Friday, September 18, 2020

Search Results for: resort town life

Social media and social off-season

It is off-season. And while not at all good for general business, it is a great few weeks in the village for mental health. The pace is slow, the conversations longer and the hand waves more plentiful. Sort of like the new electric vehicle charging station at the Four-way, spring is a time for all of us to recharge and reboot.

For those who didn’t leave the upper valley when the ski resort shut down the lifts, most of us pray for sunshine and not much more snow. We’ve been somewhat lucky thus far but the forecast doesn’t look promising for the coming weekend—unless you like backcountry powder. And having hit Red Lady on a corn search last week, there is something to be said for spring skiing. And spring biking. And spring in general.

This week in particular has been really quiet. The Crested Butte Community School spring break corresponds with the week after the ski area closes so ski bums and families alike head out of town. I would guess 99 percent head south. Smart people. Looking at social media, it appears this year that Mexico, Costa Rica and Sedona are favorites. When the weather turns a bit chilly at 9,000 feet and Hartman’s looks wet, the Crested Butte stragglers vacation vicariously beneath the palm fronds of the beaches and along the red dirt trails of the Southwest that show up on the computer screens.

Resort residents understand the rhythm of how to spend the immediate days after the ski season closes. Filling in the weird winter tan lines, embracing some heat (anything above 50 degrees), and relishing the water that started as snow in the front yard but is now a spring desert creek or a wave in the ocean. Life on social media, as can be expected, is almost always good.

Until it isn’t.

There is the social media opportunity for outcry along with the Instagrams of blue skies and smiling kids. There are Facebook pages like “Crested Butte Housing Crisis” that seem to get a new post every couple of hours these days. People desperately ISO a place to live this summer since their current place is being sold. There are people offering rooms for rent at twice the rate of a few years ago or places in Almont for $800/month. It’s the same with the “Crested Butte Rentals and Roommates” page. There is a ton of people looking for a summer roof over their head. There are folks wanting to move here from the city looking for the relaxing mountain town vibe and willing to pay bank. They must be coming with money instead of counting on a job to pay the bills. I saw one post from someone ISO a roommate in Crested Butte South for the month of April. Good luck.

As an aside, it is rough out there right now but the town of Crested Butte has a few deadlines coming up dealing with potential affordable housing. Take a look at the story on page 1 of this week’s paper.

Then there’s the Gunnison Marketplace. That’s where a single mother might be selling her platypus to buy medicine for the cat. You can pick up a wonderful VHS collection for $5, some “Vail Sucks” stickers for $4 or see pictures of a tick on a person’s ear. Really. Love that always interesting site.

Should we even go into Crested Butte Bitch and Moan? There you can read about Christmas lights that never come down, cows on the public land, fat bikes, guns and weed.

Anyway, while a few minutes a day checking in on social media is addictive, it might be better to get outside as the snow recedes, the sun shines and people slow down. That way you can communicate directly with your neighbors and friends instead of just putting a Smiley Face emoticon under their picture of a burrito and margarita. An afternoon bench session on Elk or sitting outside on a deck with a beer is pretty smiley in itself in April and May. It is sort of the human equivalent of the electric car recharging station. Plus it is actually “social” and not just social media.

Happy off-season, everyone.

—Mark Reaman

Ochs resigns from chamber, takes position with CBMBA

Bringing energy and love to local trails

by Mark Reaman

Dave Ochs is stepping down as the executive director of the Crested Butte-Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce and stepping up as the executive director of the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association.

Ochs has been with the chamber for two years and been a long-time volunteer with CBMBA.

“It’s been an honor to serve in this position and to work alongside the business community. I think we have achieved great things together,” said Ochs. “The chamber, the business community, and the greater Crested Butte community will always be near and dear to me. Working with the Tourism Association, the towns, the county, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, businesses, non-profits, members and entities up and down the valley has been a tremendous experience and some of the best collaborations I’ve ever been a part of. My time here at the chamber has been the best professional experience of my life to date, and I’m grateful for the support of this board, the staff here, and the partnerships we have created.”

