a tune… a haiku… an infrared loop


~ Pisco Dreams – Chile Powder ~


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Interpreting weather with Maria, pronostico de campo, Rio Blanco Chile

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Office time in Portillo F. Coffey-J.Roberts

Don FrankCoffey,Chico prepare shot above the Hotel Portillo

Preparing to shoot Rock band above Plateau

Avy control work above Hotel Portillo  


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The Brit & Reggie




THE OFFICE ~ an old story of Red Mountain Pass

Battleship-Tim Lane

The Battleship in motion.

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The Eagle after hell-bombing.

     Cement fill JR

Cement Fill running to Hwy. 550 after a 30lb shot placement high in the starting zone.

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~~~  Read all the lies  ~~~

           Summertime blues

Dennis McCoy and Jerry Roberts arming the explosives for heli-bombing

East Riverside-Gary King

East Riverside running over the snowshed.


DSCN0291Profesor Tim Lane, Poet in Residence-Bar National – Santiago Chile, Avalanche forecaster/consultant for the Chilean mining industry, CDOT/CAIC intern forecaster (at 62) & legendary San Juan ski pioneer….


Ski cultures are territorial, especially the old ones. The locals band up like gorillas claiming large swaths of alpine territory. The troops get protective when others invade. Guarding the stash can become a way of life. The local chiefs are elusive and operate in the shadows. These full-timers are the real silverbacks. The local tribe knows more than god about the terrain and roams in the less obvious. Their timing always seems perfect as you gaze upon their tracks from a distant ridge and wonder. They lurk in the areas that we all want. They arrive there while we are drinking coffee. They have spent a lifetime looking for these places and have discovered them. The lines are not documented but recorded in the minds and verbal histories of the privileged. This is their land, their terrain, and you are a visitor. You might see their tracks, but sightings are rare. Tracking them can be dangerous prospect. They might feel hunted and reactions are unpredictable. You should stick to what you can ski from the road.

Lisa Issenberg – Artist, “Former” Ophircan and CDOT groupie.


This tribal phenomenon is rich in the Southwestern Colorado San Juan Mountains. This area is home to one of the oldest ski cultures in the country and is also one of the least developed. For example, there is no formal written documentation or publication of first descents and features are often unnamed; most significant information has transcended the generations through verbal history. At 13,000ft plus, alpine ridge crests develop distinctly segregated circles that separate the populations. This cultural division has always reminded me of the evolutionary history of minority groups in Southwestern China. Large groups of people separated by terrain that after thousands of years have distinctly diverged languages and traditions. Silverton, Ophir, Ouray, Ridway, Durango, Telluride all have separate castes of usual suspects operating in their respective terrain. They even have different names for the same futures seen from opposite sides. The explanation for this is simple. The terrain is constructed in such a way that discourages travel. One could ski tour from Silverton to Telluride faster than one can drive there. The biodiversity is limited. So is information sharing.

Asking about sking around the verbal history of the area is vague. I have picked up scraps of information in coffee shops, taverns, and road cuts. My casual research tells me the early ski explorers in this avalanche stricken terrain were some of the nations first avalanche forecasters hired by the state of Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and National Forest Service. Their job was to keep Highway 550 open for commerce. This effort was not in vain since during the winter of 2006 – 2007, CDOT triggered 464 avalanches with explosives for mitigation purposes. 159 of the controlled slides impacted Colorado highways. Veteran CDOT forecaster Jerry Roberts is a local living legend and wasAva mitigation philosophy, J. Roberts. Photo Johnathan Thompson part of the first the group responsible for most of the original exploration and naming of the back country zones in the Silverton area in the 70’s & 80’s through today. 

                                            Señor Rō’bear

Due to the correlation with avalanche mitigation several of the ski runs here were named after slide paths that hit the highway. The only ski beta sold for years was the Colorado Department of Transportation slide path map. This is the most intact record of the San Juan ski history.

 The passes are still today mitigated by CDOT with artillery from a vintage Korean War howitzer.  One of the culprit paths is named “The Battleship” in its honor. Outside of these documented paths the consistency of names drift. Which name you use will indicate just how long you have been here. Roberts’s crew skied most of the drainages for better understanding of the continental snow pack.  Roberts stated ”We were not special skiers in any way, we were just the only ones exploring.”

