Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Brody team races to 2nd place!

Springs race team Jack Has Left The Box overtakes The Dead Sled from Chicago.

Springs local Al "All Things Human Powered" Brody captained a team to 2nd place in the Red Bull Soap Box contest over the weekend in St. Louis.

In addition to Brody, team Jack Has Left the Box included Clark Brace, Mitch Brown, Aimee Dorman and Bob Rohorn. They've competed in the Boulder Kinetic Sculpture Challenge, dragon boat races and "full-contact figure-eight unicycle ice racing."

Check out the full details of the wacky event - take a minute to look at the team sketches for their racers and to play the racing game! - at event web site.

How many skiers does it take to fill a bar?

We're offering this up as proof that people who ski are not only healthy, athletic types. They are also inventive and able to squeeze into very small places.

At 6:45 p.m. on Oct. 20, the SnoJets, a local ski club, broke the record for the most people inside Sam's, the World's Smallest Bar, at 22 N. Tejon St.

The SnoJets now hold the "Sam's Cram" record with 63 people squeezed into 109.57 square feet. The previous record was 57 people. Participants signed a log book that will be submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The SnoJets meet every Thursday at Howard's Pit Barbeque. The club sponsors a variety of activities including group trips to ski areas. (No word on how many SnoJets can fit in a van.) For more info about the SnoJets, call Marlys Fleharty at 477-0141 or Chris Schmidt at 265-4686.

Inversion alert! Sunny hiking above 9,000 feet

It's a spooky, misty Halloween morning down here in Colorado Springs. There are even a few snowflakes floating around. Good day to stay indoors, right?

Well, maybe not. It's gorgeous at about 9,000 feet. The skiing could be sublime at Glen Cove. The summit is sunny (though probably not very warm). Anyone craving natural light (not, not that Natural Light) can hike up through the clouds on any number of summits.

I don't think there is a better feeling than climbing through the clouds. It gets murkier and murkier, then gradually, imperceptibly, it becomes lighter. Suddenly, the cloud break. The summits above look like islands floating in the clouds. The city, the roads -- all signs of civilization -- lay cloaked below a shining silver sea.

It was down a minute ago, but check out the Pikes Peak cam on any cloudy day for a view of another world.

Thin air, keen eyes, outer space... quite a round-up

courtesy summitpost.org

If you aren't already a regular visitor to summitpost.org, check it out. It's a sort of online bulletin board for mountain climbers, published by readers. It has trip reports, photos... On it today is a recipe for making your own organic energy gel. Who knew?

Summit post manages to be the right mix. Not too many clueless neophytes (a problem with some of the 14er sites) and not too many judgmental climbing nuts who are so jargony they barely seem to be speaking English.

A favorite feature of mine is the photo of the hour/day/week. These are people that go to corners of the world few others visit, and the views are sublime (see above.)

Speaking of great pictures, NASA is expected to announce a
mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. I've never been a huge space fan. I always thought there was plenty to appreciate on Earth, but I can't help getting geeked out over the awesome images of distant galaxies Hubble regularly beams down. It makes views of Andean peaks seem as close and piddly as the scene out my kitchen window.

Monday, October 30, 2006

In October, everything is gravy

OK, sure, it was 70 degrees in town Saturday, but with all the snow I was jonesing to go skiing. Not skiing at a resort (It's good to avoid crazy early season skiing that funnels black, blue and green skiers together on just a few runs.) just skiing, so Gazette TV reporter and generally game-for-anything dude Andy Wineke and I drove up to the Pikes Peak Highway. We were hoping to ski the old ski runs of Pikes Peak Ski Area. Unfortunately, the road wasn't open that high. Instead, we drove up about 10 miles to a spot where a small access road went down to Crystal Reservoir. We found a few open glades off the road and did laps.
This wasn't exactly Warren Miller action - six inches of HEAVY, wet snow, a gradual slope with maybe 150 feet of vertical - but hey, when it still feels like summer a few miles down the pass, you take what you can get. I've skied worse snow in December.

We were able to link a few turns together and have a great time, which is really what skiing is all about. If the road up to Glen Cove is open now, there could be some very good skiing at hand, just stay below treeline, the higher stuff isn't ready yet.

Anyone else go skiing this weekend? How was it?

Friday, October 27, 2006


Call in a powder day. Here's what we know about yesterday's storm: A Basin got at least a foot. Loveland got 22 inches.

And everyone else is closed, even though the storm dropped about two feet on Breckenrdige and Keystone. Hey, it's still October.

Silverton Mountain announced last week that one more good day of snow could open the mountain. Yesterday might have been the storm. No word yet, on how much snow the toughest ski area in the state got. I think owners Jen and Aaron Brill are probably out skiing, not updating the web site.

Just from talking to people, I've heard that today is going to be a second snow day. Lots of skiers are skipping work to go up to Loveland and A Basin.
Snow should be copious, so should crowds.

I'm going to try to go up and score some backcountry turns on Pikes Peak this afternoon, at the old ski resort. I'll report back conditions.

As for hiking this weekend. Don't think it's going to happen. This snow is sloppy, sloppy, sloppy, and with it all melting, the trails will be too.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Woodland wonderland

(From top... me in my front yard; City Market needed a snowshoe loading area; the traffic on Colorado Highway 67).

