Crested Butte

The podcast episode’s in this section are focused on Crested Butte, CO.

One of Colorado’s favorite towns, Crested Butte really has something for everyone and these interviews highlight some great people, companies, and activities to make the most of your visit to CB.

#014 Alan Bernholtz – Former Mayor of Crested Butte and Minister of Fun for Eleven Experience

Alan Bernholtz on Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast

So this is a really awesome episode, if i do say so myself!

I had the opportunity to sit down with Alan Bernholtz, former mayor of Crested Butte, fire jumping aficionado, and currently Senior Guide and Global Activities Director at Irwin Guides and Eleven Experience, also dubbed with the envious title of Minister of Fun.

This is one of those times where I wish I had hit record as soon as I sat down in the basement and live music venue of Public House, a relatively new establishment right on Elk Ave in CB.  We talked as much before I hit record as after.

First off, there are some f bombs, so be warned…

Next, despite being exposed as the resort riding Boulderite that I am, meeting Alan was one of the real highlights of doing this podcast to this point.  Hopefully I’ll have a chance to take a ride in Tucker the snow cat up to Irwin with him at some point.

We get into Alan’s history from arriving in Crested Butte and living in his van to being the mayor of town and owner of the largest guide service in the area.  We then get into Irwin Guides and Eleven Experience, the services they offer and what makes them unique.

Online, you can find Irwin Guides at irwinguides.com and on instagram @irwinguides and Eleven Experience at elevenexperience.com and on instagram @elevenexperience.

Be warned, don’t follow them unless you want to see lots of enviable powder shots.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find these guys or anyone else we talk about in the show notes.

Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Alan Bernholtz of Irwin Guides and Eleven Experience.

 


Show Notes

[02:30] Public House, a great new establishment in Crested Butte

[04:00] Being mayor and jumping fire

[11:45] Why Crested Butte?

[14:00] Growth of a guide

[17:20] Lee Ervin – “The most authentic person I’ve ever met”

[21:30] Heading to France

[26:00] Running a global guide service out of Crested Butte

[30:00] More parades!!!

[35:00] What sets Eleven Experience apart

 


Relevant Links

Irwin Guides

Eleven Experience

Public House

Wagner Custom: Skiing with Alan Bernholtz

Flaushink Festival

Jean Pavillard

Remembering Lee Ervin – The Crested Butte News

Karl Denson

 


Related Episodes

Venture Snowboards

 


Transcript

 

Alan thanks fan for taking some time to come out and meet with me. Where are we now we’re in the public house.

Yep we’re in the Public House the music venue in the basement downtown Crested Butte. So you’re saying they just put this place in. Yeah we just opened up on July 3rd. Are you part of the public house. No. Now we are like any new place that’s also been has music in town. No it’s not we have everything. This is just the newest latest bar in our town and it’s been a really nice addition to have a music venue and a place that’s no different unique and got a good vibe. Nice now and we were just talking about how some of the acts that they’re already attracting seems like.

The word’s getting out and the owner here was making. You were saying the sound here is amazing.

So yeah you know we didn’t have a large venue so I think he was more of like let’s make it really sound really good. So I think he’s hoping that it’s something is talked about amongst small musicians like Karl Denson came and played and we want him to go back to his hometown and be like Man you should have heard it. The sound is incredible and we want people to seek us out. But you know with 150 seats we’re not going to bring in huge bands so we want we want titan musicians is what we want right now I say I keep saying we I have nothing to do with it.

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You have to live with it because because you benefit from it when something comes up. So let me I was I was looking into your background a little bit. You know I was doing some kind of internet stalking I guess and I came across a page that was put up by the Wagner Skis guys. Yeah. And I guess they had like your quiver of just beautiful skis that they’ve made for you. But the article started with this sense I’m literally quoting you says ‘if you ever have if you’re ever lucky enough to meet Alan ask him about jumping over fire at the Mardi Gras parade when you are mayor of Crested Butte.’

So. That’s we’re going to start. That’s where I was. I saw that and I was like that kind of ticks off a couple of boxes just like Mayor? Jumping over fire?

I want to hear all that stuff.

Well thank you Wagner custom for putting that quote in there I guess. But yeah you know we have a lot of parades in town and we do a lot of you know local kooky grassroots fun festivals and so we have one that didn’t just watch. It’s not true I have jumped.

First of all. Who doesn’t love fire?

like when they go out and you’re a pyro. But let’s face it if there’s a big fire and someone has a five gallon bucket of gas and throws it on there who doesn’t like that. Everyone cheers. Yeah it’s the same thing. I love fire just as much as anybody else. I love fireworks a little skiing. So put all that together and we have like I said these kooky little. Festivals and parades and we had a Mardi Gras parade one year and I was like yeah I’m going to jump over fire as my skis.

And so I jumped over like tiny little like trash can fire and of the back of a suburban. And then I got better at it and got bigger bigger and it got bigger and then we started doing all kinds of floats and once you kind of you know once you kind of get the idea of how to do fire safely and you know how to do like a big water feature.

You can kind of do a bunch of different stuff in a parade with those things you know in a moving float. So it just became a challenge like what can we do every year different and different and then it got to be like well you know damn this is hard to come up with some different time and then I kind of picked up the for Mardi Gras.

I always just jumped over fire. It was the simplest thing for me to do as winter right. And it was simple and it was a couple of years it was like super dangerous like the jump and like people come with my wife me like What the fuck. Like how could you let Alan do that. Like that’s dangerous. Like he’s in to hurt himself.

And I never have. By the way right. And I got lucky. And then it got to be where we got it was really kind of safe. I’d almost say boring.

And so then I got to stop doing it because you mastered it.

So when say master anything I’ve mastered nothing in my life but I moved it to from the Mardi Gras parade. I moved it to another parade that we have called flouncing which is the ski season and that was like a five person parade. Mardi Gras was like maybe a 10 person pretend float parade. OK. So but everyone’s here it’s like spring Mardi Gras party. And show us your you know killer flower. It’s like end of the season you can’t give sking away. We tried that. No one came. So I was like I’ll jump fire in the Flaushink parade just kind of breathe life into that one and flossing is one of my favorite parades because it’s still doing some flowers.

Still happens and it’s been going on a long time. Long before I ever got here. And it is like this. It’s the flushing of of the winter and you’re it’s spring and it’s totally made up and it’s like supposed to be Slovakian or whatever the fuck it’s supposed to be and it’s not. It’s just like this. We’re going to party we’re in a polka dance. And the old timers all come out. They do like these old slide shows and they talk about the old times like you know before the left right when the skier was just beginning. And like the roots of Crested Butte as it is today not as a mining town. So right.

I just love it because it’s like really authentic little festival or little festival. Right. So and I did there and then I kind of stopped doing it. I remember the first year I didn’t do the Mardi Gras parade. I was just sitting there in the crowd I was all dressed up in costume and then the parade went by and someone like oh you know that wasn’t that great of a parade and someone says no no eight hours is going to come by with his flow.

And I’m like I’m not I’m not going by this year.

So yeah it goes on like the whole jumping over fire thing could go on forever. And the mayor so that’s pretty much how I was elected. I’d like to say that like everyone was like oh Alan’s got these great values and we want a mayor that’s going to. But really it was just like they knew me because I jumped over fire. Right. And so when I got elected mayor and then I went to Washington D.C. and testified and from the United States Senate to try to you know reform hard rock mining in our country because there’s a mine that threatens to be in our town. It’s only a few miles away that they’ve been fighting for you know four or five decades and there is you know they’ve been trying to reform this bill from 1872. And so we were the poster child Crested Butte as the poster child of mining reform.

He brought the mayor from Juneau who is like we love mines like yes. And then there was some some environmentalists and then there was some mine experts and so we all sat in this panel and like I had giant tanlines it was middle of winter you know and like I’ve just been skiing every day and I was like I went to D.C. It’s like LA. Better suit you know like I need a suit. So I went and bought a suit. And like every senator came and look who’s been skiing. Where would you go. Would be out in the sun because the giant tanlines. But I feel like it represented pretty well. I was on C-SPAN which is you know a big deal for me and I was like wow that was so cool what an honor like. And if you’re in D.C. as a mayor you can like you know you get the you get the key to the VIP bathroom you know it’s pretty sweet like you could do stuff.

And they’re like What are you on the mayor. OK come on in. You know like wow like this is great. I mean you can get free drinks or anything. You like. You know you walk down the hall and meet a congressman. Can knock on their door and I’m them to me and they say hold on. No I hear you because you’re an elected official even if it’s a town of 50 200 people. It was cool. Especially the local Colorado people senators and congressmen were always all ears. So then they came back and I was like walking down the street and a lot of you know there’s a lot of young people in our town a lot of parents visit.

And there’s this girl and she’s like oh hey. Mom this is our mayor. And I’m like fresh from back from D.C. I’m like Hell yeah I’m the mayor. Like this is great. And she’s like I’m like I just represent in our town on a national level and she just goes ‘he jumps over fire.’

I was like That’s it. You know perfectly clear to me right then like we elect people because we don’t want to do that stuff right we don’t want to sit through boring meetings and talk about policies and talk about expansions and we go to certain means that we’re interested in. But basically what we want somebody who represents us and abroad level sure and jumping over Feierstein to represent a lot of people maybe more than just in Crested Butte. And so that’s how I got elected.

What year was that like. What years were you married.

I was mayor. Well I got elected the town council 1999. And then I was on to serve for six years to two elections and then I ran for mayor in. 2005. OK. Right on.

So for years I didn’t make it through two elections there as well and you know I never lost I never I don’t believe in career politicians I don’t think someone should be. I don’t think our forefathers were like Yeah this is going to be your career some day. You know we were they were farmers and they were they were people that were like hardworking people that represented our country. They didn’t think that a senator was going to be in office for 35 years and be making like a ton of money doing it.

And so after 10 years in office I was like if I haven’t done what I’m going to do I’m probably not going to do it. So I step down. Right

And unfortunately you didn’t bring your fire jumping to the steps of the Capitol that might have made a step. Maybe. I think probably me. Yeah probably yeah. So after so you would come across to be.

From what I kind of read you had kind of hopped around you had looked all over place. What was it about. Crested Butte at that time that that made you kind of stop. And did you think at that time you were like This is the place for me or. Is it. Are you surprised that you’ve been here for nearly 30 years.

Well let me answer a couple of questions in there but the reason I came here and the reason not the reason I came. The reason I stayed here is the same reason I’m here now. Like it hasn’t changed that much which is the people the community here and the values that they have here are just in line with the way I think. Not all the way all the time and I mean you and I were chatting earlier and it’s not not the same as it was.

But you know I came here from Aspen and I lived and grew up in Southern California I moved to aspirin looking for like a ski town. I thought it was cool and then I realized that wasn’t the community that I wanted to be and I wanted to be in a smaller community of people that really took care of each other a little bit more although when I was living in Aspen it was great we had potlucks and you know there was it wasn’t it wasn’t all like ritzy and it was.

But there was still an underground community that’s still there today. But when we’re here and everyone would just say hi to me. And I was like walking on the street like take a second look like he’s talking to me like you don’t even know me. Right. And so I was like well this is really cool inviting town and I’ll go check it out. I do not think I was going to stay at all. I just thought I’d be here for a little bit at that time I thought I was maybe a farmer.

Gotcha. All right. But you ended up at the mountain. And.

I don’t know how many years like skipping forward to but after kind of putting in some time here and working on the mountain. You got into guiding and you actually did you start.

Crossing the mountain guides. I did. When you see on the mountain what do you what do you mean you know where you were. I think you were working out and mean the ski area. The scary mountains. So you realize there’s a lot now in the mountains.

Yeah right. That’s hilarious.

So well no I came here and you know I got a job like cooking at that cafeteria lied about the job a lot about my experience I was 20 years old. I came in. I was kind of late in the season late in the hiring process. Like we’re done come back on Wednesday we’ll see we got came on Wednesday. Guys like you have a good breakfast. You know I get my breakfast. So he hired me. I got a pass. I was super psyched. Started work and he’s like you’ve never cooked breakfast day in your life. And the guy was super pissed. For like a week and then he just like taught me to be a breakfast cook. And I just did that and then worked. There was like a mountain guide program they had. It was like a ski school kind of thing.

And the school director was a Swiss mountain guide you know like certified non guide and he kindof took me under his wing I was just getting back interested and I just learned about snow and avalanches and really kind of becoming interested in that getting a little away from the crowds a little bit I get into softer snow and kind of that that freedom kind of feeling. And he took me under his wing as my mentor and just like taught me kind of pushed me down that guide path and then worked on ski patrol for a while until. I resigned. Forced resignation from Steve Mitchell and started working for him full time as a guide and then. Starting my own guide service Crested Butte Guides 1998 while it was like meeting that guy really sent me down a path absolutely yeah.

Jean Pavillard, yeah.

Great dude it’s amazing how one encounter can do that.

Yeah he uses an incredible guy still is. I mean he’s still ready. We don’t we’re not really that close and not in touch really. Right. But he had a huge effect in my career and my life. So when you’re guiding back in.

I guess. So is this like mid 90s this kind of thing. You know this. Like what was the crowd like in Crested Butte at that time. Because I know there’s you know obviously like we all know about the growth that’s going on now. We talk about this morbid but what’s crested like you know at that point is it still feeling growing pains or is it you know or is it still pretty small.

It was still pretty small you know and I think in 1988 when I got here it was 700 people living here and I bet in 1995 there was you know 900 people living here. Got to know there was a couple experts that seemed like a lot of my friends that I have now kind of moved in these different little chunks of time but it seemed like 93 and 96 97 a lot of people moved here. But I wouldn’t say that there was any kind of like.

A gold rush going on and the same problems we’re having now. We were having then I mean housing was tough. The wages were low the expenses were high and you know you get paid more and then rents more and then you get paid more and then rents more and so there’s still there wasn’t that many places to live then. And there’s not that many places to live now so it’s always been kind of you know typical kind of skis last resort town problems that we have just trying to keep housing force workforce keep everyone happy and you know when I first moved here I lived in my car lived in a van for four years. So it was easy easy for me to just go wherever I wanted to go. Right. That was great right.

Yeah. We were talking a little bit about the editor of the local paper who just who just passed away and how by go into that. Service that they had for him which was just last night or two nights ago two nights ago you were able to see how you know there are still people here who. Are. Chris history dates back in Crested Butte to when it was miners versus ranchers and you know the ski industry wasn’t even the dominant kind of force in the town or anything like that. What was it like to just kind of get in the room with some of these folks. Well you know and also like Who is this Who is this guy that passed away like that. Was such an influence. Yeah Willie Irving I think as the editor of the paper I think he was I think he was the most real.

Authentic person I’ve ever met. Like he did not there was not fake news. You know there was not there was a bunch of quotes and what they called it but it wasn’t regurgitated news it was all original. He was an original person and he influenced everyone around him by being original and he was very accepting of everyone. It didn’t matter if you were a Republican or a Democrat you know and we said this all night long and at this memorial service. But he brought the community together and he taught people community values and he didn’t make those community values up. He believed in what was going on here. And he just was kind of like the guy who just kept going and spread it because he was an influential position as editor of the paper. And so he was able to really affect the town.

And at that time you know being so small I mean back then used to come to town and they would say Doug what do you do. And then you’d be in the paper. That’s what you did. And then if you’d said I’m an auto mechanic and you weren’t it didn’t matter that’s what you were going to be in town. And so people would come to town and say I’m a sign builder. Even though the last thing he did was sign bill but they didn’t have any training at building signs and then that guy you know built in Terra build signs for 15 years because that’s what the newspaper labeled him as we know small town back then and that’s what Lee kind of kept that going in and spread that onto the next Ed. And then the next editor and the editor of the paper that we have right now as a mayor you know you have to hate the editor of the paper because they’re assholes and they’re just trying to get a story.

And I love the guy you know. I mean he he made my life miserable but he kept me honest he kept me on the line. He asked good questions. He still didn’t today. He loves doing it. And then you know there was an editor before him that was like one of my best friends was at the paper I ran for mayor and the guy didn’t even endorse me. Right. You know that’s right. Eddie

I’m bringing it up. I have not forgot. He

knows every time I talk to him I bring it up but you know and so I think that that shows what kind of people we have in this community. It’s like just because you’re my friend. He thought someone else would do a better job at that position. And that’s what he did. He did his job and for this community not for himself not for any benefit. You know by voting for me because he’s my buddy endorsing me I should say. That would have been him just not toeing the line right. Right. And so I think our community still does that. I don’t know a lot of people here. You know there’s a lot of young people here a lot of new faces but I kind of feel like everyone’s still kind of toeing the line and like pulling out their best colors and that’s why I still live here. That’s why I haven’t left. Right

. Yeah.

