Save lives; allow uphill at Purg

To the editor,

Killed via avalanches past two years: Peter (dear friend); Bert (my fitness student); Jeff and Olivia (locals) … add to this list? Twenty-eight others over the past three years in Colorado. Many occurred in our San Juan Mountains, perhaps the most difficult mountain range to determine dynamic avalanche factors during human-caused climate change.  

The reason I survived 20+ years as a sponsored extreme mountain athlete beginning in the ’80s? I listened to and respected the mountain! Thanks largely to Outside Magazine chronically promoting Durango as one of the “Top 10 Places to Live,” Durango is now a hotspot for “backcountry” (note: no true “backcountry” in Colorado exists; it’s all side country; park your Tacoma on the highway, ski a line, post it to the ‘Gram) skiers from Colorado’s Front Range and California yuppies. My native back yard has been broken to an overwhelming influx of powder-seeking, SM-addicted sophomores.   

One way to stem this inevitable tide of “backcountry skiers” likely to be killed: allow uphill access at Purgatory. There is a petition you can sign. Search FB/IG for “Allow Access at Purgatory.” Nearly 500 have signed.  

I thank Purgatory for allowing us uphillers access to Hesperus. Yet? We need more vert to train. Daddies like ilg? We don’t have time to “backcountry” ski consistently, nor take the risks of questionable snowloads. Without uphill access at Purg we are pushed into skiing “backcountry” lines, possibly triggering avalanches, adding to the death toll.  

The corporation owning Purgatory allows uphill access at four of its seven resorts! We can save lives by allowing uphill access at Purgatory!

– steve ilg, Durango