Backcountry Magazine 127 - The Formidable Issue

THE FORMIDABLE ISSUE HIGHER STAKES With more than 300 summits taller than 13,000 feet and one of the most avalanche-prone roadways in the U.S., Colorado's San Juan Mountains are filled with physical barriers. And despite their inhospitable, high terrain born from a volcanic past, these mountains have long drawn people...
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THE FORMIDABLE ISSUE

HIGHER STAKES
With more than 300 summits taller than 13,000 feet and one of the most avalanche-prone roadways in the U.S., Colorado's San Juan Mountains are filled with physical barriers. And despite their inhospitable, high terrain born from a volcanic past, these mountains have long drawn people with their promise of wealth and adventure. Between towns like Silverton, Ouray and Telluride, summits like The Wilsons, Uncompahgre and Sneffels and passes like Red Mountain, Lizard Head and Coal Bank, this region encompasses a skiing history as rich as those who've struck its ores. This is the complete story of Colorado's San Juan Mountains.

GO YOUR OWN WAY
In 1995, the college-dropout son of two World War II survivors from Latvia slid into the extreme-skiing limelight with his descent of Mt. Robson, the Canadian Rockies' tallest summit. Ptor Spricenieks, who skied Robson's serac-topped north face with Troy Jungen, has gone on to notch daunting and obscure first descents across the globe, all while espousing antiestablishment beliefs amid a lifelong love affair with psychedelics and through an unconventional connection to the mountains. But that path has brought vitality to one of ski mountaineering's most atypical characters who, even at age 51, remains on the sport's leading edge.

DEPOSITION

CONTRIBUTORS

PERSPECTIVE: IN PURSUIT OF QUESTION MARKS

EDITOR'S NOTE: DISCOMFORT ZONE

SPECTACLE

STRAIGHT LINES
Opening Day appreciation, anxiety on the ascent and a journey into Idaho's wilderness.

BLOWN IN

FAMILY, LIGHT AND FAST
From long-distance traverses across the San Juan Mountains to skimo and cycling championships, it takes speed and determination to keep up with Durango, Colo.'s Simmons family, the fastest clan in town.

WISDOM: THE SNOW SAGE
Over a career that's spanned from Washington's glaciers to the Himalaya, Betsy Armstrong has come to understand avalanches, publishing and a whole lot more.

MOUNTAIN SKILLS: COVERING GROUND

MOUNTAIN ACCOUNT: NO-FALL TERRAIN

GEARBOX
The inside story of Tecnica's Zero G Tour Pro, four spring-skiing selections and the best in tailgate beers.

BLOWN OUT

ON LOCATION
In Italy's lesser-known Ortler Alps, a group of skiers from Bozeman, Mont. leaves the Rockies behind in search of new routes, rifugios and deep turns—all fueled by espresso.

LETTERS
Long-form appreciation and some big-name reviews on the Great Northern Issue profile of Rogers Pass, B.C.

DEPTH: THESE MOUNTAINS

LOCAL LEGEND: JASON HUMMEL

LAST COL: WILSON PEAK, COLO.

BIFF AMERICA: SKIING RATS AND CLEAVAGE
Ruminations on the pecking order of powder stashes, and a new definition of spooning.

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