Books: Rainier, Tour de Fat and Quitting Money

Challenge Of Rainier “The Challenge of Rainier, 40th Anniversary: A Record of the Explorations and Ascents, Triumphs and Tragedies on the Northwest’s Greatest Mountain,” by Dee Molenaar

Dee Molenaar’s book “The Challenge of Rainier” has long been the best way to experience Seattle’s famous mountain without actually climbing it — and flat-out one of the best books about a mountain or mountains, period, covering the human history of the mountain, drawing from Molenaar’s 70-plus years of experience on it as a climber and guide. For the book’s 40th anniversary, Mountaineers Books has published an updated edition with restored illustrations and historic photos, as well as updated route information and accident statistics through 2010, and a foreword by Ed Viesturs.
$25 paperback, $20 ebook at mountaineersbooks.org

Tour De Fat Photo BookBooks: “2011 Tour De Fat Photo Book,” by New Belgium Brewing Company

Perhaps you recall a time when a small mountain town near you rated high enough on New Belgium’s scale of bike-town worthiness to warrant a stop by the traveling circus of beer and bikes known as the Tour de Fat. Having outgrown these roots, the tour now travels to metro areas across the nation, spreading its message of beer, love and bikes. To commemorate, New Belgium Brewing has released a book that attempts to capture the burlesque cacophony of bicycle zaniness that the tour has delivered in its eleven years of rambling across the land. Thumbing through the book, which is presented in a coffee-table format, (think coffee table book hip enough to not freak out your friends), it appears that the tour and its message have remained as close to the heart of the organization as the beer they produce. Like the event it represents, each page is a giggle unto itself. Altogether, the “Tour de Fat” book is an excellent companion to a fine pint of craft-brewed beer in a comfortable old chair.
$20, shop.newbelgium.com
— Erich Hennig

Books: “The Man Who Quit Money,” by Mark Sundeen

The Man Who Quit MoneyThink about the last time you bought something. Whether it was a new car or a pack of gum, it was probably earlier today, or some time in the not-too-distant past. Now think about this: Daniel Suelo, the subject of Mark Sundeen’s “The Man Who Quit Money,” has not earned or spent so much as a single cent since 2000. He refuses to accept food stamps, welfare or any other form of government aid, lives in a cave outside Moab, Utah, and not only survives, but thrives, completely without the use of money.

Suffice it to say that this is a book that begins with a lot of questions. For starters, is it even possible to live without money these days? Apparently, it is — in addition to recounting Suelo’s tumultuous life story, Sundeen (whose first published story appeared in MG more than a decade ago) shows that Suelo is anything but a lazy freeloader. And he’s no hermit either — quite the contrary. He volunteers at a local women’s shelter, maintains a popular blog and is often asked to housesit by his friends. In fact, his story serves as much a history of the people and places he knows as it is a chronicle of his own turbulent journey to leave the monetary system behind.

Not everyone can live like Daniel Suelo. “The Man Who Quit Money” is not an instruction manual for leaving behind material wealth. The moral of Daniel Suelo’s story is not about emulation, but inspiration. Inspiration to live with less, to give more and in the end, to be happier. And who couldn’t use some of that? $15, us.penguingroup.com
— Andy Anderson

Web: Drive Nacho Drive

Brad and Sheena Van Orden, very recently formerly of Flagstaff, are going to live your dream: They’re going to drive Nacho, their 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon, around the world. They started on Christmas Eve by leaving Flagstaff and heading south down the Baja Peninsula, and are headed slowly, indirectly toward Tierra del Fuego. They have no real plan, just some money they saved by moving into a 420-square-foot house in Flagstaff and living frugally, biking everywhere, keeping chickens, etcetera. On their Web site, drivenachodrive.com, they’re promising a podcast and blog as they journey south, then west through Indonesia, China, India, Europe and eventually Canada and down the West Coast of the United States, if the rough, scribbled line on the route map on their Web site is anywhere close to what really happens. They’re young, enthusiastic and clever, so we’ll wish them luck as we root from our
computer screens back here.

