I Want A New Drug

I Want a New Drug

A bottle of Pear Brandy made by Peach Street Distilling, Paonia, CO. “To get the pear into the bottle, the distiller drops in a lit match, sets the fruit on top, and watches while the vacuum created pulls the fruit down through the neck.” — Dave Thibodeau, Peach Street Distillers

Politics has been called the world’s second-oldest profession. If this is the case, then, in this country, the third is making moonshine. Long relegated to illegal backwoods operations by draconian federal and state tax laws that favored large producers, the art of distilling spirits was passed from generation to generation by word of mouth and the activity was kept in the shadows. There was good reason not to get caught breaking the law. Adherence to federal code governing alcohol production is policed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Trades, formerly the ATF, the same people who brought you the Waco and Ruby Ridge tragedies. Some law-enforcement agencies arrest and prosecute those who violate the law; these guys are licensed to kill. A decade ago, changes in tax codes allowed small producers to begin producing liquor and turn a profit. In 2003, the American Distilling Institute was founded to help promote the nascent industry. At that time, the association recognized 69 operating craft distilleries nationwide. Today there are more than 240, with projections of this number doubling by 2015. With craft distillers currently operating in every Western state, the movement resembles the craft-brewing industry of the early 1990s, which was a period of rapidly rising consumer interest and explosive growth.

Founded in 2004, Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey can lay claim to being the oldest legally operating distillery in Colorado. A partnership between Woody Creek locals Jess Graber and George Stranahan, (also component to the reawakening of this journal), the whiskey was once distilled from mashes made at another of Stranahan’s former business concerns, the Flying Dog Brewery, when it also operated in Denver. Both have since changed hands, but unlike Flying Dog, Stranahan’s Whiskey continues to be produced on Kalamath Street in the Mile High City and distributed around the state. Having recently taken delivery of new copper pot stills and fermentation tanks, they aim to triple their production over the next year, with hopes that some of their product might actually make it out of Colorado to points far and wide.

On the other side of the state, Peach Street Distillers in Palisade first put fire under its still in 2005. Taking advantage of being located in the heart of Colorado’s fruit- and wine-producing regions, they have put together an award-winning lineup of products that include Colorado Straight Bourbon, Goat Vodka, Jackalope Gin, Jack and Jenny Peach and Pear Brandies (including the Pear Brandy pictured above with the fruit grown in bottles carefully suspended from the tree branches), several styles of Grappa and other unique products. Peach Street proudly points out that theirs was the first bourbon produced in the state. According to press release, a common misunderstanding is that bourbon must be made in Kentucky, and although there are strict laws governing what a bourbon is, the spirit can technically be made anywhere in the United States. According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Bourbon must be made from at least 51% corn, aged for not less than two years in new charred American oak barrels, and nothing can be added at bottling to enhance the flavor or color. As with all of Peach Street’s spirits, they use local Colorado ingredients, including the famed sweet corn of Olathe. This “commitment to excellence in creativity and quality” was cited as determining factor in Peach Street being awarded the “Distillery of the Year” award at the 9th annual Craft Distillers Conference held in Louisville, KY, in April of this year. Plans are underway to expand the tasting room, as well as to acquire several of the buildings that they currently occupy, as well as to put up over 100 barrels of bourbon in 2012.

Claiming title as “the world’s highest distillery,” Breckenridge Distillery operates their production facility and downtown tasting rooms up in Breck at an elevation of 9,600 feet above sea level. Breckenridge produces award-winning bourbon, vodka and rum. The bourbon is curious in that it contains a high amount of rye in the grain mixture that forms its base. This differentiates it from many American-style bourbons that might finish sweeter. They also produce an original line of bitters infused with alpine herbs intended to create remarkable aperitifs with flavors evoking the rare beauty found in the mountains around them.

Erich Hennig lives in Durango, CO, and would love to hear about hooch made near you. Drop him a line: beer@mountaingazette.com  

Bob Chamberlain’s Mountain Vision

Bob Chamberlain's Mountain Vision

When I first met her, Keeney’s highest aspiration was to move to Paris and become a Lady of the Evening, or of the Morning, for that matter. A French Afternoon was all very pleasant, but it was still lacking, somehow.

In the even, she went back to school, graduated and then went on to get a Master’s Degree in Anthropology. Her work on Pitcairn Island helped make her a world authority on the subject, with almost every citation under the heading in the Colorado University Library being, “Keeney, (such-and-such a date).” She even became embroiled politically through a BBC interview concerning child sexual abuse by elderly male island residents. As a result, several older men were arrested by New Zealand authorities, tried, sentenced and incarcerated on some other Polynesian island. No French Afternoons here.

After a couple of years teaching English and yoga in Micronesia, she can now be found in Park City, where she teaches English as a Second Language, and presumably studies the local ski culture. An Absurd princess in an Absurd world

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

Way of the Mountain #190

Untitled

In the evening the two of us kneel
by the waterhole below camp, filling
our bottles. The vault of the sky
opens and down comes the rain,

big drops splatting our sweat-
rimed shirts, our sun-burnt necks.
We say nothing, keep kneeling,
filling and being filled.

— Richard Kempa
Rock Springs

Wishbone

The wishbone of a well-cooked chicken,
A hand on each hook of a clavicle,
Pulling for love, for peace, for rent money,
As if this breast bone anchor, the larger half,
At least, could channel luck or make bad luck
Disappear. As if the near miss, the short staff
of the “Y” would bring less, when in fact,
It’s the chicken who needs both halves intact
And one more wish to fly.

— Frank H. Coons
Grand Junction

To Mt. Elbert

I watch the hush before late clouds
are drawn to you, before wide sky

is smudged with charcoal trails that wrap
you in the breath of coming storms,

before thunder reverberates
in shadowed fields under your peaks,
before the lightning, wind and rain,
before you shake that wet, gray cloak,

before the dark dissolves stirred light,
unmasking owls and constellations.

— Malinda Miller
Leadville

Summer

Deep in right field
kicking at crabgrass
hoping no one
hits the ball
my way.

— Gary Glazner
Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Poetry Project
Brooklyn

Envy

I envy the surfers
Who have no choice
but to throw themselves
Into twisting currents at dawn
When big waves rise in the lavender light
Throwing white tails of foam
at the new young sun.

— Bryan Shuman
Laramie

Tyin’ The Knot

Blinded by love, sure

She felt the rope’s grip slacken
heard the hardwood crack

They both fell even harder
when their tree swing gave way

— Kierstin Bridger
Ridgway   

Death is near

humming a little song
in the night
and the melody is hauntingly
familiar.

— Cathy Casper
Eagle

 

Mountain Media #189

Podcast: The Enormocast by Chris Kalous

Chris Kalous

Whether it’s around the campfire or in front of a computer, it’s a known fact that climbers love to talk about climbing. But with all the internet forum banter and three-minute video edits, it’s rare to hear an in-depth conversation on climbing issues and stories from an authentic, engaging and approachable perspective. Enter The Enormocast, which is the brainchild of writer and climber Chris Kalous. Kalous has been immersed in the climbing life for a long time and has climbed all over the world and throughout the Intermountain West, spending a lot of time in the Utah desert and Yosemite Valley.

