Thursday, August 31, 2006
Culebra Peak, the only entirely privately owned fourteener in Colorado, has changed hands several times. At different times climbing was allowed (for free and for a fee) and not allowed. This year, the ranch owners are allowing limited (and expensive) climbing.
They've used the advice of the nonprofit stewardship group Colorado Fourteener initiative to make sure the mountain isn't over used. Here is the current info from the ranch:
At the request of the owners of Cielo Vista Ranch, the Fourteener Initiative Group spent a couple of days on the ranch evaluating the impact of this year's climbing season on Culebra Peak. Their report of the conditions on the mountain is very positive and the owners have extended this year's climbing season. We are offering a climb of Culebra and/or Red Mountain for a fee of $200 per person with overnight camping allowed. This will be available on Saturday, September 30 or Sunday, October 1, 2006. Reservations are required and may be made by calling 254-897-7872 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Now, this begs the question: Is it worth it to climb a mountain for $200. Is it moral? And is sneaking up the mountain immoral?
Join a discussion of these issues on 14ers.com by clicking here.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Go ahead, have a Twinkie... then go mountain biking.
The Associated Press published the annual federal study on obesity yesterday, ranking states by what percentage of the population is overweight, and Colorado came in thinnest.... again!
In our fair and mountainous state, 16.9 percent of adults are obese, basically unchanged from last year. 31 states registered an increase in obesity. Only one, Nevada, noted a decrease. Hot weather? Skimpy showgirl/stripper costumes?
So how do we do it? How does Colorado stay so thin? A couple reasons come to mind: one, it's always nice out -- no reason to sit inside. Two, there's (at least for the time being) plenty of space for biking, climbing, running, etc. Three, critical mass. When exercise is part of the dominant culture, it is contagious (like rudeness, or corruption), so people who might sit around at the bowling lane in Gary, Indiana, move to Colorado Springs, and all the sudden they find themselves going to the weekly 5k fun beer run at Jack Quinns pub. I was there last night, so were over 200 other people. We all ran like crazy through downtown Colorado Springs then sat around drinking local microbrew.
Of course, these are just guesses. Have another suggestion? Comment below
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
A 60-year-old climber from St. Louis didn't return to his car in the South Colony Lakes region of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain on Saturday, causing a search to go out. They found the climber had checked in at the upper parking lot in South Colony, but found no sign of him.
Now we're getting reports via 14ers.com, at this point unconfirmed, that the climber was found dead below Broken Hand Peak, just east of Crestone Needle. This is a dangerous, and heavily used area, and so, in the last few years, we've seen a few deaths here. And with the weather the way it was this weekend, I can imagine the rock was pretty slick.
On many of these peaks, the climbing is not that hard, but the cost of a small mistake is severe. From what I've seen, the people who last are the ones who are very cautious, although, usually, that caution only comes from a series of close calls.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Park staff has changed the status of the popular Keyhole Route on the fourteener from non-technical to technical.
There are 4-6 inches of snow in the Trough right now, and the route isn't expected to melt out this season.
Ice ax and crampons are also recommended for the North Face, a technical climbing area on the mountain.
(Keyhole from 14ers.com)
Passes can be purchased at REI, Fridays through Sundays, and Colorado Ski & Golf, seven days a week. Get all the information at www.coloradopass.com or check out this Friday's Out There section.
Bear Creek Regional Park will be the site of the Pikes Peak SuperCross. The event is a cyclocross competition that combines the speed of road racing and technical skill of mountain biking with running on a short course. Racers must be good at riding and running and be able to shift from aerobic to anaerobic modes throughout the race as they encounter rocks, tree roots, grass, single-track trail and pavement.
More than 200 riders are expected. The races start at 9 a.m.; registration is at 8 a.m. For more information, go to www.pikespeakvelo.com, or contact Dennis at 574-4057, or by e-mail: email@example.com.
Same day, different park: An outdoor climbing competition that's the first of its kind in the city is planned at Red Rock Canyon Open Space. Sponsored by a coalition of local climbing groups, the event will use the redpoint format, which means climbers must reach the top of their climb without falling or weighting the rope.
Competitors will have five hours to complete as many climbs as they want although they will only be scored on their top 10 climbs. Climbers must provide their own belayers and equipment.
The competition is open to all ages and abilities although participants must demonstrate the ability to climb safely outdoors. A part of the proceeds will benefit Friends of Red Rock Canyon. Registration is at 9 a.m., competition is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call Lara Groshong at 481-9099 or go to www.climbingTHEROCK.com
If it involves wheels and leg power, it probably involves Al Brody. This avid local cyclist has done it all - recumbent tandem riding, even an Aqua Skipper, a machine that you pedal on top of the water. So we weren't surprised when Brody told us that he was taking a unicycle down the Pikes Peak Highway.
Here's a photo of Brody, at the back, riding a Coker 36" Big One unicycle with no brakes. In front is Joshua Torrans on a custom 24" off-road Hunter MUni with Magura hydraulic brakes with steel braided hose. The cyclists were with a group from Challenge Unlimited, the company that guides mountain bike groups down the highway.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who set out this weekend to cash in on the last few weeks of summer in the high country, only to get flooded out.
A good friend and I headed to the San Miguel Mountain to attempt the classic alpine traverse between Mount Wilson and El Diente, two fourteeners near Telluride.
We set up our tent at Navajo Lake, right at treeline, Friday. It rained and hailed all night. In the morning it was about 40 degrees and the ground was covered with hail. No problem, we thought. After all, you come to the high mountains expecting bad weather. We were well prepared with layers on waterproof clothing. So, while many of the climbers camped around us slept, we headed out to Wilson Peak.
