Hunter S. (for Stockton) Thompson was a noted Aspen area local who lived in nearby Woody Creek. He was born on July 18, 1937, and committed suicide at his home on February 20, 2005.
He was an American journalist and author and is credited as the creator of “Gonzo journalism” which is a style of reporting which blurs distinctions between author and subject, and fiction and nonfiction. He wrote several books, including “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
In 1970 Thompson ran for sheriff of Pitkin County on the "Freak Power" ticket promoting the decriminalization of drugs (for personal use only, not trafficking, as he disapproved of profiteering), tearing up the streets and turning them into grassy pedestrian malls, banning any building so tall as to obscure the view of the mountains, and renaming Aspen, Colorado "Fat City." The incumbent Republican sheriff whom he ran against had a crew cut, prompting Thompson to shave his head bald and refer to his opposition as "my long-haired opponent." See this article for information on this point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle_of_Aspen.
Six months after his suicide, on August 20, 2005, in a private ceremony, Thompson's ashes were fired from a cannon atop a 153-foot tower of his own design (in the shape of a double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button) to the tune of Bob Dylan's “Mr. Tambourine Man” song, known to be the song most respected by Thompson. Red, white, blue and green fireworks were launched along with his ashes. As the city of Aspen would not allow the cannon to remain for more than a month, the cannon has been dismantled and put into storage until a suitable permanent location can be found. According to Widow Anita Thompson, the actor Johnny Depp, a close friend of Thompson (and portrayer of Raoul Duke in the movie adaptation of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”), financed the funeral. Depp told the Associated Press, "All I'm doing is trying to make sure his last wish comes true. I just want to send my pal out the way he wants to go out." Other famous attendees at the funeral included U.S. Senator John Kerry and former U.S. Senator George McGovern; 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley; actors Bill Murray (who portrayed Hunter S. Thompson in the movie “Where the Buffalo Roam”), Sean Penn and Josh Hartnett; singers Lyle Lovett and John Oates; and numerous other friends. An estimated 280 people attended the funeral.
The Hunter Thompson Shrine was created on Snowmass on February 20, 2006 (on the one-year anniversary of his death), by a band of his friends and admirers, consisting of five people. They call themselves the "Glorious Leaders of the Underground Movement (GLUM)--The Creators of the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine." They go by the following names: RUSTY HEMATOMA, MISTER Z, R. W. FEATHERSTONE, PHLEGM THROWER, and MR. QUICK. Included in the Shrine are numerous photos, an American Flag, a gloved arm with “Gonzo” written on it, a lizard covered with multi-colored jewels, an air horn, a “Rolling Stone” magazine cover, several newspaper articles, Tibetan prayer flags, The Woody Creeker, a bottle of Mr. Bubbles, and other items. The creation of the shrine was documented in a newspaper article in the Aspen Times newspaper on February 21, 2006, written by Chad Abraham, and entitled "Good Doctor Enshrined at Snowmass." See: http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20060221/RECREATION01/102210018&parentprofile=search. (His widow, Anita Thompson, donated some of the items for the Shrine according to this Aspen Times newspaper article.) This Shrine is one of only three shrines whose creation was documented by a newspaper article written at the time; the other two shrines whose creation was so documented at the time of their creation are the Golf Shrine at Snowmass and the Adam Dennis Shrine on Aspen Mountain.
In September 2008, the author received an e-mail from one of the creators of the shrine, "Mister Z," stating in part the following:
"We update the shrine every winter on Presidents' Day, with or without Press. We also hike to the shrine in the summer for a campout on August 20, the anniversary of the day Hunter's ashes were shot from the cannon. We also maintain the shrine during the ski season, keeping up with the deterioration from Nature, and making sure the Chivas is topped up."
In this same e-mail, Mister Z sent the author a photo of four of the five creators of the shrine, which was taken in August 2007 during the creators' annual August campout at the Shrine. It is the first photo shown below (on the left) and is shown here with the permission of Mister Z. He also sent two other photos for use on this site, also shown below.
When the Shrine was updated and refreshed in February 2007, an article about that was written in the Aspen Daily News on February 21 by Troy Hooper, “Gonzo Fans Pay Tribute to Fallen Author,” see: http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/gonzo-fans-pay-tribu
In February and August 2008, and February and December 2009 the shrine was updated again, and it has been updated numerous times since then.
In the March 30, 2011 issue of the Snowmass Sun newspaper there is an article that mentions the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine. The title of the article is "A shrine for its time, Golf shrine draws luminaries, locals," and it was written by Madeleine Osberger, Sun Staff Writer. See: http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20110330/FRONTPAGE/110339987.