The Enormocast is at its heart an informal discussion of climbing issues with the more interesting movers-and-shakers in the climbing community. The guest list has included some people who need no introduction to climbers, such as Kelly Cordes and Steph Davis, and other more undercover characters such as Sam Lightner Jr. and BJ Sbarra. Although he is certainly an opinionated host, Kalous’ gracious and genuinely funny nature keep the show light and the conversation engaging. Chris manages to navigate complex issues such as the cleaning of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre or the evolving climate of land access in Southern Utah by both choosing guests who are intimately familiar with the issues (such as Hayden Kennedy and the above-referenced Sam Lightner Jr., respectively) and drawing upon his wealth of experiences as a perceptive and well-traveled climber. The fact that beers are usually being consumed by the host and interviewee goes a long way to bring a conversational tone to issues that could get a bogged down in policy and precedent. And at the end of the day, Chris manages to remember that no matter how much we love it, “It” is just rock climbing. Enormocast.com

— Rob Duncan

Magazines: Ascent 2012

Ascent Cover

It might seem strange to review a magazine in another magazine, but Ascent 2012 is less of a magazine and more of a literary journal meets coffee table book — the kind of glossy, high-quality publication that, after you’ve read it through, ends up on your bookshelf and not in your recycling bin.

Originally published by the Sierra Club and edited by Allen Steck and Steve Roper (also authors of the legendary “50 Classic Climbs of North America”), Ascent debuted in 1967 as a visionary climbing journal intent on publishing the sport’s best stories and most vivid images. It accomplished its mission, going on to become the longest-running climbing publication ever, but after 14 issues published sporadically over 32 years, Ascent folded in 1999. After a trial comeback in 2011, Rock and Ice magazine acquired Ascent and has since revived it into an annual publication, rife with the stunning images and beautiful stories that its originators intended.

Ascent contains what most of us truly desire in a climbing publication — incredible, inspiring images and large blocks of eloquent, uninterrupted text. From Allen Steck’s detailed account of biking and climbing through post-WWII Europe to Renan Ozturk’s chronicle of recovering from a near-death ski accident to make the first ascent of Peru’s Sharks Fin, the magazine’s stories and photos encapsulate the beautiful diversity of the sport. Ascent’s pages span both generations and disciplines, but the sum is simply a keepsake collection of adventurous, inspiring and often hilarious tales from lives defined by climbing. $12.99, RockandIce.com

— AA

Books: “Maple Canyon Rock Climbing,” by Darren Knezek and Christian Knight

Maple Canyon Guide

A climbing guidebook exists to serve two key functions — to provide essential information about a climbing area and its routes, and to get the reader PSYCHED. “Maple Canyon Rock Climbing,” a new full-color guide to one of Utah’s most-popular areas, fulfills both requirements and beyond.

Tucked into an inconspicuous mountainside in the middle of central Utah farm country, Maple Canyon has grown from an obscure, chossy backwater crag to one of the top summer sport climbing destinations in the West. The cliffs, comprised of thousands and thousands of rounded cobbles glued together with sedimentary rock, makes for some of the most unique climbing around. It’s often hard to tell what kind of hold a cobble will provide until you actually touch it, making the routes there notoriously pumpy and hard to read. The book also covers a host of routes in the surrounding areas outside of the canyon proper for those looking for some added variety. Written by local and active route developers, the book features loads of route information, awesome photos and pertinent area history.

After nearly 12 years without an up-to-date guidebook, this cobble-choked canyon’s popular documented crags have become crowded and overrun, while the numerous unpublished walls often see only a handful of climbers on a busy weekend. While a flashy new guidebook can tend to increase traffic to an area, perhaps this one will serve to redistribute climbers around the canyon’s hundreds of fun, challenging and previously unknown routes. $29.95, maplecanyonclimbing.com

— AA 

See the latest Mountain Media from issue #190!

Ridin’ the Rhythm Rails

Blues Train

“Now I’ve got nothing but the whistle and the steam, my baby’s leaving town on the 2:19.”

— Tom Waits

From the time the big iron wheels first started their screech down the tracks, people figured out a way to hitch a ride on trains, creating a distinctive rail culture. During the Great Depression, when money and work were impossibly scarce, kids would jump on the rails to go pick fruit and produce wherever laborers were needed. Music was spontaneously a part of that transient lifestyle for entertainment, communication and camaraderie in clustered gatherings around campfires and boxcars with harmonica, banjo or a little guitar.

