Red Mountain Residency III: A Reflection
The call when out nearly a year ago in the form of a simple email. The message was to the point and simple:
February 18 thru 22, 2019. Red Mountain Residency III. All snow artists are welcome.
A second call when out during the fall:
Who’s in? Space is limited to 10. Cost: $37 pp/night—includes dinner.
After a summer of smoke and fire, we were ready for the benevolent god of weather, Zeus, to turn his attention to the mountains of west and unleash Ullr, the god of snow, upon the high alpine. After the previous low tide winter and the consequent burning of our high peaks, we were due for some meteorological compassion in the form of the white stuff.
As the fall waned into winter, the responses to the call began to fill the inbox. From across the globe renowned snow artists were heeding the invitation: two from Norway, two from Oregon, one from Washington, and a selection of those local to the San Juan’s.
With each flip of the day calendar, Ullr was delivering, as much of the western U.S. was blanketed under an ever-growing snow pack. Multiple storms in a week rather than long periods of bright high pressure were the norm. The canvas was set for the artists to create at will.
After airport shuttles, grocery store visits, and last-minute gear prep, the crew was eager and ready for the journey into their backcountry home for the week. Under grey threatening skies, the crew departed from the top of the pass and pulled heavily laden sleds up and into an engulfing cloud bank. Minus a single sun-filled day, the mountains would be cloud-covered for the week.
Through a torrent of flakes, the backcountry hut came into view. For the next six days, there would be no distractions from the digital world; no interruptions of thought or action; nor the pull towards self-imposed worry from an increasingly fear-mongering world. There would only be heartfelt conversation, joy and laughter, true connection, great food, an appreciation of the natural world, and of course, lots of skiing.
Away from everyday life, the snow artists easily slipped into a routine free from responsibility. The coffee was pressed. The bagels were toasted. The lunches were made. Soon thereafter, the dried skins and boot liners were pulled from the rafters and the beacons turned on. The art making commenced with the first glide into the skin track.
Down they each swooped. Finding their flow in the landscape. Their gleeful hoots and hollers echoed in the still mountain air. Each run fed the addiction for more of the cold smoke. They couldn’t get enough. They didn’t want the powder bliss to end.
Alas, in the day’s fading light, the call of comfort from the mountain cabin was too strong to resist. Back up went skins, gloves, and boot liners to dry for another day of art making. A bottle of tequila was opened; hot chocolate mixed; and voila, the perfect après ski drink, the Renarita, was sipped. Soon the delectable smells emerging from the kitchen were served in the form of homemade egg rolls and a Thai green curry. DP’s handcrafted fortune cookies were harbingers of what the future would hold…peaceful sleep and more visits to the whiteroom.
And thus, the Third Annual Red Mountain Residency came to an end. Over the course of the week, countless vertical feet were skied with face shots of cold powder being the norm on each run; bouts of laughter could be heard echoing across the alpine; new friendships were made; and memories of a lifetime were instilled in each artist. These types of experiences are fleeting in life, so when they arise, they are to be savored and stored away in memory banks to be relived when life is getting one down. Thank you to all of this year’s snow artists. You journeyed far and wide to join in our winter fun. We value and appreciate all of you.—LC