I can’t remember when I first discovered Mountain Gazette magazine. Somewhere in the distant past. The last time I found it ‘in the wild’ was in a mountain hut above Breckenridge in Colorado a couple of years ago, where old copies had been left by backcountry skiers and riders. MG was an inspiration for this website. I always loved its quirky and idiosyncratic take on ‘mountain life’. After a long absence, MG is finally back in print and the first edition (# 194) is wonderful.
The magazine started its life in 1966 as the Skiers Gazette. It morphed into Mountain Gazette, stopped production in 1979, then was reborn in 2000 and ran until 2012. Now, Mike Rogge has purchased the magazine and given it a new, new life. And it’s gorgeous.
It’s clear that a lot of thought went into the first edition – keeping the spirit of MG alive, while being thoroughly contemporary. Given MG in earlier incarnations featured a strong dose of ‘desert rat’ thinking along the lines of Edward Abbey’s approach to life, and contained the work of many other western literary luminaries of that era, its easy for a magazine like this to be a bit stuck in the past. But this certainly isn’t the case. It does has several solemn nods to it’s lineage – a story from M. John Fayhee, a story on dogs (of course), a piece on Jack Loeffler, who was a contemporary of Abbey, and a letter to the long gone legendary skier Shane McConkey.
But it also has lots of great current content, from the experience of covid and lock downs and some star inspired musings on our place in the universe, to bird watching in New York City. It’s a large format, 130 pages, with a focus on images and story.
Like the Desert Oracale podcast (‘transmitting from the Mohave wilderness in Joshua Tree, California’) that has been gaining an enormous following of late, the new incarnation of the magazine reminds us that people do want to read well crafted content that comes from *somewhere*. Place still matters, and mountains are some of the most compelling environments, drawing us mountain lovers in, helping to form the communities and cultures we develop as we try to make sense of each place.
Following the death of Mike Moore, the founder of Mountain Gazette, in 2014, the Gazette published a reflection on his work and the magazine which noted that:
‘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’.
I think the new editor has done exactly that – given a voice to the literature of the mountains. These cultures keep evolving, while holding the core value of connection to place. In the wild ride that is the early 21st century, it may be the cultures of place that come through the strongest, the most connected, and most intact.
Mountain Gazette can be found here. Check it out and support this project by buying a subscription if you can.