable and convenient. These are places that dwarf Crested Butte in skiing acreage. These are places that have thousands of accommodation options conveniently situated to access thousands of miles of trails.

But no—we head to Crested Butte from Denver. That means taking either another flight, which is highly weather-dependent, making four flights from our house in Pottsville totaling more than 20 hours in the air over a two-day period (this assumes all connections are seamless), or we can forgo the last flight and drive the five hours from Denver over high-altitude passes and across wind-swept prairies to arrive at the split town of Crested Butte/Mt Crested Butte, where in town you are above 8,000 feet. Where the facilities are a bit run down compared to the flashier resorts and where the skiable terrain is limited unless there is mega snow.

So why bother?

On average we bother every two years and I have done so for more than 20 years. Are we nuts? If it were only the skiing, well, as I have said, we must travel past uncountable ski hills to get here, so that wouldn’t make sense.

I have traveled here when I was single, then when married, then with a baby, toddlers, and now with a pair of preteens.

Every time we experience jet lag, altitude sickness, a bout of the Crested Butte crud and after four days here we ask, “Why do we keep doing this? Didn’t we learn from last time?”

Then after a week to ten days the fog lifts, breathing becomes easier, the snow falls and the sun shines and you start to see what it is that brings you back.

It’s not the snow. It’s not the resort facilities or the skiable terrain.

It is walking to the town shuttle along quiet streets, passing winter cyclists with yoga mats or skate skiers with dogs heading to the Poop Loop. It is the excited smiles on the bus. It is seeing familiar faces and cars that stop for pedestrians. It is experiencing cars that stop in the streets while their drivers have a chat. It is the courtesy in the shops and the restaurants. The person who chases you to return a glove you dropped. There is the sense that in Crested Butte, while time is important, watching it is not going to interfere with life. Is it knowing that houses are left unlocked, cars have keys in the ignition and that this is known but rarely abused.

Before the roads were paved here and the Internet joined everything around the world, there was a wonderful isolationist frontier feeling about being at the end of the road. Survival was dependent on community, with the community eager to accept any who came. There is a “You can go anywhere else but you want to be in Crested Butte” appreciation.

Here the town and resort are unbreakably intertwined, with each knowing that they need each other to survive, but like fighting siblings, they are not going to admit that they care.

Will they ever? I suppose that is part of the “local charm.”

Over the years I have been a distant witness to the tug of war between town and the mountain. Expansion? No way. But there is still the attitude of “We need to keep the skiers returning so people can pay my mortgage and pay for their kids’ college.”

This does exemplify a characteristic of the area—passionate people. People passionately calling the valley home. People who believe and tirelessly pursue ideas, activities and want to live the fullest, most real and most meaningful lives possible in breathtaking surroundings.

When we return we try to stay for more than a month. It takes that long to adjust to the altitude, climate and also the way of being. It takes more than a month to slowly reconnect with old friends. It can’t be planned and must be slower than social media dictates. It’s bumping into people at Clark’s, by the ice rink or over a beer at the Eldo. It’s going to live theatre to watch familiar faces tread the boards and going backstage after to chat about the play and life. Or it is walking the sunny side of Elk Avenue on a cold January day while feeling your nose hairs freeze.

It takes more than a month. And then you appreciate all the specialness that comes with getting here.

It takes a full cycle of the moon, conversations about places and ideas, and a hike or three out of Teocalli Bowl before I start to know why I bother—and will keep bothering.

Do you know why?

Cameron Wegemund

Profile: Dara Indra Buchele-Collins

Dara the Explorer

by Dawne Belloise

Because her parents were into learning different disciplines for careers, in her young childhood Dara Buchele-Collins was shuttled between Montana, New Mexico and a gated community in California (which she says was probably exclusive simply to keep the DEA out—it was a super funky, hippie community). Between them, Dara’s parents studied forestry, nursing, preschool education and jointly, massage therapy. Dara laughs, “Can’t you tell by my name that I was raised by hippie parents?”

The family settled down in Ft. Collins when Dara was six, and that’s where she grew up from that point forward. “All that moving would have been harder if I had been older. At that young age you don’t get attached enough to people outside of the family. I think this is why I like to travel around so much and have been to so many places,” Dara concludes.