Chamber board president Nick Danni said Ochs brought a unique energy to the position. “His work elevated our organization, and the events we host, to the highest level,” he said. “Dave has an amazing ability to bring people together and communicate at lightning speed. We will miss him tremendously.”

Meanwhile, CBMBA board president John Chandler said it was becoming increasingly clear that a paid executive director was needed to keep CBMBA and its mission going. “We’ve seen the need for at least the last three years and the trail network just keeps growing,” he wrote to CBMBA supporters. “We need someone to take this club and our Master Trails Plan from the drawing board into the dirt. However, the reality of taking a club 30-plus years in the making and making a massive move forward is pretty hard. It needed the right person, to say the least. This new director would have to keep the heart and soul of CBMBA as priority number one, would have to have lots of energy, and above all, be a true spokesperson for the love of biking in this great valley. The Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association has found the right person. We are so very proud to present Dave Ochs as our new, first, and only executive director.”

Ochs feels the CBMBA job is a dream come true for him. “This is a truly a dream! Since the day I moved here in 2001, worked on Tony’s Trail the next day on National Trails Day, met and worked alongside the bike community and more so the amazing people who have made up CBMBA, I have been hooked! It changed my life for the best, and it has been something I have been so proud to be a part of,” Ochs said. “To witness what CBMBA has accomplished and collaborated upon in the last five years alone is enough to fulfill a lifetime. To be offered this opportunity by my peers, the people that I respect and admire more than anything—the CBMBA board—is truly a humbling experience. They have been very good to me. The mountain bike community has been very good to me. It will be my deepest honor and privilege to serve them, this community, the greater mountain bike community, and our bicycle heritage and livelihood to the utmost of my abilities. More than anything, I look forward to this team’s updated CBMBA Master Plan, and fulfilling our mission to ride, build, and maintain the absolutely greatest trail system on the planet.”

Danni said Ochs would stay in the chamber position until the middle of May. The idea is to hire a replacement who is local by May 1 so there could be a couple of weeks of overlap between Ochs and his replacement. Ochs hopes to be “full steam ahead” with the CBMBA job by June 1.

Profile: Janet Biggers

by Dawne Belloise

Preceded by her spunky persona, Janet Biggers leaves an almost visible wake of color and a dab of pizzazz as she walks through the door. Today, as she’s done most of her winter days, she’s heading up to the mountain, this time for a late-afternoon ski. Her polka-dot glasses, bright yellow parka and red plaid ski pants are almost no match for her effervescent smile.

As an Oklahoma cattle ranch girl, Janet started skiing at Crested Butte with her family when she was 10. Her father was buddies with the original owners, Fred Rice and Dick Eflin, who started up the resort back in the early 1960s.

photo by Lydia Stern
photo by Lydia Stern

“Dad said to mom, ‘We’re loading the kids up in the station wagon and going skiing,’” Janet laughs, remembering the mountain when it was a sparse little resort with just the tiny warming house, the J bar and the gondola, Klinkerhaus and a couple of the condos. They slapped skis on her and put her and her siblings in ski school. “We had a blast when it wasn’t cold.” Janet recalled a day so cold that her fingers were frostbitten. After their first visit, she said, “All our family vacations revolved around skiing twice a year.”

Janet confesses that she was kind of a wild child growing up in Bartlesville, Okla., just north of Tulsa. “I just liked to have fun, go to parties, and I had lots of friends. We lived 30 minutes from town so for me to get to town and have fun was a big deal.”

Her parents sent her to boarding school in Colorado Springs from tenth grade through graduation, but it was Janet’s choice. “I thought it’d be cool, like college, and sort of like being on your own. We chose the school because of its proximity to the mountains.”

She signed up for the Broadmoor Ski Team because, she grinned, “If you could get on the ski team, you could ski train at night, you’d get out of the dorm and you’d get to go hang out with the boys. Plus, we got to travel and go to the ski races for the weekend. We went all over, including Crested Butte. I loved skiing and I was totally hooked by then.” She graduated in 1978.

But she didn’t much like school and like most teenagers, she had no idea what she wanted to do. So she enrolled at Western State College, basically to ski. “I did what I had to do to ski,” but her father intervened with the ultimatum, “This out-of-state tuition and you not going to class is not working out,” so he gave her a choice: she could either go home and attend college in Oklahoma or find a job in the Gunnison Valley.