Mountain Vision #186

Independence Pass, 1976Independence Pass, 1976

Love me. Love my dog. Oh, I do, I do! He was left behind with Karen when his owner left for South Africa to meet their boy-friend-in-common, ostensibly to finish sailing around the world.

His name was Bear, he had a displaced hip, and was about twelve or fourteen when he was shot by the Telluride town marshal, for being on the loose and chasing a Great Dane bitch in heat.

It happened in someone’s back yard, about two or three blocks from our house, with the dog catcher looking on helplessly and crying out, “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!” — at which the plaintiff, also present, replied, “If he doesn’t, I will!” The marshal shot the dog over the back yard fence, but even at that didn’t kill him, only wounded his other hip, so he couldn’t stand. They loaded him, alive, in the back of the dog catcher’s station wagon, and drove out of town and threw him, still alive, over the steep embankment that drops right down to the San Miguel River.

The marshal immediately left town to attend a law-enforcement convention in Grand Junction, and it was a day-and-a-half before we could reach him by phone. When we finally did, he told Karen emphatically that not only did he not owe us an apology, but he would do the same thing again, if he ever had the chance.

We got the law changed, to prevent a recurrence, but they had Won the West. We are West of Dodge, after all. A dog is just an emotional “Sink”, we were advised.

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

Way of the Mountain #186

I love MG’s Mountain Dog issue. Inter-species friendships, particularly with dogs, cats or horses, assume an importance in rural lives far beyond the concept of pets. They often become an integral member of a family, working partners, familiars whom we come to love deeply and depend on. The mother of my oldest son had a wonderful mixed breed named after one of the sites at the Navajo National Monument. We called her “Seel” for short. Although nearly blind, she was an incredible fetch hound, and would begin a scent-led spiraling circle search if she lost sight of any stick thrown — something that happened a lot. Nevertheless, she’d invariably come up with the stick, having never stopped looking. I still dream about that wonderful playmate and companion.

For the last several years, I’ve had the good fortune to participate in a gathering of Ish poets at Shi Shi beach in the Olympic National Park and just outside the Makah Reservation at Neah Bay. The late poet Robert Sund had a cabin near Petroleum Creek at Shi Shi, and he was the one to give the name Ish River Country to the Pacific Northwest’s coastal bioregion, since so many of its rivers ended in the suffix “ish” (Duwamish, Snohomish, Skokomish, etc.).

This month we’re featuring one of the finest Ish poets, Tim McNulty. An award-winning nature writer and essayist, his books of poetry include “Blue Mountain Dusk” (Pleasure Boat Studio) and “Pawtracks” (Copper Canyon Press), as well as some nine chapbooks. His natural history of the Olympic National Park is the definitive guide to this national treasure.

— Art Goodtimes
Maverick Draw

Sunset, Sourdough Mountain Lookout

Late flush of evening cloudlight
glowing through rippled window glass.

Steam curling from teacup
in cool night air.

Only the mountains are still.

— Tim McNulty,
Sequim

Wild Pears
(Pyrus serotina)

At the waterfall gorge
in Tai Lam Chung valley
Ka-shiang brings
a sprig of wild pears.

Fruits no bigger than mountain berries,
but sweet and chewy —
same taste as the crisp
Asian pears
from the market at Kowloon Tong,

where each small globe is wrapped
in delicate paper mesh…
only wilder.

— Tim McNulty
Sequim

No One’s Ark

I have squandered
the beasts of the earth
& must remake them.
It is enough.
Otter, platypus, snake & dove,
Zebra, porcupine, elk & dog:
Once you were only photographs,
Now you are only words.

— Quinten Collier
Mark Fischer Prizewinner
Clifton

Muriel Rukeyser

Your poems shock
the way water lilies burning in a museum
shock the moneyed. With fragrant treason
you begged even the rich,
to understand, as you spoke
to each generation as that generation,
your dark hair curled in the Thirties
by a passion electric for justice.

— Jackie St. Joan
Excerpt from “Letter to Muriel Rukeyser at the End of the 20th Century”
Denver

Saddle Math

One coyote,
a dozen howls.