Dara graduated from Poudre High School in 2000 and admits, “I had no clue what I wanted to do. I debated going to school but I wasn’t really sure if that’s what I wanted to do. I particularly didn’t like high school. I was bored with it. I didn’t really want to do more school at that point so I moved to Estes Park and lived and worked at the Stanley Hotel.”

Dara attended the front desk of the inspiration for The Shining. Living in the dorms, she gained some worldly experience through the international staff that also lived and worked at the hotel. “A whole bunch of Scottish and Irish guys, a couple of Russians and a girl from Bangladesh,” she recalls. “It made me think about traveling, leaving and going somewhere else.”

After a year and a half, Dara went looking for National Park jobs and determined, “Alaska seemed different and fun and far away. I worked in Denali at a hotel front desk, again living in the dorms with tons of people from all over the country, mostly Americans. There was no real plan, it was all about just going, seeing something different, not being in Ft. Collins. I knew I didn’t want to stay in Alaska for the winter, I like sun way too much to live somewhere without sunlight.”

Researching other resort areas, it became a toss-up between Tahoe and Big Sky. Dara says, “I ended up at Big Sky. It was a good winter skiing and playing. That was the winter I figured I needed a plan and not wander around working random jobs.”

Dara somewhat reluctantly moved back to Ft. Collins to come up with a plan, attending school part time and working, but that was short-lived. “After a year I felt stuck and I knew I needed to leave. I knew I needed to do something but I was totally lost. I had a friend who was moving to Gunnison to go to WSC.”

 

photo by Lydia Stern
photo by Lydia Stern

I came up with him a couple of times and decided that I’d go for it. It was mostly just for the change and I knew Crested Butte was right down the road and I could ski and get jobs at hotels… not that that’s what I wanted to do but just that I could do that while I figured out other things.”

It was 2003 and Dara found herself behind the front desk at the Grand Lodge when she had the revelation that Crested Butte felt like it should be home base for a while. “It took me two years to get moved up to Crested Butte from Gunnison. I took a retail job at Peak Sports for four winters and loved it. During the summers I worked at Rocky Mountain Trees, later moving to the Alpengardener in Crested Butte South for three years.”

Dara also earned her Master Gardener certificate, a program through CSU extension services. “I loved gardening. My mom gardened heavily so I grew up with it even though I ignored it as a kid. It’s hard to make a living in the garden centers, though, because it’s such a short growing season here. I was looking for something else that would be more consistent and year-round.”

In 2012, the year that the earth and everything ever known was supposed to come to an end, Dara took a job at the paint store Mountain Colors. The owner, Kim Raines, was looking for a dependable employee and so Dara became the paint store manager.

Three years later, she’s still helping people decide the best colors for their homes, fences and lighting situations. She can expertly pick out specific shades that many don’t have the experienced eye for but can make all the difference in subtlety. “I love my job and I love helping people with color. I like having a job where I’m constantly learning something new and that’s what so great about Mountain Colors, I’m always learning something and I get to disseminate that info to others.”

A ski injury a year ago brought about a realization, the sense of being trapped and immobile, which triggered in Dara a desire to travel. She had gotten a taste of enjoying a vastly different culture as a high school exchange student in Japan and she wanted to experience that again. “I did a lot of traveling in the southwest—Moab, Escalante, Grand Gulch, southern Utah stuff, for mountain biking and hiking,” but it was a last-minute, spur of the moment itch that made her take that leap.

Dara booked a flight and packed her bags for a two-week discovery trek through Ecuador last month. As most travelers understand, that sort of spontaneity can be addictive and oh so liberating.

A friend of a friend had moved to Ecuador so she tagged onto that friend and went. “We started in Quito. It’s a big city,” she says of the world’s highest capital (at least in altitude). “It’s a little overwhelming, as any city is. I had to take a step back. We stayed at a hostel in the old town, surrounded by huge mountains and active volcanoes. From there we went to Mindo for a day trip to do a chocolate tour,” where they show how the delectable treat is grown and processed from tree and pod to candy.

From the town of Tena, the gateway to the Amazon, Dara rafted the river after hiking through the thick, lush jungle with a guide. She then continued on to Banos, where she quenched her thirst with the sweet juice of fresh-squeezed sugar cane and tasted taffy made from it. “I really related to Banos because the overarching feel is a lot like Crested Butte. It’s also a tourist town and they’re independent with cute little shops that sell native goods.” She was especially taken by the local peoples. “Everyone’s so friendly and open throughout the country, so open to meeting new people—they’re not dismissive.”

Perhaps more important to Dara is what travel represents and can do for personal growth. “Part of travel is always about changing and growing. All travel is about an evolution of self. Sometimes the changes are big and sometimes the changes are subtle. Traveling gets you out of your comfort zone. It reminds me that there are friendly people all over the world and getting out and meeting them should be part of life. It should remind us to be more open and inclusive. I want to meet the people and understand why they live where they do. Meeting other cultures and people shows us how similar we all are.”

Although exploring and traveling is on the top of Dara’s list, she’s enamored of her chosen home in Crested Butte. “I want to keep trying to figure out how to travel more but still be here. I love it here. It’s a great community and a good feel. And snow has always been a part of my life. Snow and sagebrush are two things I’d have a really hard time living without. I like the community and having my home base here. From the start, this felt like home. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do… I’m not sure I’ll ever finish figuring out what I want to do. I always want to be learning something and there’s always something new to learn and new to do.”

Gear up for the Fat Bike Worlds

Can you dig it?!

by Than Acuff

Crested Butte is often considered the birthplace of mountain biking and could very well now become the birthplace of fat biking, at least for the Rocky Mountains and beyond. The Borealis Fat Bike World Championships, a.k.a. Fat Bike Worlds, is coming to Crested Butte Wednesday through Sunday, January 27-31.

We’ve seen ‘em, those fat bikes I mean, riding around town, up and down the surrounding valleys, at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and even on some of the skin tracks closer to town. And while fat biking is huge in the Midwest (more than 700 fat bikers competed in the first annual Fat Bike Birkebeiner), it’s still in its relative infancy in the mountain towns of the West, until now.

Thanks to the brains of one Jason Stubbe, the inertia of Aaron Huckstep and the fevered energy of Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce director Dave Ochs, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte will host the first-ever Fat Bike World Championships.

fatbiker_January222016

“We’ve been hosting fat bike races as part of the Alley Loop the last four years and last year the light bulb went off,” explains Ochs. “If we’re going to do something, let’s go all the way. Fat bike racers are popping up in a lot of mountain communities, the momentum is there so… go big or go home.”

So far more than 200 fat bikers are registered for the Fat Bike Worlds, hailing from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, England, and Ireland, as well as around the country.

“I’m blown away. It’s awesome,” says Ochs. “I think we’re going to hit 250, maybe more.”

The Fat Bike Worlds kick off on Wednesday, January 27 with the Kick-Off Party sponsored by Chopwood Mercantile at the Brick Oven at 5:30 p.m., but the action starts on Thursday, January 28 with the first race of the weekend, the relay/solo race on the groomed trails of the North Village by the Snodgrass Trailhead, at 11 a.m. Grills will be fired up and beer from Odell Brewing will be available for racers and gawkers.

The trails were “track-packed” by Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) and Ochs and his crew have been out grooming a 30-inch wide singletrack with a groomer (complete with some Doug Bradbury enhancements) specific for creating fat bike trails.

“CBMR pretty much committed that area to fat biking,” says Ochs. “We laid out the track with fat biking in mind. The course has sweet bermed corners and just great flow.”

The day wraps up with an event shindig at Montanya’s Distillery at 6 p.m., where participants can wash the sting of fat biking away with some award-winning locally distilled rum.

Friday, January 29 riders and fat bike fans can rest, relax and jib flap at an all-day conference on all things fat biking as well as continue to get in some additional riding. Conferences will be going on in the Annex at Mountaineer Square and rides will be happening starting at 11 a.m. as a modified route on North Village will be primed for the Fat Bike Conference for land managers, resort reps and fat bike enthusiasts alike to enjoy spinning on fresh corduroy.

