Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Revere the beauty of the burn

Limited-edition photos support the trails

Express Staff Writer

"Looking for the Lorax" by Gene Warkin. Photograph featuring professional skier Reggie Crist. One of 11 limited-edition images.

If you wonder why skiers don't clean charcoal marks off their jackets, it's because they've skied a burn. The badge of honor is more than recognition. For skiers Zach and Reggie Crist and Jeff Mintz as well as photographer Gene Dwarkin, skiing the burn from the 2007 Castle Rock Fire was a chance to give back in the form of the Reclamation Project.

The Reclamation Project is an exhibition of limited-edition photographs by Dwarkin taken in February 2008 on the backside of Baldy. All proceeds from sales of the images will be donated to the restoration of fire-damaged areas. Volunteers from Mountain Adventure Tours, an outdoor children's camp, will work with Bigwood Backcountry Trails to repair areas devastated by the Castle Rock Fire and ensure new growth.

"We were excited about the burn because it was in our backyard," said Reclamation Project organizer and professional skier Zach Crist. "Trees without branches are a lot easier to ski around."

Despite the risk of avalanches and the unknown dangers of skiing in a burn area, the Crist brothers and friend and fellow skier Jeff Mintz could not resist.

"There is stuff there that doesn't exist anywhere else," Crist said. "You don't know what debris lies under the pack and the changes the fire made."

The skiers and Dwarkin found the backside of Baldy a location calling to them. None of them believe people should go into the area unless they know what they are doing. They don't encourage people to try skiing in burned areas due to the debris and things skiers don't typically see.

"We are always looking for something unique to ski to capture the magic," Crist said. "Gene is very artistic and shot different stuff in the late afternoon light and in the burn conditions."

Dwarkin did not have a whole lot of time to shoot and wanted to do something different for an exhibition. A brainstorming session led to the idea of tying the images back to a cause and doing something worthwhile.

"It's nice to do something altruistic," Crist said. "There was a display during 48 Straight, but it was made very quiet and was known only by word of mouth. There was a photograph in the airport, at Buffalo Bites and CIRO."

All the framing was donated by Jerry Hadam of Saddletree Gallery, which includes museum glass and raised matting, and Joel Bernbaum donated his spare time on weekends to do the layout and card design. There are 11 prints and only 20 copies of each print have been made. The images sell for $1,250 per photo.

"We were enthralled the entire photo shoot," Mintz said. "Time did not matter—it was amazing to be out there. It was 6:30 p.m. in February, right before the sun sets—a time of day we call 'the crippler.'"

All 11 images can be viewed online and will also be on display at the Coffee Grinder in Ketchum beginning Thursday, Aug. 28, through September. The Coffee Grinder will host a barbecue with live music and early-bird margaritas on Thursday from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

"It helps a good cause any donations are acceptable," said Coffee Grinder owner Nicola Potts. "There will be a demonstration with trail maintenance for training, and volunteers can join the crew. For everyone to come together, especially for Gene and several others to donate to this cause, it reminds me of what it felt like when the community came together to help with the Castle Rock Fire."

For details, visit the Web site, or call 720-0295.

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