See this Snowmass Sun article dated November 29, 2011, "Hunter S. Thompson Shrine One of Two Documented," by David Wood, http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20111129/NEWS/111129983. This article is set out below at the bottom of this page.
Check out this very well-written article about the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine ("Gonzo Shrine in a Snowmass Glade") by Amana Rae. It appeared on February 22, 2012 on this page: Amanda Rae Was Here... http://amandaraewashere.com/post/18111421049/gonzo-shrine-in-a-snowmass-glade.
See this March 27, 2013 article by Amanda Rae, "Can you find Elvis, John Denver & Hunter S. Thompson at Aspen/Snowmass?" http://www.onthesnow.com/news/a/584531/can-you-find-elvis--john-denver---hunter-s--thompson-at-aspen-snowmass-, and also this March 27, 2013 article, "Aspen/Snowmass Tree Shrines: Hunter S. Thompson Shrine" also by Amanda Rae. http://www.onthesnow.com/news/a/584532/aspen-snowmass-tree-shrines--hunter-s--thompson-shrine.
See this article on GrindTv.com, "Shrine to gonzo journalist hidden in Aspen’s woods" February 19, 2016, by Stephen Krcmar. http://www.grindtv.com/culture/check-shrine-hunter-s-thompson-woods-snowmass-co/#AwLOB6QqHq13oLTA.99
THE HUNTER S. THOMPSON SHRINE ON ATLAS OBSCURA. In July, 2012 a page on the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine on Snowmass was added to "Atlas Obscura" which is "a compendium of the world's wonders, curiosities and esoterica" according to its web site. It was founded in 2009 by Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras, and "is the definitive guidebook and friendly tour-guide to the world’s most wondrous places. User-generated and editor curated, the Atlas is a collaborative compendium of amazing places that aren't found in your average guidebook." For its page on the HST Shrine, see this link: http://atlasobscura.com/place/hunter-s-thompson-shrine. The Atlas Obscura page on the HST Shrine was written for Atlas Obscura by Rachel James, Home Page Editor; for more on her, see this page: http://atlasobscura.com/user/Rachel.
See this CBS Channel 4 Denver article of September 24, 2012 ("Top Literary Landmarks In Colorado" by Deborah Flomberg) which mentions the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine on Snowmass. http://denver.cbslocal.com/top-lists/top-literary-landmarks-in-colorado/:
"Hunter S. Thompson Shrine
Snowmass, CO 81654
Hunter S. Thompson may be one of the most well-known authors from the state of Colorado. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, he briefly lived in Aspen for a while and eventually settled in Woody Creek. Thompson is known as the father of “Gonzo Journalism” and of course he is known for his works “Hell’s Angels,” “The Rum Diary” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” In 2005, Thompson committed suicide in his compound known as Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colorado. He has a devoted following across the nation and a small make-shift memorial in Snowmass, Colorado. In an undisclosed location deep in the woods of Snowmass, the shrine was created in 2006 by a group of people that call themselves the Glorious Leaders of the Underground Movement or GLUM. The simple shrine includes photos, magazine coves, the “Gonzo Journalism” icon, some prayer flags and other small items in memory of Thompson. It is an oddly fitting tribute to Thompson, seeing that you can’t really find the shrine."
A November 9, 2012 article in the San Francisco Chronicle mentions and contains a photo of the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine on Snowmass. "A shrine to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson includes photographs, ephemera, broken whiskey bottles and bullets hammered into tree trunks. It's at an undisclosed location off a ski run at Snowmass." Photo: Bill Fink, Special To The Chronicle / SF. See: http://www.sfgate.com/travel/article/Aspen-s-3-faces-Luxe-gonzo-kids-4024463.php.
This August 15, 2013 article by Ryan Dunfee, "Mapping Hunter S. Thompson's Aspen," mentions the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine and also contains a photo of it: http://bit.ly/16EZ8pS.
See this excellent article ("Group keeps funky Aspen alive with Snowmass shrine" written by Jill Beathard) about the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine that appeared in the Snowmass Sun newspaper issue of February 26, 2014, pages 4-5: http://www.aspentimes.com/news/snowmass/10241730-113/thompson-shrine-glum-hematoma.
In August of 2014, both Aspen and Snowmass made the Travel+Leisure list of "America's Quirkiest Towns." The Snowmass write-up mentions the Golf Shrine, the Snoopy Shrine, the Jerry Garcia Shrine, and has my photo of the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine. http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-quirkiest-towns/2?xid=TLDaily082314QuirkiestTowns.