We climbed toward the summits hidden in the clouds. If it was too foggy to do the traverse, we reasoned, we could still climb at least one peak, and maybe both of them, by easier routes.
It was cold, windy, and slick, I thought as we climbed up to about 13,100 feet, but at least there was no lightning. It was only a few seconds later that a bright bolt connected with a nearby ridge with an instant BOOM!
There is no cover up there - it may be the worst place in the world to try to hide from lightning. Without a word we turned around and jogged down to the safety of a valley at about 12,500.
We waited there about 45 minutes, thinking maybe the weather would clear. After all, it had been stormy all night, surely the cycle was on the way out. Apparently not. Every time it started to look a bit lighter, more lightning rolled in. After a few hours we retreated.
As we drove home, we could see the peaks still cloaked in dark, thick thunderheads. There are only a few move snow-free weekends in the high country. We'll see if we have better luck next time.
The AP reported today that Telluride Helitrax, the only helicopter skiing company in Colorado, is drawing critics because the quick, agile helicopter beats backcountry skiers to the untracked snow near Silverton and creates a lot of noise in the process.
Criticism arose when the company applied to the Bureau of Land Management to renew its 10-year permit to use areas around Red Mountain Pass in the San Juans. The permit would replace the one-year permits the company has received since 1995.
Generally, the helicopter business doesn't use areas readily accessible to foot-powered backcountry skiers. Many locals point out that the real powder spoilers are skiers riding in on snowmobiles -- a practice that has boomed in the last 10 years.
Even with critics, odds are good that Helitrax will continue to swoop in and snap up fresh powder, as it has for 25 years. Whether it gets a 10-year permit, or just a one-year, is still up in the air.
Friday, August 25, 2006
The Wolf Creek Ski Area press kit just arrived. Lift ticket price is $46.
Other fun facts:
+ The new Raven Lift, a detachable quad, is replacing the 34-year-old Dickey.
+ Two new restrooms have been approved by the Forest Service - at the tops of Treasure Chairlift and Raven Lift.
+ The ski area is purchasing 100 percent of its power from an energy supplier that uses wind power.
+ Tentative opening day is Nov. 3; closing is April 8.
+ College Days, with $25 lift ticket for students, are Nov. 5 and 17, Dec. 10, Jan. 28, Feb. 25, March 25, and April 1 and 7. Local appreciation days with $25 lift tickts, are Nov. 8, 15 and 29, Dec. 6 and 13, Jan. 10 and 21, Feb. 4 and 14, March 28 and April 4 and 8.
This is a guy who isn't easily defeated - he has climbed the 100 tallest peaks in Colorado and recently did a rim-to-rim-to-rim trip in the Grand Canyon. So he set a new date to hike the 123 miles remaining for him. On Aug. 5, he started out at Spring Creek and headed west, bound for Durango. This time, he made it, arriving at the end on Aug. 12.
Now that it's over? McElderry admits to mixed emotions. "You have a goal like that and you work had to achieve that goal, and then it's done. You think, 'Now what? Do I have to have another goal?'"
McElderry says this trip was wet but uneventful, a pleasant walk through fields of wildflowers. He says he relied on the data book for the trail and wore a Garmin GPS watch to keep him on track.
Now that he has officially completed the trail, McElderry says he would be happy to answer questions about it at 574-3355 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, August 24, 2006
...And the Front Range of Colorado is still the cheapest place to ski in the country.
Even though my lovely bride and I were griping about the $50 increase in the Vail Resorts Buddy Pass this year, the Front Range remains the best workingman's place to ski.
Just look at the deals we get for season passes.
Here are the Front Range prices
Copper and Winter Park: $369
Keystone, A Basin, and Breckenridge: $349
All five Vail resorts: $379
Here the prices for the rest of the West... and these are early prices!
Aspen : $1,649
Deer Valley, Utah: $1,345
The Canyons, Utah $849
Mammoth, California: $1,500
Squaw Valley, California: $1,339
And here are prices for the East and Midwest!
Stowe, Vermont: $1,255
Sugarbush, Vermont: $1,029
Sugarloaf, Maine: $899
Boyne Mountain, Michigan: $860
Yes, that's right, one crappy, flat, cold hill in Michigan costs twice as much as skiing three Vail Resorts mountains in Colorado. Now stop complaining and start skiing.
If you don't think you'll ski enough to pay for a season pass, try a four-pack.
You can get them early season from Winter Park/ Copper Mountain
Vail Resorts should have theirs coming out in the next few days!
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Have you been wondering what the Warren Miller people are up to? Don't satisfy your curiosity the old way, by Googling "Warren Miller" or "ski film" or "skiing that gets you stoked." Miller's got a My Space page (doesn't everybody?). Check it out at www.myspace.com/warrenmiller
Even Colorado Division of Wildlife officials were surprised by this one. “To have a mountain lion sighting is one thing. To have a mountain lion actually enter a structure is really rare,” said spokesman Michael Seraphin.
Like the old Four Pass, it covers four days of skiing or riding at Winter Park or Copper, but there's a twist: the TransFour is transferable. The new pass isn't as good a deal as the Four Pass, which is $88 for Copper and $99 for Winter Park, but it does offer some appealing flexibility.
Price for the TransFour is $169 for Winter Park and $149 for Copper.
Season pass prices have also been announced - $269 for Copper and $279 for Winter Park.
Passes are available now, but here's the deal - you have to drive to Denver, where you can pick them up at King Soopers, Christy Sports, Breeze/max at Dumont and Sixth and Simms and Passwagon events (check www.passwagon.com).
