Making Space

Making Space for Backcountry Recreation

Part II of Making space—for home, for preservation, for performance, for community.

Backcountry skiers Backcountry skiers Backcountry skiers

Jeff Crane '89

In the summer of 2016, I was on a hike with some friends up Mosquito Pass, near Alma, CO. We came upon an old mining site in a spectacular high-alpine valley. After a few phone calls inquiring about the place, the town supervisor connected me to the person in the process of acquiring the site, along with 3,000 acres of mining claims. After some conversation, I shared my vision with him: an alternative, backcountry ski area with no lifts. That vision became a reality in 2017 when my partner, Kate McCoy, and I founded North London Mill Preservation, Inc. (NoLo)—a Colorado 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to plan, finance, preserve, and rehabilitate the historic buildings at the North London Mill site for backcountry recreation and education. Wynn Miller ’78 is chairman of our board. We are working together with artists and artisans in the highest town in North America to provide opportunities for communities of people to study and practice the arts and sciences unique to such alpine geologies and geographies.

Abandoned burned building in wilderness

Since its inception, NoLo has raised more than $300,000 from History Colorado and the Gates Family Foundation, among other supporters. We are working with the Department of Natural Resources Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) to accomplish stabilization of the mill, for which DRMS has secured federal funding, as well as with the USFS South Park Ranger District to develop a long-term vision for the entire North Mosquito Creek section of Mosquito Gulch. As part of the forest service’s initiative to reintroduce native greenback cutthroat trout, we are developing plans for a creek crossing at the site with a specially designed culvert. We lead ski tours to the site and conduct history and archaeology workshops. Soon the rehabilitated mill will be a meeting place for interpretive and recreational activities at the site. Visit nolocolorado.org.