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Stark is able to laugh about that story now, but he uses it to illustrate why official Forest Service policy prohibits shacks; his agency suggests that resort operators pull them down when they come across them.

His most recent bust was in 2007, in a particularly busy Snowmass spot that Aspen Skiing Company had complained about. A summer job by Stark's estimation, the shack was more like a palace, with snowboard benches and a speaker system that visitors could play their iPods over. Stark admits he was impressed with the overall construction, but the "attractive nuisance" was pulled down soon after. "It's not so much the kids using it, because they know where it's at, but more so that it was leading sucker tracks into one area with cliffs," he explains. "Smaller kids — kids not in the know — got into that place where they shouldn't be. I mean, they are skiing trails you'd have to be stoned to want to ski."

But while the hidden huts can be a nagging nuisance for resorts, avalanche control and watching for misbehaving skiers on the main slopes take precedence over rousing a few stoners from their caves or pulling pictures of Jerry Garcia from the trees. At a resort like Breckenridge, it's not uncommon to have as many as 20,000 skiers on the hill on a busy day, and dealing with skier injuries alone is enough to strain the ski patrol. That leaves the shacks largely in the hands of the Forest Service, which are already full supervising hundreds of thousands of acres."That doesn't mean that one day in the middle of the winter, we're going to have this full-out assault," Stark admits. "It's like we tell the resorts, if your crews are working next to them in the summer, deconstruct them." Not that he's going to go out of his way to see if they have. "When I'm at the ski areas, I'm there to ski," Stark says. "I'm not there to look for shrines or shacks."

The legendary, and lavish, Leo's in Breckenridge.
The legendary, and lavish, Leo's in Breckenridge.
The well-disguised No Fat Chicks at Winter Park.
The well-disguised No Fat Chicks at Winter Park.

Others are, though.

In the spring of 2005, the Breckenridge ski patrol said that too many new huts had been popping up and too much trash was accumulating in the old ones, and they vowed to destroy all the shacks they found. According to Caregiver, this move came after someone climbing around in the three-story Tree House Shack off Peak 9 fell and injured himself badly enough that he had to be taken out by the ski patrol. Having seen the shack and recognizing the danger inherent in having people stumbling up makeshift log ladders in ski boots, the ski patrol had no choice but to break it down. Still, the move angered some residents, who wrote to the local newspaper in defense of the huts, noting that they weren't always used to smoke weed; some people simply relied on them for shelter.

Other resorts have occasionally cracked down on huts over the past few years. In the spring of 2010, Gunnison District Ranger John Murphy waged war on the smoke shacks at Crested Butte and the puffers using them. The rangers wrote tickets for the people they found smoking herb, and fined two Western State College students $1,700 each for building a hut.

As online ski forums, blogs and ski movies keep spilling the locations of the smoke shacks and attracting more visitors to them, more mountains may start dismantling them. But there are still a few good secrets left — and new skiers and riders to carry on the Fight Club tradition.

*****

Just outside the ski-area boundary line in a relatively untraveled section of terrain is Breckenridge's newest smoke hut: The Hash Temple. The white canvas is almost invisible from every direction; I only spot it the first time because I happen to see a few skis stuck up in the snow nearby. Compared to the log structures built into the trees off nearby runs, the all-white Hash Temple is as easy to locate as a polar bear in a snowstorm.

A younger kid with a baby face, probably no older than twenty, is clicking into the pair of skis that had provided my first clue to the Hash Temple's whereabouts. He nods hello, then turns to thank the guys inside the canvas for the smoke before riding off. I can hear coughing and the shuffling of ski boots as I make my way into the tent, ask the two guys already inside if they mind my joining them, and take a seat. The shacks are generally welcoming places — they're on public lands, after all — and this one is no different.

A few bowl packs later, my hosts start exhaling the history of the Hash Temple. The pair, who've lived in the area for a few years, got sick of the other huts and shacks at Breck being abused by "gapers" — a derogatory mountain term for clueless tourists. So they spent the past summer lugging up the makings of an on-mountain stoner den, making twenty trips up and down the mountain in a four-wheeler. The Hash Temple is small — probably only large enough for six or seven people at most — but what it lacks in size and convenience, it more than makes up for in extravagance.

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55 comments
Sterling Meeks
Sterling Meeks

Oh lookie. The cool kids are mad. Have a cookie.

Ken Lord
Ken Lord

Good Job, Westword, Vail just destroyed their shacks and so is everyone else... thanks for destroying things through publication.