The Battleship

Battleship-Tim Lane

The snow pack is technical. More, it is intriguing. To complicate matters there are six to seven micro climates in the San Juans that manipulate the weather. This is dependant on how the storm tracks into the range and how the mountains alter the air masses relative to the complex terrain. Telluride will get 15” and Silverton will accumulate 2” yet the towns are 12 miles apart as the crows fly. Truthfully, the opposite trend is typically the case, but Silverton wants Telluride to believe just what it needs to.  The local wind effect here makes it difficult to find the stashes at first. The wind here is the most powerful factor. Large wind events will strip windward faces to the ground. The snowpack will be transported in its entirety to the leeward aspect. This all making perfect avalanche country.

                                 Notorious San Juan Desperado

Nixon in Portillo

Contemporary bands of elusive locals from Silverton are the contributors to recent King Lines. Not naming names to protect the innocent, they can be found all living on one of the most unassuming back alleys on the other side of the tracks in the town of Silverton. They are a group of unsung heroes without team name or sponsor. They are tackling the never skied bold lines San Juans 13K peaks and taking the secret home with them. A few of them are responsible for a descent of Hunter in the Alaska Range. Mount Hunter is a entry test piece of American mountaineering to climb let alone ski. They sneak into the deep corners of the San Juans, redefine the standard, and slip back into town to saddle up to the Miners Tavern. That’s the way its been done here for decades and that’s the way the trend seems to remain. The most common trend in the terrain accessed from the Highway 550 these days is the presence of more people. The rapid pulses of public interest in back country skiing due to the advances in gear, media, and its availability are making places like the San Juans more accessible.                                                            

Helitrax, San Juan Ski Co, Adventure Guides are all services bringing the public into the snow. Andrew Klotz is the author of new guidebook “Cold Smoke” writes about San Juan backcountry and showcases 25 classic tours of the area. This book has had little effect on the true secrets of the area covering only few of roadside classics. Recently the town of Silverton has transformed from a mining boom town and has seen a resurgence as a ski advocates epicenter. The Elementary School even has PE classes on skis for local kids.  The sleepy town hosts collections of boutique manufactures like Venture Snowboards and Skis, Mountainboy Sleds, Montanya rum distillery, and the Silverton Brewing Co. The town’s exports have become cold powder, skis, split boards, local brews, and kicksleds

All of these factors are encouraging new activity to what is easily seen from the road and the ski are, bringing a new resident culture to the range with it. Yet, the core tribes of the range are still skiing the lines that have never seen second descents by outsiders. The silverbacks’ wish to keep it that way.  Approach at your own risk.

Written story by OR Brand Ambassador By Mark Allen, November 19, 2012.

‘AVALANCHES & MONKEY BUSINESS-San Juan Highway Forecasting’-Susan Hale-The Avalanche Review


There was tension in the voices heard over the crackle of the radio – between forecasters and the highway’s regional CDOT teams. Then, Jerry’s succinct words: “We’re in full conditions here, boys and girls,” the first hint that we might be witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime storm. But of course, at the time, none of us really knew. It was 11:00 pm, January 8, 2005, and it would be an understatement to say it was a stormy night. Forecaster Mark Rikkers was in one truck racing south towards Molas Pass, while lead forecaster Jerry Roberts and his visiting side-kick Tim Lane were headed the opposite direction up Red Mountain, checking on the rapidly deteriorating road conditions and increasing avalanche hazard threatening Highway 550, from the Uncompaghre Gorge above Ouray all the way to Coal Bank Pass – the north/south life-line of southwestern Colorado.

That night, after an already long day of shooting, I was allowed to stay behind and supposedly catch up on much-needed sleep. A night that was sleepless nonetheless, especially since around here we make a habit of snuggling with our Motorolas; no avalanche forecaster worth their Pisco Sours would be sleeping when it’s dumping nearly 3″ per hour on a severely burdened continental snowpack. So there I lay, wide awake, eavesdropping.

Using radio call names, Jerry Roberts is anxiously trying to reach Mark Rikkers: “3 Mary 5-1, this is 3 Mary 5-0; what’s your 20? Mark Rikkers: “Hey Jer, it’s 3 Mary 5-1, I finally made it to Molas Pass – really bad visibility; what’s happening your direction?“ Jerry: “Mark, I’m with a crazy woman stuck in a snowbank near the Muleshoe turn (below a particularly nasty avalanche path) – will need help getting her out so we can shut this highway down. Can’t reach the Red Mountain plow driver – can you try radioing from your location and send him our way?” Mark: “10-4, I’ll give it a try.”