You were actually mentioning how you did actually end up leaving with your job for a couple of years to help start some operations overseas. And then you came back to Crested Butte and. You kind of it gives you some perspective right. Step away from something you come back like the rate of change and what kind of started happening around this town and even just like a couple of years gone recently.

Yeah for sure and to be clear you know like we moved overseas start operation like I’m a ski bomb. I moved. They sent me to France to started a risky operation. You know I still ski bombs during the time that the place is skied as many days. I passed through the year and I don’t want to die I went corporate or anything like that because I didn’t. I just never. Maybe I should try that. But I just never gone down that road you know I just try to follow the path of what I love and what I think I’m capable of doing. But going away for two years and I didn’t want to go. I was like super reluctant. Like no I’m not leaving my town this is where I this is my roots this is where I live now. And you know I fought it and fought it and my boss met me on a business trip one time.

Higgins sounds corporate and he’s just like shut the fuck up and go to France like shut up this in November and he’s like I want you there by Christmas. And so I dragged my feet. I was like come on and he’s like it’s going to be a great experience like you little baby right. Sack up and go there. And so I brought my family over there very supportive of the family. We all lived over there. And after like one year to go there for one year and get it going after one year I was like Hey man is it cool if I stay for another year because it was awesome. Right. And he’s like yes. If you want to years differently or so coming back Chris I mean the town or the lodges over there the Chalet is 50 people and has like one restaurant sorta.

Oh OK. And then the town I lived in which is about you know 10 15 minutes away was 350 people that had the bar and had the restaurant you know. And so it was very small. And not only that like their French you know I was in France and so like the like oh Bernholz is that German I’m like yeah you know my dad was German my mom was Polish and there’s some Russian in there and they’re like oh that’s cool. Yeah my dad was French his dad was French and his dad was French or French. So like super hardcore you know roots the values you know about the French that’s why they speak French because they’re like we don’t want to learn English our language is the best we’re French.

And weather is known globally or not. We speak French. This is where we’re from totally and in the Savoi where we lived in the Terran days you know where the lodges and where we skied it vowed there and stand for like even being French isn’t good enough you know. It’s like this Savoi right. So I be like what about this guy you know he’s a guy. I know he lives down there. Oh no he’s not Savoi. You know I was like OK that’s cool man whatever like hardcore.

I came back here and to go back to your question which was after being gone for a couple of years you come back to town and you know it wasn’t it wasn’t. It

hadn’t crested at that point but you could feel the wave moving you know you can feel the number of people increasing in the area maybe not in the town the town numbers may have stayed relatively the same.

But outside unincorporated Gunnison County you could feel it is growing and swelling and it just you know changing sure but the like I said the great thing about it was that in underneath all that minutia the core was still like all these people that are fucking awesome people that have these great values that toe the line and follow their path. And so I came back and it was different but it wasn’t a bad place to be. It was different and if you don’t expect things to stay the same then you should just watch. You know Mayberry RFD because that’s only TV’s only thing doesn’t change right.

It just changes and if you just if you try to help and try to you know be part of what’s changing. Then I think you can affect the way it changes and if you want to be an asshole and if you want to be some stubborn you know crotchety old guy back in the day you know then you’re not then that sucks you know. But if you want to be like hey you know we used to do it. What about this and someone some millennial guys like well what about we could do it like this to be even more effective and you know like great let’s do that. And I think that’s what our town’s all about. Because when I got here it was just a whole another layer of guys that were crotched who didn’t want to see it change now and then before they got here it was the same and you know I mean in the 70s the hippies came in and took it over.

And you think all those guys from like the 60s were like No thug all these hippies are moving into our town. So I think it’s all and it’s all an attitude. Attitude is everything.

Right. And from my. Youth so.

I’m going to be real careful not to sound corporate. But you know as you’re guiding businesses you kind of grew and they evolved into a few different things including the wing guides. You know what I could just imagine that.

Makes a really amazing group of people. And that is it must be a spectacular place to work. But. What do you think about. Crystal beauty or even Colorado. Around the world you know started you’ve looked at operations in different places. What is it about Colorado and then in general that that makes even an international operation want to be based here. Like what you know the people there getting the the lifestyle that they get to kind of have the people you attract and also just you know just the awesomeness of you’ll be your guide in this area I guess.

Yeah well I mean we’re not you know we’re not you know we’re not going to be on a stamp. You

know we’re not Yosemite we’re not grand teton we’re not Rainier.

All these beautiful wonderful national parks and just areas that are just really well known for some of the guiding senses. You

know we’re not we’re not that spa we’re the we’re in the shadow of all those places and I think that when people want to get kind of down to what the activity is really about and not necessarily a feather in the cap because we’ve got no feathers you know we’re checking this feather that’s a Krispy Kreme.

I mean a featherless chickens were taken with feathers.

You know just the place it’s like we love doing what we’re doing and you know comes back to the community a community thing. I don’t know why our boss was like I want to make our global headquarters in Crested Butte. You know I mean this is the first operation that he started up guyed operation hospitality brand and he just kept it here you know our insurance this year insurance people here are our directors here like our headquarters this year and you know we are a company that has properties in different countries around the world and so it’s a bitch to travel to them and this is where we all start from and we’ve never really looked at anywhere else.

We’ve never been like let’s move our place. You know some you know some corporate land like Boulder.

Yeah because logistically would be closer to probably international airport or something like that.

So I think I mean the skiing here is phenomenal. The climb in here is really good you know we’re near the Black cane and but we don’t climb in the black rain much. We’re just we’re just another guide service that’s in in the state of Colorado you know people come out they will horseback riding they go rafting they go rock climbing. Now they go mountain biking. And I think that people come here and they they do all those activities that you can do in countless towns around Colorado but they don’t have crested butte you know and they come here and the town is very nice and it’s welcoming and you know you can just be yourself. You don’t have to. Doesn’t matter how you dress I don’t care if you drive a Porsche or if you drive a truck or whatever I don’t care.

You know sometimes I care if you have a really nice bike like a townie right. Not a mountain bike but if you townies supersonic that’s going on a little envious but that’s about it. I mean I think that that part of things that part of the whole package I think is what people really like. They come here they can just be themself they can wear whatever they want to wear whether it’s a T-shirt or collared shirt or baseball cap or slicked back hair like we don’t care. And I hope that never changes that we’re always accepting of people because it doesn’t matter what you look like it matters how you act.

Right. So are you ever going to jump fire and run for mayor again don’t you. I don’t know.

All right Mayor again but I’d love to jump over far. Yeah fuck yeah yeah fire is good fire is good. I mean last year I came out what happened. I was all poised. And something happened you know because where I work at Irwin guides and 11 that we have this snow cat that has rubber tracks that we drive into town we pick the guests up at our lodge and then we drive them into the mountains we go cat scan. And so once we started using that vehicle superhigh off the ground and it’s got this giant flat top that just made my life so much easier and safer. That was great. Without that I need to really think about how to jump over the fire because it’s just got to be so simple because I can catch big air. Enough air. And so yeah I’d like to jump over fire. I’d like to do all kinds of stuff. I’d like to have more parades so we can do because Fourth of July’s has gotten out of control. You know the parade.

Control you hear about that one from everybody.

And so we used to do one every year called the bizarro world float because we just didn’t want to be any part because it just became like every business just goes down the street and they’re promoting their business which is totally fine. But I was like You know it’s about having a good time. Right.

And so we do these floats like what are you guys and we’re like we’re bizarre or like you representing them like fun. We’re just doing something for fun like there’s an advertiser you know. Yeah.

So actually we do where there’s no like no 4th of July paraphernalia. You know it’s all Halloween costumes you know and we just do crazy. We used to do crazy kooky stuff. So it’s like he watch Richard Nixon slide down a water slide into a pool or you watched the Easter Bunny go through a fire breathing dragon and get spit out the other end you know or Tinkerbell go across a zip line over fire wear her tutu you know burned a little and then into a pool. So that’s the kind of stuff that I thought was you know what was I was attracted to this town about and before the I totally working. Like

people love it. And the businesses like it and the community seems to like it. I mean a lot of us stay away. Next it’s so crowded but we’ve got a lot of flow. We get a lot of parades going on and we just need more. Yeah. Which does have one a month for a month you’re like a big for a guy like that it brings it brings out people you know and it’s like fun and like you know one you’re the talker that that’s that’s OK. That can drive in the street and that and that that I want to hear more about that after this. OK. The flower show you like I was telling you earlier you know the Flushing. So like when you’re on back that’s on our story. But Tucker we just drove tuckered out. It’s all squared out.

You know it’s just like a giant vehicle. And we we just pick kids up hey you want to get on the. Yeah. Just get on. So by the time we went down and the parades here you know they usually go up and back because they’re so small you can’t sure you can’t do it just one time would be really boring. So and then we just had all these kids like hanging out and riding on top of this Tucker and I was just like you know how fine like these kids get to be in a parade. Like it’s awesome. Yeah that’s great yeah.

I’ve lived in you know big places in small places and when you get towns that still hold onto that almost like Norman Rockwell Americana thing you really connect with it because it’s awesome and it’s kind of pure right like you get there and you get like little kids or you’re not worried about the permit or you know whatever. Like people are just having fun and jumping on the roof and doing that.

That’s the same because the permit thing and it’s really it’s really changing. I think that they don’t want to do a parade once a month. I think they don’t want to close off the main street. I think a lot of businesses are like it hurts my business a lot. But I think that if you think a little bit bigger than you and of your nose you realize that if you have a cool town that you shut this street down once a month we only have one main street in one street in town that has any kind of real commerce. Now I’m not taken away from the other zones that sell you know weed and an auto mechanic like there are other businesses but like our main tourist street is one street. And if people are coming in they love it they’re going to keep coming back and not come in for one day.

If we close down for one day. Honestly I do not think that we’re going to put anybody out of business. I haven’t seen it. I think it’s just that business owners are complaining because they’re having a bad. I think it’s unrealistic. I think it’s an irrational to think that way. And I think that when someone opens up another business in town they’re not your competition. The next are neighbors not your competition. It’s the next town it’s the other ski town that’s that we’re competing with. How can we be a better ski town than those those places so we have good restaurants then what people want to come here. And we have a good product. We have a good town to be in. We have a good everything and we win.

If you just have one really good restaurant. Everything else sucks then no one’s going to come back here. No one’s going to want to be here. They’re going to go to these other ski towns around the country. Right. So I think. I think it’s important to like think bigger than your own business and to think bigger than your own four walls when it comes to community. Right. And like the business owners these aren’t people that just got here. These are people who have been here for a long time so I try to respect that. Like hey man maybe this guy knows Eli’s been in business for 40 years. Sure. But I just don’t see it. I got Sandy earlier. I think we need to make decisions on how can we make this community a good place. Right. And then tourists and community members will benefit. Yeah and I mean. The general just like is that.

This is a crowd favorite manlike. I mean it is a. People. One of people’s favorite places to come visit.

Everyone I speak to but it’s competitive in Boulder. Yeah. Yeah. There are a lot I don’t mean to. It’s a great place.

As long as you don’t go from there and wants to live there. Exactly. Everyone from like half the people in this town.

No but. Yeah. No I don’t know. I mean I think. We talk about the living guys for a little bit 11 11. So you know. You started actually a couple other guy companies and it evolved into some other like we want to get in every step. But like you’re there’s urban guides is a town of Fastrack.

Through it all she works for a company. When I first started on Pavier adventure The Edge started my own business when I saw the opportunity to get a Forsters permit called Cresta Amoun guides.

There was a few other guides services in the valley. I ended up purchasing a few of them and then to buy an adventure. My mentors business and then became like the largest guide service in the area. Did that for a while. And you know I always wanted to try something new and also just getting kind of I kind of ran into where I could had kids. Was

the mayor I was like holy shit I’m really busy. I got to give something up. Mom sold the business to one of the guys a few months later. Back then it was called. Irwin back country guides hoga which is our which is our current operation now that I worked for. They started up cat Irwin Lodge was a Keskin operation that went out of business in 2002 and 2008. You know they bought it in 2006. We started back up in 2008. They asked me to come and work there. I worked there and eventually we bought Irwin guides. We bought crest mountain guides back and started a company called Irwin guides and so then Irwin guides is like the guide service. And 11 is the adventure travel brand. So 11 is where you stay the lodges the properties and then Irwin guides in Colorado is the activities guide service gacha and within them. I

mean you’ve got a pretty sweet job it seems like a fun time in your job is to help them establish you’re in charge of the experience and making sure the people who come in. Have a great time and I was curious like you when people show up and the flights went smoothly and there’s tons of powder and then there’s a bluebird the next day it’s pretty easy like everyone’s happy. How do you manage when when things start getting difficult. Right. Like what. What is the the approach and what do you guys do when can you get there and it’s kind of raining or no ceilings like too slow to go up in a helicopter or things like that. What

  1. That’s a great question you come up on your own. Yeah you know that’s actually a really good question because I think a lot of a lot of guide companies a lot of guides services and a lot of guides kind of missed that. That little piece there and I think that’s great. As

someone who once traveled I’m sure a lot of people listening there if they travel for sports that are weather based. Whether it’s surfing or snowboarding or skiing or whatever. We’ve all been skunked. We’ve all traveled halfway around the world to get there and spent a bunch of money that we just saved up for this supposedly once in a lifetime trip and there was no snow. There was no waves. It was raining or.

Well you know like I was saying about the community here. Like why are you here. What kept you here. You know it’s the people right. And so like 11.

It’s the same. It’s the people the guides and beyond it’s the whole staff that really make this thing incredible and like why you come here and have a great time and so I could go off on this tangent for a long ass time. But you know when we started I got hired by this woman Missy ox’s she’s phenomenal still in town. She’s she doesn’t work for us anymore she left and went on to bigger and better things but she hired me and then a couple months later shy this is getting Billy Rankin. So it was just us and then really close after that we hired this woman named Clare Martin. So Billy Keira and myself all still work here and we were able. Three people you can make any attitude you want you can be all this socks or this and that. But you know Billy’s like I would I would classify him as like the Jewish Santa Claus.

And he sat on town council with me and you know curas has got a really bright spirit but a realistic goal. So she kind of like we all would help each other out we had a we had an office all three of us instead of having our office faced a desk we faced inward. So we all looked at each other and we just play the grateful that grateful that Grateful Dead Grateful Dead and she would just sit there you know some headphones and stuff and I’m like Hey Gary you know what do you listen to. And she’s like why even ask her to the Grateful Dead. And I was like I’m not asking what band you listen to him asked me what year a Grateful Dead you I’ll listen. And so it’s like being the big joke and Billy he’s still you know he’s still our director snow safety director and beyond you know his title is Business Card isn’t big enough to what he does for the Colorado operation and where I kind of spread out and started doing things around the world.

He focused on here and he taught me so much about. I mean no bad days what a cliche but like just having a good time no matter what we’re doing. And so skean might suck. We can’t guarantee the skiing is going to be good. You said you know you go to Mexico and it’s flat you can’t go surfing but you know we taught it very early on that it’s about the attitude of having a good time. So you know what the schemes are not good let’s where a bunch of costumes. Let’s go back country skiing let’s blow something up. I mean the ATF isn’t listening but you know within our regulations you know let’s go do this some advice control work and let people witness it from a safe distance you know and like let’s do something that’s not just hey this sucks like having know if you’ve ever been guided but if you have a guy who’s psyched to be what he’s doing like authentic real really excited like fake not being like cool good the I’m getting paid for like.

He doesn’t care because he’s not working a corporate job. And I say he but she them you know they’re just out there because we have a we have a girl that works for us too like if you’re having a bad day you want her to be your guide like it’s super fun. And all of them are like that all the guys like super pumped men so sometimes it’s really tricky.

You know I take my wife to Irwin I never take her up there when it sucks. I always take her up there when it’s good. So she’s like I come home from work and I got exhausted. She’s like Oh yeah I bet she really I would ski which Baroda and when you Fazl but like sometimes it’s just really tricky skiing. And so you know Billy was always like it doesn’t matter what the skins like. It all matters what we do and how we have fun doing whatever we’re going to do. And so we started just doing that from the very beginning and it is just it is just something that’s our mantra and our ethos of what we are. And so all the guides come on and you know guides are we can be a little you know egotistical and like we’re cooler than most and you know now that I’m so old I’m not cool or the most and I’m not stronger than everyone so it’s kind of like been really humbling.