Becca Doyle
Becca Doyle

That was pretty hilarious, actually. BOOM.

Benjamin Bradburn
Benjamin Bradburn

You guys lit the fuse that blew this up. Seriously, fuck you from the bottom of my heart. Being a good journalist is sometimes knowing what not to do. Fuckwits.

Blake Kimmel
Blake Kimmel

Westword, you wrote about this enough, move on. we get it. how about reporting on the controversial THC roadside test, that is actually an issue effecting most of the state.

Sterling Meeks
Sterling Meeks

"I really wish you Westword fucktards would stop posting shit about this." You're right. Media should be completely subservient to the delicate sensibilities of the endlessly butthurt portion of its audience and resort to self-censorship. Derp!

Jason Joyce
Jason Joyce

This has been going on for decades... way to ruin it.

Chris Tanaka
Chris Tanaka

Bret its not exactly "public" if its secret right? ;)

Bret Kantola
Bret Kantola

You might want to rat out the very few places left for public consumption too. Oh wait, you already did that. FAIL.

Brian Smith
Brian Smith

The point of em is you have to go find em. Thats the whole fun of it. Maybe you should start a sight see tour an bring all the tourist in to see em too. Stop already, you suck. If it wasn't for music listings I would never look at your paper.

L Vincent Miltenberger
L Vincent Miltenberger

Why don't you do a story on all of the out of state tourists who can't ski and get drunk off of all of the over priced drinks that are sold legally all over the mountain for a change. This is more bullshit propaganda....

Matt Levan
Matt Levan

William posted this article in February. Calm the fuck down people, some have been there since the 70's. They're not going anywhere.

RockyMTNSteeze
RockyMTNSteeze

Leos was spectacular when I accidentally found the structure.  I was riding in the trees and saw a building.  At first it did not occur to me it was a shack, it was a well made structure.  I rode closer unstrapped and walked in.  There was a foyer and a spiraling staircase made out of skate decks.  I walked up the coolest staircase and went up stairs.  The top floor had sky windows and a coffee table surrounded by seating made from retired snowboards.  I was in awe, this was the coolest shack I have ever seen until I found Ralphs (RIP).

 

Years later the shack is now full of trash and falling apart.  No more sky lights, just a regular broken skate deck staircase and busted windows.  I hiked to the shack in September and was saddened by the condition.  Things were falling apart and it's very dirty.  Please don't leave your trash in shacks, this is a good way to get them torn down.  If you can bring it in, please bring it out.  The mountains will be more tolerant if you keep them clean.  I don't think this shack will be around much longer, but I will always remember the day I found it.

Star Stepping
Star Stepping

some things are best unpublished.. .shhheeee get sum klass WW

doodooskywalker
doodooskywalker

Um dude. The first rule of fight club is that you don't talk about the fight club. Trust me, no one needs to know about these places. Only the people that matter. You kinda just blew it. 

Anna Gingher
Anna Gingher

The first rule of fight club is that you don't talk about fight club.

Charlie Whiskey
Charlie Whiskey

Some of the best things involved in snowboarding are the trees and the bowls.

Payton_vege
Payton_vege

Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

Fakeemail
Fakeemail

this is cool but i dont see the need to write an article lettin all the tool bags know the secrets

guest
guest

wow im the "hash cook" that the guys talking about who built the hashrishi temple. Forest service discovered the tent. Fined us $300. Ski patrol was nice enough to help us take it down the mountian. Got the whole thing down within a few hours. My advice to everyone is to keep building shacks whether big or small. Start a shack revolution!!

Anonymous
Anonymous

thanks for blowing the cover...

calhounp
calhounp

i'd like to publish some of these comments in our print edition, ideally with the author's full name. Contact me at patricia.calhoun@westword.com

Denver MMJ Patient
Denver MMJ Patient

Sometimes, you gotta have some medical marijuana to ease the pain in those knees, or back, and be able to enjoy being on the mountain just like before the pain/injury(s) happened.

Now if there was just a medical marijuana dispensary or caregiver set up in some of those shacks...

guest
guest

I love how the first incident of someone getting sick or being endangered by a shack was kids drinking alcohol.

Stick with weed its natural and safe! Don't drink n ski!

comenow
comenow

Smoking on the mountain is one of the quickest ways to get hit with a federal possession charge. Be safe and cautious, your med card is no good with Forest Service cops.

http://www.denverpost.com/news...