So, trolling for something to do, I ventured an earnest call to Jerry (knowing it was probably a mistake). “Uhh, 3 Mary 5-0, this is 3 Mary 5-2; is there anything I can do from here?” Pause. Jerry, with the whole world listening and a storm puking 3″ an hour, replied, “Thanks 5-2, uhh yea…when we get this lady out we’ll be escorting her back to Silverton for the night, but she might not be able to find a place to stay…doesn’t speak very good English, think she’s Romanian…you think she could camp on your sofa for the night?” I pause, suspicious. “Uhh, yea, sure, I guess so.” Jerry: “Great! And one other thing…I think she’s from the circus…and I think she has a monkey with her.”

Long pause. “Did you say MONKEY?” Jerry: “Ya, I think it’s a MONKEY. Will your dog be okay with that?”

READ STORY:  pp.1,15-17,


The San Juan Avalanche Project by Don Bachman-Silverton Mountain Journal–February 2001—Reposted because it’s such an important story in San Juan Mountain history–J.R.

In early May of 1971, I was detailed to Silverton by the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR),University of Colorado with a purchase order and instructions to locate a house of suitable size to base an office and living quarters for an avalanche research project.

That night I stopped at the Grand Imperial to listen in on a busy town of 850 people supported by the employment of two large mines, the Sunnyside and Idarado.  I wasn’t long on the bar stool before two fellows got up from a table and sandwiched me, right and left with the admonition from the big one on the right of  “We don’t allow no #$%&*! hippies in here”.  Well, I was fresh from the hippie-cowboy wars of Gunnison County, so not too concerned.  My hair and beard weren’t really that long and I was a bit older and sober, and after all was still running a bar of my own back in Crested Butte and felt at the time, those attributes along with carefully honed negotiation skills and perhaps friendly allies could save the day.  But, the bartender didn’t look too supportive of customer immunity, and for that matter did the rest of the crowded place.

Hmm, this wasn’t looking good, so I stuck out a hand and introduced myself to Clayton Hadden and Marvin Blackmore.  That worked for a minute.  Then I said I was in town to run the logistics for an avalanche project.  Thank goodness, the other guy at the table they’d just left hopped up and said to leave me alone:  he’s heard about this deal and I was probably ok.

That was the first of many times Tuffy Foster, Colorado Highway Maintenance Foreman for Red Mountain and Molas Passes, was to contribute to the well being of the San Juan Avalanche Project. Then Marvin bought me the first of many beers we shared over the years.



Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership video


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This video paints a picture of passionate water users and importance of a healthy Uncompahgre River.  The Uncompahgre runs through western Colorado starting in the San Juan mountains through the towns of Ouray, Ridgway, Montrose and Delta, Colorado.

~~~  WATCH  ~~~

you gotta get up in the morning and tie your shoes … .


There are times you think you’re over it, retired, unemployed – doesn’t matter – sometimes thinking about the campo Santo. Then someone rings you up and asks if you are interested in a project. “Only if it’s interesting.”

This past January-March I got a job: Providing weather forecasts for Quentin Tarantino’s feature film The Hateful 8, filmed near Telluride, Colorado. After the spring dust settled, I circled the wagons with a few of my buddies and formed a weather forecasting/consulting group for the motion picture and television industry. Thanks to my wife Lisa’s artistic and technical skills, plus wordsmithing by Mike Friedman and Rōbert, we put together a cool website to represent the Boys Club. Please take a look and enjoy. MountainWeatherMasters.com

Jerry Roberts

Throwback Thursday — San Juans, Denali and Elks, 1980s and 1970s ~ WildSnow

I was digging through the archives (scanner practice!) and found a few photos you might find amusing.


Tim Lane and friends near Velocity (Storm) Peak, Silverton, Colorado. That’s Keith Daniels taking his skin off to the right. I was pretty amused by his getup, onesie Carhartts and surplus army goggles that were probably manufactured in 1942. He skied like a wildman, would easily have made the grade for a TGR straightline segment. Lois McKinsey right foreground. Weezie Chandler (Tim’s girlfriend from another time in history) and Tim’s dog Cholo de Portillo in the background.  Thank you Jerry Roberts for the historical help. Photo from the early 80’s (nineteen).


I’ve hit the Silverton, Colorado area (see yesterday’s post) regularly over the years (though less now that we’ve got our WildSnow Field HQ so styled out). Back in 1983 not a whole lot of people were ski touring the San Juans, but the sport did exist for a hearty few. At the time, Tim Lane (known for his years of avalanche safety work down in Portillo) was working for the Colorado highway department doing avalanche evaluation on Red Mountain Pass. I was living in Crested Butte on and off, and would head over to the San Juans to meet up with Tim and others such as Jerry Roberts to partake in the abundant alpine ski touring the area is now famous for. I climbed Denali with Tim in 1972, and when I went back to ski Denali in 2010 thoughts of Tim kept popping up in my mind. Out of the nine guys on our 1973 trip he probably had the hardest time, eventually suffering serious frostbite on his feet that nowadays would have been a mandatory heli evac. But we didn’t have a radio or any other means of emergency communication, so Tim skied and walked out the Muldrow Glacier to Wonder Lake with the rest of us. He even kept his skis instead of tossing them into the bushes after we ran out of food and tried to lighten our packs. Hardcore.


I dug up this photo of Tim Lane, Denali Muldrow Glacier route, 1973. The shot was taken by the late Robert Pimental, one of the individuals (pilot) who died in the 1984 plane crash commemorated by the Friends Hut out of Crested Butte, Colorado.



ALL THAT JAZZ by Jerry Oyama

Each encounter I have with Jerry O, usually to wander around the mountains, I come away with something new, a different way of looking at the world.  Dialogue shared on books, film, art, music or old bars like the Family Dog in Berkeley (where we both spent time watching New Riders of the Purple Sage or some other Bay area band)…  I depart wondering how someone becomes so creative? I had a conversation with mountain roshi, Peter Shelton, and he offered; “It’s amazing to me how Jerry, a wonderfully gifted sculptor that works in 3D, can produce such beautiful paintings in 2D after a single painting class.” Local painter extraordinaire, Susie Billings called Jerry O’s paintings “Inspired!”

Each painting was produced in an afternoon studio session at The Ah Haa School of Art. – J.R


In the ceramics studio at Berkeley, the spirit of misrule reigned. Under the cigar chomping, whiskey-swilling tutelage of Peter Voulkos, we were continually challenged to push out beyond conventional notions of what is beautiful. “Death & Dump Ware” was the result of having to make a teapot in under two minutes. Art & aesthetics discussion was ignored; making stuff was the only thing that mattered.  “You might try a little something here”, wasdetailed feedback.

With Robert Weatherford at Ah Haa we have been similarly urged to push against our notions of beauty, discard our need for control, challenge our academic preconceptions, upset the apple cart of Art and maybe find our authentic voice.

Good fun. I’m often reminded of Henry Miller’s suggestion to “Paint as you like & die happy”. As for subject matter, the sign in English on a Japanese music store in Nihonmatsu, “Music is Vitamin of the Heart”, pretty much sums it up.

– Jerry Oyama 2013



To view Jerry’s entire series  ALL THAT JAZZ  please follow this link 


NEW PAINTINGS BY JERRY OYAMA ~ AUGUST 6TH OPENING AT BAKED IN TELLURIDE ~ TONIGHT ~ “Jerry is one of the two hottest artists in Ophir, his wife Allyn is the other..”






Bean Bowers ~ July 10, 2011 ~ Salud!

bean_pic_26_21 Four years ago brother Bean took another path. He died a month short of his 38th birthday. We think of you often and miss you.


Jerry: To see photos of Bean and George side by side at the top of your report is a nice reminder…..of many things, very good people, good times and memories, impermanence and endurance. Thanks….Dick Dorworth

