If you go
What: Wild Places of Northwest of Colorado Slide Show with Scott Patterson
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4
Where: Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave
• The presentation is open to the public. For more information, call the Colorado Environmental Coalition at 824-5241.
When Scott Patterson, 36, climbs to the top of a mountain, he has a distinct feeling — one of peace and accomplishment.
“For me, it is a clear mind,” he said. “It helps you forget about everything else. Everyone has a hectic life, I guess, and it helps you focus on nature instead of on traffic or the noise of everything.”
But that feeling of serenity isn’t new to Scott.
During his life, Scott said he has climbed 1,469 mountains since climbing his first in 1981.
In that time, he has hiked and climbed his way through jungles desert and timber in 36 different countries on six of the seven continents. He documents most of his travels with his camera, keeping an online photo journal with thousands of pictures of him and his family.
“We usually go to the non-recognizable places … we try to get off the beaten track,” he said. “Most of the peaks we have climbed many people might not have heard of. Some of them we might have been the only Americans to climb it.”
Scott’s wife, Kimberly, and their two children, Kessler, 8, and Shaylee, 6, have made a life out of traveling the globe to places some can only imagine, he said.
Even at their young age, Scott’s children have scaled numerous mountains — Kessler with 201 and Shaylee with 91.
“The kids, they really like it, but they don’t know how different it is compared to other kids, that they get to do all this stuff,” Scott said.
Scott’s outdoor passion developed at an early age, and after traveling for years with his family, he is trying something new — carrying a message of protecting the wild areas of Moffat County and finding a balance with energy development.
“I’m actually a highway engineer, but I still like the road-less areas,” he said. “It’s nice to go out there in nature where there is no machinery and everything, to get away to wild places.”
Scott was born in Everett, Wash., and grew up in the Salt Lake City area. He graduated high school in 1991 and attended Salt Lake Community College, where he met Kimberly.
Scott later graduated from the University of Utah with an associate’s degree in civil engineering
Currently he is a highway engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The Patterson family has lived in Craig since 2004, and on the Western Slope since 2001.
Scott said he is a mountain climber at heart, and started hiking and exploring the area around Salt Lake City since he could walk.
He started traveling when he was 18, and he has climbed, hiked or taken photos of all the places he has been since, he said.
“I climb so many mountains, but if I didn’t have the pictures, it would be hard to remember everything,” he said. “I guess you could consider it my journal.”
Scott doesn’t have an extensive collection of cameras and lenses to document his travels, he said.
“I never really thought of myself as a photographer, but I guess people say I am,” he said.
Scott uses a normal, point-and-shoot Canon or Kodak digital camera when he travels.
“Nothing fancy,” he said with a laugh. “I guess a lot of people like to look at my pictures, but that is all I use.”
Scott has never had any formal training with a camera, but he contends he doesn’t need instruction or a special camera to capture the scenery he sees on his travels.
“Usually if you go out enough, there is an opportunity to take a good picture somewhere,” he said. “You get out enough and a good picture is always going to come up.”
Traveling far and wide
Scott climbs about 75 to 100 mountains a year, he said. The hardest climb, he contends, was Mouaputa in French Polynesia.
He and his family take mostly unguided trips to remote places, he said.
A few highlights over the many years Scott has been traveling include climbing some of the highest peaks in Montana, rafting with his wife from the Himalayas to the jungles of India and hiking with his kids in the jungles of Honduras.
During a trip to Lake Baringo in Kenya, Scott said he was surrounded by a herd of hippos.
On a trip to Peru, they hiked across the Colca Canyon and visited a remote village.
“(Kessler) was the first gringo kid ever to visit those villages, so he got a lot of attention,” he said.
But, Scott also likes to explore in his own backyard.
In 2006, Scott and a few friends discovered the Outlaw Arch in Dinosaur National Monument.
The arch, he said, was the largest discovered in the world since 1950, and is ranked as the 12th largest arch in the world at 206 feet across, he said.
Several media outlets documented the discovery including National Geographic Adventure, Backpacker Magazine and 5280 Magazine, Scott said.
Although he was excited by the discovery and having his photographs published in national publications, Scott remains humble.
“It’s alright,” he said. “We don’t really go for the fame thing, but we also like to share our adventures.
“That is what is important — that people know about these places, that most places we go normal people can go. It just takes determination, that’s about it.”
From the edge and back to Moffat County
Despite having traveled the world, Scott contends the sights in Moffat County are one of a kind.
“There are not the Himalayas in Craig, but there is not Dinosaur National Monument anywhere else,” he said.
Scott contends many people don’t take advantage of the destinations in Moffat County, like Diamond Breaks, Vermillion Basin and Cross Mountain.
“They are world class,” he said of Moffat County attractions “We can say that because we have been around the world. Some of the best views in the world are in Moffat County.”
Recently, Scott has taken his love of traveling the world and exploring Moffat County and started to encourage others to take advantage of the scenery around them.
“These are all places people can go if they get out there and do it,” he said. “I guess people are scared of the wilderness or something. They think only a select few can go there, but that is not true.”
Scott has teamed up with the Colorado Environmental Coalition to host a series of slideshows of his travels. The first of the presentations took place Tuesday at the Center of Craig.
Scott and the CEC are planning another presentation for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Center of Craig.
“Even these wild places, if people might not set foot on them … just being able to look at them and still see the wild areas is an experience,” he said. “It still makes you a wilderness user even if you never set foot on it.”
His presentation also carries an environmental message. Scott hopes to increase awareness of keeping the untouched areas of Moffat County wild along with balancing the needs of oil and gas developments, he said.
“The only way people would care about them is if they could see them,” he said. “A lot of people, when they think about Moffat County, they think about just the drive from Craig to Dinosaur and say, ‘Well that wasn’t that great.’
“Get off the road a little bit and there is lots of stuff. You just have to leave the road a few miles.”