This January 2015 Aspen Times article by Jill Beathard mentions the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine:http://www.aspentimes.com/news/14572389-113/shrines-aspen-shrine-snowmass.
See these two articles by author Craig Davis about an unsuccessful search for the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine: 1. The first search was in February of 2006 "Chasing Hunter’s ghost on Aspen powder and through the woods" https://craigslegztravels.com/chasing-hunters-ghost-on-aspen-powder-and-through-the-woods/. 2. The second search was in February of 2015 "Return to Aspen: Lost in the woods at Snowmass a real blast" http://craigslegztravels.com/lost-in-the-woods-at-snowmass-a-real-blast/
Here is an Aspen Times video of "Gonzo Ski Day" (February 21, 2015) at the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine on Snowmass by Corby Anderson. Click here: http://www.aspentimes.com/news/15143848-113/on-the-hill-a-powder-run-to-pay-respects-to. The video is 6:04 long. "VIDEO: What better way to celebrate Gonzo Ski Day than with fresh powder? 10 years after the death of local writer Hunter S. Thompson, his wild and infectious spirit lives on in the woods of Snowmass ski area. Aspen Times mountain correspondent Corby Anderson takes a snowy run to pay homage to a literary titan."
Here is a 42-second video by "Aspenfun" of the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine, dated March 12, 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVabmnqxXvw
See this February 19, 2016 article about the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine, "Shrine to gonzo journalist hidden in Aspen's woods" by Stephen Krcmar: https://www.grindtv.com/culture/check-shrine-hunter-s-thompson-woods-snowmass-co/#AwLOB6QqHq13oLTA.99
This quote appeared in the October 17, 2017 Aspen Daily News, in an article by Madeleine Osberger about the new Breathtaker Alpine Coaster at Snowmass: "He (ski area manager Steve Sewell) also noted the location (of the coaster) was 'by the Hunter Thompson shrine,' but allowed that he wasn’t sure if that shrine was still intact. Several of Snowmass’ more prominent on-mountain markers, or shrines, including one that paid homage to the greats of the golfing world, were removed this year though SkiCo has said previously it wasn’t at their direction." http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/176982
See this December 5, 2017 Aspen Daily News article by Madeleine Osberger, "Gonzo shrine saved from wrecking ball" https://www-dot-aspendailynews-dot-com.bloxcms-ny1.com/news/gonzo-shrine-saved-from-wrecking-ball/article_628db2b4-da17-11e7-a8f0-2351587d21fc.html
In an article ("An abbreviated history of Snowmass") by Sean Beckwith in the December 13, 2017 issue of the Snowmass Sun, Beckwith had this to say about the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine: "The final lasting skiing tradition could be a landmark, if you could find it on a map. It's only one of the greatest shrines in all of the safety-meeting universe — the Hunter S. Thompson shrine located somewhere between Elk Camp and Campground. Home to such irreplaceable treasures as an empty bottle of fireball, an out-of-order megaphone and various pictures of the gonzo journalist, it's a must see provided you know where it is or have a friend nice enough to show you its location. Getting to the shrine might be more fun than the shenanigans that go on there." See: https://www.aspentimes.com/news/snowmass/beckwith-an-abbreviated-history-of-snowmass/ The same article appeared in the Aspen Times of December 13, 2017, but the headline of that article was: "The Cliff Notes version of Snowmass History." See: https://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/sean-beckwith-the-cliffs-notes-version-of-snowmass-history/
This December 27, 2017 article by Alan Best in the Telluride Daily Planet mentions the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine on Snowmass:
http://www.telluridenews.com/opinion/columnists/article_f88b8aca-eb29-11e7-81ee-5bb85f77d8be.html A quote from the article: "THOMPSON TRIBUTE Almost 13 years since his suicide, the writer Hunter S. Thompson continues to be the subject of fascination and semi-idolatry. One of those memorials is on the ski slopes at Snowmass, which altogether has quite a few in-the-trees, off-the-slopes assemblages to honor various causes and people. The shrine, the Aspen Daily News explained, is but one of dozens of quirky and unsanctioned on-mountain warrens of memorabilia tucked within the four local ski areas. It consists of an American flag, a gloved arm with “gonzo” written on it, a lizard covered with multi-colored jewels, Tibetan prayer flags, and a copy of The Woody Creeker (he lived along Woody Creek, outside Aspen), among other artifacts. The Daily News reported that Aspen Skiing Co. neither promotes the existence of the shrines nor advocates for their removal, as the company recognizes they are popular with some guests. Some ski instructors and mountain ambassadors get requests for directions."
