Bob Chamberlain’s Mountain Vision #182

Bob Chamberlain's Mountain Vision #182Bell Mountain, Aspen, 1964

It’s hard to get anyone to ski with you when you first start carrying a camera, because they think it slows them down, and makes them do things right, which it does.

Deiter was the only one in the ski school willing to give up his morning coffee break with the other instructors in order to ski the last of the powder on Bell Mountain with me, and have his picture taken doing so, as well.

Anyone who aspires to be a ski instructor needs to know how to do this, and what it looks like, in order to understand what he or she is trying to teach, and how to realize it on film. Otherwise, he is left in the realm of the “New School,” with nothing to teach, and nothing to learn. Too easy.

Senior correspondent Bob Chamberlain lives with his dog at 8,000 feet in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley. 

Bob Chamberlain’s Mountain Vision #181

Bob Chamberlain: Nude, Wade Gulch, Lake City, 1994
Nude. Wade Gulch, Lake City, 1994

 

After walking to the top of this rocky Thirteener, looking, as usual, for skiable terrain, I signed the summit register, for the first time ever. It was partly because I had never seen one before, anywhere, and had no ida that to actually do about it, but I signed the date, ace my name, and appended my affiliation with the “Eleventh Mountain Division,” the “Disrespectful Sons of the Tenth,” of Aspen, Colorado.

That done, I scrabbled down, over some monstrous scree, to welcome groves of Aspen, bordering the main forest thick green Spruce and Fir. It began to rain, harder, harder and harder, until I was reduced to hunkering down completely under my pancho, waiting for it to pass, or at least let up some. When it didn’t do either one, I had to get up and move anyway, on the forceful advice from the rain-soaked Indian scout in my imagination, and my father in his military presence, as well.

Finally the rain moved on, and left me facing groves of Aspen, interspersed with small open “parks,” meadows of grass and wildflowers. Navigating from one to the other, I suddenly entered one in which someone had made a campsite. The tent was zippered tight against the rain, and everything looked to be in order except for a lone item hanging from an improvised clothesline, on the opposite side of the clearing. Coming closer revealed it to be an inexplicable item of swimwear, hanging by itself, in the middle of nowhere, with no one in sight. The sensuous shape it had assumed immediately suggested to me that there was some girl running around out here in these woods without her swimsuit! A nude on the loose! In the rain, too! Ahhh, Magic strikes!

I fiddled around with my Nikon as long as I could, hoping someone would show up with an explanation, but it was not to be. I finally found a path leading out of the clearing, and reluctantly went on my way. I followed the path until it came to a small stream, which, on close inspection, seemed to have an uncanny resemblance, bordering on identity, with a spot on Conundrum Creek where I had photographed many years ago.

No sooner had I recoiled from pondering the identity over time and through space of this event of recognition, than, only a few yards more along the trail, I encountered two young girls with backpacks, trailing a small black kitten. Well, of course! Doesn’t everyone? They had just come down from a Fourteener, which one they didn’t say, and yes, the kitten had walked all the way to the summit.

I recited my experience with the empty swimsuit, and confessed to having made a photograph of it because it looked like a Nude on-the-loose, but they didn’t respond. Well, I joked, the worse that could happen would be that someday they might see the swimsuit hanging on the wall of a gallery somewhere. Still no comment, Oh, well they’re probably too tired to think about any more activity of a physical kind today, anyway!

Come to think of it, I’ll just limp on down the trail myself.

Senior correspondent Bob Chamberlain lives with his dog at 8,000 feet in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley. 

Bob Chamberlain’s Mountain Vision

Lito Tejada-Flores. Telluride, 1978

Somebody once said to me, “You sure do a lot of things you don’t want to do!” Well, I don’t know, last week I had my feet up, cruising on Trout Lake in my little slip of a sailboat, and now I’m looking at a sign pointing out the trail to Hope Lake. Great! That’s me, Hope Lake!

So it’s Hope, hope hope, “the Boys are Marching!” Hope, hope, I hope it’s not too far! I hope, hope hope it’s really worth it! I hope there’s snow, I hope the wildflowers are out around the lake. I hope there’s not a lot of mud from the run-off to slog through, I hope there’s a rock to sit down, so I can put my ski boots on. I hope no one has to see this grizzly knee brace I have to wear. Hope I can hide my shame from the full, bright summer sunlight.

It’s okay, Peter is already near the top of the couloir, he won’t see a thing! I hope I can catch up. Catch up, up, up, and wipe the sweat out of our eyes. Hope, hip and a hop, and we’re on the top!

Peter goes first, so I can shoot a pass-by, my un-favorite type of ski photo. The Nikon goes into my jacket, and then I’m off!  What a relief just to let ’em run, after a whole winter of squeezing through the trees! I  pass Peter by, because it’s just so easy to keep on going, over the sun-cups freeze-melt, long, wide turns — “SVOO-pers!” — and then you’re down. Right to the edge of the scree. But how could it be over so soon? There’s got to be more!

That’s Hope Lake — hope, hope, all the way home! What’s “Hope”? Hope is just having a project into the future. Something like, “Live to Ski Another Day.”

Bob Chamberlain’s Mountain Vision #178

Roll-Out the Barrels/The Red Onion, Aspen c. 1975

In the 1950s, there were a couple of guys named Earl that hung around the Red Onion a lot. One was called Eatin’ Earl and the other was was called Drinkin’ Earl. Drinkin’ Earl’s real name was Earl Morse, and Eatin’ Earl was really Earl Eaton in military dialect, the guy who showed Pete Seibert the back bowls of Vail while on a hunting trip.

Well, one day my friend Jim came looking for Drinkin’ Earl, and went upstairs to the second floor, where Drinkin’ Earl lived in a room right above the Saloon itself. Jim looked around, and finally spied an Army cot, pushed up against a window, with an Army blanket, and what looked like Olive-Drab sheets. Now Jim had been in the Mountain & Cold-Weather Training Command, but had never seen Olive-Drab sheets before. To get a better look, Jim walked right up to the cot, and on close inspection, saw that the sheets weren’t Olive-Drab at all, but were just regular white sheets that had never been washed!

Bob Chamberlain’s Mountain Vision #177

Local Apparent Lunchtime is one variable of celestial navigation that is usually possible to estimate with a great deal of accuracy. When you are not allowed to handle the oars, or raise a sail, and your craft is only an inflatable rubber life raft, your mind travels naturally toward something good to eat. At sea, after two weeks and some heavy weather, it’s a crisp salad with plenty of ripe tomatoes you’ll want. But on the river, it may be only a long drink of cool water, and a ham sandwich. Why a ham sandwich? Because given the choice between a ham sandwich and Eternal Bliss, the correct choice is a ham sandwich, since nothing is better than a ham sandwich!

BOB Chamberlain’s Mountain vision

Street photography is the point of view of the innocent bystander. Empty streets and no traffic; chance meeting in mid-street; a dog named Koa from the free-puppy box at Rose Market. Ice hockey with cubes on the kitchen floor, and Unlimited Class Stick retrieval, including gathering firewood for campfires were his favored activities. Headstones at the Telluride cemetery are frequently engraved with the epithet, “He Walked These Hills With Me,” which would include patiently having the porcupine quills removed from his overloaded mouth and muzzle, and learning to ski on Independence Pass, which he did by watching me do a couple of linked turns below him, and then connecting them by sliding on his belly with paws outstretched, pushing powder with his feet.
— Bob Chamberlain