Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Free the Fourteener Four! Err... Five, well, maybe six.

The Gazette reported today that the Colorado House of Representatives unanimously approved a measure to limit liability of land-owners on 14,000-foot peaks. The bill will let private land-owners open their property to hikers without worrying about getting sued if someone falls and breaks his melon.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where, if the House is any indication, it will pass handily.

The legislative move is meant to patch up a scrape that happened in the summer of 2005 when mine claim owners on four fourteeners near Alma (Lincoln, Democrat, Brass, and Cameron) posted "no trespassing" signs at trailheads. The move caused a big kerfuffle in the press with people asking "how many more mountains would be closed?" and "Will people still visit Colorado if they can't climb the famous fourteeners?"
The truth on the ground was that there were no "no trespassing" signs and dozens of people a day were climbing the banned peaks. And Cameron isn't counted as a fourteener anymore that a particularly large mole is counted as a head.
Anyway, all the talk lit a fire under the legislature, which, from a hiking point of view, can only be a good thing.
One can only hope it will re-open the four fourteeners already mentioned, and also one that usually escapes mention: Wilson Peak near Telluride, which has been closed for a few years because the summit is surrounded by mining claims. Mount Sherman is also in the private land club, but so far has remained open.

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