Wintermission Leadville: Learning How a Mountain Town Celebrates and Copes with Winter

Earlier this month part of our team made their way up the snow-covered Rocky Mountains to Leadville, Colorado. Our aim? To work with the local Wintermission team and speak to Leadvillians about public life in winter.

We drove up winding roads hoping to get ahead of a snowstorm that threatened to drop nearly 5 feet of snow in the region. Leadville sits at 10,152 feet above sea level making it the highest incorporated city in North America and gets up to 156 inches of snow per year.

Skijoring in Leadville, Colorado.
Our visit coincided with the Ski Joring Festival, a competition with skiers being pulled by horses down the main street over jumps, trying to collect rings. Extreme? Yes, but just like the tenacity of its citizens, the people of Leadville and surrounding communities braved avalanches that closed the highway to attend the festival and most importantly enjoy winter.

Over four days, we held 12 unconventional engagements, trying to get at what makes winter great in Leadville and what can be improved. Our agenda ran the gamut, from offering up s’more kits over a burn-barrel on the county court-house lawn to catching up with Latinx women at the end of a Zumba class, to running a workshop with city and county staff.

Enaggement board in LEadville with people's comments

As we talked to various communities, one thing became evident: people love snow, winter and all of the fun that comes with it. But extreme weather poses some real challenges for vulnerable communities and makes it difficult for many people to get around safely on foot or in a car.

As the Wintermission project moves on, we set out to answer a question: how can a mountain town strike a healthy balance with their love for winter and the outdoors, while addressing the challenges it poses to public space accessibility for all? Stayed tuned for our community engagement summary coming this spring.

Complete the Wintermission survey and tell us what you like about winter in Leadville, and what you’d like to improve.


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