The whole fat bike contingency is then invited to the Avalanche with more free Odell’s beer starting at 5 p.m.

The four-day fat bike fest comes to a climax on Saturday, January 30 with the official world championship race on the Crested Butte Nordic trails starting and finishing at the Town Ranch on the outskirts of the town of Crested Butte. The course will include sections of Nordic trail typically closed to fat bikes but, thanks to the permission of Crested Butte Nordic, will be opened for the prestigious event.

“Saturday’s a big day and I’m super-excited about it being in town,” says Ochs.

The racing starts at 11 a.m. and the course will begin at the Town Ranch behind the community school, head up a portion of the rec path and then onto some tasty groomed Nordic trails before returning to the start. Elite racers get six laps on the 5.5-mile long loop for a total of 33 miles and 3,330 feet of climbing, while the open class will get three laps.

“It’ll be pretty hard for the elite riders but it’s 100 percent rideable,” says Ochs. “It’ll be very similar to what mountain biking is like in Crested Butte.”

Ochs expects the elite class leaders to finish in about two and a half hours and when all is said and done, seven world champions will be crowned, from men’s and women’s elite, men and women juniors, men and women champions over 55 years old and a hand cycling Fat Bike World Champion.

Each champion will then get the distinct pleasure of having the Fat Tire Worlds logo literally branded on their body as a lifetime reminder of their achievement.

At 2:30 p.m., once the smoke has cleared from the branding party, Lez Zeppelin will step onto a mobile stage set up on the Town Ranch, plug in and rock. Five dollars cash gets you into the show and, of course, there will be plenty of food and Odell’s beer flowing.

The Fat Bike Worlds comes to a close on Sunday, January 31 with the “Hair of the Dawg” downhill event. Starting at 11 a.m. fat bikers will be gathering at the base area and ride to the top of the Painter Boy lift. From there they will have the option to drop down the Awakening downhill track or the Teaser downhill track, both of which start at the top of Painter Boy and finish at the bottom of Painter Boy. Both tracks have been packed by the CBMR packing crew and snowmobiles in preparation for slayage.

“We’re crazy-excited about this,” says Ochs. “There’s plenty of opportunity for rad downhill fat biking.”

Fat bikers must get themselves to the top as there will be no lift service for bikes available, and both Saturday and Sunday offer a chance for fat bikers to get famous as world-renowned ski filmmaker Warren Miller will be in town to catch the action for his next film project. Did I mention there will be even more Odell’s beer flowing?

For more information, course descriptions, registration and all things Fat Bike Worlds check out www.cbfatbikeworlds.com. Online registration is open until Sunday, January 24, after which registration will be handled by the chamber of commerce.

Locals making waves in an entrepreneurial age

Part three:  Industrial Manufacturing

By Adam Broderick

Editor’s note: It’s not easy making ends meet in mountain communities that rely heavily on cooperative weather and seasonal tourism. In this winter series, reporter Adam Broderick explores different experiences of business owners who live and work in the Gunnison Valley, yet whose work is mostly seen and sold elsewhere.

The pristine backcountry, the stillness in the valley, and the family-oriented community. These are the underlying reasons most people choose to live here. So when a local company grows and the opportunity to leave this place for somewhere more conducive to expansion arises, what stops motivated businesspeople from hitting the road? It seems those same factors apply.

In discussing outbound business with local professionals, some ups and downs of operating a company locally have been revealed. This week we speak with two manufacturers who fabricate industrial products before shipping them out of the valley. As with anyone featured in this series, they live here because this is where their hearts are and they’ve chosen to deal with any issues that come as part of that package deal.

Andris Zobs, ID Sculpture

Some people never let go of their obsessions with playgrounds. These recreational areas are fun when we’re kids and can still be captivating as we age, as long as they get progressively more technical or subjective.

