Photographer/adventurer Gordon Wiltsie, who loves mountains, is deeply conflicted by his own part in exposing the wilderness to the masses. The fifty-year-old Montana resident, whose work has appeared in National Geographicand other publications, says the high country has an "almost spiritual pull" on him that he finds "incredibly inspirational." Yet in pursuing his passion, Wiltsie has encouraged others to visit once-remote locales. "I have a deep sense of remorse that my own work, which I had hoped would help to protect these places, instead has drawn hordes into them," he confesses.
Wiltsie will tackle the philosophical complexities of exposing exotic sites and cultures during a talk and slide show tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the American Mountaineering Center, 710 Tenth Street in Golden. It's part of the Colorado Mountain Club's second annual Where the Mountains Meet the Skyfestival, a string of events at the AMC that began with a landscape exhibit (on display now) and continues through next month with presentations of the play K2.
An avid climber since his childhood in California, Wiltsie has been involved with over a hundred expeditions globally. The Himalayas, China, Antarctica and others became his playground, and he captured them on film to help pay for his wanderlust. The start of his photography career, three decades ago, coincided with an explosion of outdoor activity. Wiltsie deems the lifestyle trend both a blessing and a curse. One of his first national stories was a "Ten Best" list of undiscovered destinations, a subject that makes him shudder these days.
"Now I think of them as 'The Next Ten Places to Be Destroyed,'" he says. "I have mixed feelings about the boom in outdoor sports. I do think it's very, very good for people to experience the lessons of being outdoors, but I'm not sure we share the same motivations."
For example, while he has led trips to make first ascents, including a memorable Antarctica trip in the 1990s to climb an ice mass known as "The Razor," he wonders at the frenzy for "first" feats.
"It does get absurd to have ever-increasing attempts to do something first: the oldest person, the youngest, the first person to skydive at the South Pole. What are they really accomplishing? I often wonder if people get wrapped up in the hype so much that they miss the forest for the trees."
Race for the Cure revs up again
Tie on your pink ribbon and sneakers for today's eleventh annual Komen Denver Race for the Cure, a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Under the banner of "A Celebration of Life," over 55,000 runners and walkers are expected to participate in the two 5K races offered -- women-only and coed -- and the mile-long Family Walk. Registration begins at 6 a.m., and the first race starts at 7:30. "It's really moving to see so many people out who have survived this disease," says race spokeswoman Dana Brandorff. "The whole day has such a celebratory feel to it."
The event starts and finishes on the grounds of the Pepsi Center. An awards and survivors ceremony, featuring entertainment by Hazel Miller and Olinda Cordova, will be held at 10 a.m. To help keep participants fired up, the Denver Brass Band and the Windjammers will play along the race route.
Advance entry fees are $25 for adults, $15 for children eighteen and under and seniors 65 and over. Fees increase by $5 on race day.
Those who can't make it out today but still want to help the cause can sign up online for Sleep in for the Cure. "You can basically be a ghost runner and sleep in but still show your support," says Brandorff.
Let it snow, dudes! The 2003 Rocky Mountain Winter Sports Spectacularwill help outdoor-sports fans get ready to jam on the winter wonderland. "It's a festival atmosphere with winter sports around it," explains Doug Larson, co-owner of TeamSage Productions, which is hosting the event at the brand-new Larimer County Events Complex (on Crossroads Boulevard, exit 259 off I-25 north) this weekend. About 75 vendors will hawk their goods, offering discounts of up to 70 percent below retail prices. Performances from local bands, extreme-snow-sport films, a fashion show, a PlayStation 2 tournament and unlimited free arcade games will guarantee fun for everyone at the fest, which runs from noon to 8 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
"You can get all of it under one roof," says Larson.
In addition, Arapahoe Basin and Crested Butte ski areas will be giving away lift tickets, and pro snowboarders such as Olympic bronze-medalist J.J. Thomas and Marc Frank Montoya will be on hand to sign autographs.
Admission is $5 to $9, free for kids seven and under; seniors get in for $6 today only. Tickets are available at Outpost Sunsport, Mountain Rentals and Real Balance in Loveland. For information, call 303-777-6887 or visit www.teamsage.com. -- DeNesha Tellis