In the Springs, you have to wait until Sept. 2, where you can get the passes at Christy Sports, 8045 N. Academy Blvd., from 2 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. tp 6 p.m. Sunday through Nov. 19.
We are just getting back to normal in camp after the weekend. We ran the aid station up here this year so it added to the work load. What a lot of fun it was! We had a great bunch of volunteers helping us out, and the runners were wonderful. Tough bunch of folks - one finished with a big gouge in her head and a very swollen cheek, and another with a broken wrist. Tough ladies!
The trash on the trail was minimal, and the sweep that came down from the top on Monday only had a small bag. The way the trash zones were set up made it much easier to clean up, and the trash crews did a great job.
Quieter day on the trail Monday, but Mondays are always quiet. Most folks from out of state, and a few locals. Today we are seeing locals and out-of-staters all heading up to the summit on a gorgeous day.
Lot's of mushrooms this year with all the rain. Hope it continues so we have snow up here this winter.
Happy trails, Teresa
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
This just in from the D.O.W. It's kinda funny... and kinda not.
WILDLIFE OFFICERS USE DNA EVIDENCE TO SOLVE COLD CASE
In 2002, Charles Pedraza was hunting elk in the mountains of south-central Colorado when he shot a bull moose. For almost four years he thought he got away with it. But on Aug. 9 he had his day of reckoning when a Chaffee County judge ordered him to pay $11,391 for poaching.
Several factors helped the Colorado Division of Wildlife solve the case. There was high-tech DNA lab work, a couple of anonymous tips, good, old-fashioned investigative work and the help of a bear who unknowingly dug up evidence the poacher buried when he was trying to hide his crime.
Colorado District Wildlife Manager Ron Dobson knew that an occasional moose wandered the hills in his district, but there are only a handful of areas where moose are found in high enough numbers to warrant a hunting season.
The trail that connected Charles Pedraza to the moose skull found by Dobson began in the summer of 2003 when a Chaffee County resident called Ron to tell him about an unusual skull laying out in the open above the Mary Murphy Mine site up on Pomeroy Gulch. Dobson found the skull and recognized it as a moose with the antlers cut off. There were teeth marks on the skull and bear scat nearby. Dobson began looking around and found a black plastic trash bag with bits and pieces of bone fragments and moose hair that apparently had been dug up by a bear.
“It was obvious to me, that whoever killed the moose went to a great deal of trouble to conceal the crime by burying portions of the hide and skull,” said Dobson.
If it hadn’t been for the bear, the evidence might still be buried. Dobson didn’t have much to go on, but he took photographs and kept the skull as evidence in the event he might get a lead someday. That day came a couple of years later when an anonymous tipster called the “Operation Game Thief” hotline with information that Charles Pedraza illegally shot a moose during the 3rd rifle elk season in 2002. What puzzled officers was that the tipster said the poaching incident took place near Walden – 200 miles away. A search of Colorado hunting license records indicated Pedraza had a cow elk license for the Pomeroy Gulch area, but was never issued a moose hunting license.
Wildlife officers attempted to contact Pedraza but found out the suspect had moved from Colorado Springs to Oshkosh, Wisc. So the DOW enlisted the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who sent an agent in Wisconsin to talk with Pedraza. During a recorded interview in August of 2005, Pedraza was asked if he knew anything. He confessed to shooting a bull moose on Pomeroy Gulch but claimed it was an accident. Pedraza told the investigator he didn’t report it because he was afraid the DOW wouldn’t let him keep the meat so he removed the hide and antlers and then quartered the moose and carried most of it out before burying the legs and skull.
Dobson knew he had a good case, but he still needed a major piece of evidence to cement the deal, so he got a search warrant. Dobson opened the storage unit and found a moose pelt and photos that put Pedraza at the scene of the crime. Dobson sent samples to a lab in Wyoming to run a DNA test. Bingo. The DNA from the hide in the storage shed and the skull Dobson found on the hillside were a perfect match. With his new found evidence, Dobson phoned Pedraza at his home in Wisconsin in December of 2005 and made arrangements for Pedraza to return to Colorado to turn himself in.
“This case is a good example of how a citizen’s tip can be combined with old-fashioned detective work and high-tech DNA evidence can solve a cold case,” said Dobson. Once again during this year’s hunting seasons wildlife officers will ramp up patrols to watch for poachers. But it is not the game wardens alone who will be watching. In today’s age of cell phones and satellites, every citizen out there can help solve poaching cases.
The Associated Press reported today that Colorado's Roadless Area Task Force may change its final recommendations concerning the state's 4.1 million acres of roadless public land after hearing from people who believe the panel gave too much ground to development advocates.
The first report recommended preserving most roadless areas, but not in already active mining areas, such as a large coal mining operation in the Mesa-Uncompahgre-Gunnison National Forest. Now some task force members are suggesting to revise the recommendations because a majority of people on the task force were against the mining provision.
That could happen in the next few weeks.
Either way, the recommendations made by the task force keep the vast majority of the roadless areas roadless. The recommendations still have to be approved by the governor and sent to the federal government by November. The recommendations are not legally binding. The federal government can ignore them. We'll see what happens.
Monday, August 21, 2006
If you're a first-timer, you can get your pass beginning Labor Day weekend.
The Maroon Bells claimed another victim late Saturday afternoon when a Texas man fell more than 300 feet to the base of a narrow gully on South Maroon Peak.
