Skaters Chase The Slick Draw Of Wild Ice Around Gunnison

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<p>(Courtesy of Bruce Bartleson)</p>
<p>Bruce Bartleson, 82, glides along on his 65-year-old speedskates.</p>
Photo: Gunnison skating cropped
Bruce Bartleson, 82, glides along on his 65-year-old speedskates.

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.