Weather station installed at Mountain Weather Masters home base, Rancho Desperado


Lisa Issenberg, highly paid tech consultant read the directions, put the instruments together and strapped the station with bungees, scraps of wood and a few screws to the third story deck, all during a big rain event today.

Had to go ghetto with the bungee cords and scrap wood till later.


Friends and family fly in and Buddhist monks light pyre at funeral in Nepal of extreme skier

A monk performs rituals during the funeral of skier Hilaree Nelson in Kathmandu, Nepal.
A monk performs rituals during the funeral of skier Hilaree Nelson in Kathmandu, Nepal.Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Associated Press in KathmanduSun 2 Oct 2022


A famed extreme skier from the United States who was killed after falling from one of the world’s tallest mountains was on Sunday given a traditional funeral at a Sherpa cremation ground.

Buddhist monks officiated at a ceremony attended by family, friends and government officials.

Hilaree Nelson, 49, fell from the 8,163-metre (26,775ft) summit of the world’s eighth-highest mountain, Mount Manaslu, last week while skiing down with her partner, Jim Morrison.

Nelson’s body was taken to the Sherpa cremation grounds in Kathmandu from a hospital morgue on the back of an open truck, which was decorated with a poster of her and decked with garlands of flowers.

Family, friends, mountaineers and government officials gathered at the funeral ground, offering flowers and scarves that were placed on her remains, which were then rested on a stack of wood. Buddhists monks lit the pyre as they played musical instruments and chanted prayers while mourners lit incense.

Two people embrace
Friends and family members mourn Hilaree Nelson in Kathmandu on Sunday. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty

Nelson’s family members had flown to Kathmandu for the funeral.

She disappeared on 26 September and rescuers searching by helicopter located her body two days later, which was flown to Kathmandu. Bad weather had hampered the initial search.


Climbers on Mount Manaslu have been struggling with bad weather and repeated avalanches. On the day Nelson fell, an avalanche at a lower elevation on the same mountain killed a Nepalese man and injured several other climbers.

Smiling in mountaineering gear
Hilaree Nelson. Photograph: Nick Kalisz/Facebook

Hundreds of climbers and their local guides have attempted to reach the mountain’s summit during Nepal’s autumn climbing season.

Nelson was a native of Telluride, Colorado. She and Morrison, from Tahoe, California, reached the summit of Mount Lhotse, the world’s fourth-highest mountain, in 2018.

Nepal’s government has issued permits to 504 climbers during this year’s autumn climbing season. Most are climbing Mount Manaslu.



Spend the gazillion hours traveling that it takes to get to Portillo, Chile, and you’ll be rewarded with the sensation that time slows down when you’re there. 

SEPTEMBER 28, 2022


Ten years ago, I sat in the back of a bus, staring out the window as the driver wound his way up dozens of twisty curves along the Trans-Andean highway toward Portillo, Chile, a ski resort deep in the Andes along the border of Argentina. Near the ski area, the highway crosses under a two-person chairlift. For a moment, there’s this strange and wonderful juxtaposition between truck drivers on their way to an international border and skiers heading to their next powder run.

When we pulled into Portillo’s hotel, a welcoming yellow box at the base of a striking alpine lake called Laguna del Inca, a huge St. Bernard waddled out to greet us. It was August 2012, and my husband, Dan, and I were there for our honeymoon—we’d gotten married the previous spring during a massive snowstorm in Tahoe. Both zealous skiers, the idea of skiing in the summer was too novel to pass up. It would just take 24 hours of hauling ski bags through airports and not sleeping on overnight flights to get there. 

.(Photo: Jesse Hoffman)

We arrived on a powder day at Portillo and took our first lap that afternoon with pro skiers Ingrid Backstrom and Chris Davenport. They had wrapped up their Ski with the Superstars Camp and had just enough time before departing to show us where deep snow was hiding in plain sight off Plateau Superior. 