Dr. Sterling Smith, 66, of Denton, was leading a group of three on a descent of the summit ridge when he lost his balance in a scree field at 12,800 feet, Pitkin County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Ferrara said Sunday morning. It was the second death on the peak this year. Local search and rescue team members told the Aspen Times that on average one climber dies a year on the Peaks.
Why are the Maroon Bells so deadly? Geology. The broken sedimentary stone that makes up the distinctive red peaks forms a series of cliffs and ledges, and the ledges are generally covered with loose piles of broken rock. It's easy to stumble, or pull off a loose hand hold, and if you do, there's not much to stop you.
Here are his photo tips for your epic shot:
Use a tripod or, if you don't have one, set your camera on a rock or other immovable surface. Make sure your lens is not so wide that it will have aberrations at the sides, as this will distort the images. Now, shoot 2 or more frames of your soon-to-be panorama, making sure to overlap each frame by at least 15-25%. Keep the camera's angle steady, again using your tripod or sturdy surface. Oh, and don't leave the camera on auto-exposure! Set the exposure manually so that the lighting on each frame will be the same.
Now, take your shots to your computer, load up Adobe Photoshop CS or above, and go to File>Automate>Photomerge...
Select the files you just shot, select OK, and Photoshop will try to align the photos for you. If it cannot, have no fear - there is a user-friendly interface that will let you do what Photoshop could not. Try using the "Advanced Blending" and "Perspective" settings to see if they help.
Once you have arranged your images as you want them, click OK to open your panorama in Photoshop and make the final adjustments.
Check out Norton's photographs, panoramic and otherwise, at www.mountainworldphoto.com
Friday, August 18, 2006
By TODD JOHNSTON
Associated Press Writer
Rainer Hertrich loves what he does so much that he hasn’t taken a day off since Nov. 1, 2003. No sick days. No vacation days. He doesn’t need them. After all, Hertrich is not stuck in an office or making sales calls. He’s crisscrossing down another ski slope to keep his world-record streak alive.
Hertrich reached the milestone of 1,000 consecutive days of skiing when he barreled down Oregon’s Timberline Ski area on July 27. Though he surpassed the next-longest streak long ago and already holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, there’s no sign the ultimate ski bum plans to stop.
“To me, it’s flat-out fun,” said Hertrich, a 45-year-old telemark skier. “I don’t know of any other sport where you can go that fast on your feet.”
The previous record was held by the British skier Arnie Wilson, who skied 365 consecutive days in 1994. Hertrich surpassed Wilson’s mark in 2004, and kept going.
Hertrich follows winter by traveling from Oregon and Colorado to Chile and Argentina, zigzagging the Americas to ski year-round. When it’s winter in the U.S., he’ll be here. And when summer comes, he ventures to the Andes for South America’s winter.
It’s there he finds the right conditions for the other world record Hertrich set in his marathon: vertical feet skied. He has already skied 34 million vertical feet. To put that into perspective, on an average day he skis 33,000 vertical feet. That is higher than Mount Everest.
He is not married and has no children. There is no one to question his freewheeling ways.
His drive seems more for the adventure of the next great downhill or a visit to a new locale to meet skiing friends than it is to set a world record. Yet, setting records is certainly on his mind. “When I passed the first year mark, that was a big mark,” he said. “When I passed 500 days, that was a big mark to me at the time.”
Following day 1,000 of his feat, he was a bit mystified on his daily Internet blog by all the attention: “For some reason, 1,000 days on skis seems like a big deal to a lot of people.”
Hertrich grew up in Boulder, learning to ski at an early age. The best part about skiing is “the freedom, being up on the mountain, and the scenery.”
Hertrich has weathered brutal conditions along the way. But he’s continued to ski - through bitter cold, frostbite, rain and illness. “The worst days were when I’m camping in my tent, it’s raining and I know I have to go,” he said.
There have been close calls, too. Before flying to South America, for example, he’s learned to take pre-dawn runs on Mount Hood before going to the airport on a travel day. One time in Chile, he rented a car at the airport and got lost in Santiago. He almost did not make it to the slopes before the day was over. Another time, he hopped a bus to the mountain not realizing it was the scenic route.
Perhaps the most bizarre, though, was when he hiked up an active volcano since it had more snow to ski down than neighboring mountains during a dry spell in Chile’s winter.
Hertrich generally welcomes such obstacles with open arms. “The adventure’s great and I look forward to where it’s not all you expected it to be,” he said.
Hertrich realizes he’s setting a marker for other skiers, and he encourages anyone who wants to take up the challenge. He recalled some kids saying, “Oh, I’ll beat that.” His response: “Go right ahead, buddy!"
Before you head out for a climb with friends, check to see if anyone is using Black Diamond Speed Buckle harnesses.
The company is recalling about 18,000 units because the harnesses can easily be threaded incorrectly, and climbers could slip out and fall.
The company is asking climbers to stop using the gear immediately, even though no injuries have been reported.
Do you have one? Look for these names:
The names can be found on a tag sewn inside the waist belt. The harnesses come in many colors and were sold December to July for $40-$75.
For a free replacement, call Black Diamond Equipment collect at (801) 278-5533 or see the company's web site.
Matt Carpenter, who holds the record for the Pikes Peak Ascent, and the Pikes Peak Marathon, and the combination of the two, and (let's face it) most other steep trail runs in the country, didn't master Barr Trail just because he is fast. He also studied every detail of the trail like a samurai studying a foe.
Fortunately, the rest of us can learn from his hard work. It's the running equivalent of copying the smart kid's homework, but since you still have to get your butt up the trail, it's not really cheating.
