Recently while spending time home in Colorado, in the San Juan Mountains I found myself in elated thoughts about human’s relationships with the mountains. As I stood atop Silverton Mountain, a ‘ski area’ in the heart of the San Juan Mountains with one lift and thousands of hike-to backcountry access. The area lies at 13,000 feet with an entire basin dedicated to helicopter skiing. Silverton Mountain is my favorite hidden gem for its unique character that is shared with views that are comparable to the Chugach mountains of Alaska or the Alps.
While standing at the top of Silverton Mountain’s one ski lift, I took a moment to admire the the panorama of massive white cathedrals stretching high into the sky. Without a cloud in the sky, the sharp, piercing peaks of my backyard, of the San Juan Mountains, were the highest points in the sky. These mountains are large, and demand one’s attention and respect. In recent years, when I have the chance to escape to the backcountry and commend the San Juans, the same question resonates within; what business do humans have being this close to the clouds, scraping the edges of mountains. We were not naturally made to exist in this environment of the tops of mountains, as with our footsteps on the moon and breath under the sea.
And yet, as humans are naturally drawn to the wild unknown, making our relationships with the mountains natural. For me and all other outdoor enthusiasts, the top of mountains and silent backcountry is how I escape the mundane and share a connection with the natural world. Although this desertion is peaceful, it is wrapped with danger.
While reading ‘Snow Fall Avalanche at Tunnel Creek’, I was reminded of inherent danger that we must face when pursuing serenity in the backcountry. This article showcased the intricate stories involved within the tragic avalanche at Tunnel Creek and each individual that was involved. As a ski enthusiast I can recall reading about this avalanche, as I knew many people who knew Jim Jack personally, therefore hitting home. Although I do not recall reading a publication that thoroughly reported on this incident as the New York Times. I found the interactive piece to be impactful and important for outdoor enthusiasts to recognize (time and time again).