In a March 21, 2018 article ("Secret shrines to Elvis, Jerry Garcia, John Denver and more live on Aspen slopes. Here’s how to find them.") in the Denver Post by Dan Leeth, there is a photo and mention of the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine. Here is the link to the article: https://theknow.denverpost.com/2018/03/21/aspen-snowmass-shrines-2018/179727/
The Hunter S. Thompson Shrine was named the "Best Shrine" in the 2018 Aspen Times Locals' Choice The Best of Aspen & Snowmass readers' poll. This is the first time in the history of this readers' poll that a Snowmass Shrine has been named the best shrine. For photos, see this Facebook photo album (you do not need to have a Facebook account in order to view the album): https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.387744807964156&type=1&l=ec52ab845c
The "Last Shot" feature in the April 11-17, 2018 Snowmass Sun, shows a fox visiting the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine, photo by Gail Mason. Gail's photo is shown in the Facebook photo album mentioned below.
On February 5, 2019 I gave internationally famous ski writer Louise Hudson a Shrine tour on Snowmass, which included a visit to the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine. Below is a photo of her and husband Simon in the Shrine, and this is what Louise had to say about it: " We didn’t have time to visit all 100 or more of them, but David did take us to nine shrines nestled in the woods off Gunner’s View and Bull Run. Hunter S. Thompson’s is the biggest, with dozens of trees daubed with photos of the famous and fantastic writer of articles and books, many of which were made into films such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (whose star Johnny Depp, among other glitterati, attended Thompson’s funeral). The tear-tempting shrine includes photocopies of newspaper articles and images, memorabilia and memos, all encircling a mailbag book swap with a convenient toilet to sit and read on. Along with a single ski pole and one ski, an air horn and an American flag, there’s a feeling of utter devotion from the bereaved band of five friends who, incognito, assembled the Hunter homage exactly one year after his suicide at the age of 67 in 2005. This mountain memorial was awarded Best Shrine by the Aspen Times last year." See this link: https://onetwoski.blogspot.com/2019/03/into-limelight-at-snowmass-village.html
The Hunter S. Thompson Shrine is located on Snowmass, and photos of it are below. For even more photos of this shrine and more information about it, see this Facebook photo album (you do not need to be a member of Facebook to view this album): https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.387744807964156.89126.100001859201674&type=1&l=ec52ab845c.
If you have any photos of or information about this item that you would like to share for use on this page, please send to the author at AspenShrines@aol.com.
This shrine is covered in the book, "Sanctuaries in the Snow--The Shrines and Memorials of Aspen/Snowmass." The book may be purchased on this page on this site: http://www.aspensnowmassshrines.com/index.php?The-Book
See the two photos immediately below. The first photo below on the left shows four of the five people who created the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine. They are known as the "Glorious Leaders of the Underground Movement (GLUM)--The Creators of the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine." They go by the following names: RUSTY HEMATOMA, MISTER Z, R. W. FEATHERSTONE, and PHLEGM THROWER. They are also the caretakers of the Shrine. Photo credit to "Mister Z." Click photo to enlarge.
The second photo below on the right appeared with an Aspen Times article of February 21, 2006. The caption under the photo reads as follows: "A shrine honoring Hunter S. Thompson was assembled Monday - the one-year anniversary of the author's death - near Gunner's View at Snowmass. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)"
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All of the photos in the next photo section were taken in February and March of 2006, soon after the Shrine was first installed.
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All of the photos that follow in this next photo section were taken on February 22, 2007, showing the additions that were made to the shrine in February 2007, the one-year anniversary of the shrine’s installation and the two-year anniversary of Thompson’s suicide.
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All of the photos in the next photo section were taken in February 2008, near the third anniversary of his death, showing additional new items were added to the shrine, including a yellow sack containing spent bullet shells, a bottle of Chivas Regal whisky hanging from a rope in a tree, and many photos, including one of him with his wife Anita. Also a photo of HST with Johnny Depp, and copies of the slip jackets of two books on HST ("Gonzo" and "The Kitchen Readings"). Also, "The Bedford Boys" of Telluride donated some golf shoes to the Shrine. (Two lines in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" pertain to golf shoes: Raoul Duke: [to Acosta] "PLEASE. Tell me you got the f***ing golf shoes." Raoul Duke: "Wear some golf shoes, otherwise we'll never get out of this place alive. Impossible to walk in this muck. No footing at all." To the author's knowledge, this is one of only two shrines which makes scotch whisky available to visitors (the other one is The Golf Shrine at Snowmass).