He has memorized every inch of the trail, and written a description, with dozens of photos, on the web. Use these and you won't have any surprises, even if you just arrived from Arkansas.
He has planned out how he will go around individual rocks on the way up and on the way down.
He has studied how running up a mountain is different from running a flat marathon. The main distinction: mile times are meaningless because the trail is increasingly steep, and the air is increasingly thin. Instead, he has used reams of past race data to create a pace calculator that will tell you if you are on pace for a goal time, based on passing natural features along the trail. It will work whether you're running it in just over two hours, as he probably will, or just over five.
Other special running advice he's come up with, that he posted on the Pikes Peak Central Web site:
* On long, steady hills, switching often between walking and running is tempting, but it makes you lose momentum and cadence. Pick one or the other and go with it.
* When going downhill, be like a hurdler. Step over, not on rocks and other obstacles. Keep your body level and lift your legs.
And for those who follow his advice well enough to make it up there, he has realized you can arrange to wave hi to people from the summit through the summit Web cam. Just pick a time when they can view you, and stand near the tower south/southwest of the gift shop. The best place to stand is in the northwest quadrant, on the closed access road.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
You've heard of Type A people -- take charge go-getters who would rather lead than follow. You never hear about, but must assume there are, Type B people. I'm guessing these are the people who hang by the free donuts at work, complaining about their job but not actually doing anything.
Then there are the Type T people -- T for Thrill -- who are bored with the Type As and Bs, and just can't seem to stay away from anything that will give them a rush: kayaking, sky diving, rock climbing, bar fighting, you name it.
There is a good article on the subject published today on Summitpost.org today that suggests that Type T's need this rush. They feel little connection with anything that isn't "tough enough to kill you."
The piece suggests a "Type T personality is something people are born with. It isn't a lifestyle choice. Risk taking has been linked to levels of dopamine, a chemical found in the brain that regulates mood and pleasure."
Still, being a risk taker seems like it would be a hard trait to pass down, not so much because there isn't an evolutionary advantage to it, but because it makes it much less likely you'd live long enough to procreate.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
An unlikely partnership has formed as a response to worry about the future of public land. Hunters and anglers are forming alliances with environmental groups like The Wilderness Society and Sierra Club. An AP story explains that the "hook and bullet" crowd is wielding more and more clout when it comes to managing public land, like that on the Roan Plateau in western Colorado. The plateau is valued by energy companies for its wealth of natural gas. It's prized by outdoors people for its remoteness.
That same fight is taking place in other areas as well - northern Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, Wyoming's Jack Morrow Hills, and New Mexico's Valle Vidal.
There are no easy answers for either side - the Roan Plateau, which straddles two Colorado counties, generates an estimated $5 million a year for the local economy from hunting, fishing and wildlife watching, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
From the AP: FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A California man was sentenced to 30 days in jail and five years of probation after pleading guilty to three federal counts of conspiring to fraudulently get permits for private rafting trips through the Grand Canyon.
Stephen E. Savage, 61, of Diamond Bar, Calif., who pleaded guilty and was sentenced Monday in Flagstaff, was also banned from all national parks while he is on probation and must pay $15,000 to the Grand Canyon Search and Rescue Fund.
Federal authorities said Savage obtained the river permits by using the identities of dead or fictitious people.
Private rafting permits for Colorado River trips in the Grand Canyon are very difficult to obtain, with waiting lists of 10 to 15 years. The list system was abandoned earlier this year in favor of a lottery system.
David Pokorny decided to follow the route of Lt. Zebulon Pike's western expedition on his bike. He started outside St. Louis where Pike started. He arrived 12 days and 990 miles later in Colorado Springs on Monday.
Here's the catch, he plans to go up Pikes Peak, even though Pike didn't. He'll run the Pikes Peak Marathon on Sunday.
No word on whether he plans to finish tracing Pike's journey. The explorer got lost in the Rockies, wandered down to New Mexico, and then was marched all the way to Chihuahua so a Spanish governor could look at his papers and say, "OK, you are free to go, you can now walk 800 miles back to the United States."
If you're a Ski Cooper fan, you're gonna like this: a major increase in skier visits and profits last season has allowed the little resort to make some well-deserved improvements. President Clint Yant says visits and profits were up more than 13 percent last season.
+ Construction on a new Children's Center that will house the children's ski school and expanded nursery program. The building is at the foot of the ski school dedicated run, in front of the rental shop.
+ Moving the ticket office to the former nursery.
+ A new look for the mountain office and former ski school.
The ski area has already launched season ticket sales. Pre-season price through Sept. 30 is $169 for an adult pass. On Oct. 1, that increases to $239. For info, go to www.skicooper.com
(photo by Gary Cehelsky on skyrunner.com)
Inestine B. Roberts was an ardent Pikes Peak hiker who had walked Barr Trail 13 times. Forty-nine years ago this month, she set out on her 14th hike on the mountain and never returned. Here's a story I wrote about Roberts that ran in the Gazette in 1994:
The morning of Aug. 4, 1957, was sunny - perfect for gathering wildflowers. It was just the kind of weather that 88-year-old Inestine B. Roberts liked for her hikes up Pikes Peak. On this day, the veteran hiker would set out for her 14th climb up the rocky mountain.
If her pre-hike ritual began the way her others did, she most likely had awakened from a good night's sleep and started the day with a hearty breakfast. But the hike would not end the way her previous hikes had. More than a week later, her body would be found in a gully at tree line.
Her death, which shocked those who had followed her hiking exploits for years in the pages of the Gazette Telegraph, certainly wasn't caused by inexperience.