Playgrounds by IDS.   courtesy photo
Playgrounds by IDS. courtesy photo

Take a climbing wall, for example. It’s essentially a playground for both adults and kids. As the guys at ID Sculpture (IDS) know, it takes being a parent or somebody who watches kids play to really know how to make the ultimate playground. Most of the staff at IDS have kids and want to create playground sculptures that inspire imagination and leave the canvas, if you will, open as to how kids can play on them.

Along with the creation of new safety regulations in past years, the team at IDS feels the playground industry has become standardized. A slide is just a slide, and activities have become programmed. ID Sculpture is trying to break away from that paradigm. They believe conventional playgrounds are too easy to navigate and that art and playgrounds should coexist so that a piece of art can also be something to play on.

Andris Zobs is director of operations and business development at IDS, formerly known as Integrated Design Solutions and founded by cutting-edge rock climber Ian Glas. In 2009, Glas was focused on climbing the world’s toughest routes and in the off-seasons he molded climbing holds for various clients. He founded IDS in 2009. In 2012 he partnered with Zobs, who was an architectural designer before he was director at the Office for Resource Efficiency (ORE). Zobs is still on the ORE board of directors but his full-time gig involves creating art with a playful purpose, and vice versa.

IDS began as a climbing feature fabrication company with just a few climbers and designers, but soon evolved into a major manufacturer of sculptural concrete playground equipment, public art and exhibits. When Glas started the business, climbing walls were mostly made of steel and plywood and cement coatings were rare. He wanted to add a new level of realism and creativity to artificial rocks, so along came IDS.

The company now has 13 employees and does everything from designing to manufacturing to shipping from a Gunnison warehouse. Glas is CEO and lives in Gunnison. Zobs and several employees live in Crested Butte and make the daily commute.

Zobs’ work in sustainability has encouraged him to use 100 percent recyclable materials and to recycle all waste. All steel fabrication is done in-house. The concrete mix IDS incorporates into playgrounds and climbing structures to “a sculptable cementitious coating that can be applied to a contoured structural armature” was an expensive investment to develop but is now ideal for playing and climbing.

Together the team digitized the process of designing projects with computer aided drafting and manufacturing (CAD/CAM), “and now we have really cool digital sculpting tools,” Zobs says. They use 3D scanners and printers.

Zobs feels they really excel when they get to work with landscape architects to make custom sculptures. IDS operates on the belief that every project should be designed with place in mind and that everything they build should be timeless, in terms of both design and durability.

They designed and built the climbing boulder you’ve probably seen at Rainbow Park, but Zobs says that’s an old project and not a great example of their best work. IDS has constantly invested in the quality of their product, working with concrete mix design consultants and engineers.

Their ability to do custom work lets them localize projects, like the flour silo sculpture they just designed for a place in Utah that is known for a historic flour mill. Or if they were asked to build a 10-foot-tall, 20-foot-long climbable Brontosaurus and ship it to a school in Missouri, they could make that happen. If they were asked to replicate a natural climbing wall in Utah with identical holds, cracks, and overhangs, and set it up in Chattanooga, Tenn., they could do that, too.

IDS recently built a playground at a large public park in Salt Lake City. It’s over 350 feet long and features climbable caves and waterfalls, and utilizes more than 600 unique, prefabricated parts. Shipping the parts from Gunnison and installing it had IDS employees in Utah for almost three months. Zobs says they send a lot of oversized loads out of town, often as a caravan of flatbed trailers loaded with freshly carved sculptures.

Some local businesses might argue that shipping costs hinder business around these parts, but Zobs says that when your products are as unique as IDS makes them, the shipping costs are a small part of the equation.

The company continues to grow because of their ability to customize sculptures and deliver them, as well as the quality of products they export. Currently, about 80 percent of projects are playground-related and 20 percent are exhibits and public art sculptures.

If you were to travel the world in search of awesome playgrounds, you would find IDS products in 22 U.S. states, Canada, and beyond. They’re even in Dubai. Locally, the climbing wall at the Gunnison Community Center was an IDS project. So were the playground at the Gunnison Middle School and the boulder at Legion Park in Crested Butte South. IDS recently donated a piece to Stepping Stones Children’s Center here in town.

Zobs hopes to see IDS grow in size and efficiency in the near future, and to be able to manage growth while maintaining the quality of products and the company’s creative niche in the market.