One cowboy,
a thousand cows.

One moon,
a million stars.

One Ford,
a billion cars.

— David Feela
feelasophy.blogspot.com
Arriola

Waking Up

the eastern sun licks
ice crystals from my front door
delicious breakfast

 — Carol Bell
Ft. Collins

Strumtrulescent

Luthier Louis Hayes works the struts on one of his guitars. Photo: Dawne Belloise
Luthier Louis Hayes works the struts on one of his guitars. Photo: Dawne Belloise

Luthiers — makers of stringed instruments — speak in lilting tones of curves and tapered bodies, of deep waists and cantilevered necks, perfect action, sparkling highs, low profiles and how she sits in your lap. They focus on taking care of the desires of the player who is seduced by the dark smoothness or the glow of a golden face. The performance repertoire can vary from a sensuously rich timbre to a blues wail or pop and bark. Musicians have been known to refer to their beloved instruments as feminine and often bestow the title of “soulmate” on them. Although many don’t have the bucks to shell out for one of these handcrafted guitars, mandolins or fiddles, they might consider the advantage of having a single perfectly customized instrument that reflects their particular sound … and it beats lugging several cases to gigs.

In a converted carriage house tucked on the alley behind his downtown Paonia, Colorado, home, luthier Louis Hayes was hand working tiny pieces of wood for struts, the inner braces for the guitar — sanding, chiseling and fine tuning each one to exactly fit into the precise place for perfect tones and resonance. Exotic and beautifully grained woods, both cut and uncut, were stacked ready for transformation. Louie explained that different woods produce different sounds — warmer, brighter, fuller — and so the face of the guitar was usually different than the body. Holding up an unfinished and unattached guitar face, he tapped with one finger. “You should hear four tones … here … and here,” his finger rapping the wood in two different spots, the unborn guitar singing in sweet resounding vibrations.

Hanging on walls were molds and clamps, woodworking tools and guitar blueprints — the entire studio garnished with corkscrews of wood shavings in loose piles on the floors and worktables … a twisted sculpture in themselves. Like walking through the telltale aroma of a kitchen with a fine chef at work, the smell of wood hung thick in the air. Louie’s guitars are sold to musicians across the country, through music festivals and word of mouth. (On Facebook at Hayes Guitar Lutherie or call 970-527-8977.)

Heading to the southern mountain town of Crestone, Colorado, from Glenwood Springs, Don Paine and his son Josh, are multi-generational builders of Pomeroy Mandolins. Their shop specializes in F-5 Gibson archtop replicas, archtop mandolas and octave mandolins whose sound has been described as an old Gibson on steroids. Don, who also builds exquisite fiddles, says his Crestone shop in a town at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where 14,000-foot glaciated peaks are graced with stands of Engelmann Spruce, is an inspiration for any luthier. (pomeroyinstruments.com)

A short jaunt from Monarch Pass, in Salida, Colorado, Jeff Bamburg says it was like jumping off a cliff when he chose to become a full-time guitar luthier. In Jeff’s world, it takes around 150 hours to build a basic guitar, a more customized one can take up to 250 hours. Jeff also teaches classes for aspiring luthiers, where a complete guitar can take two weeks of 12-hour days. “Every builder has his own signature sound and trying to build a guitar that resonates what the luthier wants that voice to sound like can take decades to develop,” he said of the technique. (bamburgguitars.com)

Brian Deckeback of Deltoro Guitars, has been building electric basses and guitars since 2001. He notes that there’s a little difference between creating a guitar and a bass, but the lower range frequencies are a consideration. Crisp, clean sounds translate into harder, heavier woods like ash and maple for clarity of the low end, while the lighter, airier dynamics would sport, for example, mahogany and alder. He feels the anticipation and fun about building is that you never know what the instrument is going to do until you string it and play it. “They sound better as they break in and develop their own personality. A guitar will sound completely different a week after you string it than when you first play it,” Deckeback  says. (deltoroguitars.com and Deltoro Guitars on facebook)

There are basic rules of relativity that affect these stringed wooden instruments. Don’t expect to jump off a plane and start playing immediately since, most likely, a guitar, mando or fiddle will wonk out of tune. For acoustic pickers and strummers, air conditioning and the outdoors will be really tough on your ax, along with wind, sun and temperature changes, which affect it more than a solid-body instrument. There are many luthiers to be found throughout the mountain states who all have the same hope that their creations are played and not just kept in a case in a closet. All of the builders agree, it’s always a great feeling when you match the musicians with their perfect instrument.

