Interview with Dougald MacDonald of Colorado MoJo

by Tom Markiewicz on December 21, 2009

Colorado MoJo

Dougald MacDonald recently launched a new site focused on the Colorado backcountry called Colorado MoJo. I caught up with him to ask some questions about the site.

What prompted you to start a new website focused specifically on Colorado outdoor pursuits?

I started Colorado MoJo because I couldn’t find anything else online that covers all the outdoor sports I love, close to home. There are lots of great outdoor sites, but they’re mostly sport-specific. Most people I know don’t just climb…they also ski or mountain bike or hike 14ers. There was a need for one site that covers multiple backcountry sports, and exclusively in Colorado.

The other issue is that many of the best sites are forum-driven, and you have to read through a mountain of posts every day to get the most out of the site. With Colorado MoJo, we sort through all that information and only publish the real gems, the must-reads. Essentially, it’s a daily online news magazine.

Have you encountered any specific challenges launching a site focused on the Colorado backcountry?

Just lack of time. There is so much to cover, but this is still very much a part-time gig.

What types of content will Colorado MoJo publish?

All Colorado. Mostly backcountry. I started the site with the sports I know best: rock and ice climbing, mountaineering, hiking, backcountry skiing, and trail running. We’ll expand from there, but only when we have real experts to manage those pages.

The site is designed to be about 50 or 60 percent news, 25 or 30 percent inspiration and how-to information, and the rest off-beat, unpredictable stuff. We take a pretty broad definition of “news.” In climbing terms, that might be new routes or access issues, but it also includes first-person stories about cool climbs, epic tales, and photo- and video-driven stories.

We’re building a library of Classics, and we want to create mini-guides to climbing areas that aren’t well known. Obviously, a lot of this information is already available at sites like Mountain Project or Summit Post, but we think there’s an opportunity to present it in a fresh and possibly more useful way.

Please talk a bit about what you don’t cover and why.

The main thing at this time of year is we’re not covering resort skiing and climbing gyms and indoor competitions. Nothing wrong with those things, but Colorado MoJo is focused on the backcountry. That said, something like the Ouray Ice Festival would fit in our pages.

We’re not covering mountain biking or paddling yet, though that could change in 2010. And we’re not doing gear reviews. I think we’ll eventually start covering equipment, but not until we can do it in a way that brings something new to the table. There’s not a lot of truly Colorado-specific gear.

How many contributors do you have so far? Any trends you’re seeing with what is being submitted?

I launched the site in late November, and until now I’ve either written or solicited most of the stories. I’ve been getting some great contributions from climbing and ski guides around the state. They really know their local areas. I’m hoping to have a couple of regular contributors on board very, very soon, and that will broaden and deepen the coverage, especially in skiing.

How can my readers contribute? Any content type or activity that is currently under-represented?

We need to set up better ways for readers to contribute, but the door is definitely open. We’re looking for stories about new routes, epic adventures (in Colorado), and just great days out in the hills. Photo essays or video clips are super-cool. I’m also looking for Classics and mini-guides. People should contact me directly if they have an idea: mojo@coloradomountainjournal.com.

Lots of times, people post a story or report at one of the big forum-based sites and it immediately gets buried. We can lay out a reader’s contribution in a way that will really showcase it, so it will stand out from the crowd, and it will be highlighted for much longer on Colorado MoJo than elsewhere.

On a personal level, what are your favorite aspects of the Colorado backcountry?

Well, I’ve always been a climber first. I’ve been climbing for more than 30 years, and what keeps me going strong is variety: I like mixed routes in the mountains as much as sport climbs at Shelf Road. But, as I said before, I just like to spend lots of time in the mountains, and so I also love skiing, hiking, and trail running.

Anything additional you’d like to share with All Climbing’s readers about Colorado MoJo?

The site is brand new and still developing, and we’re eager to hear from readers with story ideas and suggestions for what they’d like to see at MoJo. Drop me a line! We’re also on Facebook and Twitter, and those pages get updated even more frequently than the main site.

Dougald MacDonald has been skiing since he was 3, hiking since he was 5, and climbing since he was 16. He moved to Colorado in 1987, specifically for the mountains. Dougald was the publisher and editor in chief of Rock & Ice magazine for a number of years, and was the founding publisher of Trail Runner magazine. These days, he’s an associate editor of the American Alpine Journal, and writes most of the news for Climbing.com. Dougald also writes frequently for Outside, Backpacker, 5280, Men’s Journal, and many other magazines. He also wrote the book Longs Peak: The Story of Colorado’s Favorite Fourteener. He also writes a personal blog for the past five years at (http://themountainworld.blogspot.com).

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