But he finds some obstacles to doing business in the Gunnison Valley, like finding and retaining skilled, dependable employees. He also thinks improving affordable housing options and diversifying the economy to incorporate more people actually making products in the area to will help improve business here. “Better flights and Internet would be great as well,” he adds. “But while there are challenges to locating our business here, they are not insurmountable, so why wouldn’t we live here?”

Zobs explains that Glas started the business here because he wanted to be here. “We want to be here,” he says. “We don’t feel constrained by the region. We like the Gunnison Valley because it’s quiet and family oriented. [The Gunnison Valley] needs to make its way through economic developments.”

The Sciortinos, LetterFab 

Trea Sciortino found a new love through his involvement with LetterFab, the wholesale manufacturer of aluminum-fabricated, LED illuminated channel letters (three dimensional letters you see on many building exteriors, especially in big cities) based in the Riverland Industrial Park a few miles south of Crested Butte. He fell in love with metalworking, metal art, and blacksmithing, and says he’ll live the rest of his life thanking his company for introducing him to a diverse platform for art. Prior to starting LetterFab from scratch in 2007, he was in construction and carpentry and has always had a passion for arts and crafts.

Signage by LetterFab.   courtesy photo
Signage by LetterFab. courtesy photo

Warren Sciortino, Trea’s father and the man behind the LetterFab idea, was selling signs in Louisiana for a different sign company before pitching the business idea to his son. Channel letters have been a staple to American signage since the ‘50s, and since LED entered the industry in 2005, prices have dropped significantly. Now LetterFab has endless opportunities in the sign industry. They’ve done 100-foot tall pylon signs; they made a large sign for the basketball stadium in Madison Square Garden; they did the Capital One letters for the Orange Bowl; they work in every state, including Hawaii, and have signs in Canada, the Caribbean, and the Cayman Islands.

LetterFab creates custom illuminated metal signs and other custom sign projects, but Trea says LED illuminated channel letters are their bread and butter. They’ll occasionally consider a local project, like the sign for Montanya Distillers, but LetterFab caters best to big businesses and franchises that need the same sign multiple times.

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LetterFab has 15 people on staff, including Trea and Warren. Trea manages operations while Warren is in charge of sales. The two use their combined knowledge of the sign industry to put projects together. Once Warren sells a project, their crew uses large bending machines to make the letters A-Z out of aluminum. Then they chemically weld what’s called a trim cap, which is basically like a Tupperware lid for the letter bases. Finally, LEDs are installed in the letters, which illuminate the letters against a night sky. The letters are then shipped across, or out of, the country on freight trucks.

Trea says freight options have improved the past eight years he and his father have been in business, which has made it easier to get products out of the valley. He explained that it used to be just FedEx and sporadically other companies, but companies like SAIA and Conway have stepped up their game to compete with FedEx and he’s now happy with all three of those freight providers.

“We’re doing this in the middle of nowhere specifically so we can live in the mountains. We deal with deep snow, a remote location, and everything ships out of here.

“That has been our biggest challenge, along with finding good employees. You know as well as I do that nobody moves out here to work 40-hour weeks,” Trea tells me. “I’m here to not be involved in the rat race. It’s mountains and our lifestyle up here long before channel letters and success in business.”

It’s more expensive for LetterFab to operate here than it would be in a city like Grand Junction or Denver, so the Sciortinos must focus on being efficient and streamlining production. Since all sign materials are incoming and outgoing, getting them in and out of the valley is a major hurdle. Manufacturing in the middle of nowhere is difficult, but Trea says they do it because when they finally get some time off they can enjoy the surrounding mountains and push the reset button. The mountains are precious to the Sciortinos. According to Trea, “This place is gorgeous, with gravity.”

Trea moved here in 1997 to pursue big-mountain snowboarding. He built his home on one of the first deed-restricted lots on the Verzuh Annexation in 2002 and has made all the money he can account for in the Upper Gunnison Valley. He says it’s been a long journey since his 20s, and it hasn’t been easy.

Warren moved here after his son. He was living vicariously through Trea, always asking about his snowboarding and mountain biking adventures. Warren fell in love with Aspen in the 1970s and had always dreamed of living in Colorado, and starting LetterFab enabled him to finally move away from New Orleans, where he’d spent almost 60 years. It was the only way he could move to a place like this and make a living. Warren came up with the idea and Trea took the bull by the horns, as he puts it, and set up fabrication in Riverland.

Warren also works with Guest Services and guides snowshoe tours for Crested Butte Mountain Resort. He rides an electric mountain bike during summer, the only way he can climb the trails here and enjoy the downhills without having a heart attack on the way up.

And that’s no joke. He’s had two massive heart attacks, one from which he died and was brought back to life, and has returned to become an Ironman triathlete. He loves talking to people and will spend the better part of a day teaching the ins and outs he’s learned to a person new to signage.

When they think about all the times they’ve put in extra-long hours and wished they could have crawled into an old mine shaft to get away, thinking about playing in the mountains and appreciating real life (which Trea believes lives in the wilderness surrounding Crested Butte) keeps them going strong. Then again, when business slows from time to time, they’re reminded how it feels to barely squeeze by. But they’re aware many local business owners are in similar situations.

“Sometimes there’s a hole to crawl out of if the phone doesn’t ring enough, but we’ve managed to weather the storms. Literally,” Trea jokes.

LetterFab has a fairly new facility in New Orleans, an effort to grow the company through easier means of shipping. But you won’t find either Sciortino moving there to help out. They’ll be busy expanding in Riverland, where fire suppression resources are now up to code with county requirements so LetterFab’s 1,800-square-foot weatherport will be replaced with a 3,250-square-foot building. Trea says this should greatly improve efficiency. He also says keeping the same employees will boost efficiency as each crewmember further masters their trade.

“I have my dream crew right now,” he says. “I have the guys I’ve been looking for for eight years, and I’d like to have the same crew years from now. Then we’ll be even more of a well-oiled machine.”

Thank you for absorbing this three-part feature story on local entrepreneurs working out of this little slice of heaven. After all, it’s the people who bring all the wonderful features of this place together that make it worth sharing. So as we continue on the trail toward each of our own definitions of success, remember to support local business and the people who work hard to stay here. Like each person interviewed for this series knows, it’s not all about the money. It’s about how we earn it and what we do when we focus on the real prize: the place we call home.

Tourism Association increases 2016 spending for marketing and events

“Gunnison Getaway” and year-round biking

By Adam Broderick

Gunnison County is determined to bring more visitors, and more money, to the valley in 2016, and the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association (TA) is planning some new strategies to reach that goal.

Promoting a new “Gunnison Getaway” campaign, grooming fat bike trails and promoting the Fat Bike World Championships this winter, and “doubling down” on mountain biking during summer are just a few items on the TA’s agenda.

This winter, the county commissioners, acting as the Local Marketing District (LMD), agreed to allocate $1.4 million from the county-wide 4 percent lodging tax it collects to help fund the TA’s projected $1.7 million spend in 2016. In 2015, the TA asked the LMD for $1.2 million. The following is a breakdown of how some of the funds is being spent.

Fat Biking

With Fat Bikes expected to make up 20 percent of the mountain bike market within the next decade, the county is jumping on the bandwagon—or leading it, perhaps. The first-ever Fat Bike World Championships are slated for the last weekend in January, a time when it is usually more difficult to attract visitors than in, say, February or March. Not only will course tracks be ready for the event, grooming single track trails is likely in the near future for both ends of the valley.

According to county commissioner Jonathan Houck, the Bureau of Land Management has already approved a proposal to groom fat bike trails near the Gunnison Nordic Club by Hartman Rocks. “Fat bike groomers are narrower groomers than ski groomers, so that’s easier to do,” Houck said.

Gunnison Getaway

The new winter “Gunnison Getaway” campaign this ski season will promote the city of Gunnison as a place to stay, eat, and spend money outside of Crested Butte, and will promote different transportation options to the town and ski area a half-hour north.

