Dear friends

  • Dolores LaChapelle backcountry skiing in Utah in the late 1950s


Denis Brunke, a longtime subscriber from Logan, Utah, stopped in to say hello. He was taking the scenic route back home after visiting a friend in nearby Snowmass.

An HCN reader since the days of Tom Bell, Connie Brown of Lander, Wyo., visited us. She was in the area to study yoga with teacher Nancy Stechert, co-owner of the Yoga Tree studio in Hotchkiss. Connie lived in nearby Aspen during the ’70s and edited the magazine Inside Aspen.

On Presidents Day, Mary Russell of No Name, Colo., left us a note on her way to an American Red Cross lifeguarding class in nearby Delta: “I miss Paonia and hope to make it over this way more often this summer.” We’ll leave the light on for you, Mary.

Western scholar and frequent HCN contributor Hal Rothman passed away on Sunday, Feb. 25, at the age of 48; he’d suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease for over a year. Our Feb. 5 issue contained an article about Hal’s dynamic and productive life, “A Western historian and a Western hero.” In response, reader Tom Ribe of Santa Fe, N.M., sent us an e-mail: “Hal has done significant work that many people may not know about. His 1992 book On Rims and Ridges is a classic history of the Pajarito Plateau in northern New Mexico, where early looting of archaeological sites inspired the passing of the Antiquities Act in 1906. Rothman detailed the arrival of archaeologists in the Southwest and ultimately the establishment of Bandelier National Monument under the National Park Service and the rise of the neighboring secret city, Los Alamos, birthplace of the atomic bomb. Rothman’s treatment of the complex history of a relatively small spot on the Western map is flawless. Rothman’s love of northern New Mexico leaves a literary legacy in our region for which many of us are deeply grateful.” We’ll all miss Hal’s sharp insights, energy and humor.

The mountains of the West lost two of their elder sages recently. Dolores LaChapelle, author, early adherent of the “deep ecology” school of environmental philosophy and a pioneer of backcountry skiing, died Jan. 21 after suffering a massive stroke at her home in Silverton, Colo. Her ex-husband, Ed LaChapelle, a founding father of snow studies, died of a heart attack nine days later while skiing at Monarch Ski Area near Salida, Colo.

Dolores made the first ski ascent of Canada’s Mount Columbia and the first known ski run down Alta’s Baldy Chute in Utah. She authored books on both deep ecology and skiing, including Deep Powder Snow. She lived in Aspen and Alta, Utah, before moving to Silverton in the 1970s.

Ed joined the Forest Service in Alta as a snow ranger and researcher in 1952. He pioneered avalanche-forecasting techniques, helped develop the avalanche rescue beacon and wrote the ABCs of Avalanche Safety, still considered a textbook of snow safety.

—Jodi Peterson and Jonathan Thompson for the staff

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