A mother of six, Roberts was a veteran climber. When she was 78, she had climbed Mount Lincoln, a 14,286-foot peak near Fairplay, and in 1951, at the age of 81, she climbed Arapahoe Glacier near Glacier.
She often hiked alone, climbing Pikes Peak whenever she felt like "walking." She'd carry a pocketful of dates or a sandwich, and pause to look at the flowers, the trees and the rocks. She had last walked the Barr Trail two years earlier, just five days short of her 87th birthday. It was a feat chronicled on the front page of the Gazette Telegraph on Sept. 11, 1955. That article described a modest, independent woman, 5 feet tall and well under 100 pounds, who attributed her hiking success to a simple formula: "Be careful, don't grab hold of soft rock, and never run down an incline."
Roberts was a member of the Colorado Mountain Club, and although she didn't move to Colorado until she was in her 50s, she used to say she had an inclination to hike at the age of 9 months, when her mother used a rope to tie her to a tree in their back yard.
Born in Pennsylvania, Roberts had hiked through the Allegheny Mountains with her father in her youth. But it was in the Rockies, in her middle and old age, that she began to be known as an extraordinary hiker who especially liked hiking with people young enough to be her grandchildren. And it was in the Rockies that she died. Thirty-seven years ago today, Roberts disappeared on her solitary hike. Her 85-pound body was found 10 days later.
Today, Roberts' memory is being kept alive by the Daughters of the American Revolution, who erected a modest bronze marker in her honor on Barr Trail. It is fitting that the marker isn't at the bottom of the trail, but near the top, at a switchback above tree line on the rocky landscape.
The marker's message is terse: "Dedicated to the memory of Inestine B. Roberts, age 88 years, who died at timberline after her 14th ascent of Pikes Peak." According to the Kinnikinnik chapter of the group, of which Roberts was a member, she had gone up to gather wildflowers for a flower show. Because she was hiking alone, as was her habit, no one knows what happened.
Robert Gaarder, a member of the Old Colorado City Historical Society, has researched Roberts' life, and in his research, turned up a mysterious question that will never be answered: "Did she go up there that day with the intention of never coming back? Some think so."
Monday, August 14, 2006
+ fallen in love with kayaking and rafting, and
+ lost our taste for cross-country skiing and fishing.
In the poll that surveyed 39 sports and recreational activities in 2000 and 2005, kayaking/rafting grew a whopping 141 percent, from 3.1 million participants to 7.6 million. The No. 2 growth sport? Paintball.
Other sports growing in popularity include archery, target shooting, working out at a club, weightlifting, muzzleloading and hunting with bow and arrow. The biggest loser: in-line roller skating. Others showing declines: backpacking/wilderness camping and scooter riding.
With a week to go until the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon, trail volunteers at the bottom and top of the peak are getting Barr Trail in tip-top shape. It can certainly use it after all the rain we've had, but Larry Miller (below), who runs the Pikes Peak Road Runners club, said while he was moving boulders on top of the peak Sunday that he had an ulterior motive: smoothing the way for what could possibly be a record time in the marathon.
Current record holder Matt Carpenter of Manitou has been training at speeds that suggest he has a chance at breaking his own record, which he set 13 years ago. I didn't even bother asking Carpenter whether he thought this was possible. He never likes to talk about an event before the start. I guess he figures talk is cheap; you either do it, or you don't.
We'll see if he can do it.
In June he was running barefoot on a grass field and cut his foot, setting him back in his training. At first, I think he thought he wouldn't be able to get back up to the same level, but only a few weeks later, in the Barr Mountain Race, he was only about 30 seconds off his record pace. Now he's had more time to train and recover. This could be a very interesting race.
I was on some BLM land near Guffey on Saturday, where Indian paintbrush still glowed in the flat open country in shades of blood-red and orange. This wildflower-framed photo was taken on the Timberline Trail in the Holy Cross Wilderness.
Friday, August 11, 2006
If you've been paying even a little attention to the news lately, you've seen a lot about Colorado roadless areas and proposed drilling. But with all the agencies involved, it can get a little confusing.
Here's the cliff notes.
In the 1990s, the Clinton administration identified about 4 million acres of roadless areas on federal lands in Colorado and suggested they be kept roadless and pristine. This was seen by many as a federal land grab.
In 2001, the Bush administration overturned President Clinton's roadless policy, saying it gave too little decision-making power to the states. He asked state officials to recommend how Washington should handle the local roadless areas.
In response, Colorado set up a 13 -member task force with environmentalists, ranchers, state officials and others. The task force sought public comment, and 91 percent of the responses said they wanted to keep the states roadless areas roadless. The task force released a draft plan to the public this week recommending most areas be preserved, but allowing a few exceptions in ski area permits and a few existing mining areas.
Now, here's where it gets tricky.
The Bureau of Land Management auctioned more than 20,000 acres of that undeveloped land in an oil and gas lease sale Thursday. That will create lots of roads, with no local input.
Sen. Ken Salazar and his brother, 3rd Congressional District Rep. John Salazar, and a slew of local government officials and environmental groups, have protested the auction, saying it should have been postponed until Gov. Bill Owens sent the state's recommendations to Washington.
Owens has the right to request pending gas and oil lease sales be pulled, but the secretary of agriculture, who oversees the Forest Service, has the final say.
We'll see what happens
They're here! Well, they never really left, but rattlesnakes have been making appearances in the region lately. Rattlers have been seen near Cave of the Winds and at Waldo Canyon. They're also known to inhabit Bluestem Prairie Open Space and Ute Valley Park. Area residents have also been seeing bull snakes, that have a talent for pretending to be rattlers. Like rattlers, bull snakes will coil and even shake their tails, but they have no rattles so the effect is less dramatic.