And what we do is we can enjoy what we’re doing and really enjoy it we’re doing like waking up and you know people say like I never feel like I’m going to work because I love my job so much like that’s true about my job. My

job actually kicks ass. You know I’m not a real estate real estate broker who loves selling real estate. You know I’m somebody who just loves to go skiing and biking and climbing and I think that’s what makes 11 different is that it’s the people and it’s not just in Colorado it’s like wherever you go. And then. So this is Yealands all low. My last example because I don’t know if I’m rambling on I might ramble.

You can it this.

I don’t care so I’m we’re in we’re nice and you know it was like on my last trips I did last year. And these guys have been skiing together for 15 years. You know they knew the Queen program. They had been all over the world. They knew what was going on and we had really just crappy weather you know just couldn’t we’ve got like a half a day and then we got another half a day.

And so I mean it sucked it was like sliding sideways and this is like in May so it’s not like when it’s it’s like almost raining. You know it’s warm it’s light out all the time and so like fuck it and let’s just have like Olympics and so we had this giant Olympic event where we rode bikes and we rode bikes. We shot ski. We felt Pong and it got to be the end like you know and I’m not I’m not saying that you have to get drunk to have a good time but like it start off during the day no one drink or any of that and it moved into a party at night and no one gave a shit anymore about the Olympics. And we just had the best time and then they’re just to leave and I was like hey what about you know laser tag.

And I think it’s you know it’s it’s all cold and blowing sideways outside and you know it’s over. And I was like. Let’s let’s just play urban laser tag and play inside and so we play laser tag and they were like crying. Leaving and the guy said to me. I skied for two half days at a six and this is maybe the best skiing ship I’ve ever had. And they just had a great time. And I tell people this a lot like we’re having a good time. You know we’re having a good time. It’s created there there a lot of times they make our good times happen because without them we couldn’t be doing what we’re doing. Sure. And their energy of having a good time makes us have a good time too and maybe it sounds crappy on a podcast like these guys when I scanned they went play laser tag and that was such a good time. But it’s more than that. It’s hard to describe it but it’s like super fun. Right

. Well that’s why it’s called experiences not 11 guaranteed days are. I mean and travelers know that right. The unexpected part of your trip is is usually the part you remember. I mean you go out to go see some country and you think you’re going to like this architecture museum or whatever you went there to see but you found something walking down the street or some person or whatever and that’s just kind of what it’s all about. And so you know you probably do get to benefit from your clients being adventurous people that are open to it but you’ve got to still make it happen. And I think that’s a lot of motivation. Like

I said Attitude is Everything is something I’ve been living by since I found this sticker when I was on tour. You know attitude is everything and there was a guy I was working with them and I was a crappy day and everyone else was Skeeter and he’s like oh man I’m like a skeeter and I’m like what you gonna do. It’s like I’m going to go back to my room and work. I was like well we should go do something like to do my going horseback riding on horseback riding my you want to drive the buggy or Nylander while you’re like OK I’ll go skeet shooting he’s like Yeah skeet shooting. That sounds great went out there and the guy was a dead shot. He was super good at it. And his daughter got back from skiing and so he’s like you always go skeet shooting and I think it made his day from being super Borensztein in a beautiful lodge.

I mean it’s beautiful in there. But you know kind of something you can do at your own house to have a day that he had a great time like teaching his daughter to shoot a gun better than she was shooting. And so those kinds of things. Yes it is experiences and I think 11 really are bosses. Vision has always been whatever you guys are doing. I wanted to keep doing what you’re doing. You know is this this guy that is like. He makes decisions I’m like wow is was going to work and it always works. He’s very intelligent but he’s very visionary about having a good time. He likes to have a good time right. He likes to go out and do activities.

He stays fit and you know he’s a real person that likes to have real fun. And so if I’m going to go to Mexico to go surfing and it’s flat what am I going to do. That’s not evidence. What else can I do. And I think that’s been the whole behind the scenes with 11 that’s really kept us one unique to all of us energize to keep doing our jobs because it’s so great. And like what can we do better. What can we do different.

Well that sounds amazing man and I don’t know if that’s a good place to leave it. I mean unless there’s something else you wanted to mention I I really appreciate you taking the time. And thanks to the public house people for letting us use their their stage. People have been walking around here. What are these guys doing. People are just curious about.

I didn’t ramble too much and hopefully you get some help. It was interesting I was trying to make it interesting. You

know I think I think so and you know it really says a lot about you know I think people in Colorado are you know they’re curious about towns they’re curious about people and they’re curious about lifestyle and I think and also like the history of the town so I really think we gave a little bit of everything on that. So cool. Thanks a lot man Doug Narong appreciate it. And you know if anything comes up feel free to have you on any time. All

right. We’ll be all right and soon. No no. Exactly. Thanks.

All right.

Thanks for listening and hope you enjoyed this podcast episode. As we mentioned in the intro you can find any links related to the content we mention in the show notes to this episode. If you enjoy this podcast please subscribe to follow us on iTunes and leave a review if you have a few moments if you prefer to get our updates via e-mail or use a podcast service other than iTunes such as stitcher or Android. You can learn more at Colorado.fm/subscribe. Thanks again. Hope you enjoyed this podcast of so and we will see you next time.

 


 

#013 Romp Skis – Custom Skis Built in Crested Butte

Caleb and Morgan Weinberg of Romp Skis on Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast!

This episode is another from my recent tour of Colorado. While in Crested Butte I was able to catch up with Caleb and Morgan Weinberg of Romp Skis.  Romp builds custom, hand-crafted one-of a kind skis for a bunch of really happy clients, and it was a pleasure to have the chance to tour their factory and meet these guys.

Every company has a story, and we get into the history behind Romp and some really interesting twists in their entrepreneurial journey.  We also talk about what you can expect as a client as far as the process of buying custom skis and how they make sure you’re getting what you really want.

Finally, Morgan gets into some of the evolution of design and material and what new skis they are looking forward to this season.

Online, you can find Romp at rompskis.com and on instagram @rompskis.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find these guys and check out their amazing gear in the show notes.

Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Caleb and Morgen Weinberg of Romp Skis.

 


Show Notes

[01:45] What brought Caleb and Morgan to Crested Butte

[02:50] Doing business in Crested Butte

[03:45] A ski company born out of the recession

[05:30] Journey from copy to innovation

[06:30] A custom factory for custom skis

[07:45] How it works from the client perspective

[09:30] Becoming a government contractor

[12:00] What’s new in the lineup

[14:45] Who would they like to hear

 


Relevant Links

Romp Skis

Line Skis

10th Group Special Forces

Gunnison Western University

Reactive Adaptations

 


Related Episodes

Venture Snowboards

Erica Mueller of Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Crested Butte Real Estate with Corey Dwan

 


Transcript

Morgan and Caleb thanks for having me over to the Romp ski factory here in Crested Butte. It’s really amazing to take a tour and see what your process is all about. And thanks for taking some time to talk to me. It’s always fun to show someone new around the factory.

So. You know why don’t you just start at the beginning like what brought you to Colorado and then specifically Crested Butte. And what made you kind of want to stay. And then you know then we’ll get into how romp skis kind of came to be.

Well I moved to Colorado in 92 after graduating from high school to go to school in Gunnison Western. I went to school there. By the time I was done going to school I had moved to Crested Butte. So really even as I moved here to go to school my plan was pretty much always to stay. So once I found Crested Butte this is where I want to be.

This is one of those things where you just using college as the chance to relocate and you are good.

Yeah I mean I came on a college tour of Colorado and by the time I had been to Crested Butte I knew that wherever I could be the closest to here is where I was going to stay.

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So as far as doing business in Crested Butte like what’s it like growing a business in this little town and you know how’s the community for that.

I mean having a business in Crested Butte is a challenge. There’s basically nothing available here that is involved with our business. There’s no going to the store to get something that we don’t have. So we end up making a lot of things on our own. It’s easier to get raw materials and it has to get finished products here. So we we build a lot of things that in other places you could go by.

And that’s kind of the case in a lot of small towns I guess.

But you have to get a little more creative first year where you know where the end of the road here so. But I mean it’s a challenge but in some ways it’s part of the fun and it’s fun to build things so that’s what we do.

You’re building things from scratch. That’s kind of what you guys wrote to anyway right. So when we talk about Romp Skis was kind of actually born out of the recession you know what were you doing at that time and what was the opportunity that kind of opened the door for this. And did you really ever see it getting when you started did you see it get into where you are today?

Well, no we definitely didn’t see it getting to where we are today because we really didn’t have a when we first started there wasn’t really a plan for the future it was only us doing something for fun because we had that winter off and I were both working in construction and we didn’t have a house to build that winter.

So we were skiing a lot and Morgan found online a few web sites that were describing ways of new ways that people could come up with to build skis in your garage with basic woodworking tools which were things that we had because of a construction company that I owned. So between our woodworking knowledge and then we had some fiberglass knowledge from doing things with boats when we were kids we were pretty well prepped for making skis. So we started that winter I think we made eight pairs in Morgan’s garage and they were they were ugly and most of them fell apart.

But when we gave them to our friends many of which are you know lifelong skiers or pro skiers or people who work in ski shops or people with a lot of experience people loved their skis they really had a good time on them. And that feedback from our friends prompted us by springtime to rent a space and start a business. And that’s where that’s where Romp Skis started.

Gotcha. Was there anything when you saw these videos online where you were there with your experience were you able to see like I what we can do this part better in this part. Differently is there something no secret sauce to the recipe or is it just you know kind of extra care and some skill.

That’s what I mean when we first started it was just you know can we do this at all you know we we basically took skis we took shapes that we liked from other companies. We were both working on line skis at that time and we love their shapes and some of their ideas.

So we I mean when we were first starting we were copying things that other people were doing it wasn’t. It was hard enough just to try and put the things together and say to not you know we weren’t designing anything brand new. We basically took a shape that we liked and we made a little fatter and that was our first ski.  But now I mean with a lot more experience we do believe that our shapes and our designs are really innovative and they’re fun. And that’s really the goal is to make cool skis that are fun.

And I mean you know you were able to give me a little tour around a place which I appreciate is really cool to see your process and you’ve had to even innovate the process in the sense that since you’re customizing them you know a lot of your equipment is kind of adjustable and you know it’s ready to accommodate. I guess all the different you know your kind of designs but all the different clientele customizations that you’re doing. So that was pretty interesting to see for sure.

I mean most ski factories are designed to build things on repetition. So you’re going to make the same thing until you’re done making it and then you get to make something else. But we press between four and seven pairs each day and every one of them is basically completely different from the one before it. So all of our equipment from beginning to end has to be designed to take that change and be able to continue moving the products to the factory.

So we’ve had to adjust what regular ski factory would do to accommodate that.

So what’s the view from the client and what’s the process. Kind of like if somebody decides they want a custom pair of skis.

So people find us normally either online or it’s someone who’s here in Crested Butte and they stop in the factory but either way the process is the same. It involves 15 minutes to half an hour interview with the skier. And that interview is really about them as a skier not about the skis because most clients don’t know exactly what they want. And even if they do they may not be right. So we really try and help them give us the right information and then we design the ski for them and with their input of course.

But sure that’s the way our process works and it’s very successful. We very rarely get a pair that isn’t you know if people don’t love it.

Right. And you know we were looking at some of the skis that you’re making right now. You know these orders kind of came in at the tail end of last season. People have those in time for for this one. But you were kind of saying the turnaround time that you try to keep is we really try to keep our turnaround time.

Less than about five weeks. We want people to be able to order their skis and get them while they’re still excited and not forget about them and then have them show up in a package so we do get we do get backed up around Christmas time and things get pushed out a little farther. But in general we try to keep it in that month the five week zone.

Right. Right. And so you said you’re doing about seven pairs a day like what’s that translating to a year. How many skis are you making.

We’re hoping this year to be somewhere in the mid 300 for custom skis. And then we have we did a large order for 10th group special forces. So that was an additional 350 pairs so this year we were hoping to be somewhere up around 700.

Can you tell us a little bit more about that what that relationship was like with the 10th Mountain guys?

So its 10th group special forces and they are their base down at Fort Carson and that started by us making some custom skis from. For some retired guys are from 10th group and they came up with a design that had a special graphic that was commemoratives to a lot of things that had to do with that group. And after we had made their skis they opened up that graphic to anyone who was a member of 10th crew could could order a pair of those skis from us.

So a year or two after that the 10th was ready to order new skis for themselves and they had heard of us obviously because some of them were risky on our skis so we got the opportunity to bid on the skis along with a bunch of other companies.  And we won that bid and we were able to make those skis last year.

Gotcha. Is that something you think is that like a one off type thing or is it become ongoing.

Who knows. We’re hoping it’s going to be ongoing we’re bidding on more military skis.

Now it’s a slow process dealing with the military and the Department of Defense so we don’t really know the answer. We’re hoping to do more. They’ve been great guys to work with. Even though their process is slow the individuals have been really helpful in making our little company into a military contractor which is not from what I’ve gathered speaking to other people it’s not a common thing to have a company this small b military contractor so their helpers has been we couldn’t have done it without it.

Well that’s definitely got to be one of those entrepreneurial twists that you never saw coming out.

We never had any idea that we would ever do anything like that. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who had become a military contractor right.

That’s crazy. So what do you think. What are you excited about for the next like you know a year or two for the company you just kind of hoping for steady growth do you see any cool new products coming along.

So we’ve had a we’re always developing new skis so we’ve got our new ski for this year. It’s one time under foot and it millimeters and it’s flat tails. He was not a twin tip it’s a little different from what we have done in the past as well it has a longer side cut in it. We designed it as like a back country specific ski for skiing back country powder.

So it’s made to tour well we can build it with our lightweight core which is paulownia and carbon reinforcement. So that’s going to be I think a really fun ski for a lot of people it’s light and it works well and it’s. And it powder really well it’s light and cuts through you know variable conditions and stuff like that. And then the other thing we’ve started to do a lot more of is counter veil which is a vibration damp and carbon fiber which we license a few years ago and have been you know incorporating it incorporating it more and more into our skis and it’s a really cool material.

And it started to catch on with more people now.

So new shapes and new materials are just kind of always evolving and I’m sure the back country basically is definitely driven by your Christodoulou crowd in location here because it’s definitely a playground for that.

Yeah it’s you know Crested Butte shs really good back country access. There’s basically you know four valleys that lead out of town and dead end the roads dead end or closed in the winter time. So you can hike personal bill from there and access tons of stuff. So backcountry has always been you know an important part of our products and development.

Was there anything else you guys wanted to kind of mention about your process or customers. I mean I really appreciate getting a chance to take a look inside and know I guess maybe people should know that it is a retail location they can kind of stop by and see what the the process is and know a lot of people who are order in the high end custom stuff. They kind of want to. See what’s going on for real. But. You know one last question I do like to ask people when I’ve talked to them is you know is there anyone else that they think you know they’d like to hear kind of their story on this podcast. Is there anyone you guys have in mind that you’d like to hear. Oh yeah.

I mean as far as local Crested Butte kind of builders.

There’s Jake O’Connor here in town. He builds custom hand cycles for disabled athletes and he’s really pushed to the development of them and made them you know their off road and he does fat and plus tired ones and really cool bikes and he’s really taught himself how to do it.

And while it sounds like a crazy story I’ll have to hunt him down for sure. Thanks for that. You know one of the fun parts of how this cast is kind of you know gone beyond people I know or can find is people give me the best recommendations in their local town of two to go track down next.

But will listen guys. I know. Best of luck with this company and everything you have going on it seems amazing. I’m actually a snowboarder so that my my brother is actually he comes across to be a lot and I was like oh you got to look at these rough guys. So I was like OK. And thanks for making the time. I really appreciate it.

Well thanks for stopping by.

OK. Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy this conversation with the guys at rock. As we mentioned in the intro you can find the links to any related content in the show notes to this podcast episode. And if you enjoyed this episode please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes and leave for review if you have a few moments if you prefer to get our updates via email or use the podcast service other than iTunes such as stitcher or Android. You can learn more and subscribe at Colorado.FM/subscribe. So thanks again. Hope you enjoyed this episode and we’ll see you next time.

 

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#012 Crested Butte Real Estate with Corey Dwan

Corey Dwan Talks Crested Butte Real Estate on Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast

Corey Dwan Crested ButteFor this episode I was able to sit down with Crested Butte real estate expert and local realtor Corey Dwan.

While most of my podcasts to date have dealt more with the Colorado lifestyle, as real estate values continue to soar this aspect of life in Colorado isn’t far from most people’s minds.

Whether it is the on-going conversation of affordable housing in resort communities, rising rents across the state, how to nail down your first home or whether now’s the time to buy that dream ski house, the current economic environment and growing popularity of Colorado affects everyone.

