Historic Downtown Durango Photography

Join Jimi Giles as she talks to local historian Duane Smith about photography from years past. Videography by Tawney Summers.

Behind the Board: Innovation on the Mountain Starts off the Mountain

By Reid Tulley

Skiers and snowboarders  continuously push the limits of snowsports by venturing further into steeper and more technical terrain, completing mind boggling acrobatic aerial maneuvers, and riding harder and faster than ever before.

Photo By Tawney Summers

“With progression of the sport comes progression of the gear,” said Rob Peper, a local avid skier and gear technician at Pine Needle Mountaineering.

The equipment used by today’s skiers and riders is considerably different from the equipment used when the sports first began, Peper said.

Today there are snowboards shaped like bananas and skis wider than a shovelhead that can rip through powder like never before.

New equipment that is built to suite certain terrain, conditions, and ability levels provides modern-day skiers and snowboarders with a specialized experience that is adapted to their specific wants and needs.

“It would be a dead sport if the gear didn’t advance with it,” Peper said.

The largest innovations thus far have occurred in the shape and dimensions of the equipment, he said.

Reverse camber and rocker technologies are fairly new and important technologies in snowboarding, though they’ve been used in the skiing world for quite sometime, said Lisa Branner, of the Silverton-based snowboard factory Venture Snowboards. The term “camber” refers to the shape of the equipment from tip to tail.  Traditional camber arches downward from the center of the equipment toward the ends.  Reverse camber is the opposite, giving the equipment an upward arch from the center to form a banana shape.  Rocker is a less extreme form of reverse camber.

Reverse camber gives the equipment a more surfboard-like feel, while traditional camber gives the user more turning power. Reverse camber also helps the equipment to stay on top of powder, she said.

Ski and snowboard manufacturers have adapted different shapes to suite different riding styles and uses.

Snowboards like those made at Venture have a flat middle and rocker at both ends, giving the rider the best of both worlds, she said.

Changes in the shape of skiing and snowboard equipment can help a rider to have more control in certain conditions and environments, Peper said.

Photo By Tawney Summers

Changes in the dimensions of ski and snowboard equipment have also been  pushers of innovation.  The dimensions of a ski are described as the tip, tail, waist, and measure the width, in millimeters, of the ski.

Fatter skis will float on top of powder while skinny skis will be easier to control on groomed trails,  Pepper said.

The side cut of equipment is another shape that is constantly changing in newer equipment.  Side cut depth is measured as the distance between the waist of the board and an imaginary straight line that strikes both of the contact points at the tip and tail.

Different side cuts are suitable for different riding styles, however, Venture snowboards are made with a “quadratic side cut” as opposed to the traditional circular side cut, Branner said.

A quadratic side cut uses the curvature found in a quadratic equation to help spread the users weight out evenly across the snow, which results in more stability when turning the board, she said.

Photo By Tawney Summers

One innovation in the shape of skis that is specifically designed for telemark skiers is called the “Bob Tail,” and was created and patented by a ski maker out of Silverton named Scott Robert Carlson, also known as ScottyBob, who owns ScottyBob’s Skiworks. The “Bob Tail” is an asymmetrical cut in both skis that make the inside and outside edge of the ski unequal lengths.  This design was created to help tele skiers turn with more control of the ski, said Carlson.

Carlson may have innovated the dimensions of the “Bob Tail” but he still prefers to follow his engineering motto of “KISS” or “Keep It Simple Stupid,” he said.

Carlson uses much of the same materials as he did when he first started making skis as opposed to some others in the industry, who keep finding new materials to use in the construction of their equipment.

The materials used by ski and snowboard makers today include carbon fiber, Kevlar and graphite among others.  Cores can be made of anything from bamboo to a synthetic wood or carbon fiber mixture.

Venture snowboards are now using a castor oil based top sheet that is healthier for the environment than traditional petroleum based top sheets, Branner said.

The castor oil based top sheet is a new development at Venture that they are looking forward to showing off at this year’s SIA Snow Show, she said.

SIA stands for Snowsports Industry of America and their Snow Show is one of the largest snow-sports conventions in the world.

The show, which takes place in Denver during the last week of January, provides industry professionals with a place to show off their latest and greatest gear and to see what other companies are creating.

With all of the technological advancements that ski equipment has undergone in the past decade, most people can easily find equipment built to suite their needs.

Whether one enjoys hiking in the backcountry to get that glory line of chest deep powder, or spending the day jibbing in the park, today there is a pair of skis or a snowboard built to accommodate the specific riding styles of most everyone.

The Zombie Aftermath

By Coleman Nelson

The Fourth Annual Zombie March is an  event where people walk down Main Street dressed in their Halloween costumes. .

On Oct. 31 t 1:30 a.m. 22 citizens were arrested on charges varying from failing to disperse, disorderly conduct , obstructing a roadway, and obstructing an officer.

The event seemed to be like any other year as hundreds filed down the streets celebrating the holiday of Halloween. “There is a lot of youth anxiety and the energy is amazing,” Kinsey Ipson, a Fort Lewis Student said  “They’re fighting but don’t necessarily know what they’re fighting for”.