Watch for snakes when you hike, and follow these tips from the Colorado Division of Wildlife:
1. Stay on established trails. When you cross logs or large rocks, watch for snakes before you put your foot down.
2. If you encounter a snake, even a small one, leave it alone. You're not on the Animal Planet. Most snake bites result from people trying to handle a snake.
3. If you meet a snake, give it room to escape.
4. If you aren’t sure if the snake you meet is a rattler, assume it is.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Mount Everest climbers had one of their best and worst years in 2006.
Over 340 people reached the top -- a record.
But 11 people died -- second only to the notorious 1996 season that became the basis of John Krakauer's book, Into Thin Air.
It was so good, and bad, that it has landed on the cover of Outside Magazine.
So what gives?
Many say the rise in commercial guiding is at fault. Hundreds of people are willing to pay thousands of dollars for a shot at the summit, and they are not always qualified. And the trend has only been growing, so this year may be a sign of more of the same: growing traffic, growing body count.
To get a better sense of what's going on, we talked to local climber David Lien, who was on Everest this season. His story, and his take on the growing commercialization of Everest, will appear in the Gazette this Sunday.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Here's how it works: each Outside magazine sold on the newsstand will have a contest number printed in the magazine. Readers can go to www.outsideinfo.com to determine whether they are holding the winning ticket.
All this rain has been tough on Barr Trail, and you people who use it (and you know who you are) should help keep it up. Friends of the Peak and The Colorado Running Company have sponsored a workday this Saturday.
They need volunteers to help rehab the section of Barr trail up from the Incline Overlook. Please go to http://www.fotp.com/ and sign up under 2006 Season Projects Barr Trail Aug. 12.
(And check out Friday's Out There section in The Gazette on how to adopt a section of this trail.)
Like that first tree that turns golden, even though it's still clearly summer, I received my first round of pre-season ski ticket deals this morning. This one from Colorado's newest resort, Echo Mountain Park.
Cheap fall tickets are an annual event here in the Rockies. I just got back from a visit to family in New England, and kept telling them, "You can come out for a visit and ski for about $20 a day, but you have to let me know by September so I can buy the tickets."
We'll see how the deals shape up this year. The resorts are always cagey about leaking info early, but if 2006-2007 is anything like last year, Colorado will continue to have the cheapest skiing in the world for locals.
Here are Echo Mountain's deals:
Daily tickets at Echo are the cheapest anywhere in Colorado at $35 on
weekends, $25 weekdays, and $20 every day after 4pm. And we?re only 45 minutes
Check out our season ticket sales now until August 20 Unlimited Weekday/Weeknight Pass: $209
Ski/ride Monday-Friday,10am to 9pm. No blackouts!
Unlimited Season Pass: $269 Ski/ride 10am to 9pm, any day. No blackouts!
Echo 3 Pack $69 -Ride Echo for 3 days or nights anytime all season. No blackouts!
Echo 6 Pack $129-Get 6 day or night tickets for use anytime all season. No blackouts!
Buy your season passes online at
echomountainpark.com. Questions? email email@example.com.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
One negative note: Researchers found that the number of kittens born to lynxes brought in from other states and the number of litters found in 2006 were significantly less than the previous three years. Four dens were found with a total of 11 kittens. Researchers are puzzled by the decline and trying to figure it out.
Most of the cats live in the southern mountains of Colorado.
Thanks to the tiny town of Alma, access issues on three of the most popular fourteeners in the state have been resolved. Last summer, private landowners closed trails to the summits of Mounts Democrat, Lincoln and Bross because they were concerned about liability issues. On Aug. 1, the Alma Board of Trustees fixed that problem by leasing 3,900 acres of mountain land and accepting liability. Signs are being installed that will warn of dangers like old mine tunnels, and give historical information about the mines. A grand reopening date hasn't been set, but it will probably be next year. For more information, click on the Metro/State button at Gazette.
Monday, August 07, 2006
The new trails opening this season will combine fast singletrack, gravity and features such as ladders, bridges, rock gardens, jumps and tabletops. If you're not ready for that kind of challenge, the resort also features downhill mountain bike lessons. For more info, www.keystoneresort.com
Sunday, August 06, 2006
I hiked the quarry this morning. That's right - the Pikeview Quarry, which sprawls across the mountainside on the north side of Colorado Springs. We were hiking to determine the difficulty of a route that will be used at "Walk the Mine," a fund-raiser for the Colorado Mountain Reclamation Foundation. That's the group that sponsored "Scale the Scar" for years at the Queens Canyon quarry. The hike at Pikeview is scheduled for Sept. 2. For more information, go to www.coloradomtnreclamation.com; watch for more information in the Out There section in coming weeks.
(For the curious, this hike is steep, with a great shaded portion through the trees.)
If you see a bear in your neighborhood, do everything you can to discourage him. Hopefully, he'll move on to safer ground (for him as well as for you).
For more information on how to deal with bears, check out the Colorado Division of Wildlife Web site at http://wildlife.state.co.us/
Friday, August 04, 2006
According to the AP: The International Cycling Union is expected to announce the results after testing is completed at the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory, accredited by the International Olympic Committee and World Anti-Doping Agency.
A headline today on another AP story in the Calgary Sun: High testosterone levels now blamed on dehydration
The story went on to say that was the latest possible reason offered for Landis' elevated testosterone levels.
