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.

READ MORE : FULL ARTICLE IN SILVERTON MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

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2 thoughts on “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.

  1. What a great article! Thanks for sharing so much of the history of avalanche and snow studies in the San Juans, Jerry! Project Skywater… the local characters behind it all… and all the great stories of the day! This is awesome. Keep it coming!! Thanks!!

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