Avid skier, backpacker to open outdoors store

By Bill Rautenstrauch, for The Observer June 04, 2014 09:31 am

Blue Mountain Outfitters fills retail space formerly occupied by Blue Turtle Art Gallery in downtown La Grande

Lovers of Northeast Oregon’s substantial and always-beautiful great outdoors have a new place to shop for gear, now that Jim Whitbeck is opening Blue Mountain Outfitters on Adams Avenue in downtown La Grande.

For the past several weeks, Whitbeck has been transforming the retail space at 1124 Adams Ave. — formerly occupied by the Blue Turtle Art Gallery — into a store that will cater to people who love those wide open spaces.

An avid skier and backpacker himself, Whitbeck said he came to La Grande to visit a friend about six months ago and “fell in love with the place.”

He said he’s made trips into the mountains on foot and on skis, and he likes what he’s seen.

“I’ve explored the Wallowa Mountains and had a lot of fun,” Whitbeck said.

“I can’t believe how beautiful this place is. There’s world class everything within a hundred miles of La Grande.”

He said that as he became acquainted with the outdoor scene, he came to believe an outdoors store would be a good fit in La Grande.

 “I found there are a lot of outdoors subcultures, from birdwatchers to skiers and backpackers, and not really anyone to outfit them."

For the full story, see Wednesday's edition of The Observer