“I found a job. I started working for Robel Straubhaar teaching in the ski school in 1980. Robel did put me through the ringer. I was sort of a spoiled brat probably in the beginning. He always thought I was gonna break but I never did. If I didn’t do a turn right he’d make me hike back up and perfect that turn. While in a training class, we’d have to demonstrate our turns and how we taught. Robel was tough but sweet.”

The year Janet started was a year of basically no snow, she recalls. “We had to take beginners up to the stables because that’s the only place there was snow. There was no snow at the base area. We didn’t have much work that year, so we skied what we could. They were putting hay down that year, people were skiing through the mud but we still had a good time.”

To this day, Janet still runs into adults on the mountain who she taught when they were kids back in the early ‘80s. “Molly was only 7 years old when I first taught her,” she says, as she remembers a child student. “She showed up in a cute fluffy pink outfit. They’re still coming here and now. Molly’s kids are in ski school, and I get to ski with them [although Janet no longer teaches]. There are still people from back then who I taught that I get to see.”

In the summers Janet would head back home to Oklahoma, staying with her parents and being a lifeguard at the pool but when the seasons changed, she would return to the slopes to teach in Crested Butte’s ski school. In 1982 she met Austrian ski instructor Franz Wiesbauer. They married the following year and spent their summers in Austria.

“It was beautiful there. I did what I could with the language, but it was my first time abroad,” she says of the learning curve of picking up enough German-Austrian to get by. The couple returned in 1986 to live year round, working in Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s marketing department covering the Oklahoma territory and living between Oklahoma and Crested Butte. When they divorced a couple years later, Janet stayed in her home state, although she would come back to ski and spend a month in Crested Butte every winter.

Back home, Janet got involved in teaching aerobics, which was a popular fitness fad in the era. She also went big, as she tells it, and started doing many triathlons. When she returned to Crested Butte to race as part of the Tulsa Ski Club, a faction of the larger Flatlanders Ski Club, she just never returned to Oklahoma.

It was 1990 and she spontaneously decided to stay. It was a good move and she met the love of her life. “I stayed through the rest of the winter. Johnny Biggers was on ski patrol. I was with my girlfriends and we were getting on the Silver Queen when Johnny saw me and asked if I wanted to ride the chair up with him while he ate his lunch. We had known each other at WSC, back in the day. The rest is history,” Janet grins. They married in 1993.

She started teaching skiing again while Johnny was building houses in the summer and patrolling in the winter. After he retired from the ski patrol in 1999, he and Janet started their business, Crested Butte Builders. The company did well, with Janet handling planning and interior design. In between work, they’d hike, bike, and boat but mostly Janet was still into running and spent a lot of time in the gym as well. She proudly takes credit for getting her husband into water skiing, trekking off to Lake Powell whenever they can.

These days, Janet and Johnny have settled into their busy lives, recreating whenever they can get away, but fully taking advantage of the outdoor life of Crested Butte that they love. “We have our small houseboat at Lake Powell,” she says, and they have a home in Grand Junction because Janet loves the heat and longer summer days where she can garden and there are loads of biking and hiking trails.

The milder seasons of the southwestern slope also mean she gets in a lot more golfing and more important, waterskiing.

continued on next page

continued from previous page

“My life is all really happy. We have the best of all worlds. I see still being here in Crested Butte for skiing and our business is here. We’re having fun here as well as Grand Junction, being on the water and enjoying life. Johnny’s family is in Australia, so we go once a year. We’ll be going to Sydney in May. My family is still in the same house I grew up, with lakes and fishing and swimming and I still enjoy my roots in Oklahoma. We’ve got all these great things to do when we spend time with our families. Between all the stuff we do here and running the business, we’re pretty much booked up.”

Janet feels that Crested Butte is truly her home though, having been coming here since the first decade of her life and the beginning of the town as a ski resort. “What I like about Crested Butte is that it’s a small town and I’ve had good friends here for years. This place feels like home since I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. This is home.”

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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continued from previous page

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.”