Dave
Dave

Whoa! People in Colorado ski and smoke pot? Yet another fine bit of investigative reporting by this crack team of go getters. I got a tip for you, there's these things called dog parks that not many people know about. Oh and someone could write about a kid who plays Canasta, way more edgier than Bridge.

tele-mon
tele-mon

I learned about the Winter Park huts on my first road trip to Colorado in 1991. After moving to Vail in '92, we created many of the great local's hideouts: Berries Hut (made from the remains of an original sheep-herder cabin), The Equilibrium Hut (EQ), Bwana Palace, all gone now thanks to VR and the USFS. We always kept them clean, but after an early spring visit by the wife of a VR executive saw some garbage that had melted out, before we had a chance to do some mainenance; BOOM! A waste of a constantly-shrinking USFS rec budget.

C
C

Thanks narcs for telling all of the authorities(and esecially Denver Republicans) where they are located. It's not legal everywhere in Colorado yet.

William Breathes
William Breathes

Hate to tell you, but your cover has been blown for years now.

Orionnewman
Orionnewman

They are good with forest service cops, and unless ur blaZin over 2 zones or are maybe growing in there mountain range you will never get a friggin fed charge Or any for that matter! Quit tryin to freak people out bro!

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

C, no matter how you look at it cannabis is a social drug, skiing is a social sport, the more the merry! Ain't none of your authorit-eye ever gonna change that. Breckenridge pulls in more skiers than any resort in Colorado and part of that is the smoke shack appeal, and they aren't about to start fucking with the guests and messing with the shacks. It's important that humans be able to enjoy cannabis in secure social settings, combined with skiing, it's a high made in heaven.

William Breathes
William Breathes

We don't give away any specific locations in this story, with the exception of a fully-visible bench at Keystone that is in plain sight - even then, it's a general location.

And I hate to break it to you, but the "authorities" (ski patrol and the forest service) were already well aware of the in-bounds shacks we do mention.

Dave
Dave

I'm sorry, I forgot about another scoop for you. Apparently there are secret spots in City Park where kids from East go to get high. It practically writes itself. You can title it, "East, High?". You're welcome.

GeeRam
GeeRam

Seriously - anyone who thinks ski patrol isn't aware of nearly every shack is naive. However, in producing this article you did apply further pressure to them and forest service to 'handle' the issue as its now in the public/management's view.

Dave
Dave

Hey man, I'm on your side. I agree with you. But before you hit send, or whatever, read what you're about to send and say it out loud. For example, you wrote, and I quote, "On the upside Petr, and it should be applauded, is anyone who is working in the media who will show that marijuana is safe, and a very common way that many Americans have been enjoying life in recreation, or medically for years." End quote.

What you typed makes no sense. I think the better way to further your cause, hell my cause, is to read OUT LOUD TO YOURSELF what it is you're trying to get across. Seriously, it works.

WhiteRabbit77
WhiteRabbit77

On the upside Petr, and it should be applauded, is anyone who is working in the mediawho will show that marijuana is safe, and a very common way that many Americans have been enjoying life in recreation, or medically for years. It is nothing new, but we still have the government, and several media members who continue to lie, and make statements to indicate it is bad.

Thanks William, keep up the good work Brother!

Petr Czestiv
Petr Czestiv

Spot on Dave."...but getting stoned is an intrinsic part of the snow-day routines of many skiers and boarders." I love the word intrinsic, but Billy smashed it. While many people on the mountain do enjoy some cannabis or a flask, characterizing those things as 'intrinsic' is the kind of hyperbole WW spins out quite predictably. Lemmings in GoreTex indeed. The better story would have about a wrongly-accused or excessively-punished drug-popping-pushing, once-violent-now-spiritual street urchin turned 25 y/o semi-pro snowboarding pot head with a 17 y/o impregnated "fiance" who is taking on the Forest Service for his god given right to get stoned in comfort instead of on the lift like everybody else. That's cover material right there.

I've been skiing and climbing for 30 years. Nothing new about this "story". Smoke if you want. Or not. But there is no value here in this piece. Just because the backdrop is snowboarding, does not mean that it is not a story about drug use. But then, given that 80% of the ad revenue for this rag comes from dispensaries and 'self-employed models', it fits quite nicely I suppose. I've got a red card, but don't agree with romanticizing controlled substances for the sake of pandering to the hedonistic narcissistic droves.

William Breathes
William Breathes

You could be onto something huge here, Dave. Especially if it involves kids playing stoned Canasta in the previously mentioned dog parks.

Thanks for the tip.

 
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