Russ Lallier of Gunnison, Colorado, a train hobbyist, historian and videographer of three documentaries about regional rail history (youtube Russy Baby, or russybaby.weebly.com), all of which feature the music of Drew Emmitt (drewemmitt.com), tells that music was always part of train culture.

“When trains were first coming out, there were tons of songs written by the old wagon-train haulers, known as wagoners or freighters, and riverboat sailors on the Erie Canal,” which were the FedEx of the old days, Lallier says.

The rivalry and angst ensued because the newfangled trains were obviously a threat to their livelihoods and so inspired many protest songs.

“Steam was the devil to the canal men and haulers,” according to Lallier.

As trains rumbled through the years, their lore became captured in musical ballads, from spectacular wrecks to affection for the locomotives. To some, trains were merely transportation, but to those singing the blues, the train was rambling down that track carrying somebody’s baby who just done left them on that southbound train.

Fast track on down the line where Casey Jones needs to watch his speed, Johnny Cash is listening to the lonesome whistle blow just outside his accommodations at Folsom Prison, the Marshall Tucker boys are rocking a southbound all the way to Georgia, and you’ll find that modern mountain railroads have discovered the perfect blend of marrying music, splendorous viewscapes and, yes, halleluiah, brews.

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has been in continuous operation for over 130 years (durangotrain.com). Teaming up with Durango’s Bluegrass Meltdown event in late April this year, the ride up to Cascade Canyon featured The Freight Hoppers (freighthoppers.com) and Jeff Scroggins & Colorado (jeffscrogginsandcolorado.com) playing in different cars while people strolled through chugging libations. Reaching altitude, they were then treated to a 45-minute layover concert and a blazing fire at the Canyon’s pavilion.

Telluride Blues and Brews Festival also joined up for the three-hour tour and wildly successful second-annual Durango Blues Train on June 2. More powerful than a coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive rhythmically clacking down the tracks was the soulful groove of Erik Boa and the Constrictors, The Sugar Thieves, Robby Overfield, Big Jim Adam and John Stilwagen, Alex Maryol, Donny Morales and Todd and the Fox.

If your tastes run true West, you can hop aboard the Cowboy Poet Train this October 5 and experience the traditional music of cowboys, along with their tall tales as the railway has pardner’d  with the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering taking place that same week.

Blues Train singer

Jumping tracks over to Alamosa is where the Rio Grande Railroad (riograndescenicrailroad.com) rattles up La Veta Pass to their Summer Mountaintop Concert Series, all of which are powered by wind and solar energy, and which include a lot of regional brews. This month features concerts by Michael Martin Murphey with The Rifters (June 16 and 17), The Rifters with Chuck Pyle (June 22-24), Special Consensus with Anne Hills (June 29-July1) and more top-notch music weekly throughout the summer (check out the website for all the acts, bios, and dates).

Rails and Ales is a perfect hoedown for a good high-altitude buzz with a brew fest of more than 20 regional beer makers, and it cranks out the live music on a boxcar stage in a mountain meadow on June 23.

The symbiosis of song and track is something rail riders and musicians have realized for a long time, whether it’s like a lullaby or a train wreck rock finale. Paul Simon once said, “There’s something about the sound of a train that’s very romantic and nostalgic and hopeful.” Don’t miss the train.

Dawne Belloise is a freelance writer, photographer and vocalist living in Crested Butte and working in Boulder. She just left on the 2:19. dbelloise@gmail.com 

Blaze of Glory

Rectory Tower

Author’s note: Climber/Photographer Dave Montgomery of Morrison, CO, had this to say about his photo, to which there is nothing to add. “I took [the photo] with a piece-of-crap 4 megapixel point and shoot after raping off of Castleton Tower. I looked over at the Rectory and the lighting was just stunning! I guess it doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have, just gotta be in the right place at the right time. To top it off, my buddy had a lukewarm PBR in his pack!”

