By Caitlin Switzer
REGIONAL—(December 17, 2013) Anyone who has checked out the popular work, Peaks of the Uncompahgre, by authors Jeff Burch and Don Paulson knows how captivating it can be to leaf through a collection of labeled images and local mountain lore. Now, Burch has released a brand new book, The Peaks of Telluride, a collection of more and bigger labeled images as well as stories behind the names of the mountains surrounding Telluride—just in time for the holidays.
“One thing I learned from the first book, is to make the pictures much, much bigger,” said Burch, who has also been heading up a campaign to restore the name of Telluride’s Bridal Peak. The new book includes the story of that peak, along with stunning, color photos of local mountain ranges, individual peaks and detailed US Geological Survey maps.
Burch, who spent 30 years with the U.S. Forest Service, including 22 working in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National forests, refers to his fascination with local mountain names and lore “a hobby gone bad.” He released his very popular first poster, View Looking South from Montrose, in 2001. The poster can still be purchased in local shops and through Burch’s photography business web site, www.coloradothirteeners.com.
Today, the passion that first inspired him has only grown stronger. The Peaks of Telluride is designed to entice, educate and inspire—and it does. Divided into nine chapters with three appendices and a reference section, the book is written in a friendly, conversational style that begins with the basic premise that the mountains surrounding Telluride have an almost mystical appeal that transcends space and time. Burch also observes the repeated efforts of human beings to associate themselves with the mountains in an attempt to achieve immortality.
“In the course of this research, it has become apparent that there have been five major phases in the naming of these mountains,” Burch writes. “It is remarkable, at least to this writer, how each new wave of settlers vainly assigns their own new name to age-old mountains, lakes and rivers, with little regard for names by which previous peoples called them.”
The five phases of naming included the nomenclature established by the Native Americans, that of the early Spanish explorers, names given by the F.W. Hayden and A.D. Wilson surveys, which attempted to accurately map the West, names given by miners, and eventually names established by mountaineers and local “occupants.”
Burch’s discussion of the now “Unnamed” 13,510 foot Bridal peak is a fascinating look at how a historic name can be lost through simple omission from USGS documentation. The Peaks of Telluride is that rare find—a gorgeous coffee table book that can also serve as an exhaustive reference source. Dean Rickman’s layout is accessible and user-friendly, and the panoramic and single-frame photos richly capture the viewpoint of the observer. The self-published book can be found at shops in Ridgway, Ouray and Telluride, at Walgreen’s and Hastings in Montrose, and online at www.coloradothirteeners.com.