Laurel Runcie, project manager for the TA, says Gunnison Getaway promotes the best value for skiing in Colorado because the lodging prices are so low in Gunnison. She says Crested Butte Mountain Resort is also partnering with the TA to offer some pretty low-price tickets. So far, selling Gunnison as a destination getaway seems promising.

“We had a writer from Summit Daily come visit. She stayed in Gunnison and she went biking in both ends of the valley and explored both towns, and she wrote about biking as a valley-wide commodity,” Runcie said.

The Summit Daily writer “also writes for Outside Magazine and Mountain Magazine,” added Rebecca Filice, the TA’s social media and public relations manager. “She basically said ‘I want to come in and I want to fat bike.’ When a bike shop in the north end of the valley couldn’t help her out with a rental, All Sports Replay in Gunnison took care of her. She also stopped in Double Shot Cyclery down there and right away one of the staff rattled off a bunch of trails and directions. She had a great time riding Hartman Rocks and also spent time in Crested Butte.”

Filice says having both ends of the valley as a resource makes her job a lot easier because if visiting media gets bored, it’s their own fault. “If it’s the off-season, that’s okay because they’re still going to have a great time,” she said.

Commissioner Phil Chamberland told the TA at the budget meeting he is happy to see them looking at new ways to bring in funds. “I think you’ll also see people who stay in Gunnison realizing how close Monarch Ski Area is and they’ll start skiing there for a day or two as well,” he said. “And now with the late-night bus, you can still enjoy the nightlife in Crested Butte and make it back down to Gunnison.”

Warren Miller

The TA is also excited that the Warren Miller team will be filming a fat biking movie here this winter. One way the TA will benefit from the movie, besides the visual presentation of Crested Butte’s being close to the heart of fat biking, is that viewer emails will be collected along with ticket stubs at movie premieres around the country. Warren Miller has agreed to share those email addresses with the TA, so those people can then be targeted as potential visitors to the Gunnison Valley.

Outerbike? 

A popular mountain bike event held in Moab during spring and fall and in Whistler during summer could potentially land here as well. Outerbike attracts gearheads and bike companies to the annual multi-day gear-testing event. It brings more than 1,000 people to Moab for at least two consecutive nights, and organizers are currently looking for a Rocky Mountain location.

“Outerbike is a big deal in the field of bike tests,” says TA executive director John Norton. “All the bike manufacturers are there. We went this year to talk about the trails in the valley, and we’re trying to get them to come here. There’s no place at Hartman [Rocks] to put it, so we’re thinking maybe in the North Village.”

Trail Signage 

The TA will be promoting the county’s world-class trails next summer, but one of their main focuses will also be adding user information signs to existing trails. The TA received positive feedback from both local landowners and visitors alike about the signs that went up this past summer, so they’re hoping to add to those this coming summer. They’re also discussing what to put in a brochure for visitors, to explain the “rules of the roads” in hopes of protecting the backcountry from overuse and ensuring visitors have a quality user experience.

Norton is confident the TA will receive a $50,000 grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), which would help fund more signage, so this summer they should be doubling down on the number of signs they put in.

“[Commissioner] Phil Chamberland seems to think we will get the grant, and he’s very involved in the state program,” Norton said. “I do think we’ll get that money.”

The TA plans to spend roughly $1.7 million on marketing in 2016. Total projected revenue for the year is $1,648,525, including the $1.4 million budgeted by the LMD ($116,667 for each month in 2016) and the $50,000 CPW grant. Other revenue sources include $85,000 in admissions tax from Mt. Crested Butte, $18,600 to host the Fat Bike World Championships, and the 4 percent lodging tax the LMD collects. Add to that $101,360 in rollover funds from last year, and the TA should spend almost exactly what they project to bring in.

Should lodging tax revenues come up short, the LMD would have to reconsider its $1.4 million allocation. Neither the county’s finance department nor the LMD expects that to be the case; however, the amount the TA is awarded may need adjusting based on actual lodging tax revenues.

“They request $1.4 million and that’s what we’re going to appropriate for them,” explained county commissioner Jonathan Houck. “To be clear, the money they get is based on what they project to bring in, so we’re not over-appropriating funds.”