Save the Date!

16th Annual Ouray County Winter Sports Swap will be October 12-13th, 2018!



It’s time to dust off your old gear and make a few bucks while donating 15% of proceeds in support of the “George Fund”. Check out great bargains, upgrade your snow riding swag, buy your ski passes for Telluride. Winter is knocking at the door, so don’t miss out on these deep deals!

Drop off your equipment and clothing on Friday, October 12th from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Ridgway Elementary School, 1115 W. Clinton Street. For every $500 of gear purchased, buyers receive a free Telluride lift ticket as long as supplies last.

The Swap starts at 5:00 pm on Friday, October 12th until 8:00pm. Then continues on Saturday the 13th from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Telluride Ski Resort will be at the Swap selling season passes and other products; as well as the Ski Barn who will be making some screaming’ deals on last year’s hottest goods.

Pick up unsold gear and collect your check for goods sold on Saturday after the Swap from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. All for a great cause. So we’ll see you at the Ridgway Elementary School on October 12th… Swap till you drop!

2018 DATES: October 12 & 13

Friday: 5-8 pm (early-bird shopping at 4:30pm with $50 donation)

Saturday: 9 am-1 pm

DROP OFF items from 11 am-4 pm on Friday October 12th

(No gear will be taken after 4 pm.)


El Cap, Back to Back’ Climbing Presentation Supports George Gardner Scholarship Fund

by Samantha Wright

Mar 05, 2014 | 388 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print

screen-shot-2014-02-21-at-11-00-17-amRIDGWAY – Friday, March 7, Jim Nowak of Ridgway gives a presentation about his back-to-back “old school” ascents of El Capitan’s North American and Mescalito Walls, way back in 1994.

The event takes place from 7-9 p.m. at the Sherbino Theater in Ridgway, and is a fundraiser for the George Gardner Scholarship Fund.

Nowak is an avid climber and adventurer who has accomplished plenty of impressive feats in his lifetime, including co-founding the dZi Foundation that is transforming thousands of lives in Nepal. But his 1994 adventure on Yosemite’s iconic granite monolith stands out as one of his all-time favorite capers.

He did it with a climbing buddy named David Nettle, a well-known American mountaineer, rock climber and adventurer from Tahoe whose career has encompassed mountains in Nepal, Alaska, Europe, South America and North America.

“He’s still a hard charger, and a ferocious alpinist,” Nowak said.

The two had never climbed together before their Yosemite adventure, “but we tied a rope on and spent the next five days climbing the North American Wall,” Nowak recalled. “When we were done with that, we drove down to Sequoia National Park, walked in 17 miles, and then did the first ascent of Angel Wings [an 1,800-foot granite wall at the entrance to the Valhalla Cirque] and then walked out, and then drove back to Yosemite, and then jumped on Mescalito, where we spent the next seven days. It was a pretty good link-up for us.”

It’s just the kind of adventure that the late George Gardner would have loved. The Ridgway-based outdoor educator had a simple, yet profound, philosophy: Get outside and play.

“He was a great believer in the outdoor classroom,” said his wife Colleen Gardner, who helped found the George Gardner Scholarship Fund after her husband died in a mountaineering accident on the Grand Teton in 2008. The fund’s largest endowment is provided through the Ouray County Winter Sports Swap, held each October at the Ouray County 4-H Event Center, which typically raises $6,000-8,000 annually.

Last year, the fund (now a licensed Colorado nonprofit organization that operates under the umbrella of the Telluride Foundation) assisted six college-bound students from Ridgway Secondary School, helped another spend a day with Exum Mountain Guides on a rock climbing course and provided the opportunity for a special needs student from Ouray to participate in several Telluride Adaptive Sports programs throughout the summer, in addition to its ongoing mission to underwrite the Ridgway Elementary School Learn to Ski Program and provide scholarships for Ridgway seniors participating in the senior Outward Bound River Trip that Gardner started many years ago.

This year, GGSF board members decided to re-align their mission with Gardner’s vision, focusing solely on providing financial assistance to Ouray County teens ages 14 to 19 who wish to pursue alternative/nontraditional educational opportunities or self-designed adventures – and especially outdoor educational programs. Examples of programs that will be supported are Outward Bound, National Outdoor Leadership Programs, and accredited avalanche and guide programs.

But really, anything goes, as long as it fits within the scope of the George Funds’ mission. As GGSF Board President Jerry Roberts said, “We’d love it if a group of kids came to us with an idea for their own self-directed adventure to go backpacking in the Weminuche for five days.”

Best of all, the board has done away with deadlines for applying for funds, which will now be awarded on an ongoing basis as new applications role in.

“Deadlines tend to paralyze people,” Roberts explained. “Especially 16-year-olds. We are just looking for kids with enthusiasm. I hope there are kids out there to get excited about stuff like this.”

Roberts, who has worked as an avalanche forecaster in the San Juan mountains for the past three decades, met Gardner in the mid-1970s when the two worked together as Outward Bound instructors near Marble, Colo.

“He was such an inspiration,” Roberts said, recalling the huge grin on Gardner’s face the first time they met. “That’s what George was about. Getting kids to experience the outdoors so they could become better people.”

Roberts and Nowak, who is on the GGSF advisory board, hope that the upcoming “El Cap, Back-to-Back” presentation will not only help fill the George Fund’s coffers, but also serve to “let people know what we are doing. We have been under the radar,” Roberts said.

Entry is $10 and there will also be a silent auction featuring goodies from Marmot and local supporters. But most of all, audience members should expect a good, old-fashioned climbing story, augmented by some great photos. “Just don’t expect any GoPro video,” Nowak grumbled.

Remember, this is “old-school,” folks.

For more information about how to support the George Gardner Scholarship Fund, or how to apply for a scholarship, visit