Modern Mountain Home in Estes Park, Colorado
Windcliff & The Chiappe Family
We are Rich & Deborah Chiappe and we are honored to be Ascent's caretakers. Permit us share just a tiny bit about ourselves and how we came to fall in love with this mountain.
Like most folks, it started with a simple visit. Our dear friends and fellow Texans Brad & Mary Dement were relentless in their love and praise of Estes Park, the RMNP and specifically the very special place called, "Windcliff." So for Thanksgiving, 2007, we met our best friends the Gredells from Houston and together rented the Kintzle residence from Windcliff Properties. The place grabbed us all the moment we stepped out of our vehicles and that moment has never left us since.
We fell in love with the view and a few years later, we and the Gredells jointly purchased an Aspencliff condo, named it "Divine" and put it in the Windcliff rental program as an investment. The problem was we were never able to use the investment for personal use and it just killed us all. But we would visit Estes Park each year in our motorhome and visit the park every chance we could. In 2014, we couldn't stand it any more and worked with George Leonard and Wade Whilden to purchase the lot just above the Windcliff "gatehouse" and set out to build a home that would honor the mountain. Ascent welcomed its first guests, not surprisingly for Thanksgiving, 2015.
While the "Vision" page on this site attempts to explain a bit of how we approached the designing Ascent, it is the "space" it occupies that leaves us insufficiently descriptive. Windcliff is simply hard to put into words. It's best left to experience. And let us tell you, the people have as much to do with it as the land.
But let us simply state: we love it here. We love the people of Windcliff. We love the Windcliff Properties vacation rental program and how it is operated with the mountain in mind primarily while also honoring its people: the Windcliff neighborhood, Windcliff staff, Windcliff home owners & Windcliff guests.
We hope, if it is the Lord's will, that our family can be a part of Windcliff for generations. That seems to be exactly what our neighbors hope for as well. Windcliff is about sharing this space with as many people as we can and passing it on to the next generation to care for it with the same passion as those who came before us.
Light & Shadow
The prophet Isaiah asserts, “Many peoples shall come and say, ‘come let us climb the Lord’s mountain…that he may instruct us in his ways and we may walk in his paths’” (Is 2:3).
For the classical philosophers, wisdom is obtained from the hilltop, because the hilltop is where we see how everything fits together and finds harmony. It is a place of rarified air and clarity of vision.
And it is precisely this place that the Church calls us to witness the connection whereby we all remain uniquely ourselves but are also all united to each other through love.
Here is one of the most powerful and important elements of this mountain-top vision.
"He will judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (Is 2:4).
The divine center will establish an ordo, a design, among the nations. And the great sign of this will be peace. The nations will take their weapons of war and turn them into instruments of cultivation.*
What does any of this have to do with an Estes Park vacation home?
Perhaps we are extrapolating biblical mountain imagery a bit too literally, but Deborah and Rich simply feel there is more at work here than meets the eye. There's something deeper and more meaningful than just a relaxing retreat or a nice looking house with everything you need neatly placed in each kitchen drawer.
Something much greater happens when you come up to Ascent, to Windcliff, to Estes Park, or to these Rocky Mountains in general. We think it has something to do with this "Mountain Vision" Bishop Barron speaks of so eloquently.
When we see the world clearly, our energies are properly directed and they become life-giving and reviving. A trip to the mountains may indeed be more than a relaxing vacation. "Spiritual batteries" recharge and fill people with life that they assuredly take back into and share with the world.
"The mountains are calling and I [you] must go." - John Muir
*Exceprts from Bishop Robert Barron's Advent daily reflections, 2015
We designed Ascent to offer a unique architectural experience to visitors and guests. Beyond sheer shapes and materials, Ascent interacts with its setting in very special ways.
Throughout Ascent, windows were planned to not only bring the epic front range views into the space, but also to cast light in such a way that provides movement.
To quote Kulapat Yantrasast, the renowned Thai architect behind one of Los Angeles’ most exciting firms, wHY Architecture: “When people think about spaces that they can be with themselves,” Yantrasast reflects, “it’s either like a very enclosed spiritual space — like a chapel — or maybe a grove of trees in a forest, and I like this house to be both.”
He also enthuses about the relationship between the architecture and natural light. “You sit here, you see light going from the morning into the afternoon. You see light starting to interact with the walls and ceilings, and when you’re in here, you realize the passing of time.”
Even sitting comfortably, Ascent's spaces move. No, not like the room is spinning, more like the faint awareness of a beating heart. There is life. There is energy. There is comfort. There is change. Frankly, Ascent nails it. And it is one of the innumerable reasons our friends and guests find Ascent a home like no other.