Of course, as is usually the case, the story behind the story is super interesting as Corey explains how his seven-year climbing odyssey eventually landed him in Colorado.  And I think everyone trying to achieve that lifestyle will appreciate his explanation of how real estate investments helped make it happen – and he did it with his money from being a checkout guy at Safeway!

So, just a really interesting tale of adventure mixed with business, which adds to the perspective he brings to his real estate practice.

And as far as real estate goes, Corey offers his insights into what’s going on in Crested Butte as someone who has seen both the ups and downs of the last few cycles.

Online, you can find Corey at crestedbuttecollection.com and on twitter @coreydwan.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find Corey or anything else we talk about in the show notes.

Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Corey Dwan of Crested Butte Sotheby’s International Realty.

 


Show Notes

[03:30] A 7-year climbing odyssey brings Corey to Colorado

[06:50] From Denver to Crested Butte

[09:15] Historical perspective – How the economic downturn played out in Crested Butte real estate

[11:30] How remote workers and families are changing the local economy

[15:30] Growing pains, the challenges for Crested Butte going forward

[19:00] Current market conditions in Crested Butte

[21:30] Summer visitors exceed skier visits

 


Relevant Links

Crested Butte Collection

Crested Butte Community School

CrestedButte.gov – Affordable/Work Force Housing

Tommy Caldwell

 


Related Episodes

Erica Mueller of Crested Butte Mountain Resort

 


Transcript

 

All right. Hey Corey thanks for having me over man. It’s been a great tour of Crested Butte. I was really glad to catch up with you and thanks for being on the show because as much as the other kind of entrepreneurial stories that I’ve been getting into are you it was super fun. You know what’s going on in the real estate market is really on top of mind for everybody I think who’s either in Colorado or is potentially thinking about moving here.

We’ve got the dogs.

They say hey maybe it’s my soothing radio voice.

But you know so it’s super relevant. And you know I appreciate your insights. You know Crested Butte just it’s kind of a crowd favorite. So your perspectives. Thanks for having me appreciate. Awesome. But before we kind of get into that I love learning more about what brought people to Colorado because whether it was 30 years ago or 10 years ago where you know I moved here about three years ago where if you’re thinking about it you know there’s some common things that go on with it you know that pursuit of lifestyle and you know things that make Colorado really special. So what brought you here.

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Well that would have been that would have started in 91 but I was working for Safeway out in California. I started rock climbing back then and man over the course of a few years and some long trips I got frustrated with my job that I had there and quit. And that evolved into seven year climbing trip basically traveling all over the world and living off some investments that I was smart enough to do as a 21 year old kid. So that brought me to bend Oregon to run a climbing company afterward. You know and I kind of felt like I needed to settle down somewhere and from there I moved out to Denver. The front range.

Who came. Was there anything in particular that brought you to Denver. Was it work or just Colorado or climbing the mountains and being outdoors and actually real estate prices were pretty low in 99. Gotcha. And you know I bought my first fourplex out there for a hundred and seventy eight thousand dollars you know for four apartments. And that was the thing I talked to my real estate agent I said you know I’ve been traveling for seven years.

I don’t want to have a mortgage or be stuck just like why don’t you look into duplexes. I worked in some duplexes and it was still cost me a thousand bucks a month. I can’t afford a thousand bucks a month if I’m on the road for a year. So I said What’s the biggest thing I could buy and she said fourplex So we started looking for those. My first one I bought moved into and I was making 200 bucks a month living there. Catcha and I gave me the freedom to keep traveling.

Right. All right. So. So before you even really got into real estate from the brokerage side you were an investor. I was then. So you lived in one of the units were not the other three in that kind of bankroll your your lifestyle. Correct. How long did that kind of go on and did it just stay with that or did you end up growing into something that beyond what you even thought it would be.

Well it definitely grew into something I didn’t ever expect. But over the course of six seven years and I had a job at Safeway again it was a simple phone call from my old manager to out here and that just gave me health benefits and a paycheck. But that first fourplex turned into I don’t know 22 places eventually. Gotcha. So just through the course of learning what was a good investment. I kept buying and buying right.

And that in that perspective has got to be useful when you’re talking to people whether here or anywhere else of course.

Second Homes are a big part of the market and investments and not to mention you know that kind of advice to say somebody looking to achieve that lifestyle here. I mean I don’t know what kind of multifamily is available and how much different it is totally a free market. It’s a different world.

But you know you bring it sounds like you bring a lot of different perspective to the table than somebody who maybe has just been working as a broker their whole life you know. Yeah. That’s super interesting So how long do you stay in Denver. And what brought you the move to Crested Butte.

Well I was I was in Denver for almost seven years. And what brought me here was actually a phone call from some friends. We were on a 10 month climbing trip. Australia New Zealand and Thailand and they came back early and I kind of got them into the Denver market to invest in properties when they moved out here.

So they called me up and they say Crested Butte was going off you got to see this place. Check it out. I never heard of it. So when is this. This was. Oh for Oka when they bought their first places up here right after the million but the resort in March of 0 4. So when I got back from my climbing trip I came up here and absolutely fell in love of the place. I mean what is there to fall in love with.

Exactly.

It’s pretty amazing.

So I got really emotional did a bunch of investment’s speculation of the Muellers buy the resort definitely help spur my interest. Because I already was an investor and yeah that’s how I settled down here we started installing tile when I first moved here. He even installed a tile in the back room have to call it tamale.

Oh there you go. Do you still get tamales out of that or will it do for at least a year. I think he hooked me up big time. You got it. Dobbins gone now and new owners own it. So no more discounts. Gotcha.

I think doesn’t transfer. So I think you know it’s really interesting to hear that wall you always had this other stuff going on you are still kind of a side hustlin and doing other things and you know taking the chance to invest in you know it just really.

Sometimes people forget when you look back and like all these properties or this business didn’t just arrive here you know like really hard for it and you know make some smart and sometimes lucky decisions you’re in the right place or bad ones or bad ones. And that’s where I want to get to next so you’ll get in here in 2005. I mean you know we were just talking about this before. You know you saw the peak of the cycle and then you know the financial crisis and everything that happened in basically every part of the economy after that. And on top of that you’re like in a really small market of you know second homes and vacation homes. I mean what was that.

And you know what was Crested Butte real estate going through in 2008 well into in 2005 when I moved up here it was it was just starting in rock and roll obviously because smaller but the resort No 4. And our market lags behind the rest of the real estate market a couple of years. I remember phone calls with my dad warning me what are you doing buy in real estate there you know you may be at the top of the market. I said no we’re own own little bubble and so forth and talked myself out of his advice which I should listen to that point. So in 0 5 0 6 0 7 0 8 I mean the market was going absolutely insane. Right. Whereas in the rest of the country it was going down and it takes a while for people to realize they can hold on to their second third fourth fifth homes.

So by the time it got up here a couple of years after the crash elsewhere we started to play in the market with properties that people couldn’t hold on to anymore. Right. Yeah. And unfortunately I just bought at the top so I made some poor investments.

Right. And what what happened as far as the ski. Vacation economy at that time as well. Like we’re skier days way down way down. I mean this is not a cheap hobby.

No. I’m back in the day before the Mueller’s. You know they they obtained 500000 skier visits a year. Right. And shortly after. They purchased the resort we were down into the 200. Oh ok. Yeah. Well we’re still recovering from that and they don’t really they haven’t broadcasted really what they’re skier visits were last year even. But I know they are getting close to 400000 if not more.

Yeah I thought it was like around there. From research I did yeah. So what you’re saying is like that’s just getting back to where it was previously. Pre-Muellers Yeah. Gotcha. And so that’s hard you know these are hard businesses and these smaller economies are dependent on you know tourism and things like that. There’s not that there’s other not other companies here and other things going on but they’re dominant. And you know it’s a big number of jobs and a big driver.

And one and one thing we have now is a multitude of families that have moved up here with people being able to work from home. That’s changed our economy. Sure. Because even if we go into another decline we have families here that are working remotely and they’ll sustain our restaurants a lot better than they have in the past. Sure. Because we were we depended on skeer visit Solway back then or summer visitors right. Sure. But like you said like year round residents people who come work from anywhere like they’re starting to become a reality of the last 10 years I guess. Yeah. In Crested Butte in other towns.

When I moved here I believe there is less than 300 kids in school in 0 5 and now we’re up to over 700. Wow. So it just goes to show that winners a long haired drapery and I get a lot of people who moved here with their kids because it’s the most amazing place to raise a child that can ride the bus when they’re five years old.

And I was I was just talking to somebody else last night and he was he was talking about how adding the high school changes that whole dynamic because before that you may move here for this little sweet spot when your kids are certain ages. Right. But you had to go somewhere else. Or you had to commute to Gunnison. Right. Which would be horrible. Right.

Not because as I’m just talking about it’s only half an hour away. But when you live somewhere where you drive three to five minutes a day a half hour is a long way. Exactly

. And so so things like that so having these full time residents has precipitated adding things like a high school which means you don’t have to leave when your kids exactly which gives you that whole perspective. Hey we can live here like basically indefinitely. Yeah.

And the kids get a great education because it’s one of the best schools in the country. Yeah. Literally because it is.

Yeah. With 700 kids or whatever it is ratios are probably pretty epic. And I know I can’t even imagine what the life of these classes the day.

I mean powder days. I mean they get out and they enjoy themselves and they’re good kids. I mean the kids that grow up here I think they don’t get into drugs like they do in other metropolitan areas because they have the outdoors to enjoy. Sure. And parents do the same right in the end so. So

these are all interesting things and from a real estate perspective you know what I really enjoy about talking to a real estate agent is that know it’s their job to know all these things regardless of whether you have kids or not. That’s the questions that everyone’s asking. So I don’t know the answers exactly. It’s fantastic because you know these are questions that are asked by whether you live here or you’re thinking about moving here and not just crested butte but just kind of in general. You know they’re hard choices and so you know we’re starting to get into this world of less attached to kind of big city centers little towns like this start being a potential And so what have you been seeing as far as you know what’s new. Chris Matthews a small town. We’re talking how many actual full time residents.

Fifteen. Fifteen hundred eighteen hundred. Right. And about over 400 dogs and 400 nice.

Exactly. And there’s like three families that have 80. No no. I mean I did see like five some people walk in like a bunch of dogs. You know my dog walker. Oh do those. You don’t just set them loose.

Well you can see we don’t have a leash law. But they have to be envoy’s command. OK. Are you in command as I use on my dog.

Whatever works. But when you have a town the size your little incremental growth is a lot you know 100 people is 10 percent growth right. You know 10 families move to town. It’s a significant clamshell right. And so. Towns like this always deal with growth issues right because you’ve got people who want to keep it the old way. You’re worried about losing what made it great in the first place. You know what. What are some of the challenges you see kind of going forward for Crested Butte. Just as a town and I know this is just kind of your opinion. You know it seems like they’re you know they’re building some good infrastructure. But you know do you think they’re moving in the right direction.

I think they are. And I think Crested Butte does a good job of limiting growth as best they can and we’re surrounded by millions of acres of national forest so it’s you know the biggest the biggest issue here I think is affordable housing. And you know a lot of people have had to move to get us because they can’t afford to live up here anymore. When we get to a point when there’s so much construction going on there’s so many more bodies in the sea that come here because it’s busy. People are forced out because rental prices go up.

How to solve that. I really don’t know the best answer obviously.

I mean this is a discussion going on and basically every ski town and of course Colorado right up and and it becomes into an argument of who has and who doesn’t and it’s not really about that. It’s about making the right choices and moving forward. And I know town has the best interests to do that. But are they doing the right thing. I’m not sure right. Are putting houses on the east side of town next to the river and some of the most valuable land. Available giving it to locals for 50 grand so they can build deed restricted houses. Is that smart. Personally I would have sold all that land and gained millions of dollars and built affordable housing because most people that come here to work are longtime residents. They’re here for two or three years. They want to experience a ski town before they you know settle into their job after getting out of college.

They don’t want to buy a place they want to rent a place rent. So I think we could have used a lot more money from that particular example. Building affordable housing in it had inexpensive rent for people that needed it right.

Yeah it’s a challenge. And again like I mentioned this is a conversation going on whether it’s Vail. Well it’s it’s a steamboat it’s I mean anything everyone’s trying to figure out that balance and not only just a balance from an investment an ownership standpoint but a I mean we need housing for the people that are relied on to run all of these businesses right. And so yeah it’s there’s no easy answer but a step and more into kind of your realm of things you know. Appreciate your insight on that other stuff. But you know so what do you see in like in the market right now. I mean is Christopher you just there’s some gossip building going on in town there’s some new lot of construction and construction going on down.

Prices are going up. Inventory is at an all time low. And just to give you an example I think right now we have 74 condos on the market on Mount CB. When I moved up here in 0 5, 0 6 at one point we had 380 on the market and that was when we were getting all time high prices. Sure. So what I’m seeing right now is of low inventory and a lot of demand. So supply and demand is as simple as that. It’s going to pop and it’s going to happen soon. And you know in some cases single family homes have recovered two prices they were selling for and 0 6, 0 7  already condos haven’t land hasn’t but because of how much inventory of that particular product there is it usually takes them longer. So there’s some good perspective because there are.

You know if you read a lot of financial news and if you’re into real estate you know that it has been in what they’ve called an uneven recovery rate. There’s places that have yet to recover from prices that were made in 2006 or so some places you know New York’s way above where where it was at that time. And so it’s interesting to hear that you know with all this growth and all this demand like this town is just getting back to where it was protected which gives you some perspective on hey is this you know as far as it can go it’s like well I mean it’s actually been here before and it was 10 years ago it was 10 years ago and you know when you talk to brokers that have been here for 35 years it’s cyclical.

And historically when we reach highs that we did in 0 6 0 7 after the following dip our highs of the next heighth of the market surpassed the previous rhyme and that’s. So it’s always an upward trend. Right.

As places like this become more and more desirable to live in a lot of a lot of things have changed about the workforce and things like that that make it that much healthier actually economy in the long run like we are which is actually not that it’s it’s not so dependent on the tourist time.

So it’s the big piece of the pie.

It might be our summer and just an example you know it used to be ski year based. Right. Well now our summer visitors have far outreached our visit. So our attraction is summer. Right. And then obviously the ski resorts doing well and they’re getting more and more ski resorts every year. But it doesn’t even come close to how many summer visitors we have.

Right. Which is which is another just kind of great thing to keep in mind because you can’t help but think that it’s dominated by the city resorts.

And we have a saying here this the winters brought me here. Summer is keep it here. That’s true. Summers are absolutely amazing spectacular.

That’s good.

I mean it’s been fun to come here kind of in the shoulders. Because it’s super empty and the last time I was here it was just earlier in the summer. And you know it is beautiful. But the town’s kind of crowd in there’s a lot of stuff going on and you know I’ve just been able to wheel around and feel like I have the place to myself. So it’s been pretty Feydeau.

I always enjoy those times. And this is my favorite time of the year because April-May or mud generally. Sometimes it dries out sooner but the fall is absolutely incredible. I mean we’ve been biking right up till Thanksgiving turkey is fantastic. I’m not going to complain. Well hey man I don’t know if there’s anything else you know you feel like might be some good inside about this town that you wanted to mention.

But man I just really appreciate you just taking a few moments just kind of talk about what’s going on out here. I mean again real estate on a lot of people’s minds. You know I’m in the front range and it’s just crazy.

Yes and it is here too. I mean we’re up 30 percent over last year at the end of the second quarter. Right. And I’m sure the third quarter is going to be up just as much compared to last year. So the demand and a lot of it is coming from the front range because they’re tired of that I-70 corridor.

So they’re buying over here although I I’ve heard that argument and being a front range person like I have to drive on a two lane road the whole way here so that’s true you know it’s you know maybe because no one little hick up in that chain and no way you’re going to wait.

So you know I do love getting out here but it’s it’s hard to put in Beauty and the crowds are less. Yeah.

So aside from those two things is fair to ask a bit less faithful which is exactly what we’re all what everyone is looking for exactly.

Well man again thanks so much. You know it’s really interesting and I hope we can just kind of have a conversation like this again in future sometime for sure. Oh boy. Any time. All right.

Thanks a lot.

All right thanks for listening and I hope you enjoyed this conversation. I know it was a bit different but I thought it was super relevant and I really enjoyed having that chance to sit down with Corey. As we mentioned in the intro you can find the links to any related content in the show notes to this podcast episode.

And as always if you enjoy this episode please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes and leave review if you have a few moments if you prefer to get our updates via email or use a podcast service other than iTunes such as stitcher or Android. You can learn more about how to subscribe at Colorado dot FM for Slash. Subscribe.

Thanks again. I hope you enjoy this episode and we will see you soon.