Dawne Belloise is a freelance writer, photographer, traveler and musician living on an alley at the end of the road in Crested Butte. A feature writer for the Crested Butte News-Weekly, her musings and photography have been published in numerous mags and rags around the planet. Contact dbelloise@gmail.com 

Dude, Where’s My Dog?

Porter the malamute wonders, “Dude, where’s my beer?”
Porter the malamute wonders, “Dude, where’s my beer?”

I have seen the future, and it’s dark. Not in a cataclysmic, greed-driven economic meltdown kinda way (been there, done that), nor in an apocalyptic end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it kinda way (the peculiarity of an 1,100-year-old Mayan astronomical cycle ending in 2012 of the Common Era IS NOT a harbinger of the end), but in the sense that trends old and long forgotten often become new again.

According to some estimates, as much as 75% of beer produced in London in the mid-19th century was Porter-style ale. First produced late in the 18th century, the brew had caught on among the workers of London, and through trade had become a rampant success across Europe, on order of the beaver-pelt hat. While the latter faded from fashion around 1850, Porter continued to be produced by British brewers until grain rationing during the First World War forced the beer to be brewed with lower alcohol content, on the order of Stout. This, along with the increasing popularity of Stout, nearly led to the demise of the style until a number of breweries began producing Porters again in the 1980s.

Porter is dark ale, brewed with heavily roasted malts to create a rich body balanced with dry flavors of coffee and nuts or sometimes a sweet character of caramel or toffee. Porter is commonly brewed to finish at 5-6% abv, with its heavier cousin, Baltic Porter, finishing between 7-10% abv. Hopping rates vary, with many Porters using modest amounts of hops to compliment the astringency already present from the darker malts. Some domestically produced porters, such as Deschutes Brewing Co.’s Black Butte Porter and Avery Brewing Co.’s New World Porter, hop to much higher levels, on order of a Pale Ale or India Pale Ale. (Avery has even been so bold as to lay claim to their New World Porter being the first Black IPA, thus entering an ongoing dispute among Pacific Northwest brewers and the Stone Brewing Co. of Escondido, CA, over the origination of the style). Occasionally, breweries choose to add a small amount of smoked malt to the grain bill. This is roasted malt that has been placed in a smoker or dried over a wood fire. Generally found in bigger Baltic Porters, a modest touch of smoke can be an excellent addition to the overall flavor, and hearkens back to a time prior to kiln-drying of malt, when all beer would have contained some level of smoke flavor from the use of fire-dried barley.

Today, Porter is readily available at the package store, and is offered by many craft breweries. For a baseline example of the style, one can’t miss with a bottle of Fuller’s, or Samuel Smith’s Old Taddy Porter. The latter was a crowd favorite in parking lots outside of music venues in the ’90s, and while drinking a bottle in preparation for this article, a friend reminisced fondly that it and a piece of paper had been dinner on more than one occasion before seeing a band.

For a smoked variety, pick up a bottle of Smoked Baltic Porter from Great Divide Brewing Co. or the excellent Smoked Porter from Alaskan Brewing Co. Alaskan has chosen to add their alder-wood smoked malt to a base brew of modest (5.5% abv) strength, allowing the smoke to play a more prominent role in the flavor profile than it does in the offering from Great Divide. The brew is released annually and labeled with the year of release. I was lucky enough to find a bottle from 2009, and was happy to find that it had mellowed nicely in the bottle with little loss of body.