For the rest of that week, Dan and I milked powder turns off El Estadio, making friends on the Roca Jack—a wild five-person Poma lift that rockets you straight up the mountain—who we ended up skiing with for the remainder of our stay. Inside the hotel, we sipped café con Leche by morning and pisco sours by night in the lounge, gawked at the alpenglow from the hot tub overlooking the lake, and stayed up late listening to live music in the bar. 

This past August, we returned to Portillo, a decade since our first visit. Dan and I brought along our two kids, ages 6 and 8. When we pulled into Portillo, having made it up that twisty highway, a loving St. Bernard named Petra was asleep on the stoop. (Portillo has had St. Bernard dogs as greeters for nearly 70 years.)

As the world buzzes frantically around us and years seem to fly by in a flash, Portillo has a sacred timelessness to it, a slower pace, and a throwback vibe. Vintage photos of European ski racers and Portillo’s founding family, the Purcells, dot the hallways. Teatime with freshly baked scones from the panaderia downstairs remains a longstanding afternoon tradition. And nobody rushes out the door in the morning. Chris Davenport takes in the view that never gets old in Portillo.

photo:Adam Clark (Photo: Adam Clark)

I aged ten years between trips here, yet this ski area feels like a time capsule, a tribute to skiing’s storied past. Spend a week here, and the inevitable race of time seems to slow to a lazy crawl. Admittedly, this place isn’t easy to get to, and it’s not inexpensive (a seven-night stay in the hotel, including your lift tickets and four meals a day, starts at $2,650), making it a retreat enjoyed by the lucky few. The hotel houses around 300 guests and draws in skiers from June through October, hailing mainly from North America, Brazil, and Chile. 

Constructed by the Chilean government and initially only accessible via railway, Portillo opened its hotel in 1949, when the Chilean Army did grooming and ski instructors were brought in from Europe. By 1960, the ski resort went up for auction, and two North Americans, Bob Purcell and Dick Aldrich purchased it. Bob hired his nephew, Henry Purcell, then 26 and a graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, to work as the general manager. In 1966, Portillo gained international notoriety by hosting the first FIS World Championships in the Southern Hemisphere. 

In 1980, Henry and his brother, David, bought the hotel, naming the mid-mountain restaurant—famous for its lake views and sun-soaked lunches—after their uncle, Tio Bob. These days, Henry, who’s now in his 80, still skis every day at Portillo, while his son, Miguel Purcell, is the general manager. What needed to change, like infrastructure updates, has. What doesn’t need to change, like the slow pace of things, has been left untouched. 

What needed to change, like infrastructure updates, has. What doesn’t need to change, like the slow pace of things, has been left untouched. (Photo: DMC)

Not much changes around here. The same maître d’ in the dining room, a round, jovial man in a navy blazer named Juan Beiza, has been there for decades. Operations manager Mike Rogan, an American, has been working here since 1989 and has barely missed a season (except during the COVID pandemic, when Portillo essentially shut down for two straight years). During my recent trip there, I was skiing down from the Super C couloir—an iconic 5,000-vertical-foot backcountry run above the ski area that requires a hefty bootpack to reach—Rogan was waiting near the bottom of the runout.

I asked Rogan what people should know about Portillo before they go. “Expect something different than what you are used to in the States. Don’t rush. Let Portillo do its thing,” Rogan told me. “Too many people arrive with the rushed energy of their lives back home. Let your kids explore, take your boots off for lunch, go to the pool mid-day, and have tea time. Embrace that Hotel Portillo is a classy, older place that some could say is stuck in time, but I think it is perfect.”

Of course, some necessary things have been updated at Portillo over the years. A few years back, the resort invested $3 million in snowmaking equipment, and two new four-person poma lifts were added to increase access to steep, open bowls. When the lake stopped consistently freezing over, they had to cut a trail through the rock face so skiers could return from the Lake Run. All the guestrooms were renovated over the course of three years. The couches in the lounge were reupholstered, and the gym was redone.