 


 

#010 Erica Mueller of Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Erica Mueller Crested ButteErica Mueller of Crested Butte Mountain Resort on Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast

 

Thanks for tuning in to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast.

Crested Butte is a real favorite here in Colorado among the Colorado ski, snowboard and mountain biking crowd, hikers, leaf chasers, dog walkers whoever.  It’s just an amazing place to visit at any time of year, both the town and the mountain itself..

So for this podcast episode I made it out to Crested Butte to visit Erica Mueller, who is currently Vice President of Crested Butte Mountain Resort, but more interestingly daughter to Tim and Diane Mueller who began buying ski resorts in the 1980s.

Now, we’ll talk about this more in our conversation, but the Mueller family began their journey in the ski industry with the purchase of Okemo mountain in Vermont, where I’ve actually spent tons of time, in the early 80s.  Erica was just one year old at the time, so she’s literally been in the ski business her whole life and she offers some interesting perspective on what that was like growing up.

After realizing some success there they were able to purchase Crested Butte Mountain Resort in 2004.

We talk a bit about how Erica transitioned from professional snowboarding to joining the family business, addressing the challenges of being in such a high profile position in the Crested Butte community, new changes for this season as well as 5 year plan on growth.

Of course, I’m always picking my guests brains for great local tips and insight – favorite spots, stuff like that and Erica offers some great local knowledge.

Online, you can find Crested Butte Resort at skicb.com and on instagram @skicrestedbutte.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find references we talk about in the show notes.

Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Erica Mueller of Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

 


Subscribe to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast – on iTunes


 

Show Notes

[03:30] A lifetime in the ski industry

[06:00] Turnaround stories, a focus on client service

[11:30] Not quite ready for the family business

[15:30] Ok, now I’m ready…

[17:45] First season as VP

[20:30] Explaining the recent change in ownership

[25:20] Maintaining a constructive, open relationship with the community

[30:15] Exciting changes, 5 year expansion plan

[33:30] Favorite ski runs and rides

[37:45] Who would Erica like to hear on the podcast – Karen Hoskin of Montanya Distillers

 


Selected Links from the Episode

Connect with Crested Butte Mountain Resort:

On the Web: skicb.com

On Facebook or Instagram @skicrestedbutte.

 

Other References:

Evolution Bike Park

Teocalli Ridge Trail

Doctor Park Trail

Montanya Distillers (Erica recommends the Maharaja)

Steamboat Winter Sports Club

Okemo Mountain Resort

Champlain College

 


Transcript

Erica thanks for making some time. I really appreciate you being on the podcast. I think our listeners are really going to enjoy getting the story from behind. Crested Butte and everything like that.

This just I was doing some research and I really came across some fun stuff. First time was being an Okemo person somebody who moved from the East Coast out to Colorado. I came across this picture of your family that Okemo in Vermont that was taken right right around the time when your parents Tim and Diane bought the resort so it was like in 1982 1982 was this little 1 year old girl in that picture in a little red jumpsuit.

Yes you’ve heard of this scene. Is it on your mantle at home?

We actually show it or welcome orientations for on the phone. So we came from. Yeah.

So excellent. But I saw that you know is just it really hits home that this.

You know business has been your entire life. And you know so I’m really curious know what was life like in the Muller household as a ski resort owner. And you know when did you start to realize that that’s kind of different and pretty special because you know when you’re a little kid it just is what it is. Right. But you know as you get older you kind of things start down on you like wow.

Yeah.

OK so I’ll start obviously I was a year and a half when my parents started chemo in 1982 and so I had I I’ve known nothing else. As you say one of the first times I remember somebody talking to me about it because I really did as a child and I think my brother did too that we didn’t know any different.

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We I thought my parents made as much money as the left operators and they probably did because everything they made they put back into the mountain to make it work. At the time.But I thought everybody was equal they were all part of my family growing up and I knew most everybody at the mountain you know it’s obviously a lot smaller operation when I was younger.

But anyway the story that I’m thinking of I was in daycare and that’s where I my child care was because it was obviously easy it was the daycare right at the resort there then them and I was playing with one of the counselors and she she I think I was on her lap or something and I was like swinging back and forth you know and she had my hands and she was like ‘So Erika and I didn’t really know where that well I don’t think she goes Erica Mueller. So your parents on the mountain.’

And I was like No they only own half the mountain. And she was like well what do you mean. And I didn’t really know what that meant but I knew that my parent that it was a Vermont State Park. Half of it was. And so my parents didn’t own the whole mountain Vermont own part of it.

And my parents owned half of it which is kind of funny and you know obviously as a you know I was probably for maybe it seems like you owned half of it you know I probably confuse the you know what out of her bed.

But I really I didn’t know any different. And I think my parents did an amazing job raising Ethan and I to just just be who we were and you know at school we are in a small town of course like I wasn’t any different I wasn’t special we were never treated any differently that we just we just got to school for free.

Well I think you’re doing some research.

I think it’s worth noting that I mean the industry in the 80s is totally different than what it is now. And on top of that you know these places weren’t booming businesses that your parents bought. They were failing businesses struggling businesses and not you know they didn’t move in and just buy something the way people kind of buy it.

Right. Just to have I mean the you know they’ve they really put everything they had into it and had to be really smart about how they turn it around and forces the whole nine. And then the industry again was just smaller back then.

Yeah totally. So when they bought Okemo it was actually community owned. I don’t know if you found that in your research but it it was owned by a bunch of locals and probably some New Yorkers and people from Connecticut who had been coming up but various shares were out there and so when my dad came across the opportunity they were actually down in the Caribbean and St. Thomas helping my grandparents with their resort and.

And they were looking to move back to Vermont which is where they had bought some property that they wanted to raise us and. And so they had. My dad had to get on the phone and try to get 51 percent of the shares and so he was calling each individual owner of you know various numbers and trying to get to the magical number I think he he got about 60 percent of the people or 61 percent of the shares and he couldn’t afford that much.

So like tell people no I can’t buy the kind of money.

But anyway when they bought it it was I mean it was going into bankruptcy. It was they only had surface left so there was no chairlifts they didn’t have any snowmaking infrastructure was about as basic and elementary as he probably could get at the time and.

And so when they got there actually the first year it didn’t snow till January. So they were like oh my god what did we do. We just put any type of savings or opportunity and we have two young kids and we’ve risked it all you know kind of thing.

 


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They they didn’t have money initially for any more investments to put into snowmaking or grooming operations or lifts at the time so they knew that they had to invest in their people and they had six full time year round employees at the time and they obviously had never run a ski area either so they also knew that they had to rely on their employees like what are we doing how do we make you know what you know and so they it was a big learning year.

And it just started to I think gain success because of their band their attitude their work ethic. Every dollar that they did make they they put back into the mountain. I mean you know we didn’t live a luxurious life by any means nor do we know that we live a good life and we live in a life in the mountains which is awesome but it just you know kind of snowballed over time and they saw more success and they really they kind of made us dance in the ski industry early on of guest service.

There wasn’t a lot of ski areas. Talking about guest service or trying to like make their guests happier or a better guest experience. It was really just about the product. Like how is the grooming How’s the snowmaking especially on the east obviously out here is a little bit different for snow quality.

They so they really started to talk about guest service and you know really welcoming people into our home and and how can we make them feel more welcome and have a great experience because they’re going to want to come back you know kind of things that are natural to all of us now and any hospitality place organization. But at the time it wasn’t really the ski industry’s focus.

Surely these places were a little more kind of hardcore right. And you showed up there was a lift or not even. Yes. If you don’t have a lift and you don’t have service I don’t know what you’re just the hills there and they cut the trees down. They get the trees out of the way. But the industry is it’s hard to even imagine it compared to what it to what it is now.

Yeah. And so they and then only the late 80s I guess after they had you know started to be able to put in some more chairlifts and get rid of some of the pamphlets that they had. They had a ski rider up there. They were you know hosting their PR person was hosting or something at the time and at the end of the weekend they were like well did you notice you have a good time. How was it in there. She was like you know it’s just a little different here.

You know like every replace has skiing in the snow is great in this and that but she was like your people are amazing and there’s something different about Okemo and they kind of just ran with that. And we still try to run our businesses that way. But that was like the the core and the ground of it. And we called it the Okemo difference and still do. And so a lot of our Guest Service Training tune out for them.

Well when you see that that works. No you stick with it. And then the capital type things is you know you can start adding right to that and you can start doing those types of things.

But that service orientation is a culture that I mean it sounds like you’ve you’ve brought to you as you started to grow and so we can kind of bring us up to where we are today a little bit in the sense that so your family acquires Crested Butte in 2004. So at that time you’re still I guess are you at UC Boulder at that time or are you. Are you snowboarding.  Are you looking at the family business or are you still just playing.

That’s a good question. I graduated in 1999 and I did a semester at UVM not really knowing what I wanted to do but I was getting that business administration together for that semester I guess I knew I wanted to still snowboard and I had competed in snowboarding in high school and I was seeing some success with it and I was like you know I want to make a career out of this.

I want to like kind of live that dream I wasn’t really ready to go to school and my parents were very supportive and I found a program in Steamboat the Steamboat Springs winter sports club. And so I moved there and started training with them in the winter of 2000 January 2000 and I guess I lived there full time from 2001 on.

But yeah. So I was competing in snowboarding I made the U.S. team. So seeing you know some fun success for that. In 2002 I did go to Boulder. So I always promised my parents I would go back to school. I didn’t know right off the bat that I wanted to be in the family business.

My brother did. He was like on that path and I knew it. But I guess I wanted to mess around a little more and I just I just wasn’t sure you know my parents always said to us like you don’t have to do this. You need to do what you want you need to do it makes you happy.

And so I guess I tried to explore that a little syllabled or I was going to for that semester I went for exercise physiology or kinesiology and I thought that was where I wanted to go you know into the sports sciences and snowboarding and I don’t know where it was going to lead me but. So anyway I went back to snowboarding again that that next winter and just I guess just kept going at it and I was not ready to fully commit to college.

I did eventually in 2006 say you know what. It’s time to figure this out. Online colleges we’re starting to you know be more prominent and my mom happened to be on the board of trustees for Champlain College in Vermont in Burlington and she was like actually funny you should mention that Champlain as you know really has been growing their online school program you should look into and I’m like oh shoot this could be good I could snowboard and I could live in Steamboat and I could travel the world for snowboarding and get my degree and that’s sort of like a date. I yeah like too good to be true right.

And I was able to to do that. And in three years and spending a lot of papers from Internet connections that didn’t want to support that and like Russia and Italy and you know wherever it was stressful at times that I felt super fortunate to be able to do that. And once I was done with snowboarding in 2010 I could just be done and start working and I guess through that time between I guess 2002 and 2006 is when I kind of decided that you know what my parents are amazing.

They’ve taught me so much. The ski industry is probably one of them most fun out there you know like why. Why would I not want to be. And we’re a very tight knit family so I think it just you know I just had to do it a little exploring and then come back to it.

Well I mean not every business needs you know every person at every stage you bring different things to the table when you come back. You’ve been around the world you’ve seen different places. It’s like you did market research for 10 years.

I totally did. I actually used to collect trail maps from everywhere I went. I’ve got those somewhere.

So it is kind of fun like hey we should bring in you know in Japan this resort had this cool thing with Ramen so.

So it was like say 2010 that you were like. I want to kind of get involved or it’s time it’s time to. I want a job and I want to see the life. I’ve looked at other jobs and yeah that’s another fun so. So. And then you started like how do you kind of enter into the business.

Yeah I I had done for school I had come down to Crested Butte one summer in 2008 and I did an internship program and the marketing department. And it was for school credit it was something I had to do to graduate so it kind of worked out well. They were actually hiring for an intern that summer so you know it’s kind of serendipitous somehow it wasn’t.

This time it wasn’t fully just handed a job which was posted that was posted there.

So I had done that in the summer 2008 and then in 2009 10 that was the winner of the Vancouver Olympics. And so I was gunning for that. And I unfortunately get really bad shined in Beijing and wasn’t able to compete the way I needed to. So I didn’t make the Olympic team.

And as soon as I found that out in the beginning of January it was like I’m done I’m moving across to you and it and I’m ready to start a career and not stress myself out with competing. And it was an interesting time too. You know it’s like this relationship that you’ve had with yourself for and you’re you know competitive spirit for so long all the sudden you’re like oh my gosh what am I doing.

And I guess I knew you know I knew what I wanted to do it was so deep rooted that I came here and the marketing department did give me a job or my dad gave me a job I could say that yeah help them out for the first time for that first winter and then eventually we needed a PR manager and so they put some faith in me and we had a consultant at the time I helped and I worked with her and were in the role of PR in that for a while and now here I am as a vice president. Somehow some way.

So you’ve climbed kind of those ranks you know and that’s been a lot of family business stories are similar in the way that you know you do have you do start your kids or grandkids in some cases or whomever. You know different roles and just let them progress up through the ranks.

I mean I read stories about your brother bussing trays at Okemo and things like that. So like you know you’ve you’ve had your hands dirty in different ways. But last season I guess was that your first full season as the vice president of the.

My brother moved back. Yes he had lived here from 2004 met his wife here had his kids here. And as my parents are getting older they’re you know born in 1950 so do the math. Don’t tell him I said that. But you know they’re not ready to retire anytime soon. I don’t know if they’ll ever fully retire but it’s time for Ethan and I to take on more responsibility and he was a general manager here for a few years and then started taking on more responsive realty with all three mountains. And. And so kind of a natural evolution was for him to go back East.

That’s kind of Okemo is where our headquarters are if we were to really label it a headquarters just because that’s the the base the root of where it all started. And we do have a couple triple peaks is the overarching company name and we do have a few triple peaks employees and they’re all based out of Okemo And so that’s you know for I.T. H.R. and accounting all those systems across the three are streamlined Otherwise each individual resort.

We want to maintain its character and brand and whatnot but so it was kind of a natural evolution that he was going to move back east and.

And so I got to be the lucky one to stay.

But you know it’s pretty important I guess for us as a family run business to have as much presence as we can and each place. You know I think it makes a big impact on your team and your employees to come to work every day just like they do. And you know if we’re busy and lift ups need someone to scan tickets or bus trays and you know some of the first one to be there and. And so just that day to day presence is important. And so like you said I got to be the lucky one to have the data.

You call it what it’s like minus 20 in Ludlow. Like how long did it last so sunny here I came to take a lot of thought.

Actually last year with a big storm that we got in January he was like trying to figure out any possible way because Ethan does come back about a month or week a month I’m sorry. Just to see how things are going and he still does. At the end of the day oversee the general managers. Sure can. So he like trying to figure out how to convince his wife that she needed to have a do a work trip in January last minute work.

But I don’t think she was buying this mission critical. Really fall apart totally. So funny.

That’s that’s amazing.

And but you know the Mountain of course is doing great from everything you read and this town’s doing great. You know depend on your perspective. Yes. And in the industry in general. You know Colorado’s just kind of booming you’re definitely riding a wave. To some degree it’s pretty amazing place to be.

Absolutely. But at the same time like it seems like right when you’re taking on all these new role and new responsibilities is when you guys announced kind of this change in the financial ownership of you know the company like your there is all this you know change from one big investment firm to another and there was this big 14 resort deal was that there wasn’t a challenge. When you first were stepping into that role. Because I know communities are getting tight when ownership changes happen. They want to know things.

But your history with these places and your you know your family history with the town must have been what made the difference as far as communicating with how this deal was going.

And it was it was a lot of communication I think because it is such a confusing deal for people. It’s it was really just getting the message out that nothing would change.

I mean we have a long term lease so to kind of explain it in 2008. Money was getting pretty tight and we as a small family business we didn’t have the banks were tightening up I guess and so for us to have any sort of access to long term capital was getting very challenging. And so my dad and a finance guy that we work with sold all of our assets as a sale leaseback.

So now instead of paying a mortgage quote unquote have to put in simple terms we pay a lease payment to this company or it was the company’s CNL lifestyles. And so as part of CNL and this is the confusing part. And they they had to liquidate their assets in a certain number of years after a certain number of years for their shareholders to stakeholders to get back to them and liquidate all their assets and however they wanted to do it they could either start a new real estate investment trusts or they really ideally wanted to sell the whole portfolio so it was really the whole transaction was at basically like if you put it into simple terms if I owned a mortgage on a house with the bank of the West and Bank of America bought it I would just be writing my mortgage payment to somebody else.

So that that’s really our relationship with CNL. I mean do you know we show them we have to approve capital budgets with them and we show them are operating budgets. But there’s no relationship in the sense of how we operate the resorts and so it wasn’t for a lot of people in the media it was like oh my gosh I crested butte selling or that you know what’s going on. But it really has no change for us. And so it was mostly just the communication of we’re still going to do the best that we can and operate as we always have.