And so, will darker beer, like Porter, become the norm again? I don’t know, but for every beer, there is a person who drinks it. The two major international beer producing conglomerates, (AB/InBev and MillerCoors together controlling 265+ brands between them), are making quite a bit of money selling the likes of Michelob Amber Bock and other filthy poisons of a non-yellow color to someone. This was unheard of 15 years ago, and as the craft industry continues its impressive year-over-year growth, I can’t help but hope for a mass change in consciousness away from lite “beer.” Perhaps this time, it can be done without the beaver-pelt hat craze and the near extinction of the hapless beaver from North America.

Erich Hennig lives in Durango, CO and is a contributor to the blog beerat6512.com. He can be reached at beer@mountaingazette.com

Regrooving Country in the Rockies

Country music lyrics in action on the bar at Kochevar's in Crested Butte. Photo: Dawne Belloise
Country music lyrics in action on the bar at Kochevar's in Crested Butte. Photo: Dawne Belloise

You won’t admit it, even though your bluegrass friends might be more understanding, but you are secretly amused by the emoto-schlock lyrics served up by classic country music. Country music vocalists are basically soul singers, but what is it that makes country lament in ways that are deeply rooted in the same stuff as the blues? Hardship …  hard luck in life, love and unfulfilled expectations. Traditional country is a romance novel rolled into a reality show and set to music. Clever, vengeful, heartfelt and notoriously comical, the lyrics span content ranging from d-i-v-o-r-c-e and the habitually jilted to countrified patriotism and redneck validation. There are love songs about pickup trucks, philosophy for raising children, memorials for grandmothers and odes to dogs.

No other music genre does love songs, splitsville and misery better than country, except maybe Italian opera, where someone is always betrayed, lied to, murdered or foreclosed on, with spectacular flair. La Scala’s country cousin is in Nashville and called the Grand Ole Opry. Achy-Breaky as it is for diehards, the old genre morphed into mainstream Americana acoustic rock and the lyric writers of the three-minute joke became noticeably more poetic a decade or so ago.

Craig McManus, a knowledgeable country DJ of both camps, explains the transformation of the music. “What you’re not hearing anymore are the silly lyrics that country music was known for. It wasn’t catchy, it was just silly and contrived. Most of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson stuff was that way during that time. What it’s evolved into is from the real heart of soul.” Craig still sees two factions. “It’s almost split into one wing that’s God, country and family and the other has gone into actual human feelings that are more honest, more down to earth. What they used to call down to earth back then was a little lofty and not down to earth at all. In country, folk and rock today, some of the music is so similar, you can segue between all of those styles. The genres have blended so much that alternative root is alternative country, which is now a combo of folk country and acoustic rock.”

This month, you can witness the contrast of both modern and classic country up at the end of the road in Crested Butte. Although they’re calling it an inaugural event and even changed its name to the Crested Butte Songwriters Festival, the town hosted the wild hootenanny called Country in the Rockies for well over a decade. In 2008, during a remodel of the main accommodations for the performers, the hoedown was moved to the champagne snow slopes of Steamboat Springs and then to Nashville for 2009. However, by 2010, the clamoring arose to bring it back to CB with much of the hooting coming from the musicians themselves … perhaps it was all the local ladies unabashedly gyrating on the bar tops, coaxing donations into their collective cleavage to help the stars raise upwards of $50k in a single evening for the fundraising breast cancer research sponsor T.J. Martell. The newly renamed Crested Butte Songwriters Festival will stir up the sequins and glitter in a sea of cowboy hats, January 13 and 14, 2012, and build on the popularity of its former self without sacrificing the caliber of talent or fun, and still continue to raise big bucks for breast cancer research.

Country in the Rockies brought hundreds of visiting big spenders and jovial locals out to cruise the many different acts throughout the liver of Crested Butte. There were songwriting seminars with the stars, celebrity bartenders and concerts in the round for almost a full week. The stars got to shred the slopes alongside the town clan. The new event is starting out smaller for its first year, but will undoubtedly expand back into a party of extended workshops and concerts in the coming years as it gets rolling again.

