Colorado Sun Review: Reviving not just a magazine, but an ethos

Colorado Sun Review: Reviving not just a magazine, but an ethos

Written by Jason Blevins / Colorado Sun 

Ed's Note: This review appeared in a weekly email from the Colorado Sun. It is republished here with their permission.  

Mike Rogge dreams big.

When the California skier, writer and entrepreneur bought the long-dormant Mountain Gazette title in January, he ignored the weeping wail that print was dead.

“Print isn’t dead. She’s living in a cabin at the base of the mountain with an old dog, good friends who drop by, and a whole lotta great stories,” he writes in the first Mountain Gazette magazine printed in eight years.

The tagline for the Mountain Gazette, forged in 2012 when M. John Fayee revived the magazine after 20 years of hibernation, remains the same: “When in Doubt, Go Higher.” Rogge did just that. He went bigger too.

The large magazine — poster-sized at 11-by-17 inches — landed in mailboxes this week with 130-pages that reflect Rogge’s mission to revive not just a magazine, but an ethos. The Mountain Gazette, born in the 1960s, has hosted the musings of the West’s literary giants: Edward Abbey, John Nichols, Hunter S. Thompson and Mary Sojourner, to name a few. Rogge’s reawakening carries that tradition with not just titans like Fayhee, Dick Dorworth and the late Norman Maclean, but shining newcomers like 14-year-old Lyle Stone, a student in Rogge’s local journalism class who penned a story on his “weird summer” building a bike trail in his backyard.

When Rogge started publicly sharing his plan, he promised Mountain Gazette would be a platform for aspiring writers and would feature stories “other places won’t publish.”

With only a powerful promise — and a hearty trumpeting on social media — Rogge sold out his first issue before publishing. As more subscribers enrolled, he pushed the magazine up from 100 pages to 118. Another surge of supporters pushed the book to 130 pages.

He never expected to sell out. He planned to have lots of issues to sell at local ski shops and bookstores around his Lake Tahoe community. He expected OG MG fans to line up. He didn’t expect to see top-name athletes, billionaire investors and Google executives on his subscription rolls.

“You know what,” he says, “people just want to read good shit.”

And that’s a good summary of the 194th issue of Mountain Gazette.

Boulder’s ever-eloquent Doug Schnitzpahn waxes on star-reading and NEOWISE. Squaw Valley filmmaker Scott Gaffney pens a letter to his pal, the late Shane McConkey, that will puddle all readers who counted Shane as an inspiration.

Fayhee’s “Drinking With a Dead Woman” is quintessential Fayhee and lingers long after the page is turned. Dick Dorworth, a pillar of Mountain Gazette’s early days, writes about “encountering a despicable woman in one of my favorite towns” after running into Claudine Longet in Aspen. Dorworth’s poetic tale champions his friend Spider Sabich, the Olympic skier Longet shot and killed in 1976. A study of New York City’s eclectic bird-watchers follows a stream-of-consciousness riff by Swiss freeskiing boss Henrik Harlaut. There’s even a long interview with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who admits to skiing pre-shaped Rossignols from the ’90s.

“You know, I like to ski what I’m used to. I’m good at them,” Polis says.

Rogge says he’s got about 400 pitches from writers in his inbox, including some high-profile scribes and more from the up-and-comers he hopes to highlight. His twice-a-year subscriptions are still selling swiftly. Advertisers are lining up. The next issue could have 150 pages, making it close to a two-pound magazine.

“I’m so happy it’s making people happy,” he said. “If you make it good, people are willing to pay. How about that."