And like you said it’s a long term relationship but it is interesting. If you only read the headlines you would not know what happened. It took me a little digging to really understand like the analogy that that you had trying to reiterate right and I was like oh well that totally makes sense right. It’s just I didn’t find that on the on the headline or in the first sentence but it was right out you know the bottom of the article were not a lot of people get these days by the time they’ve read that far they’re already told.

Just said Crested Butte sold with 14 other 13 other resorts obviously were always in the headline. But in Colorado we were right. So it was interesting. I mean I even had friends texted me like are you moving over right now.

So here you go. Yes.

So there’s been a lot of you know talk about that in town and you know some people I don’t know.

I think at the end of the day you know we’re we’re here in Crested Butte. We’re committed to Crested Butte rumors that we’re selling you know pie kind of because of this happen but now we love this place and we feel fortunate to be a part of the community there.

And it’s I mean it’s clearly an amazing town a lot of the people I’ve had a chance to speak with so far. I like to ask him at the end of course they’re you know kind of favorite place if they get a weekend with the family or and sometimes they mention local things and quite often they just go well. I like going to Crested Butte.

OK. Well what about the town you know so it’s clearly a special place and it’s you know locals favorite for sure. Do you.

I was just sitting down reading last night I was reading kind of one of the local papers when I was eating dinner and I guess there was some you know elections actually coming up in the town.

And so they had all the profiles of you know potential mayors and city council people and everything like that. How do you maintain a you know just like a real solid relationship with the community. I mean you have to align your your growth needs with the town’s growth needs with the towns desires to kind of stay small on one place which you know obviously. Is very difficult to actually happen the words kind of out.

Right. So it’s like I’m I’m not putting the word out. You give this podcast. I exposed how awesome Crested Butte is. Great idea.

So you know how do you like kind of keep that balance with you know the resorts needs the resorts business needs growth kind of needs and the demands from your customers with you know kind of what’s going on in the town. Because I mean even the town itself is growing and I know jobs are provided. There’s all these economic benefits but at the same time you know people who are just like it’s just you know they don’t want change.

They want it to come to Crested Butte and shut the door right now. Nobody else can come in after the road behind you.

Right. It’s interesting and that actually is the main part of my job I’m not as much in the day to day operations. We have a general manager Mike Kratz who has been with us for over 30 years and moved out to Crested Butte in 2005.

So he gets to deal with that stuff and I definitely am more of the community outreach person obviously the face of the mountain. But I would say you know we’re never going to be perfect but I think how in our approach as a family or my approach in general is to be as transparent as possible.

I think we’ve learned that through some hard lessons to be honest especially in this community it’s a lot more critical because it is solely dependent on tourism. This whole valley is I mean yes we have some other industry but it’s very small when you see the percentages. And so you kind of get the big target on your back up here. There have definitely been times when it’s not that fun but at the end of the day you know you run your business with integrity and you know the decisions that you’re making are in the best interest number one in your business.

But also therefore your community because your community is so dependent on you and I’m not saying that we’re perfect or we are you know always have the right answers and we don’t make mistakes but we do stand here with our heads held high knowing that we’re doing the best that we can and we hope that everyone sees that too.

But in terms of the count you know I work with the county quite a bit in economic development and you know community wide staff I do we meet with the town council or the mayors pretty frequently just say hey how are things going. What are you doing. What are we doing. You know just keep those open lines of communication. I think at the end of the day people they can form opinions that may not be based on fact. And so the more you can get the fact out there are the reasons behind your decision. The more people understand. Sure. But like I said we’re not perfect. I’m trying.

I think that’s just that’s life. Right.

There’s a lot of always different interests colliding and the best way is to kind of get together and be open and fair about it as it is to be.

What I hear about the businesses in general so and that’s one of the thing you know I tell everybody and I’ll repeat it here again just in case they’re listening you know. But you know we have an open door policy it’s one of the most frustrating things like if someone has a gripe or a concern and they post a anonymous. Wow anonymously on Facebook or they call the paper or write a letter to the paper to say what’s going on here what why is this happening.

Just call me come in you know like you saw my door was open and I was I was going to have to talk to somebody you get tossed like a duck. So I was by over to say it’s OK. I think what’s going on here. There’s no clear answer here.

No. But you know it’s just it’s kind of people’s nature to not necessarily if it feels uncomfortable they’re not going to come. But I welcome it. I want the opportunity to explain decisions that we make or why we’re you know doing something this way or haven’t dealt with this or you know whatever the concern is or the question maybe it’s not even a concern like I’m pretty approachable or it’s awesome.

So was I just going on what are you excited about for the next. Are there any changes from last year to this year that you’re super excited about with the new season coming in. Or are there some kind of three or five year things that you’re you’re super excited about. Or both.

I’m always excited for the snow to start to fall first foremost first and foremost.

I think I loved to ride my bike and so I’m always a little hesitant to start welcoming winter. But then when it comes it’s like that itch and anticipation that you just can’t shake. It gets pretty exciting so seeing the snow on the peaks is pretty fun. I think you know for this coming winter there’s there are a ton of huge changes I think really what we’re getting excited for is in the future.

I’m kind of putting together right now a five year plan now that the economy has stabilized a little bit. Obviously things are going a lot better for us here in Crested Butte than they have been or than they were after the downturn of the economy. And then Colorado in general they’ve kind of discarded a lot of voters out buying

But anyway so we’re you know putting together that five year plan we are currently in the NEPA process the national bimetal protection act process with the Forest Service for expanding some terrain and Forest Service land so that’s for us that’s pretty exciting. We hopefully will have a draft guess environmental impact statement this winter. So seeing the results of the studies which we know there are many concerns or any concerns but to see that out in public I think will be exciting and and to kind of get some rejuvenating. And you know the excitement about potential expansion and capital investments coming in here will be a pretty fun few years to be a part of.

What was the last what was the last like kind of major expansion has a mountain been in this state for a while.

In terms of the ski terrain terrain.

Yeah we did a few years ago we opened up some more extreme terrain kind of on the back side of the mountain actually very it will be lift accessed with this new expansion once that hopefully does get through the approval process but right now it’s hike out. And so this area called teow too. So we did open that a few years ago it was about 40 acres of more extreme terrain so it wasn’t anything major.

But you know especially for locals who have ski back there may be are you know have wanted to ski back there it was pretty cool and it’s some really neat terrain and different views that you don’t always see from the mountains so that was pretty cool. But other than that our footprint has been pretty much the salmon has been the same really since we got here I guess we added the prospect a lift which really services some slope side homes and stuff on the other side. Back of the mountain.

But the majority think the difference is this. So maybe in the next five years or so you know again pretty exciting because it’s the first maybe a more major. Yes the answer.

Yes and it’s going to be just about 300 acres or skiing and it’s you know intermediate skiing all the way to double lock time. And so it’ll be good for all of our guests that we read.

Pretty neat. That sounds fun. So on a powder day where without you you know you can lie to me you don’t have to give away your stash secret though like favorite runs like favorite area of the hill cache.

That’s a good question.

I pretty much just follow my husband.

He’s lived here for longer than I have. You showed me the way he’s looking thought. No.

How about with the kids when you’re when you’re if you’re with the kids and everything. What’s your kind of best routine area.

Well I don’t have kids and my nieces and nephew that’s OK.

You know it’s been actually fun. My oldest niece is almost 10 and then almost eight in the most three. So it’s been when they did live here up until last year. It’s been fun to see them expand their terrain. You know now instead of just going up the red lady left we’re going up the silver queen and they’re taking me through you know all these little tree skiing areas that you just have no idea even exist you know because for an adult it’s not even on your radar. But they’re you know trash and threw and fallen down and laughing. And it’s it’s quite a joy for me and a powder day. Gosh that’s a great question.

I think you’re always trying to time it with the terrain openings to get there early as well. Where do you go. It’s just how soon you can get there. Everyone’s always like to have a radio you know where patrols going on like now.

No I don’t. For those who don’t get up faster than anybody I have gotten a couple of special runs.

It has been glorious. But you know I think this this mountain has so much to offer in terms of fun terrain there’s really no other place I’d rather be on a powder day and like you said I have skewed a lot of areas. Now that’s probably an that’s a really good question.

We’re always like it’s about time. I mean I think actually probably one of the favorite from like a full experience actually is even just off the queen on the front side either like sunset Ridge or coming down the funnel and then you’re overlooking town you kind of feel like you’re going to ski into the town of Crested Butte or maybe off a cliff into the town of Crested Butte and you’re not. But you just feel like you’re right above and I think that’s a pretty neat sensation. It’s a little bit different.

And then you know on the other side like when you go out to Teo 2 and you’re overlooking absolutely nothing. You know not a single house not of any type of development is just natural national forest or even wilderness. And there’s something special about that. I think also I’d like to take it all in just the past.

What about you know you mentioned them you know the mountain biking around here is just amazing. I mean again I know it’s hard. But if you just had one day to head out on your bike is there any talk.

I’d probably do a Teocalli Ridge. Yeah that’s one of my faves. I get it.

I haven’t done that one. I’ve read about it. I’ve been doing some research and I don’t think I’ve done that one.

Yeah it’s pretty awesome and I have some snow on the ground of an uphill. Don’t get me wrong I like my bike for some of it.

But the downhill is amazing. I think Dr. Park is another top one for me that I could do over and over again and never have a dull day. And then honestly like the most I ride is here out my back window of my office and ride the evolution bike park it’s right there and I can get a quick lunch lap in or you know maybe a four o’clock laugh before I head home and I’m so proud of the trails that we do have here and what our crew has done. And it’s definitely not as trafficked as you know some of the more popular ones but I kind of like that.

You know a lot of times you know your favorite hike is the one on your back door is this the one you get to do right without having to drive it without having to really think too much about it. If you can just you just want to go and escape. Get it out. Absolutely not. You don’t have to plan. You know it right.

The last question I like to ask people on the podcast who would you love to hear on this podcast.

Go to I think well somebody. I’ll say somebody locally because I think she’s an amazing woman and has done a really cool thing with her business. Now she’s starting a new business. But Karen Hoskins from Montanya Distillers. OK she makes rum which is kind of an anomaly. There’s not many rum distillers especially in Colorado. And she’s just fascinating has done a ton of traveling in India and Nepal and has a great outlook and positive person. She’s just beautiful inside and out I guess I’ll talk to her.

That sounds like a great recommendation because I was funny I was walking around town getting dinner again like I mentioned last night. And I walked by there and I was like all distillery I was like rum I can’t think I’ve ever seen it at least again like you mentioned in Colorado. You’re starting to see a lot of distilleries joined the brewery movement.

I definitely don’t think I’ve ever seen a rum one. So now I’m going to put my head in there later tonight and see what that’s all about. They should get a Maharajah. OK.

The recommendation has been noted. Well you know I really appreciate you taking time. It’s been fantastic to come here and visit you on your home turf and get to soak in your office view a little bit. To back and see. I definitely will. And now that I know I know the doors open I’ll all come by and put my head and say hi to her. But thanks again I really appreciate that. Fantastic to meet you. You bet. Bye bye. All right. Thanks.

Thanks for listening I hope you enjoy this conversation with Erika on Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast. I really had a lot of fun having the chance to meet her and get out to visit her on her home turf there. Get as always you can find links to any related content in the show notes in this podcast episode and if you enjoyed the episode please subscribe in his pockets on iTunes. Leave review if you have a few moments. If you prefer to get our updates via email or use a podcast service other than iTunes such as ditcher or Android you can learn more and subscribe at Colorado.FM/subscribe.

So thanks again I really hope you enjoyed this podcast episode and will talk to you soon.

 

 


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#007 A Life of Adventure and Polar Exploration with Eric Larsen

Colorado.FM Interview with Eric Larsen

“Adventure really strips bare the person that you are.”

Thanks for tuning in to this really special episode of the Colorado.FM podcast.

Photo Credit: Sam Bricker

In this episode, it was my privilege to speak with world renowned adventurer and polar explorer Eric Larsen.  Eric is included in Men’s Journal’s list of ‘The 25 Most Adventurous Men of the Past 25 Years.’ and coverage of his exploits have appeared in Time Magazine, Outside Magazine, the NY Times and many other publications.

North Pole expeditions are widely considered to be the most difficult adventures on the planet. Eric has been to the North Pole three times, with the first being in 2006.  The next time in 2010 was part of his Save the Poles expedition in which Eric became the first person to make it to the North Pole, South Pole and top of Mt Everest in a single year.

Finally, Eric’s 2014 North Pole expedition was documented and can be seen in the series titled ‘Melting: The Last Race to the Pole’ on Animal Planet and can be read about in his book On Thin Ice: An Epic Final Quest into the Melting Arctic.

Have Fun, Do Good

Our conversation ranges from Eric’s activity in groups that are working to bring attention to climate change issues, such as Protect Our Winters, to why his expedition was very likely to be the last time anyone stands on the North Pole.

I can’t recommend watching the documentary enough.  It is truly amazing to see what it takes to make this kind of feat a success and what is happening to our planet in places that are rarely seen. I was totally gripped.

Online, you can find Eric at EricLarsenExplore.com and on instagram @elexplore.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links find Eric and all the related content, videos, his book, and group’s Eric supports in the show notes below.

 


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Selected Links from the Episode

Connect with Eric:

Web: EricLarsenExplore.com

Instagram: @elexplore

Facebook: @EricLarsenExplore

Twitter: @ELexplore

Others: YouTube & Flickr

 

Books, Articles, Video by Eric Larsen:

Documentary: Melting: The Last Race to the Pole – Animal Planet

Book: On Thin Ice: An Epic Final Quest into the Melting Arctic – Eric Larsen

In Praise of an Unforgiving Arctic – Outside

Alone on the Ice – Outside

How to Weather a Storm – Outside

 

Other Media:

Listen to a phone call from the North Pole – Redbull.com

This guy goes to the coldest places on Earth so you don’t have to – Time

The 25 Most Adventurous Men of the Past 25 Years – Men’s Journal

Will this man be the last to trek to the North Pole? – Outside

This is the most difficult expedition on the planet – Great Big Story (Video)

Follow the explorer who tackled both poles and Everest in one year – CNTraveler

 

Other References:

RyanWaters.net

Protect Our Winters

Big City Mountaineers

Skratch Labs

National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

 


Show Notes:

[2:35] Protect Our Winters:  Just back from Washington DC

[6:00] Growing up in the Larsen household in Wisconsin

[9:30] Connecting the dots – The path to a career in adventure

[10:30] What brought Eric to Colorado

[14:00] The supportive adventure community in Boulder

[16:30] The expeditions – Because they might not be there in the future

[17:30] Seeing climate change first hand

[23:00] Recording the most difficult on the planet

[24:30] Choosing the right expedition partner – Expedition partner newlywed game

[29:00] Doing one thing for 2 months

[30:30] Needs vs wants – How adventure clarifies decisions

[32:00] The ongoing process of digesting lessons from adventure

[33:15] Life between expeditions

[38:30] Coloradothon!  What’s next…

[42:15] Favorite spots and activities in Colorado

[45:50] Wrap up – Who Eric wants to hear on the podcast!

 


Related Episodes:

Lindsay Bourgoine of Protect Our Winters

Jon Miller of Backcountry United

 


Transcript:

 

Hey Eric Thanks for swinging by. Really appreciate you taking the time out of your pretty busy travel schedule to be on the show of course. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. That’s really kind of a real Explorer here I must say it’s something I was hoping would happen on this podcast. I didn’t know when or how soon. So again I appreciate it. You just flew in from Washington D.C. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’re doing up there.

Yes so I you know I work with a lot of different nonprofits. You know realistically bigger answer. Most of my expeditions are really platforms to talk about ideas and issues that are just bigger than myself and as someone who’s been focused on cold places for nearly all my life. A huge part of what I want to do is protect those places and so I work with a lot of climate change based organizations on a variety of initiatives and one of those is Protect Our Winters which is also based in Boulder.

And so there is a bunch of us who are kind of athletes ambassadors and the snowsports industries that were in Washington D.C. just kind of knocking on Congress doors and saying hey what are you doing about climate change. What legislations are you working on and how can we move the needle on on kind of the things that are going on in Congress that are going to facilitate clean energy renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions.

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Yeah it was funny. I just totally coincidentally saw I guess Gretchen Bleiler. Yeah and post about a silver medalist and I think half pipe is. Yeah I think so. And you know she was mentioning some attempts to kind of go across the aisle like was that was it. Were you feeling anything from yeah.

