Obituary: Doug Bitterman
March 6, 1952 – May 29, 2021
The Roaring Fork Valley recently lost one-of-a-kind, a man of the mountains, Doug Bitterman. Doug passed away, in bed, at his beloved cabin high in the Elk Mountains at over 11,000 feet.
Doug was born in South Dakota and raised in Yankton, S.D. He was the oldest of seven siblings, four sisters, two brothers. He learned to ski riding a rope tow at a small ski area nearby. A self-taught guitarist with a beautiful voice, Doug played bass in a band, sang harmony, and preformed a various venues in the Mid-west. Doug also played an acoustic six-string guitar once owned by John Denver.
In the early 1970s Doug ventured to the Colorado Springs area, where he found the two loves of his life, the mountains, and Deb Di Gregory. Wanting to be closer the mountains, they moved to Breckenridge and lived in a cabin high above town. Deb’s desire for a warmer climate brought them to Aspen in 1980.
Doug quickly discovered Ashcroft and the high-country above the ghost town, which is where he lived much of his life. (Deb and Doug divorced in 1986, but remained dear friends until his passing.) A gifted mechanic, Doug groomed the cross-country ski trails and maintained equipment for Ashcroft Ski Touring. His tenure spanned parts of three decades. Doug was also the avalanche forecaster for the touring center, a life and death responsibility which he took quite seriously. Doug was involved with ISSW, International Snow Science Workshop, an organization which studies avalanches. After Ashcroft, Doug spent time in Crested Butte, Little Annie’s Basin, and up the Frying Pan River east of Basalt.
Back country skiing was Doug’s passion. It is estimated he skied 14,265 foot Castle Peak 300 times. With a couple friends, Doug did a unique ski traverse of the Elks Mountains starting near Mount Sopris. He also traveled to Alaska to climb Denali (Mount Mc Kinley 20,320.) Doug worked at Phoenix Skis, a former telemark ski manufacturer located at the Aspen Airport Business Center. Living at over 11,000 feet, Doug spent much of the year on skis.
Naturally charming and personable, with unforgettable piercing blue eyes, Doug easily made friends wherever he was. And despite living remote, he enjoyed people. A respectful and skilled hunter, Doug guided in the Flat Tops north of Glenwood Springs and could wrangle a herd of twenty horses. A voracious reader with a bright mind, he seemed to get wiser and wiser with age. Doug is survived by sisters Nancy, Linda, Le Ann, Amy and brothers Dan and David. This truly iconic man will be sorely missed by many, many friends.
A memorial TBD.
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