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For the week of April 26 through May 2, 2000

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 night’s 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 Thompson’s 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 collector’s 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 Team’s administration continues to be the U.S. Ski Team’s 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 Skier’s Gazette. Moore titled it, "The Greening of a Ski Coach," a better designation than what I had given it—something 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 Gazette’s 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 80435.

 

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