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Mountain news: Mountainfilm delivers again



Mountainfilm delivers again

TELLURIDE, Colo. — It was a busy weekend in Telluride as filmmakers, writers, and some of their subjects gathered for Mountainfilm, now in its 35th year.

It's always a weekend of extraordinary beauty, big ideas, and fire — as in bellies, keyed on action.

On Sunday, Jim Whittaker — the first American on Everest, 50 years ago this month — was seen leaning up against the New Sheridan Opera House, engaged in a conversation. Don Colcord, a pharmacist in nearby Nucla and the subject of a profile in the New Yorker two years ago, answered questions at the high school auditorium following one film.

At a breakfast talk, the chemist from Harvard who believes he can achieve a breakthrough in solar energy technology, and was the subject of another profile, in the New Yorker, argued why nuclear energy is not the answer

In the Steaming Bean was James Balog, who had made the film "Extreme Ice," about the disintegration of glaciers in Greenland and Alaska.

Mountains, energy and climate change. Those were the themes, and at various places they intersected. Auden Schendler, from the Aspen Skiing Co., found the conversation comforting.

"I arrived at the venue — a whole day on climate solutions — to a room completely packed, standing room only, probably 700 people, maybe 1,000. I thought: 'Surely they will be gone by my talk later today.' Nope. Still packed. And that was true all weekend."

He said the response to him "suggested a new energy on climate."

Also talking about climate change was Whittaker, the original Everest climber. "He described the mountain having totally changed (melted out) since 1963," reported Schendler later, in an email message. One famous route, one pioneered in 1963 by Tom Hornbein, who also spoke at Mountainfilm, and the late Willi Unsoeld, has become bulletproof blue ice.

"The subtext, again, is how the mountain has changed," said Schendler.

Chilly and lovely — it's spring in the Rockies

ASPEN, Colo. — The wet, chilly spring had many mountain towners in Colorado grousing right up to Memorial Day. "Depressing," said one resident of Crested Butte after two days of snow.

In other words, it was kind of like spring in the old days.

But just as exuberantly, spring was in full profusion for the weekend. At Arapahoe Basin, tents and lawn chairs were set up in the parking lot next to the slopes. People barbecued, smoked Ganga, listened to rap, and on the slopes a few exposed more skin than any doctor of oncology would advise. One man even skied down in the male equivalent of a thong. Too much information?

Because of all the spring snow, the Aspen Ski Area reopened for the weekend.