You know I think I think everybody who was there I mean there was like a list of like pretty impressive winter athletes from like Gretchen to Alex Deeble who is like a bronze medalist in in border cross and a bunch of big mountain skiers and Jeremy Jones and Matt Segal who is a climber based in Boulder as well.

So there’s a bunch kind of heavy hitters in the outdoor space and I think all of us were were definitely impressed with our ability to one just have a conversation and also kind of like be direct about you know asking those legislators What are they doing. Can they get more involved and I think a lot of people you know Republicans were really interested in in you know trying to find a path into that arena so to speak.

So I think it was a super positive outcome for all of us. We were everybody was really pleased and I think the other thing is in terms of the auto industry and kind of that idea of activism through adventure I think an association with Protect Our Winters I think a lot of us are kind of as a group starting to find our collective voice. You know there’s a lot of influence that exists there through social media and otherwise and I think you know being able to flex those muscles to help kind of protect the places that we recreate and play I think is really important. Right

Well that was definitely something unexpected that you know we were able to just chat about since that just happened. Yeah right. I guess yesterday I woke up at 5 o’clock in the morning got on plane and on here.

Right. Awesome. So let’s kind of back up and get into your story a little bit. I was really curious what was life like in the Larsen household growing up as is everybody and explorers everybody climb and you know it was just craziness. I don’t know if you have siblings or or you kind of the black sheep when it comes to this stuff.

Yeah it’s interesting you know I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I am the way I am and I’m not totally sure that I have the answer. But I do think my background and my upbringing has a lot to do with it. You know I grew up in a in a house that was very focused on being outside and you know we went to a lot of family trips as kids like camping trips. You know we would never stay in a hotel at any stretch.

And my dad was actually very much involved in just environmental issues he was the director of a nature center. So I grew up as a kid like collecting prairie seeds and and banning birds and like my friends and one of my friends were like What are you doing. Like they had no idea and it was actually as a kid it was pretty awkward for me.

My parents were very focused on that and that natural aspect of the environment and I was very much drawn to the your side just as as on an individual level. And so I had a lot of support in that arena. But you know back then in Wisconsin there isn’t this bigger network of adventure and it’s always fun for me or funny I guess to compare like the world now versus back then and we just didn’t have this bigger perspective that a lot of people can really get through.

You know Internet media social media today. And so I didn’t know I knew that I like to do these kind of outdoor trips. And I was just trying to find my way to adventure and whatever I could you know like when I was in eighth grade I got a paper and saved up enough money and got a bicycle you know and then I was just able to go.

That was like I allowed me to go out and just explore on my own because that’s what I wanted to do. So I would grab a map and I would write 60 70 80 miles you know and stop at a bar and grab a Coke and you know keep riding I mean this was this as a 12 year old kid you know. Sure. And so that was like me kind of like trying to discover the world for myself. And it kind of progress in there. But like I said in Wisconsin there was no kind of infrastructure set up for somebody like myself to be able to kind of get more in those skills and so I just kind of did it on my own.

You know I was lucky enough to be involved in a few kind of youth groups that were doing adventure trips and you know I was able to get a taste of some of these things and then just started kind of planning my own trips from there with friends and you know we would make up adventure in any way we could we would like canoe down the river in our town we’d portage down a canoe down main street in my small little town you know and then keep going just because we wanted to do a fun adventure.

We’d you know take our bikes and go somewhere or whatever it was so we were just trying to find adventure and whatever way we could. And it just kind of went outward from there.

Sure. I mean now everybody like you said they have so much influence to things like this you look on Instagram and people are out there campaign and posting pictures and everything I guess. When we were kids. It was more about having those old National Geographics laying around and things like that.

Yeah. That was literally it. And there was no like path.

Like a career. So for somebody who’s passionate about nearly anything today if your passion a rock climber there’s there are people that are professional rock climbers and you can see that. So there’s a line that you can connect and even in a lot more abstract careers you just have access that information you understand that you know you could be interested in photography and potentially be a you know professional photographer.

But you know I just those those avenues weren’t all open or didn’t exist. And we and a lot of those careers didn’t exist at that time. So for somebody like myself who was really passionate about the outdoors I always say I wanted to be a professional camper. Like I just loved camping but that job didn’t exist at all no. You know it still does. But it was it was kind of what my goal was and you know I was lucky enough that I just kind of believed in that idea for whatever reason long enough that it was able to come to fruition.

Sure. So where does Colorado kind of come into the picture of what what brought you here was you know and you know when kind of in your life would you like I’ve got to get to Colorado. That’s where I need to be to keep this exploration career going. Or was that kind of a decision or was it just you know to be in the mountains of you know kind of take.

Yeah well you know the funny thing about growing up in the Midwest is is that Midwest is very focused on the Midwest and I love being from that area. A lot of great friends there’s a lot of great things about the Midwest. And as a kid I remember seeing a Colorado license plate and just being like you know just the license plate alone like you know the Green Mountains it’s so different than any other license plate in in our country and very emblematic of the state as well.

And to me that represented just the ultimate wilderness and realistically for my entire life you know I’d read a lot of historical exploration books and I was just fascinated by this idea wilderness. And so I had that idea of Colorado being one of those really iconic wild places and when I graduated college roommate of mine had a job as a whitewater canoe guide out here and I had been up in Alaska at that time and doing a few other trips.

And and he’s like come on out. I think I can get you a job and without any certainty of a job I you know loaded up my 1985 Subaru Geo wagon and you know drove out I-70 for 17 hours and landed in Denver and lucky enough just kind of like talked my way into packing food for those trips and then getting on the trips and eventually guiding those that summer and that was way back in the day like 95.

So I spent a couple of summers guiding those Whitewater trips here in Colorado and just through various work left and kind of settled in a remote area of northern Minnesota and was kind of going about my thing but as I started planning for my trip in 2010 to the North Pole South Pole Mount Everest I realized like I don’t really know anything about mountains.

You know I had kind of set this goal of climbing Mt. Everest with doing this trip to both poles and being from the Midwest. Again we don’t really know much about mountains and while I had been out in Colorado previously I you know I hadn’t been on the water most of the time. And so I was like OK I think I think I need to be in a place where I can be at altitude where I can train and concurrently had also met my now wife. And so a lot of factors just kind of came into play. I’ll say it’s for my wife but it’s also just as important just for mountains. Sure.

And it was a great trip. It was a great transition for me. I’ve been living in northern Minnesota a place that I really love but it’s very again I kind of I didn’t realize it at the time but for someone who was involved in adventure there just wasn’t that bigger community. I mean there’s a lot of I had a lot of friends that we did find trips but there wasn’t this bigger community of people who were really involved in like leading edge expeditions. And so for me to come out to Boulder was a really eye opening experience and a lot of levels in it. And quite honestly it opened a lot of doors and facilitated me basically being where I am today.

Right. And I. I get that feedback from a lot of the people that I’ve spoken with in totally different areas that you’re one of the things that’s really you know Colorado is kind of on fire right now and one of the things that’s making it great in that way is obviously people are moving here for lifestyle but they’re getting real support professionally in all sorts of different fields it’s just a very open kind of collaborative environment. And so you know you’re not the first person who’s who’s mentioned that. And again everything from obviously tech type things going on here food and it’s a place to be for professional adventuring.

Oh yeah.

I mean you look at I mean just Boulder alone. It’s crazy. I do a lot of biking. So my game that I always play when I’m biking when I see somebody else bike and I just go pro or not pro you know because there’s so many professional athletes that are very professional bicyclists you get triathletes runners climbers skiers snowboarders you know you name it. And so and that’s just in the sporting community. And obviously you have all these other industries that are here too but from an adventure perspective you know there’s world class rock climbing here and you’ve got access to world class skiing out an open air mountaineering as well. And you know Alpine environments and so it and there’s good access in and out. So a lot of today a lot of modern adventurers do a lot of traveling. And so like I was telling you earlier you know I arrived in the airport today and fly out tonight.

That adds a lot you know like we’re coming and going. A lot of people are coming and going and so being able to get to the airport you know as much as those are a part of my actual adventure it’s it’s a facet of life the life as it stands right now.

Sure. Nothing like being able to get good access hopefully even a direct flight it saves on time every day. You know we all are looking for that and I love how you mentioned the license plate because I remember when I moved here and got my license plates transferred and they were like well which ones do you want because they have all these options down like I just want the green and lights. Yeah. You

know that’s why whenever I see one whenever I see the white ones I’m like What are you doing. Hi Green. There’s only one license plate that you should get. Exactly

Exactly. That’s amazing. So like kind of getting into your expeditions. The I was doing research and you know one of the things that you’ve been saying you know so George Mallory said you know famously about why are you going to climb Mt. Everest because it’s there. You know what you’re the message you’re kind of getting across now with your expeditions especially in the Arctic is that you’re doing it not because it’s there but because it it might not be there in the future. Do you have some really unique perspective like your first North Pole expedition was in late 2006 I believe and then the most recent one was in 2014 and there’s a lot of arguments why.

You know you’ve stated why it might be the last one. Yeah. And so I guess the documentary that you were able to let me watch which I appreciate it was amazing I’m yelling at my computer screen and I was watching it. It’s on Animal Planet I believe.

Yeah it was on Animal Planet and Discovery.

And it’s actually still playing globally on Discovery channel so I every once in awhile get like an email from Argentina or Japan or whatever. Like oh we just saw the documentary so it’s cool that it’s still cycling through right and getting shown.

So so for for people who haven’t seen it though like walk us through you know what had changed in in those years since when you first started going and now. And you know some of the I guess no obvious climate and technical reasons why that 24 expedition might be the last one.

Yeah yeah. I mean just taking a step back. You know I kind of arrived early at this love of adventure but also as someone who really likes to be outside just the love of our environment. And I also you know really like winter. And so it seemed like a pretty direct step to use my adventures as an advocacy tool as well as well as you know ultimately like back in the day it was just like firsthand observations you know because so often we were you know getting questions about you know is this is the melting really happening like they say it is.

And so it was just kind of bearing witness to those places. But also you know Arctic in Antarctica and a lot of cool voices are really abstract to people. And so you know we don’t have much of a connection to those places.

And so for me a lot of my adventures were really important to be to put a human experience to kind of overlay that physical journey in that emotional kind of journey as well that we’re going through to build that connection to what that place is like versus It’s just an abstract place that if it melts it doesn’t matter. And I like it if it’s two degrees warmer I want to put on you know snow pants in the winter.

So that’s kind of like the background of where things are at. And I’ve been kind of on this like mission for a long time and you know a lot of my wife and all my differences like why are you going back to the north pole so I first Mannatech for 2005 we reach the North Pole and in summer in 2006 and it was a it was an incredible journey.

It was very unique a world record and to me that kind of just solidified how this adventure component can really work in to telling this bigger story. And so I kept trying to go back and reach more people because I. Because you know politically that I odd ideologically in our country we kept having this conversation that was kind of cycling around. Is this science real. Is it really melting.

And so as this conversation is still spiral with no real action taking place I’m observing that and trying to figure out how I can get people to notice this place that because I’ve been there and spent a lot of time there and am seeing these changes firsthand. And so that’s kind of the thing that kept me coming back. And ultimately you know between 2006 and 2014 the character and the nature of the CIA is very different you know.

So from our summer expedition we had big sheets of ice that we could ski across for several hours. And in 2006 in 2014 where it’s just a surface of rough ice much thinner ice and much more sporadic movements of the ice to the point now where the ice is so unstable that the that you know the real limiting factor of North Pole expeditions isn’t so much the ice although that’s changing dramatically it’s the logistics network that’s shutting down so the ability to get a plane in and land safely no longer exists. So in reality know our 2014 North Pole expedition will be the last human powered land to North Pole expedition history right.

Yeah because you otherwise have to be able to go out and back.

Yeah there is.

There’s logistically it’s it’s like almost impossible the conditions are changing so much. You know we have overall the temperatures are warmer in the Arctic now which kind of makes things easy but you have this kind of type of ice it’s much different and so it’s and it’s a really difficult. And for me it’s probably one of the most unique expeditions on our planet.

And so that’s another reason why I kept going back up because it’s an amazing challenge and you can you can do that journey you know every year and it’s going to be different every time because the ice is constantly changing not only just year to year but minute to minute because there’s all these drift patterns and currents that break up and and fracture the ice.

Right. Yeah and that’s you know what you pick up from watching that documentary. There’s just so many things and you know I don’t want to give it away to people. They should watch it. It’s amazing.

I was totally gripped I was actually traveling last weekend when you sent it to me and I was in my hotel room and I pulled up on my laptop I was like let me just check this thing out for like you know I got to watch like five minutes. But you know I wanted to kind of get outside wander around because I was you know having fun in Chicago and it was an hour and a half and I couldn’t stop. I had to sit there and watch the entire thing and like I said by the end of the thing I was just like lose my mind.

Yeah it was. It was hard.

I mean that was it’s I called the most difficult expedition. It’s a really hard trip and people have a hard time understanding why that’s the case. But it’s a really hostile environment. And and for that to ever feel like it felt like everything was stacked against us. Well those ice conditions logistics pullovers our food you know you name it.

And yeah it’s hard. And I and I feel very lucky that we were able to record that. It took a lot of effort in a very real way. You know like I’m kind of on an anti fluff campaign overall in terms of you know we live in this world where we’re where we’re constantly barraged by these like ideal moments. And it’s very easy in adventure to want to put. Or as you’re talking about things that put your best foot forward.

And that’s just not how life works. You know like we’re not always our best people and you know the really unique thing about adventures is it really stripped bare the person that you are. And at a certain point there you are. And so that’s really unique I think it’s compelling for people. It’s that emotional connection that I have and try.

But the hard part is trying to film that in that moment when you’re like worried about almost getting in by a polar bear. Do you really want to get the camera out or would you just like Wanda leaving. Get out of there. And so our inclination is to get out of there or versus film. Right

And then what you’re mentioning right there really leads perfectly into another question. I really wanted to ask which was you in that movie leading up to this moment and having that human side of things. How do you find the right partner for an expedition like that. I mean when you say I want to do an unsupported trip to the North Pole how many people are raising their hands and how do you know that if there’s only a handful you know that you’ve got the right guy because I would imagine you know there’s not that many people who want to do it. But you need them. You know it obviously is an important dynamic when you see like the psychological side of an adventure like that.

Yeah that’s a good question. You know the team aspect there what I view is really important you know I always say like I’m just completely average person like average height average or below the average intelligence and intelligence. So I rely a lot on other people to help me achieve these things. And you know for our 2014 trip there is and I was just talking to Ryan about this the other day as like you know I we couldn’t have done that trip without one another. You know I had a lot more experience than Ryan did and I was able to kind of step up from navigational and just overall planning perspective and but at a certain point like everything becomes non-important when it’s so difficult.

And I think Ryan’s focus and Dr. help me out because I serve what I’m like. I’ve already been an oracle Why am I out here suffering in a life threatening situation I got it at that time I wanted to have a kid like that something like doing an expedition isn’t the most important thing.

Being a dad is the most important thing. And Ryan’s focus really helped me out. But the team the team member thing is interesting actually. I just did a funny thing. We did a live video Ryan and I just had this idea and we did what I call expedition partner Newlywed Game.

So we were just like we put all these questions in the hat and we just pulled them out.

And because we spent so much time together on expeditions that it’s like you know it’s like a marriage almost. Sure. And so we you know we were kind of asking each other like who knew more about you know whatever it is favorite food or you know and it was kind of fun but the teammate thing is hard. You know I do think there’s a lot of people who would be interested in the trips I do. I always say be careful what you wish for because it might come true.

That said like the skills required for these big types of trips we just lose a lot of people that have them and not that they’re impossible to learn. But to step into an environment like the Arctic Ocean with no prior experiences that’s a that’s a that’s a big ask of someone and you know.

So there’s a lot of different things for me. I think the priority is personality. We need to have compatible personalities. We don’t necessarily need to have the exact same skill sets because I don’t think that’s necessarily the most effective. But we want to have complementary skill sets and Ryan and I have absolutely complementary Ryons much more home in the mountains. I’m much more home in the poorer environments.

I’m a little better on the fundraising side. You know Ryan’s got this kind of steadfastness that works out really well you know it’s crazy we have been doing adventures together for I don’t know like eight years or something and we’re still great friends. You know he just texted me before I came over here so and I’m just working on this other project where we’re I have a videographer friend of mine and I was literally Also driving over here on like what is it that makes the perfect partner.