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The two photos in the photo section below were taken by one of the creators of the Shrine, "Mister Z," and are used on this site with his permission.
A visit to the Shrine in the summer of 2008 reveals a nice bench to sit on and some other items: Several flashlights, a Chivas Regal box, a bottle that says "Gonzo Imperial Porter" on the label, an article written by Jack Nicholson, and other items. See photos below.
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In its February 17, 2009 issue, the Aspen Daily News ran the photo below along with the following copy:
"The Glorious Leaders of the Underground Movement (GLUM), the creators of the Hunter S. Thompson shrine, gather for its annual rededication near the Gunner’s View run at Snowmass on Monday. Thompson killed himself on Feb. 20, 2005, which was Presidents Day. “Mr. Z” takes a swig of Chivas Regal which hangs from the tree that is part of the shrine."
All the photos in this section were taken between December 2010 and April 2012.
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The photos in this section were taken in January, February, and March 2013.
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This photo of "Rusty Hematoma" (one of the members of G.L.U.M.) appeared with an article ("Group keeps funky Aspen alive with Snowmass shrine" written by Jill Beathard) about the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine that appeared in the Snowmass Sun newspaper issue of February 26, 2014, pages 4-5: http://www.aspentimes.com/news/snowmass/10241730-113/thompson-shrine-glum-hematoma (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
For photos of this shrine taken after 2014, see this Facebook photo album (you do not need to be a member of Facebook to view this album): https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.387744807964156.89126.100001859201674&type=1&l=ec52ab845c.
Here are some Hunter S. Thompson videos:
Below is the article by David Wood about the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine that appeared in the Snowmass Sun newspaper.
The infamous journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson was born on July 18, 1937. He is credited with inventing “gonzo journalism,” which is a style of reporting that blurs distinctions between author and subject, fiction and nonfiction. In addition to writing many books, including “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” he also ran for sheriff of Pitkin County on the “Freak Power” ticket in 1970, promoting the decriminalization of drugs, tearing up the streets and turning them into grassy pedestrian malls and renaming Aspen “Fat City.”
The incumbent Republican sheriff against whom he ran had a crew cut, prompting Thompson to shave his head bald and refer to his opposition as “my long-haired opponent.”
Thompson committed suicide at his home in Woody Creek on Feb. 20, 2005. Exactly six months later, on Aug. 20, 2005, in a private ceremony, his ashes were fired from a cannon atop a 153-foot tower of his own design (in the shape of a double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button) to the tune of Bob Dylan's “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
Actor Johnny Depp (portrayer of Raoul Duke in the movie adaptation of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”) was said to have financed the funeral.
Other famous attendees at the funeral included U.S. Sen. John Kerry, former U.S. Sen. George McGovern, “60 Minutes” correspondent Ed Bradley, actors Bill Murray, Sean Penn and Josh Hartnett and singers Lyle Lovett and John Oates.
The Hunter Thompson Shrine was created on Snowmass on Feb. 20, 2006 (on the first anniversary of his death), by a band of his friends and admirers, consisting of five people. They call themselves the “Glorious Leaders of the Underground Movement (GLUM) — The Creators of the Hunter S. Thompson Shrine.”
They go by the following names: Rusty Hematoma, Mister Z, R.W. Featherstone, Phlegm Thrower and Mr. Quick.
Included in the shrine are numerous photos, an American flag, a gloved arm with “Gonzo” written on it, a lizard covered with multicolored jewels, some golf shoes, some bullet shells, an air horn, a Rolling Stone magazine cover, several newspaper articles, Tibetan prayer flags, The Woody Creeker newspaper, a bottle of Mr. Bubbles and many other items.
The creation of the shrine was documented in a newspaper article in The Aspen Times on Feb. 21, 2006, written by Chad Abraham. His widow, Anita Thompson, donated some of the items for the shrine, according to the article.
This is one of only two shrines whose creation was documented by a newspaper article written at the time; the other one is the Golf Shrine.
Ever since it was created, GLUM has updated the shrine every Feb. 20 and every Aug. 20.
The shrine is located near the Gunner's View run at Snowmass — a perfect place, given Thompson's fondness for guns.
David Wood (email@example.com) is the author of the best-selling book about the Aspen shrines “Sanctuaries in the Snow — The Shrines and Memorials of Aspen/Snowmass.” He donates all of his profits from book sales to The Roaring Fork Valley Scholarship Fund. The book can be purchased in Snowmass Village at Snowmass Sports, the Stew Pot, Sundance Liquor and Gifts, and the Village Market as well as at various locations in Aspen.
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