Q: Do you offer a guarantee?
We want you to be thrilled with the rare wood you've purchased from Bone Mountain Bristlecone, so if you are unsatisfied with your purchase, please contact us and we will happily refund your money or arrange an exchange within 90 days. (We do not pay return shipping.)
Please keep in mind that wood is a natural product, and as such, shrinkage and expansion are possible. Individual pieces vary in character, and irregularities are a part of the beauty of the wood. All dimensions are nominal and may be +/- one-half inch.
Q: When will my item(s) be shipped?
A: In 7 days or less.
Barring impassable weather on our long back-country road, your items will be shipped within 7 business days of your order. We live and work in a remote area of Colorado where mail carriers do not dare to venture, so we deliver your packages to the mail service as often as we possibly can. Our operation is very different than Amazon.com, but our extremely rare wood is worth the wait!
Q: Do you ship internationally?
If you would like some of our wood to be shipped outside the United States, please feel free to contact us with your special request. It helps if you let us know what item(s) you would like to buy. We will respond to your request as soon as possible.
Q: How old is the tree that my piece of wood came from?
A: The short answer to this question is this: it is extremely hard to say.
Every piece of wood that is sold by Bone Mountain Bristlecone came from a log that was burned in the 1870s forest fire. The logs then stood in the harsh alpine environment for more than a century, where most of the exterior charred wood was worn away by wind and rain. So each log had an unknown amount of its exterior removed (depending on how heavily the fire burned each individual tree), making it impossible to get an accurate count of the tree rings. Nonetheless, by counting the rings of various logs that have been harvested, we would estimate that most of the trees were roughly between 600- 1,200 years old when they burned in the 1870s.
Q: Do you take special orders?
A: Yes. Sometimes.
Whether you are interested in a bulk purchase, or are looking for a certain cut of wood, please email us with your needs, and we will be happy to send you a quote. Also, if there is a specific product that you wish we would offer on a regular basis, please feel free to contact us, and we will consider adding it to our product list.
Q: Pine wood is very common. What makes the wood from Bone Mountain Bristlecone so special?
A: Rocky Mountain Bristlecone grows in only a very small area, and is almost never commercially available. The fact that it was a very old & slow-growing tree that burned in a forest fire gives it very special character.
All the wood from Bone Mountain Bristlecone is Rocky Mountain Bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata) that was gathered a mountainside in southern Colorado that our family lovingly nicknamed Bone Mountain. The Rocky Mountain Bristlecone grows in a tiny ecological niche within a very small geographic area. This Wikipedia link shows the extremely limited habitat of the Rocky Mountain Bristlecone.
It is (to the best of our knowledge) illegal to harvest the similar species--Great Basin Bristlecone ( Pinus longaeva), that grows in California, Nevada, and Utah. And there are only tiny areas of legal harvest of the Rocky Mountain Bristlecone. This makes it a true "American exotic wood."
Perhaps more importantly, the Rocky Mountain Bristlecone has unique sculptural characteristics as a result of the forest fire and subsequent weathering. Its slow growth in a harsh alpine environment means that the wood has extraordinarily tight & beautiful grain, and it has a wonderfully strong aroma.
Though not scientifically proven, there is a strong belief common amongst wood workers who are familiar with fire-killed bristlecone, that the fire itself gave the wood a unique character. The heat of the fire sort of "caramelizes" the sap of the tree, and fire-killed bristlecone has a different quality about it than the trees that have died by a different method.
Q: How is your wood priced?
A: A number of factors go into the pricing of this wood.
This wood is extremely difficult to harvest because the high mountain terrain is so remote, steep, and difficult to work in. All the work is done in an area above 12,000 feet where severe storms and unpredictable weather are common. Each piece is carefully hand-harvested in small quantities, then hand-cut and individually posted on our website before it is shipped to our customers. All this takes a lot of hard labor. Though it is truly a labor of love, it is still a lot of labor.
Bone Mountain is perhaps the only place where a large swath of Rocky Mountain Bristlecone has burned, and then sat undisturbed for a century before a few select areas were opened for harvest by the forest service. It is possible that someone else has a permit to legally gather wood on a burned area similar to Bone Mountain, but we haven't heard of such a situation. Jim Christy holds an exclusive permit for wood collection on all of Bone Mountain. Only a very small proportion of the wood on Bone Mountain is accessible for harvest, as a result of the difficult terrain. Thus, there is an extremely limited quantity of this ancient rare wood, and when it is gone, it is gone.
Q: I want to make something big. Why are all your pieces of wood so small?
A: The Bristlecone trees themselves are small. Bristlecones live in very harsh environments (generally where other trees cannot survive), and as a result they grow extremely slowly, and do not achieve great size, even when they are very old. Furthermore, the fire that killed these trees burned off an unknown amount of the exterior, reducing the girth of these specimens even further.
We do have some larger pieces but they are very rare even among this scarce resource. To find giant pieces of wood, you have to go the places like the Pacific Northwest, where it rains every day. Around here, rain is a blessing that comes once a year. Fortunately, wood workers are very creative people and can figure out how to make beautiful things from small pieces!
Q: What about forest conservation?
A: Jim and Ruth Christy have spent their entire adult lives living and working in the high country near Bone Mountain. They have lived a very "green" lifestyle long before it became a popular movement. Their small scale operation is the definition of low-impact. Bone Mountain was never "logged" using heavy equipment or a large-scale operation, and this includes Jim's work on the mountain . The Christy family is concerned about long-term forest health, and we care deeply about the Bristlecone and its habitat. We are committed to using a portion of the profits to help ensure the long-term health of the Bristlecone. To that end, we are seeking a non-profit organization that we can work with to benefit forest health and this great tree in particular. If you have a suggestion of an organization you'd like us to consider, please contact us!
Q: Do you accept visitors to your property?
A: Not at the moment.
Ruth and Jim have lived in a very remote corner of Colorado their entire adult lives, while enjoying lots of time to garden, build, tinker, make art, and yes-- collect wood! They enjoy time with close friends and family, but their property is very difficult to reach (especially without a four wheel drive vehicle), and they sort of like it that way. They may interrupt their solitude to allow the occasional visitor in the future, but at the moment they are not opening their property to customers.
Q: Do you have a mailing list?
We contact our customers occasionally when we have subscriber-only specials, new offerings, or updates. We will not, under any circumstances, spam your inbox with frequent or repeated emails, and we don't sell email addresses to other retailers. And you can always unsubscribe with a simple link given at the bottom of each email. Sign up below.