28:13 Because it’s hard. And the rewards are so abstract that you have to have this in this more individual motivation. So there’s a lot I mean I could talk for like 10 hours on this thing but I think about it a lot. And

28:29 like I said just today and you know it’s it’s interesting just because you know life today is so crazy and there’s so many different facets and so for me focus on these adventures 100 percent and then trying to get somebody who has that equal opportunity that like stop what they’re doing go away for two months or two weeks or whatever it is like. That’s just that’s just not necessarily the easiest thing for anybody to imagine. And then you’ve got this other issue for the bigger trips. You’re doing one thing for two and a half months.

 


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28:59 I mean that doesn’t happen at all. I imagine in your life where you wake up and you don’t see anybody else and you go to sleep. You don’t see anybody else and not just for a day or a week but nearly two months. I mean that’s like old school acceleration where they were gone for three years. I mean we’re like a day without getting a text. You know if you text somebody they don’t text you back in an hour you think they’re dead. Right. So and not that I don’t I mean I don’t I don’t I sound like a Luddite like I love modern life. You know I don’t want to go back in time but that’s the cool thing about these adventures and I’m kind of getting off subject but they offer this unique perspective on our planet that we don’t get as much anymore. And I think that has a lot of value. No

29:38 I mean there’s definitely some aspects of your life as an adventurer that embody what people are really trying really hard to achieve right now is thinking about this earlier. Unplugging is definitely one of them. Your

29:52 unplugged when you go on these things I mean more or less is surprisingly we’re actually pretty connected right.

29:57 But from her you know.

30:00 But you’ve got 12 hours on the ice at least where you’re just walking along. And then that idea that you know people are finally starting to wrap their brains around the idea of prioritizing experiences over over things. Right. And that’s definitely what adventure is all about. By

30:16 definition basically totally.

30:19 So I always say the best way to determine what’s important to yourself is to remove everything in your life. And that’s exactly what these adventures do because you’re stripped down of everything and very quickly you get to understand what you need and what you want right. And it becomes very clear and that’s why the expedition to heart because at a certain point somebody determines that and say and they see that this adventure doesn’t matter. And that’s a hard point but it’s also a good realization for them. Or you say yes this matters but there’s these other things. And so you come back from those trips like really forever changed and you have this really clear understanding of priorities in life. And it goes to a resource side as well because if you look at it like we’re self-contained for nearly two months everything that we need is and that is in that slot.

31:13 So that’s another need versus want you look at you know and I’m the same way. I mean I love photographers are a bunch of cameras bikes over a couple bikes you know and this is a great shirt or whatever and everything that we have for two months is in that slot. And you know it’s uncomfortable at times but for the most part we’re making it happen. Right. So those are some lessons that you just can’t help but learn. Right.

31:36 And you know that’s I think one of the one of the many beautiful aspects of of adventure when it sounds to me was interesting that you know you mentioned right there that you were catching up with Ryan and still kind of going over what you got out of this expedition a few years later you’re still I mean are you still kind of.

31:57 Oh yes. I just yeah I mean these are a lot yeah.

32:01 And the lessons I think like they’re ongoing right now. And you know there’s definitely like some immediate takeaways and then there’s the things that just you know happen over time and and there’s also just with Ryan there’s a shared experience like we went through a really hard time. You know one of my newlywed questions around was like who cries more. And because you know we’ve seen each other at our worst our lowest and our most like kind of bear so to speak. So you know I think the lessons are ongoing and you know again sometimes it takes me a while to catch up on things. But there there are those moments where you’re like oh yeah this is what this is or you’re in your life situation you know doing you know washing the dishes. And you kind of remember that one moment and how that applies to the situation or whatever.

32:50 So it’s it’s kind of an ongoing process and I wouldn’t say like on this completely change person. It’s just kind of this continual thing and you know some of the lessons that I have learned that 150 50 times and something sometimes like oh yeah I’ve never realized that before. Right.

33:05 Like getting in the shower you’re like water on your shoulder. Seriously. That’s exactly it.

33:12 That’s amazing. So what’s life like in between expeditions like that. I know it evolves as your family is kind of changing and it’s changed even since that documentary came out. Is it always kind of planning the next thing or do you always have the next adventure kind of in mind or sometimes are you waiting for the light to go off and then start planning around that or.

33:36 Yeah it’s a lot of things you know it’s constantly on my mind. You know I always say when I’m on an expedition all I can think about is being home with my family and when I’m home I just am thinking about trips. Funny enough I was just saying what Jeremy Jones were in D.C. and I was talking to him about some of my early trips and we were kind of just exchange stories and I was said you know back then I was just like an animal for stuff like I would wouldn’t let anything get in my way. You know no risk was too big. And I just I don’t know if it was blind ambition or what it was but it was this sense of this is where I want to go and I’m going there no matter what. And I remember one of my expeditions partners asking me Eric when is it going to be enough for you.

34:27 And I said I don’t know. You know like I don’t know what is going to be enough but I’m so going. And that perspective has changed a lot for me. You know having kids I never really thought much about being a dad prior and when we kind of started having discussions about having kids as I go you know we’ll see what happens. Is like an expedition. We’re like we’re right and I just go up there and see what happens. And I am uncomfortable with unknown’s. And but it’s been easily the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my life I love being a dad. I love taking care of my kids. I love you know seeing the world through their eyes and you know taking them on adventures and trying to facilitate their interest not just mine but see what they’re interested in.

35:12 Try to find ways that they can you know meet the world or whatever. So it’s it’s and it’s harder now to be gone awry and I were in Nepal 2015 we’re on this ridge line going up and to nowhere where nobody had been before and things down like this one hundreds and hundreds of feet. And I’m just like I shouldn’t be here you know but I still have that drive to do adventures and I have kind of these ideas that are that are kind of far reaching. I have a list officer’s adventures I want to do for the next four or five years and then and then but then it takes a while to get the passion about it. So it’s just kind of like sitting on things and I’m kind of at that point again now and it seems to be on that for the big trips is kind of like a two year cycle or whatever.

36:02 And then the other part is like you know there’s a lot of logistics and planning and fundraising goes. The big polar trips and some of his other ones. And financially that’s a huge burden and it’s a scary one. And so if you kind of throw it out there. My thing is like you got to do it and you’ve got to make it happen and so that’s whole lot of stuff that goes into that. And you know there’s a lot of sacrifices that come along and you know with the family it’s a little harder to think about some of those sacrifices words like I don’t mind if I eat ramen noodles for two months you know because I don’t have any money.

36:37 But the kids might.

36:39 Although my son does love ramen so that’s hopeful. That’s you know that’s the business side of that career right. Yeah. Fund fundraising and things like that. Not every you know kind of getting back to what we were saying about the Instagram world not everybody is you know Red Bull sponsored guy who’s got they don’t have you know the helicopter shows up when they need it and there’s nothing like that a lot of you know for a lot of different sports and a lot of the most different realities is that a lot of work to put all those resource.

37:12 Yeah I think even the Red Bull guys you know how a lot have a lot of work to do there’s obviously a bigger sport now or you know it’s easier now than what it was.

37:20 There’s a lot of the same structure. I have a bunch of great companies that I work with that support me and have for many many years I’ve built up a lot of great relationships so it’s not the hardest thing but it’s it’s a challenge because you know you’re still doing big budgets and you know for a company to back a trip that has an uncertain outcome. It’s a risk and you know they’re on tight budgets. Everybody there is working hard. It’s it’s it’s but it’s a fun puzzle that I like. I mean I love the adventures but the the nice thing about what I do now is I like all the other parts too. So I like trying to find those pieces I like trying to you know tell my story unique ways I like trying to take a really good picture that has an emotional side to it. You know I like writing something that explains my perspective a little bit more relates to something that I’ve done so a lot of it is all fun. It just is constant and and it’s a hustle but life.

38:22 Well one of the things you mentioned was making some of these adventures be a little closer to home. So what are your next ones I think is this Colorado triathlon is that.

38:32 Yeah.

38:33 So I was I was I’ve been thinking about this all morning we’re we’re trying to figure out the name and I think it’s going to be called the Colorado a thon.

38:41 I don’t know if I’m necessarily the branding guy for this stuff but you know I often wonder if I’m really change or if I’m just the same person I think I might be just the same person because I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of these things forever and back in the day. You know I live in the Midwest I was just trying to have adventures and I was trying to be original. And and I.

39:06 And in that sense we would you know get our mountain bikes and we would mountain bike and then we would get to a lake and we brought you know we got these inner tubes and we’d inflate the inner tubes and we’d put the bikes on there stripped down swim across the lake and then keep biking and you know and just trying to put these arbitrary parameters on things just so we could have a fun time. And so we could you know it wasn’t any sort of world record. We

39:31 just wanted to have an adventure we wanted the challenge we wanted to kind of push our physical limits a little bit in not this crazy way. And so we would just do those things. Not not for any greater reason than it was fun and you know sometimes we got really cold and sometimes you know we got lost or whatever. But that’s what it was and I think not that adventure has strayed away from there but I think it’s important for us to remember that adventure can be whatever we want and we also have this ability to do these unique things we don’t have to follow everybody else. And so that’s kind of the mindset that I’ve been in recently and this idea of like how can I do that in Colorado this place that I really love where we kind of set some of these arbitrary parameters that are a little more severe. So

40:18 I thought wow I really love biking. I love backpacking and I you know haven’t been in whitewater canoe got. I like being on the. I love water. And I grew up in canoes and whatnot so I had this idea of kind of traveling across the state of Colorado on this human powered way with these arbitrary parameters of biking from the eastern border up through the Rocky Mountains and then getting over towards crumbling and switching to backpacks and back into the flatout wilderness and then getting down near a rifle and then having some pack rafts and inflating those and then and then paddling towards the Utah border just as this idea of adventure and I feel like I’m drawn to these kind of expeditions and adventures that have these bigger themes to them because I feel like I’ve gotten so lucky from the things that I have learned from this event so I want to pass along some insights not like you need to do it this way but the like hey here’s something you may not have realized like you could be in Boulder and you could you know bike up to Brainerd lake or something or you could swim somewhere.

41:24 Who knows what you know like I just think there’s a real opportunity and we’re in a really unique time to do fun things that can also challenge us but that are also unique to each person. And so that’s where that idea came from. And and you know I have this other big philosophy which is like have fun do good. So with any of my bigger trips I think we all have a responsibility to kind of leave the world a better place in whatever way and I’ve gotten so many great gifts out of wilderness experiences that I thought for this trip and this conversation about adventure we could work with the big city mountaineers and on a fund raising because they’re big city Mountaineers which is based in gold and is really focused on wilderness programs for disadvantaged youth.

42:07 So being able to give some of those other people experiences that I’ve had because I feel like I’ve gotten so much out of those wilderness adventures throughout my life.

42:17 So what say you know when you’re not on a big adventure and I love that idea of just like what’s in your backyard and you know that’s where you are kind of day to day and that’s what you choose to live in a place like this where some of these things are right in your backyard and you know it doesn’t again it doesn’t have to be the hugest thing or the craziest thing. You know just going for a hike. You never know where it’ll lead you totally never know when you’re going to come across a snake in the path or you know anything that gets to your heart kind of going. So when you’re not a you know off somewhere else like where where in Colorado you know what are some favorite spots like what are you kind of doing.

42:56 Yeah I mean I have a lot of responses and we’re pretty lucky because we were able to spend the summer across the butte and I love that town. I

43:05 love that area and it seems like every day I’m there I’m discovering a new place like we were just a Blue Mesa reservoir with our kids and it was like we call a beach day because there’s you know you wouldn’t expect to be able to have them in Colorado but we did and the kids loved it but I love Crested Butte for its access to wilderness. I’ve been a bicyclist forever so I love road biking the mountain biking and so the mountain biking in Crested Butte is ridiculous as is just like I do a lot of photography so being able to just get out and snap a couple of pictures just for fun. So that whole Ganesan Valley to me is like one of my favorite places in Colorado living in Boulder. Obviously we’re right here at the front range. I’m in North Boulder so I tend to stay that direction.

43:53 But you know honestly one of my favorite things to do is hike up Cinny this lake. I love the hike up and eat this because you can literally just walk out your back door and hike up that mountain and I love that. And there’s a lot of times when nobody is up there you know if you hit it in the right time or I go up there a lot in the wintertime when I’m training I put a pack full rocks and I just hike up serious. And there’s been a lot of times where it’s just like you know it’s like 20 degrees and everybody’s like in all their clothes or whatever and you’re the only the only person up there even like you can head an evening or morning or just sometimes. And you’re the only person up there you can kind of hear the buzz the traffic and you just look out at that flat plane you can see the flat irons Either way it’s a beautiful spot and it’s so accessible you know in town I think that’s one of my favorite things to do and I do a lot of road biking so I’m up and down the front range and Left-Hand canyon right up toward peak to peak like I could do that every day.

44:53 You know it’s just I just love it. I never get tired of looking at it. All those things.

44:57 Yeah it’s it’s real special. And that’s the news because I’m on the same side of town as you know and when people are in town that’s the first thing you do is you take them right there. So it’s right out of the backyard and then you can end up right in town grabbing a beer afterwards. So we were very fortunate. I definitely think so.

45:18 Yeah I mean Colorado is amazing because you know you kind of like as an outsider you think of the Rocky Mountains as just being the Rocky Mountains.

45:26 But each little area has a super unique personality. You know and even like from Crestview to Telluride I mean those are two completely different sets of mountains. And so to me it’s fun to like get to know a warm place but also kind of reach out and find a bunch of others as well. Right right.

45:46 And the last question I’d like to ask people when they’re when they’re on the podcast. Who would you like to hear on this. Who do you think our audience would just you know get a great story out of here.

45:56 I mean like there’s there’s a huge list of people in Boulder you know obviously I’m more connected in the outdoor world. And so as well as like a lot of my partners are here I mean there’s the guy from scratch labs that are that are based in Boulder. I’ve got a good friend. He’s he’s a little on the periphery but he’s doing a really cool archaeological work down in Peru His name is Preston Sol. he’s a great guy. I feel like I would be really interested as well as a bicyclist to know a little bit more about kind of living and training here in the front range from either pro biker I know Taylor Phinney and lives here right. Or any of the triathletes that are here. I mean I feel like that that perspective of like training here on that level to me is really interesting.

46:49 I mean I’m involved in it. I don’t necessarily equate myself with like a pro bike racer who’s got a you know an exponentially level higher of discipline that I do. So and then you know there’s some amazing scientists here that I think are really interesting you know like I’ve done some work with NSIDC the National Snow and Ice Data Center and that is another unique aspect of all of that I think sometimes gets overlooked is like all the science that goes on here. You know from like there’s guys that see you that are like working with NASA and there’s like any car that’s doing this incredible you know Atmospheric Research and Environmental Research and the ice guys that I see and this I do see I mean I can make a list like. Hunter is long. Right. So but those are the things that I’m personally interested and I would love to to hear more about for sure.

47:43 Yeah. When I first moved here you know I knew about the outdoors the stuff from the high level. It’s a great place to be outdoors. Very accessible. I didn’t know that all of these awesome science labs were here and things like that so that was something that I just wasn’t on my radar. You know the people who are living here and having access the outdoors and you know the brainiacs are just going crazy in these science labs it’s amazing.

48:10 Totally yeah. I have a friend ironically who’s from my hometown who I hadn’t seen in like 15 years and I was up at Luckies market one day a bunch years ago and there he was standing and he was like almost my neighbor. Ironically I just ran him to the airport today. Come coming in and he has a funny phrase he’s like you know East Coast he’s like people there with the biggest pocketbook wins. He says Colorado it’s the best lifestyle that wins. And you know I tell people that a lot of out here it’s like people work very hard and are very focused on their careers and and their families. But it’s not up to us. Nobody is willing to sacrifice their lifestyles.

 


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48:52 Well and I think I think you know kind of going on with their discussion what adventures and lessons I think and an idea of being connected to the environment and outside I think that’s one of the beautiful things about Colorado and I think obviously while a lot of people are here.

49:08 Right. But I think that sums it up. And I think we can leave it on that note again I really appreciate you being here. It’s really fascinating to meet you and we’ll try to get some of these other people on the podcast as well. But thanks a lot thanks for your time. Awesome. Thank you. Appreciate it. All.

All right thanks for listening and I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Eric Larson on Colorado.FM, the Colorado podcast.  as you can imagine it was a real treat for me to have the opportunity to sit down with him as we mentioned in the intro.

You can find the links to connect with Eric to find any related articles or content the show notes is up to if you enjoyed it please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and leave review if you have a few moments. It really helps get the podcast and of course I learn a lot from your feedback if you prefer to get our updates email or use a podcast service of stitcher or Android. You can learn more at Colorado.FM/Subscribe. Thanks again. I really hope you enjoyed this episode and we’ll see you next time.