Bruce Bartleson, 82, glides along on his 65-year-old speedskates.

(Courtesy of Bruce Bartleson)

When the temperatures drop into the frigid zone around Gunnison County and the many bodies of water freeze over, it is wild ice time. For a tribe of hardcore ice skaters, wild ice is the thrilling antithesis of Zamboni-smoothed ice arenas. Skaters must often trek to out-of-the-way spots to find their ice. Then, they must flirt with danger to enjoy it. 

Gunnison is the perfect spot for chasing wild ice: It is one of the coldest places in the state. It doesn't get a lot of snow. And it is home to a host of rabid athletes who view risk and difficulty as a welcome part of outdoor recreation. Bruce Bartleson, an 82-year-old member of the wild ice "tribe," tells Colorado Matters about the sport.