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Gifting Us the Goods

Season’s Greetings Snowflakes! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice and Festivus. We’ve been gifted an amazing winter to date here in the San Juans. Although the precipitation momentarily paused this past week, there’s something special under the tree for us this year. I spoke with Santa and he’s guaranteed me we’re due for a Holiday Dump. I hope you’ve been good this year, kids- It’s about to get real the end of December.

San Juan Mountain Guides kicked off our first Rec Level One of 2019 in style this past weekend. Participants were treated to some amazing weather and the skiing remained surprisingly good. It’s amazing how red Mountain Pass can see so much usage and still disperse the crowds. Here’s where I shamelessly plug the advantage of skiing with local experts for fresh tracks. We’re usually pretty good at sniffing out the goods for folks.

After three plus weeks working through the new AIARE REC Level One curriculum, our instruction and course flow is starting to click. There’re still some items we’ll continue to tweak but I’m really enjoying the new classroom presentations and mini-lessons. From thoughtful learning outcomes to the refined blue book and the new Risk Management Framework, participants are for sure benefiting from the work that’s been done. I love watching the light bulb go off for folks on these courses. I get to re-live my own “ah-ha” moments every time I see an individual light up when they get it. As an educator, this is the drug that keeps me hooked on teaching this curriculum.

It was also exciting to participate in the soft opening of the Red Mountain Alpine Lodge this weekend. My colleagues and I from SJMG got to spend the very first night at the lodge as part of our annual guide training and holiday gathering. I found myself reflecting on the power of this inaugural moment.

The story of the Red Mountain Divide is a rich and colorful tale. The challenges of living and working up on that pass weathers individuals in a uniquely western way. The miners and high-spirited women of ill repute that called RMP home in the 1880s were a hardened lot for sure. When the preacher came up from Durango to the boarding house below the National Belle in 1885, the cantankerous residents of Red Mountain Town gave him a chilly reception and told him to move on down the hill with his hogwash. They were hard working, hard drinking and hard living folk who counted on each other to get them through the savage winters of the Northern San Juans.

After enjoying the company of my amazing colleagues at the new RMAL, I can think of no better or no more rugged group of individuals to be writing this new chapter in the history of Red Mtn Pass. I appreciate these modern-day pioneers so much and I feel honored to be playing a small part in the continuing story of the divide.

This is will be my last weekly reflection from 2018 as I’m about to push through the New Year in the field. There’s another Avy Rescue, Level One, Advanced Level One and hut trip between me and 2019. I’m also lucky enough to be spending Christmas out at the Mount Hayden Backcountry Lodge with friends and family. I am so happy, humbled and blessed by it all.

Sending you all the very best as we ride out another stellar year. May you have a joyous holiday and experience safe and deep adventures in 2019. Until next year, this Ack, standing by…

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