In the past two years, avalanches claimed the following lives: Peter (dear friend), Bert (my fitness student), Jeff and Olivia (locals). Add 28 others over the past three years in Colorado alone. Many occurred in our San Juan Mountains, perhaps the most difficult continental mountain range to determine dynamic avalanche factors during human-caused climate change.
With 20-plus years’ experience as a pioneering, sponsored extreme mountain athlete, I learned three main qualities: Stay quiet, listen to and respect the mountains. Nowadays? Thanks largely to Outside Magazine (ironically, I remain their only two-time cover athlete) chronically promoting Durango as one of the “top 10 places to live for outdoor athletes,” my once-humble home is now a sudden hotspot for “backcountry” (note: save for the Weminuche, no true “backcountry” in Colorado exists – it’s all sidecountry) skiers incoming from all directions. My native backyard? Broken by an overwhelming influx of powder-seeking, social-media-addicted sophomores.
To stem this inevitable tide of “backcountry skiers” likely to be killed, allow “uphill access” at Purgatory Resort. There is a change.org petition you can sign if you search for “Allow Access At Purgatory.” Nearly 500 have signed.
I thank James Coleman, new owner of Purgatory, for allowing us uphillers access to Hesperus for a small fee. Yet 600 feet vertical just depletes expensive climbing skins, and daddies like myself don’t have time to take the risk/reward to ski sketchy “backcountry” lines. We need quick access to uphill workouts at Purg. Interestingly, two of Purgatory’s most popular events are both uphill events: Know The Snow Rando and Uncle Clyde’s Run & Slide!
The corporation owning Purgatory allows uphill access at four of its seven resorts. Allow uphill access at Purgatory! It’s time to help save more lives.