extreme living at Desperado Estates


8 new additions to Higdon/Hackett animal farm


Khata, the proud mom displays her new offspring, all with white tips on their tails.

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ Shot in Rare 65 MM, Will Look Best in 50 Lucky Theaters

‘The Hateful Eight’ was shot on location in Telluride, Colo.  I had the good fortune to work as “the forecaster to the stars” providing daily weather forecasts this past January ~ March for the production crew during their stay in the San Juans..  The film technique used for ‘The Hateful Eight’ sounds unique..  Rōbert



Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson in ‘The Hateful Eight’ (TWC)

by Carolyn Giardina

Test footage from Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight — photographed by two-time Oscar winner Robert Richardson — received enthusiastic applause when it was projected in 70mm anamorphic film for a full house at the Paramount Theater on Saturday at Cine Gear Expo, which is being held on the Paramount lot.

“He really wants to get people back into theaters. You’re not going to get this [at home]. He did something really great to bring that [experience] back,” Panavision’s vp of optical engineering Dan Sasaki said of Tarantino, a vocal film proponent. “Quentin wanted an epic Western, something that hasn’t been seen in forever, that would really wow people. [When he saw this test,] he started bouncing in his seat.”

The test footage included actor close-ups, as well as interiors and a range of exteriors at different times of day and with varying lighting conditions.

While not confirmed by Panavision during the session, word on the street is that plans are underway to equip roughly 50 U.S. theaters to show the movie in 70mm film. Work is also being done to find the most precise way to create a digital version for digital cinema release.

Currently in post, Hateful Eight was lensed on 65mm negative and is believed to be the first production since 1966’s Khartoum to use Ultra Panavision 70 anamorphic lenses. Sasaki related that Richardson came to Panavision looking for something different, and when he saw the look created by these lenses, he said, “This is it.”

This led to an enormous effort at Panavision, which reworked 19 of these classic lenses for the production in just a few months. (Incidentally, these lenses are expected to next be used for Star Wars Anthology: Rogue Oneby cinematographer Greig Fraser.)

Since Tarantino and Richardson wanted long takes in Hateful Eight, Panavision also developed a 2,000-ft. magazine for the film cameras. Kodak, the film supplier, and Fotokem, the lab, were also involved in this effort.

The Hateful Eight was shot on location in Telluride, Colo., as well as on stage at Red Studios.

perro viejo reuniendo ~ una celebración feliz


                           Billy Roos, Barb Wheeler, Wally Berg


Matt Wells  

IMG_2856Don Frank Coffey, Don Rōbert, Mike Friedman, Mark Udall

photo 5   Don Mateo Wells, Wally Berg, Denny Hogan, Andy Wilson ~ Barb Wheeler, Rōbert, Billy Roos, Frank Coffey                                            


Billy Roos & Janet Miller


feliz cumpleaños ~ Mark Udall and Denny Hogan

Old dogs from a long time ago rendezvoused for ~a tribal gathering~ at Desperado Estates over the weekend.. A few of the attendees hadn’t seen one another in several decades.

Mighty Rio Grande Now a Trickle Under Siege

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FABENS, Tex. — On maps, the mighty Rio Grande meanders 1,900 miles, from southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. But on the ground, farms and cities drink all but a trickle before it reaches the canal that irrigates Bobby Skov’s farm outside El Paso, hundreds of miles from the gulf.

Now, shriveled by the historic drought that has consumed California and most of the Southwest, that trickle has become a moist breath.

“It’s been progressively worse” since the early 2000s, Mr. Skov said during a pickup-truck tour of his spread last week, but he said his farm would muddle through — if the trend did not continue. “The jury’s out on that,” he said.

Drought’s grip on California grabs all the headlines. But from Texas to Arizona to Colorado, the entire West is under siege by changing weather patterns that have shrunk snowpacks, raised temperatures, spurred evaporation and reduced reservoirs to record lows.

In a region that has replumbed entire river systems to build cities and farms where they would not otherwise flourish, the drought is a historic challenge, and perhaps an enduring one. Many scientists say this is the harbinger of the permanently drier and hotter West that global warming will deliver later this century. If so, the water-rationing order issued this month by Gov. Jerry Brown of California could be merely a sign of things to come.

~~~  READ MORE  ~~~

Pete Inglis killed in skiing accident in Alaska.

Very sad news,
Pete Inglis, Pi, long-time assistant Snow Safety Director for Telluride was killed yesterday by cornice fall while climbing in the St. Elias Range of Alaska.
sterbie (Craig Sterbenz)



Peter Inglis, a 20-year veteran for Telluride Adventure Guides, was killed on Wednesday after a cornice fall in the St. Elias Range, Alaska. Jaime Palmer, a well-known Telluride skier, stomped out the letters “PI” into a snowy face within the Bear Creek area yesterday as a tribute to Inglis. The Telluride legend was profiled by Taylor Van Roekel in the December 2013 issue of Backcountry, and now here.

~~~  READ MORE  ~~~


Inglis making turns down Heaven’s Eleven outside of Telluride in 2005. [Photo] Brett Schreckengost



A few years ago ~~~

Django in his youth with  G. Gardner



the other one always looks better……


little man in a boat



Shunryu Suzuki  “Life is like stepping into a boat that is about to set sail and sink”

rubber block carving by Rōbert