At least half of the following is God’s honest truth. I have been diligently pursuing the details of this adventure for two years and was finally rewarded after filling one of the participants with my home-brewed lager a few weeks ago. The names of those involved have not been changed to obscure their identities, as they fear no one.

Located just to the north of Moab, the crumbling rock towers of Utah’s Castle Valley stand broken and forlorn, ancient guardians of time itself. The routes up the fantastic sun-blasted sheer ruby shards of sandstone make this a destination for climbers from around the globe. Traveling through the valley is like having a vivid daydream of exploring some forgotten canyon system on the face of Mars.

Located within the dream is a structure known as “The Rectory” (far left in the photo above). It was on top of this floating sky-island in 1990 (am I the only one who looks at this terrain and thinks of the psychedelic mindscapes created by Roger Dean for the albums released by the band “Yes” in the ’70s?), that a production team chose to desecrate, err, utilize for the filming of the music video to the soundtrack for the movie, “Young Guns II”, and Jon Bon Jovi hit single, “Blaze of Glory”. Even non-climbers may recall the scene, a forgotten ’50s-era drive-in movie theater set upon on a patch of floating desert, crooked stands for the PA system scattered amongst the boulders and wrecks of old cars hoisted by helicopter to the top.

Amidst this faded scene of epic Americana stands Jon Bon Jovi with flowing locks, bone necklace over bare chest and leather pants so tight he had no trouble hitting the high notes, bravely belting out his tune to the setting sun. (Can I get a little “hell yeah!” right here?) It was this location that an associate of mine chose for an epic party of his own. Invitations were sent, and along with time and place, instructions were given to each party for supplies that must be brought along, and up, the 400-foot ascent to the top. For the overnight stay, bags of ice, bundles of firewood, a grill, water, fresh food, dogs, a stereo, several kegs of beer and someone’s non-climbing girlfriend had to be accounted for. No means for the delivery of these items was suggested, with their presence simply dictated as ticket to the party. The details of the “hoist”, as it has become known, could fill this volume, so suffice it to say that the mission was accomplished and a large party began, one fit for the heroic nature of the place, and the time.

Recollections vary, but by some accounts, the kegs chosen for the evening may have been filled with several of the following brews. An obvious choice would have been Durango Brewing Co.’s D-Wheat (Durango Wheat). This locals’ favorite is light and refreshing, enjoyable both by the pint and the gallon. Another strong contender, though perhaps not available at the time of the climb several years ago, is Ska Brewing Co.’s Mexican Logger. If you have not tried this, better grab a sixer and kiss the clear-bottled piss from south of the border farewell. All of what you love about a fresh Mexican lager beer is contained in these cans, with none of the foul skunk flavors, nor pretence of being mysterious and “the most interesting beer in the world”. If not this beer, then smart money would rest on the Colorado Kolsch from Steamworks Brewing Co. With the finest labeling of any beer in a can anywhere (the Colorado flag *prominently* adorns the front), Steamworks Kolsch is the perfect substitute for the flavorless cans of macro-filth that one might otherwise choose to waste their money on. But for the coup-de-grace, for a beverage so rare and extraordinary as to match the nature of the revelry described above, one must assume that a barrel of the Celebrated Raspberry Wheat from Carver Brewing Co. would have been called for by name. Pink as the satin panties that your high school girlfriend wore, this nectar of the gods has been known to cause strong men from Texas to burst into spontaneous song, and bring tears of joy to the bravest of women. Yes, my money is on the “pink” for keg #2.

As for the party? Apparently, the “amount of firewood needed” calculation had been low, so in a fit of recycling hubris, vast quantities of the timbers (aka, garbage) that had been left behind from the filming of the video in 1990 were added to the flames, in whose blaze of glory the climbers howled and danced under the bright desert light of the full moon.