This year’s raucous soiree has an impressive roster that includes some heavy hitters, all BMI-affiliated artists, like Texas roots country hero Robert Earl Keen (robertearlkeen.com); veteran troubadour Dean Dillon (deandillon.com); country icon, hit writer and actor Mac Davis (myspace.com/themacdavis) and Marti Frederiksen (myspace.com/martifrederiksen), who has penned songs for the likes of Ozzy to Mick and Sheryl Crow to Pink. There are newer talents being showcased, like Jake Owen (jakeowen.net), who happened to nail one of the coveted People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive slots; Kristen Kelly (kristenkellymusic.com); Nicolle Galyon (nicollegalyon.com); Emily Shackelton (myspace.com/emilyshackelton); Kristy Lee Cook (myspace.com/kristyleecook); and modern country hit songwriter Rodney Clawson (myspace.com/rodneyclawsonmusic). They’ve thrown some local music into the mix, with Tyler Hansen (myspace.com/tylerhansenmusic), Steve Snyder and David Paulik  — aka Dobro Dave (myspace.com/560454056/music).

The entourage starts at 8 p.m. on Friday the 13th at the rowdy Kochevar’s bar and moves to the Eldo Brewery at 10 p.m., with the admission a reasonable pay-what-you-can. If you prefer the less boisterous, Saturday night will feature a real concert ($50, crestedbuttearts.org). It’s just fine if you only have a few bucks to toss into Friday’s kitty because others will toss several thousand into the hat. So get on up and take an honest look at the real country music of dirt roads and hollow body guitars through its singers and songwriters. And the locals will even invite you up to dance on the bar.

For more info head to: www.bmi.com/events/entry/555143

Dawne Belloise is a freelance writer, photographer, traveler and musician living in Crested Butte. She can infamously shake it dancing on the bar. A feature writer for the Crested Butte News-Weekly, her musings and photography have been published in numerous mags and rags around the planet. Contact dbelloise@gmail.com 

Bob Chamberlain’s Mountain Vision #185

Mica Creek, BC Canada, 1974Mica Creek BC Canada, 1974

After this picture was taken, Narcisse had the misfortune of skiing into a crevasse-like chasm created by creep of the entire snowpack. He fell eight feet onto the wet grass at the bottom of the crevasse. He landed on the point of his shoulder, which separated, and had to be reduced on the spot by one of the guides, who, in his turn, had to churn uphill, sidestepping rapidly through the deep snow to reach him.

I, for my part, skied too close to a tree-well, collapsed the shoulder of the well, and tumbled out of sight and head first into the snow-free column of air next to the trunk, one ski below, with a twist in one ankle. With a teeth-clenched lunge I was able to reach one binding and release it, only to find myself hanging upside-down from the ski above me, dangling by an Arlberg strap and the full length of the front-throw cable, which had come free of its side-hitches.

I was able to pull myself upward slowly and carefully, hand over hand, until I could reach the ski itself. Then I hauled the other ski up from below, and began to build a platform using both skis, which might be able to support my full weight. I could hear the sounds of  the second group skiing past, but realized that I would never be able to make myself heard through the thickness of the snowpack, even though I could hear them.

As I thrashed around with my skis, I was suddenly inundated by a cascade from above which threatened to choke off both air and light. At first I thought it must have been some sort of slide set off by passing skiers, but when it finally stopped, I could tell it was caused by one of those enormous, snow-burdened branches above me, unloading its full weight all at once. Coughing and spitting, I first knelt, then stood up on my shaky skis, and began to climb out of the hole.

I knew that the first group, of which I had been a member, was long-gone down the hill, and that the second group, although they had just been here, was also not waiting for anyone. If I could follow just the right set of tracks, at least I could hope to get to where the helicopter had been, even if it in fact was not still there.

It was there, alright, with everybody aboard except for a couple of the guides. I had been in the fast group, and then the slow group, and then the fast group again. Now they took me aside and told me that they had decided that, if I wanted to continue to ski the way that I skied, on the skis that I skied on, that I should get my own helicopter, and my own ski guide.

Not such a bad idea.

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