Attention anarchists: The return of the Mountain Gazette
By DICK DORWORTH
Express Staff Writer
A few readers of this column will remember the Mountain Gazette, a
free-form, free-spirited publication offering an eclectic blend of fiction, opinion,
humor, art, photography, reviews, essays and perspectives loosely connected with the
peoples, landscape, environment, adventures and issues of the mountains.
Those who never knew it may still get another chance. It lived a short but
vibrant existence from the late 1960s to the late 1970s. Mountain Gazette was born
in Denver, Colo., in the mind of the brilliant editor, Mike Moore, who made it into what
many consider the best alternative mountain lifestyle publication ever seen in America.
There has certainly never been anything remotely like it.
Some of the most enjoyable writing about mountains and mountain people
(and deserts, fish, coyotes, skis, rivers, mines, dancing, drinking, Buddhism, climbing,
roads and many other subjects of interest and presence) was printed in Mountain Gazette.
It was a critical success, each issue eagerly anticipated and thoroughly
read and then discussed by its small but widely dispersed circle of subscribers.
Alas, it was not a financial success. To give you an idea: Ed Abbey,
probably the best known and most financially solvent regular contributor to Mountain
Gazette, always enclosed a check with his manuscripts. Abbey was that kind of guy.
The tensions between operating a successful artistic and literary
publication that was, at the same time, an economic disaster, kept alive only through
financial life support (more on that shortly) contributed to Moore burning out. Editors of
alternative publications tend to burn out shortly before their publications. He went off
to wintertime Scotland in search of warmth and inspiration and a good nights sleep,
eventually settling in Vermont where he edits books at his leisure and is sorely missed by
friends and fans in the world of alternative mountain publications.
Gaylord Guenin took over from Moore. Guenin, who now writes a wonderful
column for the Aspen Times and manages the Woody Creek Tavern near Aspen (Hunter
Thompsons favorite watering hole) moved the Gazette to Boulder, Colo., where he
spent a year fiercely, but gently, nursing it through its last issues. Finally, the
financial angel who had kept it alive pulled the plug. Readers, contributors and staff of
the Mountain Gazette mourned its passing. Old copies are considered
collectors items in certain circles.
Mike Moore and Mountain Gazette changed my life by offering me a place to
develop and regularly publish my writing. Though I had been writing since childhood,
little of it ever made it to print, and there is nothing like getting your work published
to encourage and inspire a writer.
It happened in the winter of 1971 in an odd way. I was working as a coach
for the U.S Ski Team and had resigned in the middle of the season in protest over the
self-destructive, obtuse, politically driven, arbitrary, stupid, unfair and wasteful
policies and administrators of the U.S. Ski Team which, in that particular but by no means
unusual case, destroyed the racing career and damaged the life of the best U.S. downhill
racer of the time. (Alas, in my educated opinion, the U.S. Ski Teams administration
continues to be the U.S. Ski Teams worst enemy, but that is another story.)
After my resignation, Bill Tanler, the founder and editor of Ski Racing,
asked me to write a piece explaining my reasons for such a rash, career crippling move. I
did. Tanler decided that what I wrote was too "politically sensitive" to print
in his publication, but he was good enough to pass it on to Moore who published it in what
was then called Skiers Gazette. Moore titled it, "The Greening of a Ski
Coach," a better designation than what I had given itsomething like
"Dinosaurs, Nazis and Cretins of American Ski Racing."
Shortly after that Moore changed the name to Mountain Gazette to
reflect the expanding range of subjects appearing in its pages, skiing being but one area
of interest to readers and contributors alike. Moore asked me to write a piece about a
Joan Baez concert in Berkeley. I did. After that he said to write about anything that came
to mind as often as I wanted. I did. I wrote about coyotes, mutant skis, ski racing,
Europe, night driving, hypocrisy in climbing ethics, climbing Half Dome, acid trips, road
trips, mind trips, hesitation, the Disney Corporation, speed skiing and medicine.
Twice I sent Moore hundred page manuscripts which he published. (Most
manuscripts wind up 10 to 20 pages long.) Many writers and photographers and artists,
including Lito Tejada Flores, Barry Corbett, Galen Rowell, Edgar Boyles, Bob Chamberlain,
George Sibley, Rob Pudim (cartoonist for the Jackson Hole News), Doug Robinson,
Sheridan Anderson, Joe Kelsey, Gary Snyder, Peter Miller, John Jerome, Rob Schulteis and
others made Mountain Gazette into a unique and wonderful and much loved alternative
and free (expansive) thinking mostly about the west publication.
And then life support was removed and it died, leaving a vacuum in
mountain/western publishing. Since then there has been no place to publish 100 page
manuscripts, no place to counter the perspective found in the slick outdoor/outside/manly
journals and magazines that cater to image rather than substance, and to the advertising
dollars of the industry of recreation above all else.
Now, more than 20 years later, Mountain Gazettes original financial
angel has decided to start Mountain Gazette again. The first issue is due out this fall.
All literate mountain anarchists, free spirits, free thinkers and assorted outdoor types
who appreciate the connections between, say, democracy and free running rivers eagerly
await its arrival.
Queries can be sent to Mountain Gazette Publishing, Box 2449, Dillon, CO