Thursday, March 09, 2006

Bill Frees the Fourteener Four (and their lesser-known friends)

Gov. Owens signed House Bill 1049 Wednesday, exempting high-altitude landowners from liablility when climbers scale a 14,000-foot peak. The bill is an attempt to smooth access issues on fourteeners with privately-owned summits.
This summer four high-profile fourteeners (Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Bross, Mt. Cameron, and Mt. Democrat) were declared off limits by a group of people who own old mining claims on their slopes. Access to Wilson Peak near Telluride was already curtailed.
(For really, really cool 360-degree panoramas from the summits, click here.)
The owners' fear was that a hiker with a broken leg could easily sue them for thousands of dollars.
So they closed the peaks. Or at least, some reporters who never left the newsroom said they closed the peaks.
In fact, as I found out last summer, the peaks were open. There were "no trespassing" signs. And none of the hundreds of climbers there had been ticketed for trespassing. One of the owners, when contacted, said he had no intention of stopping hikers, but was making noise to gain himself some protection. Read the story here.

Long story short: it worked. The mine owners now have some protection. But according to The Gazette this morning, owners don't want to let hikers up on the slopes until signs about the risks of climbing mountains are posted at trailheads and trails are more clearly marked.

Once again, I would assume these demands are meaningless. People continue to climb these peaks.
Is it right to climb them without permission? You tell me.

No comments: