MG-cover-156-350hIn late summer 2010, I was stuck in the doldrums of endless heat and lack of rain, and winter seemed like it was light years away. I’d sought some shelter from the oven like air outdoors, and retreated to the coolest, darkest room in the house. I sought refuge in a cold beer and one of my favourite magazines, Mountain Gazette.

The Gazette was a lovely journal, described by its founder as being “generally about the mountains” that was produced in Colorado. It was often rambling and lateral, and seemed to cover everything from drinking and drugs to outdoor adventures, to politics in the ‘mountain states’, to musings on mountain culture. Leadville is not Miami (thankfully).

It got me thinking. I love the mountains here in south eastern Australia. And I love the culture that’s developing, growing from the thousands of people who are drawn to the hills to ski or board, to walk or paddle, to work and live. Not just the glossy consumer lifestyles of the rich and banal, but the real lives of people putting their roots down in a place that they love.

And so Mountain Journal was born. It never made it into print form. The logistics and costs were too great, and my time too limited. But it’s clearly filling some need for some people, and here we are four years later.

I just found out that Mike Moore, the founder of Mountain Gazette, passed away earlier this month. MG has long been a place of inspiration for me and I felt sad to hear of his passing. The Gazette itself transformed into an on-line journal several years ago and still publishes excellent writings and observations about mountain life. The following are some excerts from a reflection on Mike’s time as editor of the Gazette, by George Sibley.

In Memoriam, Mike Moore

Mike Moore introduced the first issue of a new magazine “generally about the mountains” in the fall of 1972. Exactly what Moore had in mind, no one really knew.

For example,  here’s Barry Corbet, a noted mountaineer, skier and filmmaker in the 60s and 70s, sounding puzzled: “I have in hand a letter from Mike Moore, editor and manager of this journal. My assignment, should I choose to accept it, is to write ‘from one to sixteen pages about the mountains….’”

He accepted the assignment, of course, as we all did, all the writers who got that letter—Moore’s stable, writers living above 8,000 feet elevation if only in spirit. Mountain Gazette. Why not?

The Mountain Gazette wasn’t actually a start-up; it was an acceleration or expansion, or maybe a digression, from another magazine, Skiers’ Gazette, that had entered the field of ski journalism in 1966, a newsprint gadfly journal that was the Village Voice to the ski industry’s array of earnest four-color Wall Street Journals (the romance of ski capitalism).

Mike wanted to find, nurture and give voice to the 20th-century literature of the mountains, and the strange post-urban cultures springing up in the mountain towns like new mushroom species. Skiers’ Gazette had made him aware that there were lots of articulate and over-educated misfits, malcontents and de facto expatriates slinking around the mountain towns and beyond, trying to piss a line in the snow—dirtbag hippies, burnt-out suburbanites going exurban, lawyers undergoing a Saul-Paul transformation, Lord Jims in orderly retreat, all of whom knew, sort of, what Robinson Jeffers was trying to say: “When the cities lie at the monster’s feet there are left the mountains.” He wasn’t beating the underbrush of the mountain valleys for advertisers but for writers, whom he could lead, push or otherwise nurture or seduce to some greater level…. He didn’t want to just do a Village Voice for the mountain regions; he wanted to do a high-altitude New Yorker: the socio-economo-politico-cultural voice of a place and a time whose writers he believed might have something interesting to say.

The full reflection is well worth a read and available here.