As part of anniversary celebrations, Purgatory Resort is honoring its history and the many people who helped build the resort in a new book, Close to Heaven, Fifty years of Purgatory.
The coffee-table book retraces how the resort started in an A-frame and its rapid growth, said CEO Gary Derck.
Those who helped compile the book started with thousands of photographs, in-person interviews and some recorded interviews that Charlie Langdon captured as part of his book, Durango Ski.
In all that material, a sense of family shined through as the major theme of the resort, Derck said.
“Really, that kind of family spirit is what you can see that has always been its hallmark,” he said.
It was a theme that the book’s editor, Beth Green, could personally identify with because three generations of her family have skied Purgatory, and she knows the Durango community still has an investment in the area.
“The core of what Purgatory is hasn’t changed,” she said.
The book also highlighted key characters in its history, in short profiles called the “Faces of Purgatory.” Many of these people spent decades working at the resort and helped shape it.
“It’s just a fun way to kind of reminisce about all those people,” she said.
It also recounts how Purgatory was one of the first resorts to embrace snowboarding and build a trick ditch, what we would now call a half pipe, Derck said.
The book, which ditches a lengthy narrative in favor of photographs, will be available beginning Thursday at Purgatory and at Maria’s Bookshop.
A short companion film is also scheduled to be released this winter and will be shown at some of the anniversary events, possibly on public broadcasting stations, and clips will be circulated on social media.