Sanctuaries in the Snow

The Phone of the Wind (Wind Phone) (Aspen Mountain)

There is a Wind Phone on Aspen Mountain called "The Phone of the Wind' or "The Phone of the Winds."  As far as I can tell (as of March of 2021), it is the first, and only, Wind Phone in Colorado, and the first, and only, Wind Phone on a ski mountain anywhere.  I first became aware of it in February 2021.  Many thanks to Mike Britt of the Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol for telling me about it and contributing some of the photos of it shown below.  The original Wind Phone was created in 2010 in Ōtsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan.  Since then several replicas have been constructed around the world in these locations:  Oakland, California; Dublin, Ireland; Tahara, Aichi Prefecture, Japan; Provincetown, Massachusetts; Marshall, North Carolina, at 386 Madison Heights Drive, near Highway 213 and route 26, and Olympia, Washington.  And now, as of February 2021, Aspen Mountain has one.

See this March 15, 2021 Aspen Times article by Andrew Travers:    The article starts on the front page, and an image of that front page is below.  Also here is the link to that front page image:    And here is a quote from the article: 

“Living in the year of the pandemic, there are certainly plenty of people that have lost loved ones,” said the artist, who is based in the West outside Colorado and requested anonymity due to the technical illegality of installing shrines in U.S. National Forest land. “And I thought this would be a great way to be able to reach out to them.”  As this month’s first anniversaries of pandemic milestones pass and as grim statistics mount — surpassing 500,000 dead in the U.S. and 6,000 in Colorado — the artist is hopeful that the wind phone will provide a place for people to process and face their grief in this moment. As COVID-19 has killed so many, it has also severely limited the ability to hold funerals, memorial services and traditional rites of mourning due to public health restrictions on gatherings.  “I’m hoping that people use it, given the power of the need to grieve in the pandemic,” the artist said. “Whether or not there is a voice on the other end doesn’t matter because the feeling of connection happens.”  The artist has a long history of visiting Aspen and in recent years has taken up a casual shrine-hunting hobby, skiing to the many monuments for locals and celebrities tucked into the woods on local ski mountains.  “I became fascinated with shrines,” the artist said, noting previous public artwork elsewhere that has played with themes surrounding religious shrines. “This isn’t really a ‘shrine.’ I’m calling it a ‘portal,’ or you could think of it as a shrine to words unsaid.”  The ritual of picking up a phone and dialing numbers on its spinning rotary is a meaningful gesture, at least for the pre-cell phone generations.  “The act of holding a phone to your ear, there’s something cathartic that I think happens because in that behavior we feel like a real connection is happening,” the artist said.  The artist bought the phone on eBay and crafted the signs for the shrine, then spent time this winter with a backpack full of tools searching for a place on Aspen Mountain, concentrating on favored slopes of the east side the artist has come to love for sunny afternoon runs.  “When I saw that tree that was leaning over, it felt to me like a portal and everybody that comes in, they’re like, ‘Wow, that’s a cool spot,’” the artist said.  Nobody was likely to find it anytime soon by accident, so the artist showed it to a ski ambassador, a ski patroller and told a few more people in Aspen about the wind phone, in the hopes that word of it and its location would get around town as people experienced it.  Word of its existence has spread in recent days through posts on “Sanctuaries in the Snow” author David Wood’s social media channels and an episode of the Aspen Times on-mountain video series “The Drop-In.” “I visited this shrine on Saturday and called my Mom, who passed last March, what a beautiful idea and well-designed shrine,” a local ski instructor wrote to Wood via email. “It felt great!”  Such enthusiastic initial reactions the artist has heard from people experiencing the phone has led to ideas of how to build a community around it, such as using a QR code to allow people to record and share their experiences online or raising funds to install wind phones in other locations around the United States.

Also see the 13 links below for more information; the first link is Wikipedia and the last link is a video of the Aspen Wind Phone done by Daniel Dancer.

1.  This is the Wikipedia page on the Wind Phone, and it mentions the Aspen Mountain Wind Phone:









10.  The Aspen Times covered Aspen's Phone of the Winds in a March 8, 2021 article:   There is an excellent video, and also this is a quote from this article:  "On this episode of The Drop-In, after an tip from an anonymous artist about a new addition to Aspen’s “shrines,“ Drop-In hosts Rose and Kelsey along with The Aspen Times Arts and Entertainment Editor Andrew Travers search for the Wind Phone on Aspen Mountain.  According to a sign posted with the instillation in the woods, 'The Phone of the Winds is physically connected to nowhere. It is a portal where you can speak privately to whomever you wish, alive or deceased. … The project was inspired by the Phone of the Wind in Otsuchi, Japan, built in a hilltop garden above the sea by Itaru Sasaki to communicate with a dear deceased cousin. When the tsunami struck the region in 2011 and killed over 20,000 people, the wind phone became a way for survivors to connect with lost family members.'"

11.  A novel has been written about the Wind Phone in Japan.  See this review:

12.  The Colorado Daily News Wire picked up the Aspen Wind Phone story:

13.  This is an excellent video of the Phone of the Winds on Aspen Mountain in Colorado by Daniel Dancer.  When he goes to the Wind Phone he calls Marilyn Monroe (and the video shows some of the Marilyn Monroe Shrine on Aspen Mountain).  Click here for the video:


Here are photos of it; click on images to enlarge.