Keystone officials had proposed adding guided and unguided bowl skiing in 278 acres of terrain in the upper Jones Gulch area, nearly all on terrain above 11,400 feet. Skiers and snowboarders would get there either by Snowcat or by hiking.
What? You missed Colorado Day? Don't despair. In honor of that day (it was Aug. 1), admission fees to all Colorado State Parks will be waived on Monday.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
and it advises me to "Do Something NEW!" That's not bad advice, especially this time of year, when we all start to feel like summer is over - the nights are cooler, the air heavier, Ski magazine comes in the mail.
Among Ski's suggestions: Learn to play golf or fly fish, enroll in a mountain bike clinic, or get yourself into a kayak.
Your new adventure doesn't have to be extreme. Think small. Maybe even combine a couple of spectator sports into one experience. Snowmass Village (in Aspen) is hosting USA Cycling's NORBA Nationals Mountain Bike Series Aug. 12 and 13. The resort will open its Burlingame and Coney Glad chairlifts for free rides for both competitors and spectators Aug. 10-13. Take a ride and watch some of the country's best cyclists.
Watch for the usual surfing, skateboarding, BMX freestyle, Moto X and rally car racing.
Wait a minute - rally car racing? This X Games celebrates the debut of a new sport, in which street-legal rides carry a driver and navigator a variety of road conditions over asphalt and sand, on straight-aways and around hairpin turns for an eight-stage race over two days.
"Think Tour de France on four wheels and ($3.40 a gallon) gas," says the X Games website.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
You can feel the changing of the seasons here, but it's a subtle thing - the air feels heavier, the days are a little shorter. That's nothing compared to Barrow, Alaska, where the season change is marked by the end of the midnight sun.
According to the AP:
The sun set at 2:04 a.m. Wednesday for the first time since May 10, almost three months ago, according to Royce Fontenot of the National Weather Service station in Barrow. But it was a short night, he said. The sun edged back over the horizon just an hour later.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state officials have determined that all the cleanup work necessary to protect public health and the environment is complete for the 7,396-acre Internal Parcel. The cleanup activities also included the removal or destruction of 196 structures and the closure of 27 groundwater wells.
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal was established in 1942 by the Army to manufacture chemicals for industrial, agricultural and military uses. Shell Oil Co. manufactured pesticides at the site from 1952 to 1982.
A guest post from Gazette editor Jeff Thomas, who has news from the city bike paths:
Good news for skinny-tire commuters: Paving is completed along the southern portion of the Northridge Reach of the Pikes Peak Greenway. A chunk of that portion of trail was paved earlier this season, leaving only a quarter-mile or so to complete when the monsoons set in.
The half-mile stretch, which begins at the footbridge 0.3 miles north of Garden of the Gods Road and runs northward along the east bank of Monument Creek (to that spooky abandoned football field – what’s the story there, anyway?), had been unpaved for many a moon. The sandy, often gooey soil often forced roadies like me out of their saddles and to portage through the muck.
No more. On today’s ride in to Gazette Central, I was remembering last night’s rains and bucking up for the usual hike through the mud when what should my eyes behold but a quarter-mile of smooth concrete heaven.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Vail Resorts announced today that it will offset 100 percent of its energy use by purchasing nearly 152,000 megawatt hours of wind energy for its five mountain resorts, its lodging properties (including RockResorts and Grand Teton Lodge Co.), all of its 125 retail locations.
While there is no way, currently, to directly power the company's five ski resorts with wind turbines, the company will purchase renewable energy credits that ensure the amount of electricity Vail Resorts uses is replaced onto the power grid with wind power. Wind farms sell renewable energy credits to better compete with fossil fuels, allowing consumers to choose clean sources of electricity. Vail Resorts’ purchase is significantly contributing to the growth of wind power across the United States.
Vail is also asking its employees and customers to join in the renewable energy efforts with a Ski With the Wind promotion. Under this new promotion, Vail is offering a free one-day ski lift ticket, valid at any of its five mountain resorts, to anyone who purchases wind power for their residence for one year with Renewable Choice Energy. The Company also announced that each of its executives has personally signed up to purchase wind power for their homes. More details about the Ski With the Wind promotion, including applicable restrictions, and Vail Resorts’ wind power purchase program can be found at www.snow.com.
He told National Public Radio on Friday that elevated levels of testosterone in his body were naturally produced, and he expects his "B Sample" to show similar levels.
"The problem is not a problem with the test as far as I know," he told NPR. "The problem is that, at times, from the way it's been explained to me, there are variations in the ratio [of naturally-produced hormones]. And for some reason, in some individuals there are numbers which don't fit the criteria which they claim to be natural."
He said he plans "to ask for an endocrinological review of my body to prove that there are times during the day or at some points that if I were tested I would be shown to be out of the 4:1 ratio, albeit from a natural cause. Explaining that, I can't. I'm waiting for the experts to do that."
But a big problem for that argument appeared on the New York Times Web site last night. Sources tell the Times some of the testosterone detected in Landis's urine is synthetic, which would refute his argument that it was made naturally by his body.
Landis has yet to respond.
His B Sample results are expected Saturday.
The paddling season has ebbed, but the deals this weekend could be good.
Colorado Kayak Supply-Buena Vista is holding its kayak swap Aug. 5 and 6, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you're looking for stuff that floats, it might be worth the drive to Buena Vista.
CKS, one of the best paddling stores in the state, will be selling several 2006 demo boats and locals will be selling used kayaks and gear including skirts, helmets, pfds, drytops and paddles. Contact CKS is you have any questions:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-265-2925 or 719-395-8653.
Swap and Sale will take place at the CKS, 327 E. Main St., Buena Vista