Police ended up using pepper spray and rubber bullets to submerse the aggressive crowd. The police expect different behavior from participants in the years to come.

“Police are there to uphold city law,” said Lieutenant Ray Shupe. “ Last year people walked over parked cars, pushed over trash cans, and strategically placed dry ice bombs down Main Street. Last year officers tried to push people back onto sidewalks. This year extra force is being called to the scene because it is unpredictable and we want to prepare accordingly. Don’t participate in illicit activity and drink responsibly”.

The Zombies Turn Four

By Shaina April Nez

Lions, tigers, and…zombies? Oh my! Once again, the infamous Zombie March has taken over Main Street for its fourth annual celebration.

Each Halloween around midnight hundreds of Durangotangs fill the streets in a costumed parade called a Zombie March.  News outlets from around the world have reported similar marches or walks.

The origins of the first marches, both globally and locally, are somewhat unclear.

The majority of online forums and sites dedicated to the marches trace the first march back to Sacramento, Calif. in 2001 as a sort of promotional event for a midnight film festival called The Trash Film Orgy.

No one person or group has taken responsibility for Durango’s marches and news of the events typically spreads through word-of-mouth, as well as the use of flyers, and online forums.

Nonetheless, the marches up Maine Street have attracted a significant crowd.  As of Oct. 30, the Facebook page for this year’s march listed 531 people are listed as “attending” and 173 as “maybe attending.”

Jeremiah Riggs, a junior who dressed as an ER doctor/zombie during the march, summed the walk as people in Halloween costumes filling Main Street.

“Its only fun if you attend the march and see it for yourself,” Riggs said.

Emily Gorman, a sophomore who dressed as a fairy for last year’s zombie march, remembers first hearing about the zombie march around campus, making her and her friends curious about what goes on during Halloween night on Main St.

As the Zombie March became more popular, controversy arose over the possible cancellation of the event.

“The only time a slight issue of cancellation occurred was when the cops told participants they were only allowed to walk through Main once because some were trying to restart the walk again but nothing huge happened afterwards,” said Bill Verhelst, local and employee of Lady Falconburgh’s Barley Exchange,

According to police records released from the Durango Police Department, citations involving resisting arrest, harassment and intoxication on roadway and obstruction were issued during the last year’s march and two people were arrested.

Putting Your Garden to Bed

How to enjoy last season’s harvest and prepare for the frost

By Alicia Durkin

With winter nearing, locals are preparing their gardens to be put to bed.

This sustainable hobby is an interest in people young and old all throughout Durango, and as frost in nearing it’s important to prep gardens for the cold season.

Though gardens are sustainable and resourceful, they require time and money.

To avoid starting from scratch and to preserve your garden over winter, there are a few steps that should be done before the frost hits.

First, garden owners should start harvesting all of their plants, said Jeff Polak, a Fort Lewis College senior majoring in environmental studies.

“Use resources like re’ma* or frost blankets, because if you cover your plants, that can boost the air temperature around them,” Polak said.

Photo by Baugher Webmaster Services under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

Polak plans to put his garden to bed using a lasagna technique.

Alex Pullen, who has worked with the Environmental Center for five years, explained that the EC will also be using a lasagna technique to prepare the campus garden.

The term lasagna refers to laying down cardboard on top of your garden in order to retain moisture and prevent weeds from getting sunlight. Next, you can lay downfertilizer, which can be manure, garden scraps or kitchen scraps, which will bring back matter to the soil.

“It is an easy way to boost nutrient content in the soil as well as the organic matter,” Pullen said.

After harvesting a garden, you can preserve vegetables using canning or picklingmethods, Polak said.

Another easy method use harvest is to exchange or share vegetables.

“There is a community level of keeping things local, and the more gardens and the more people having chickens and stuff, the more healthy our community is, says Root Routeledge, a local organic farmer who has been living in the Bayfield and Durango area for 17 years. “There’s a community health kind of nature to it.”

Harvest parties, farmers markets, and community gardens are all good ways to enjoy local and organic vegetables while socializing with fellow farmers.

“There are always opportunities to get involved in community gardens if you don’t have the space to do it,” Polak said.

It may be a surprise to some that renters are willing to invest their time and money into a garden they may not end up owning.

Routledge, Polak, and Pullen all agree that investing in a garden provides more of a personal payback than just the end product.

Gardening improves personal and spiritual wellness and mental health, promotes growth within the community, and creates a sustainable way to eat, said Routeledge.

“And then there’s just a global level, it’s like, how are we going to feed ourselves as a civilization, and getting away from industrial agriculture and all the negative impacts of that,” said Routeledge.

Gardens are a key component of living a sustainable life, he said.

Like Routledge, Pullen and his roommates also live very sustainable lives.

They fill their compost pile with left over food scraps, which they also feed to their chickens, which are a key part in the cycle, Pullen said.

The chickens eat their food scraps, and then compost all their straw, boosting organic matter within the soil. They also work the soil as they graze the yard, and help eliminate grasshoppers, he said.  

Pullen is able to collect four eggs a day, while also eating all the fresh veggies his garden produces, he said.

“Gardening is an important life skill to know,” Polak said.


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