Still, there are many staples like Frank Coffey, who has been head of snow safety since 1997. He says some things have changed here for the better. “My second week in Portillo in 1997 it snowed over 13 feet in five days,” Coffey told me. “The road to Portillo was closed for nine days. The highway department in Chile is doing a much better job of clearing the highway to Portillo these days.”

Ingrid Backstrom, who was there the first time I arrived at Portillo has been going to Portillo for 20 years now, give or take a couple of seasons. People like Coffey are why she keeps going back. “What’s really special about Portillo is the people who work there who you see every year, the people who run the place, the guests who have been going for 20 years that I see every time,” Backstrom says. “That is so special to be able to go back to a place and have that feeling, that really welcoming, celebratory feeling of camaraderie that crosses language boundaries.”

Backstrom says when she first started going to Portillo in the early 2000s, people would play board games in the lounge and go to a computer room to use the dial-up internet. “These days, people are still playing games, though thankfully the dial-up room is gone,” she laughs. “It’s a social place, and that fabric is still very much alive.”

By the time our week at Portillo is over, I’m sad to leave. My kids are, too. But there’s comfort in this feeling that if, or when, I return to Portillo, the only thing that will have changed will be me.

Russell Chatham’s Reflections On Role Of Artist ~ The New West

Met him at J. Harrison’s place in Patagonia, Az. years ago.. had dinner of Dove, Quail and other exotic food that they spent hours preparing and then hours eating… When the wine count went over ten bottles I wasn’t paying close attention anymore.



by Todd Wilkinson

Pale Winter Moonrise by Russell Chatham

Pale Winter Moonrise by Russell Chatham

In Jackson Hole, the immutable muse for generations of visual artists has been the Tetons. In Big Sky, that landmark is Lone Peak and in Bozeman, the Bridgers.

Just to the east, painter, writer, restaurateur, and incorrigibly-addicted angler Russell Chatham became legend for his association with a different topographical feature, Paradise Valley.

We all know of Paradise Valley for the Yellowstone River that runs through it from Yellowstone National Park to Livingston and then angles to an eventual rendezvous with the Missouri.

A lot of folks also have treated themselves to a sojourn at Chico Hot Springs before moseying into Livingston where Chatham for decades was a social fixture and held court at his signature restaurant.

Scores of residents throughout Greater Yellowstone own original Chatham oils and high-end lithographs, displaying them next to priceless works by French Impressionists and treasured western artists like Bierstadt, Moran, Rungius and Catlin. Some of the notable private collectors in the region and beyond include Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Ted Turner, Jessica Lange, Margot Kidder, Jack Nicholson, Tom Brokaw, Jeff Bridges and Harrison Ford.

Chatham’s artistic life force was his grandfather, the great California muralist Gottardo Piazzoni (1872-1945).  A few years ago, Chatham moved back to his childhood homeland in northern California and recommenced painting where his extraordinary career with fishing and standing behind the easel began.

I once asked one of Chatham’s closest friends William Randolph Hearst III to interpret Chatham. “You must understand that ‘Russell The Personality’ is a wholly separate character from the life of Russell Chatham the painter, though at the same time they are inseparable. No matter what he does, his adventure with it becomes larger than life,” Hearst said.

“As good a painter as he is,” Hearst added, “Russell’s an equally wonderful storyteller and devoted friend, an absolutely superb fisherman who might be among the best on the planet, an intrepid restaurant owner, gourmet cook, wine aficionado, writer, boutique book publisher and general roustabout.”

If any contemporary landscape painter qualified as a genuine rock star in the northern Rockies, it was Chatham, now a late septuagenarian.

Starting in the 1960s, he was among a group of artists who went to Paradise Valley to escape the rat race, to fish, and go about their own media adventures without being hassled.

Those figures included Chatham, writers Jim Harrison, Tom McGuane, the late William Hjortsberg, Richard Brautigan, actors Peter Fonda, Jeff Bridges, Kidder, Warren Oates, Nicholson, Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Sam Waterston, singer Jimmy Buffett, director Sam Peckinpah and others.

Chatham’s style of painting landscapes, known for its fleeting, muted, tonal bands of horizontal color, summons up moods of introspection rather than blushes of superficial sanguine cheeriness.

They evoke the feeling you get when you realize you are getting older and the sensation hits home when you take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror, thinking about the kind of life you’ve lead.

When I asked Chatham to ponder that feeling, he shared this thought: “Early on, I was never concerned about having a career, so I didn’t have one. And now nothing could interest me less. But I think we all have a programmed tape running inside us, and most of mine is now stored on the right hand side of the cassette.  I finally feel I know enough to paint what I could only dream about in my twenties.  People say it’s time to slow down, relax, go fishing.  Well, I took the first forty years of my life off and went fishing, and now my tape is telling me to finish what I was put on earth to do.  Before, time didn’t matter. Now it does.”

Given the times, he still feels compelled to act upon a conviction he stated earlier in his life about the role of artist: “The artist does not simply hold a mirror to society. If the world now is greedy, the artist must be generous.  If there is war and hate, he must be peaceful and loving.  If the world is insane, he must offer sanity, and if the world is becoming a void, he must fill it with his soul.”

Chatham didn’t say it, but one could add that the artist’s challenge is really no different from the obligation of the viewer. If painting represents a near-religious experience for some, perhaps it’s not a bad thing to act on those kindly impulses.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If it isn’t obvious, Chatham loves water. Here are a few of his interpretations of some classic Western rivers.

Winter On The South Fork Of Deep Creek, lithograph, by Russell Chatham

Winter On The South Fork Of Deep Creek, lithograph, by Russell Chatham

Summer Twilight, Colorado River, lithograph, by Russell Chatham

Summer Twilight, Colorado River, lithograph, by Russell Chatham

Winter Dawn On The South Platte River, lithograph, by Russell Chatham

Winter Dawn On The South Platte River, lithograph, by Russell Chatham



‘You’re an Artist. That’s What You Do.’


Russell Chatham at his studio in Marin County, California. ”I paint everything from memory,” he says.

In what would be his final interview, the famed Marin County–based landscape painter Russell Chatham tells Alta publisher Will Hearst where he finds inspiration, what it’s like to work on commission, and why Gauguin brought him to tears.

UPDATE: It was with sadness that we learned Russell Chatham passed away on November 10, 2019. This was his final interview.

Landscapes are notoriously easy to paint but exceedingly difficult to paint well. For Russell Chatham, the challenge was impossible to resist. There was no other way. Chatham is the grandson of San Francisco muralist Gottardo Piazzoni, and before he turned 20, he had found his calling in painting nature.

In a career that has spanned half a century, Chatham became famous for capturing Montana’s rugged vistas and California’s golden hillsides through an approach that seems to combine a muted, idealized reality and the stuff of dreams. His collectors include Hollywood names like Jessica Lange, Jack Nicholson, and Robert Redford. Along the way, he was married three times, and made a fortune from his paintings, book publishing, and running a restaurant—only to lose it all. Chatham steadfastly believed in following one’s heart.

In what would be the artist’s final interview, Alta editor and publisher Will Hearst sat down with Chatham as he reflected on the difficulties he endured as a young painter and how he’s depended on the love and support of the women in his life. (Disclosure: Hearst is a collector of Chatham’s paintings.)

WILL HEARST:As a little boy, did you think, “I like painting” or “This is what I want to do with my life”?

RUSSELL CHATHAM:When I was eight or nine, it was clear painting was a big deal to me, and so I did it on my own, and all through school I stayed at it relentlessly…through my teen years and through my 20s.

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~