Throwback Thursday — Aspen Climbing School 1976

Post by blogger | March 17, 2016      

Ever heard those stories about a postcard someone mailed, and you got it twenty or thirty years later, like a postal time machine? Something like that happened the other day, when my former NOLS student Dave Clark mailed me a brochure for a guide service I co-owned, from 1976!

Around 1972, alpinist and ski mountaineer Steve Shea acquired a “fresh start” outfitter permit from the United States Forest Service, Aspen district. A short time after that he and I went into a business partnership. We thus owned the first “official” mountain guide service in Aspen. Looking back, I can only chuckle at the hubris in the brochure copy, for example: “(Lou) has totally devoted 10 of his 23 years of life to all aspects of mountaineering.” I can’t get the smile off my face. Wow, a big ten years, I was so seasoned…

Aspen Climbing School brochure circa 1976.

Aspen Climbing School brochure circa 1976. Frontside, clockwise from upper left. Steve Kentz in an offwidth on Independence Pass; myself on an ice pillar in Redstone, ditto on North Maroon Peak after a winter ascent of North Face with Michael Kennedy, who took all the photos; ski tourer below Maroon Bells. The stamp is a full 13 center. Click images to enlarge.

Aspen Climbing School brochure circa 1976.

Verso, Aspen Climbing School brochure circa 1976. That’s myself at upper left in the photos doing some kind of insane thing in gigantic mountain boots; below me that’s Kendall Williams; Steve Shea to upper right. Shea went on to be the skier in the seminal “Fall Line” ski film, the first U.S. cinematic focus on ski alpinism. Kendall was a world traveler who in just a few years had already brought French ski mountaineering culture to the U.S., hiked through the Ruwenzori Mountains and ski-climbed Denali with myself and other friends.

Steve and I loosely based the business out of a ski shop in Aspen called Sporthaus Lindner (last time I looked is now a T-shirt shop), owned by an alpinist skier who understood alpine guiding. We’d hang out there on summer afternoons after taking folks out for rock climbing classes. We had a few climbing books and some gear strewn about to make things look like we thought a guide bureau should look. When I got bored I’d scoot around on my skateboard and eventually head back out for an evening bouldering session or a few pitches at Gold Butte rock garden. It was a sweet time.

To the best of my knowledge, the outfitter permit that Shea acquired back then has lived on (they’re difficult to start fresh in this area). It was eventually acquired by Dick Jackson, owner of Aspen Expeditions international guide service.

Perhaps Dick should resurrect our motto: “Our staff has over FIFTY years of experience!”


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One Response to “Throwback Thursday — Aspen Climbing School 1976”

  1. Craig March 22nd, 2016 11:01 am

    That’s awsome, I just read about you in an old climbing magazine article, the 25 year aniversary from 1989, Micheal Kennedy wrote about the early days climbing with you. Great stuff.

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