Erich Hennig lives in Durango, CO, and would love to hear from you: beer@mountaingazette.com 

Mountain Vision #189

Savage Basin

Savage Basin, Imogene Pass 1979

When I was in junior high, I once walked from Manitou Springs to the top of Pikes Peak, non-stop, by way of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, and returned by the same route, after a couple of hours of hypothermic fits and altitude sickness, and swore I would never do it again. As far as mountain climbing was concerned, this would have to be it. There would be no more.

I slept for two days after that, waking only to wolf down a T-bone steak and collapse into bed again. Lactic acid froze my body into a contorted position, from which I could not rise, and it was several days before I could walk correctly. Sir John Hunt would have to do without me.

The change in altitude had been extreme; from a summer of sailing in Minnesota at, say, 800 feet to 6,000 feet for two days, and then to 14,000 feet. Acclimatize if you can; it was Mountain Baptism.

So, when Lito proposed skiing to Ouray from Telluride, I naturally jumped at the chance. What is a poor boy from the plains to do?

Karen insisted on hiking in low-cut cross-country boots, and only later did I surmise that it was because of her congenitally mangled feet. Alone, and kicking her own steps, she resolutely soldiers on. The Inch-Worm Technique, Lito insists, will always get you there.

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

Way of the Mountain #189

 

Adrienne Rich

We lost one of our great American poets this past spring, Adrienne Rich. Her “Diving into the Wreck” (1973) was one of the seminal poem sequences of modern America, symbolizing the need for us to retrieve what we could from the wreckage of a society out of whack. As a young man, I was deeply moved by this book. In the section titled, “From the Prison House,” speaking of violence against women, Rich wrote, “underneath my lids another eye has opened” and suggested this eye sees “the violence embedded in silence …” She continues with lines that have lived with me ever since: “ …  This eye is not for weeping. Its vision must be unblurred, though tears are on my face. Its intent is clarity. It must forget nothing.”

It’s soon to be summer, when all the world is sun luscious. We have a lovely assortment of short poems to share with you. Remember that we will be honoring two poems that best embodying the Way of the Mountain with cash prizes — one of which I will choose and one of which our readers get to pick. Send an email to poetry@mountaingazette.com naming a poem in this year’s series of MGs that you found noteworthy. Multiple nominations are fine (so long as you don’t name your own poem :>)

— Art Goodtimes
Cloud Acre

Summer Solstice

Heron, butterfly,
dolphin, crow,
teach us humans
what we need to know
to keep the rhythms
of Earth’s ancient flow.

Hummingbird, bumblebee,
polar bear, shark,
remind us to treasure
our precious ark,
with actions that honor
the law of living

not keeping and having
but giving and giving.

— Amy Hannon
Raritan Valley

Arizona Saguaro

With the bravado of a
lonely bandito
the cactus
trigger finger poised
holds up the sky.

— Jim Ciletti
Pikes Peak Poet Laureate
Emeritus
Colorado Springs

Poetry shards,

found by the road side
or, in some cases,
off trail.
I picked them up,
knowing this is illegal,
and have kept them in my pocket ever since,
unable to put them back or
to find the poems they go with.

— Cathy Casper
Arvada

Canyon

Would that I could be content
to sit with you on the bank
beneath the warm sun
and watch the green water,
streaked by the ages,
weave through this canyon of stone
toward the sea.
But I will strip naked
and sink into the flow
as if to embrace the startling chill
would quell this longing in my bones.

— Lawrence Gregory
Oak Creek

Pain,

my weird uncle,
my guru in drag,
sleeps next to me,
while I lie awake.
His arm is thrown over me.
He snores.

— Valerie Haugen
Co-director of the Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival
Marble

All I want to be

is a bear
who knows where everything is
in the mountains
and how to get there.

— Norman Shaefer
Port Townsend

he talks

and talks and talks and talks
about listening

— Rosmerry Wahtola Trommer
Placerville

Dear God,

I want
not to want.

How do I ask for that?

— Patrick Curry
Carbondale