Yesterday was a sad occasion — I drove over to Crested Butte, Colorado to attend the funeral of friend Jim Gebhart, who died of a heart attack this past Saturday, Oct. 8.
Jim was longtime local who moved to CB in the early 1970s, and led an exuberant lifestyle that included business success (real estate), a beautiful wife and daughter, and numerous outdoor pursuits. He backcountry skied, white water rafted, hiked, biked, and just about everything else the mountain lifestyle had to offer.
But beyond recreation, Jim was a giving man who was instrumental in the founding and building of the Friends Hut. When I say instrumental, I mean INSTRUMENTAL. Jim’s business and negotiation skills helped move the hut from concept to Forest Service special use permit; his familiarity with alpine construction helped immensely with hut design and construction; his ability to work hard physically was key to everything from log walls to the legendary outhouse. Yet most of all, I believe Jim brought to the Friends Hut a spirit of cooperation, joy, laughter and optimism.
My best memories of Jim are his smile and happy voice when he’d arrive up at the hut for a work session. Now he’s gone, but he’s still a mentor. When I’m down, I just picture Jim’s happy face in my mind, and a smile breaks out.
Condolences to Jim’s wife and daughter during this difficult time. Indeed, as was said at the funeral, their time with Jim was an awesome gift. What a man!
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.