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A Photo is Worth 1000 Songs – Rare Air: Colorado Mountain Summits

A weekly series exploring photos, words, and songs.
Photos: Arik Solberg
Words: Dave Shiffman
Songs: ♫ on Spotify


The monstrous mountain stands before you.   You know it will require thousands of strenuous steps to reach the summit, and you relish the challenge.

The summer air is calm and the sun feels pleasant on your face, but you’ve equipped yourself for the elements as you know that within minutes, a whipping wind could bring dark clouds full of driving sleet or snow.

Despite the seemingly innocuous conditions, hazards abound. Your ascent is deliberate, not a leisurely stroll but a carefully calculated climb. You pick your path with strategic caution, making sure not to lose your footing or roll an ankle. As if the incline wasn’t enough, the altitude could cause headaches, nausea and fatigue. A misstep could result in a painful fall, a broken bone or even a snakebite. The elevation and remote location make it difficult to obtain help and should something happen, you could be stranded for an indefinite amount of time.

Your pulse races from not only the strenuous activity and subconscious jitters but also a deep appreciation for the magnificence of Mother Earth.

Upon finally reaching the summit after a full day of trekking, you raise your arms and look to the sky before falling to your feet with exhaustion. You take pride in your triumph while enjoying the solitude and absorbing the incredible view of the beautiful Rocky Mountains protruding into the sky as far as you can see.

Your afterglow of accomplishment and isolation lasts only momentarily. A herd of mountain goats greets you with nonchalance, their stoic demeanor bemusing you. For you, hiking the Rockies is a test of tenacity, courage and endurance. For them, it is a way of life





SONGS: ♫ on Spotify

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Ever since becoming deeply moved and then essentially obsessed with reggae music as a teenager, Dave has always strove to learn as much as possible about the history and culture of reggae music, Jamaica and Rastafari, the ideology and lifestyle intertwined with reggae. 

Over the years, he has interviewed many personalities throughout the reggae world including Ziggy Marley, Burning Spear, Lucky Dube, Bradley Nowell and many artists in the progressive roots scene.

Dave has also written and published a novel, “The Cosmic Burrito,” a tale of two friends who drive across the USA in search of the ultimate burrito. He plays ice hockey weekly for a recreational team he founded and manages, Team Rasta.

Reggae music has filled his life with a richness for which he will forever be grateful, and he gives thanks to musicians far and wide, past and present, whether they perform roots, dub, dancehall, skinhead, rocksteady or ska, whether their tools are analog or digital, as well as the producers, promoters, soundsystems, selectors and the reggae massive at large who comprise the international reggae community.

You can follow Dave on Instagram at @rootsdude and Twitter at @ElCosmicBurrito.

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