Hmmm... three feet of snow. Can't get out of my driveway. If I could, I couldn't drive up my street. So of course, I have to go out. My sister and I used to live in Iowa, where blizzards often crippled our city. If we woke to snow, we were on the phone, making plans. It just seemed wrong to stay home, beaten down by a little weather.
I haven't changed. First thing this morning, I concocted a scheme to walk to the grocery store (about 2 miles) for "supplies" (you know - frozen pizzas, chips and dip). On the way home, six kind drivers stopped their four-wheel-drive vehicles and offered us a ride. "No thanks," I said. "We want to walk."
"It's OK. My wife is crazy," added my husband.
Anyway... here are some photos from my neighborhood - Woodland Park - about two hours ago.

Window to white

Here's the scene from the newsroom, looking northeast toward Pikes Peak and Prospect. It was rainy a bit ago. Snow is swirling now.

I love it when snow "falls" up.

Keystone to open early

This just in...

A fall snowstorm delivered an early Halloween treat for skiers and snowboarders today at Breckenridge and Keystone with up to 2 feet of snow overnight, prompting Keystone Resort to announce an earlier opening to its 2006-2007 season.

Keystone was initially scheduled to open Nov. 10, but will open Nov. 3, instead.

Today, Breckenridge reported 2 feet of snow mid-mountain with Keystone receiving 16 inches at the midway point of Dercum Mountain. Vail and Beaver Creek reported more than 7 inches.

Think you can get there even earlier? Not unless you're already there. There are several closures on Interstate 70 and Loveland Pass was also closed.

Breckenridge is scheduled to open Nov. 10, Vail on Nov. 17 and Beaver Creek on Nov. 22.

Check further down the blog or Colorado Ski Country for other opening dates.

What a difference a few minutes makes

Two views from my balcony in Manitou this morning, before a quick shower and afterward.

I hear that just about all you can see now is white.

I'll show a photo from the newsroom later. What's it like at your house?

Measuring in feet

Deb called the newsroom about an hour ago. I asked if she could open the door to go outside her home in Woodland Park. She laughed. "No."

She said there was about 3 feet of snow on her deck.

She's headed out for a snowshoe to see what she can see-see-see. I hope to see photos soon.

Comment below with your own snow report. Send your snow photos (or photos of your toasty fireplace at home!) to dena.rosenberry@gazette.com.

And if you want to weigh in on whether the incline's skiable / sledable - comment on Dave's posting below.

Will Pikes Peak be skiable

I was standing at the top of the incline yesterday with Gazette TV writer Andy Wineke mulling over what I'd guess is an often-asked question. Is the incline ever skiable?

Sure, there are problems. It's really, really steep, and fairly narrow. It's like a 2,100-foot ski jump, but instead of a jump at the end, it has rusty metal posts sticking out of the ground and several steps that are two or three feet high. So, it would be a challenge.


If there was a enough snow -- I mean a bear-choking load of snow -- would it be possible?

I figured yes.

"No way," said Andy, "because if there was that much snow, it would be impossible to get here. The whole city would be shut down."

Now, as I type this, it's dumping outside. Two inches an hour, I'd say. The lights in my kitchen are flickering every once in a while, probably caused by tree branches, still full of leaves, being pulled down on the powerlines by thick, heavy snow.

Woodland Park already has 9 inches. And it's falling fast. Will it be enough to settle this question of skiing the incline? Probably not.

Will it be enough to take a few turns at the old Pikes Peak Ski Area off the Pikes Peak Highway. I'm planning on it if the road is open tomorrow.

Right now though, I've got to go out and shovel snow.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ridin' the storm out

Well, we're bracing for a whoopin' - but who knows what'll happen. Just checked weather online and seems it's snowing to the northwest.

If it hits hard enough that you're at home drinking cocoa, sledding and perusing online snow gear guides instead of working or going to class Thursday, drop us a line. Take a photo and e-mail it to me, Deb or Dave.

Don't know if I'd walk to work from Manitou (I'm told a former photo ed did that during the blizzard of '97), but I doubt it'll come to that.

Go to http://history.oldcolo.com/history/
research/trolley6.html for a cool photo of a post-blizzard scene in Colorado Springs in 1913.

Also www.coloradocollege.edu/library/

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Renowned climber dies

From the AP:

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. --- Rock climber and author Todd Skinner, who made a name for himself scaling peaks around the world, died when he fell 500 feet while attempting a first ascent near Bridalveil Fall, a park spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Skinner and his party had completed a new route up what is known as “Leaning Tower” and was rappelling when he fell to his death Monday, said Adrienne Freeman.

It was not immediately clear why Skinner, who claimed to have set climbing records in 26 countries, fell. The cause of his death was being investigated by the Mariposa
County coroner’s office.

A cool place for christmas shopping

Instead of Ebay, think of it as SkiBay. Vintageskiworld.com has rounded up old posters, patches, boots and skis from the days of stem-christy turns and broken femurs, when skiing was still far from the mainstream.

Want a 10th Mountain Division Pin? They got it.
Want an old tourism poster from the Alps? This is the place.
Want an old pair of skis? Well, chances are, around here, you can find them cheaper at a lawn sale than on the Web, but they still have some pretty cool ones.

Snow closes more mountain passes

Seems we were just leaf peeping the high country... In addition to closing Trail Ridge Road in RMNP, snow has closed Independence Pass - making it a longer drive to Aspen - and an unpaved portion of the road over Cottonwood Pass between Buena Vista and Gunnison.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Find new routes

Three Colorado roads have closed for the season - Trail Ridge in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado 82 over Independence Pass (from U.S. Highway 24 to just outside Aspen), and the unpaved section of road over Cottonwood Pass between Buena Vista and Gunnison.
The roads, some of the highest in the state, were closed because of weather and winter-like conditions.

Attention, Wolf Creek fans

Wolf Creek Ski Area will celebrate its earliest opening ever on Friday. Fifty-seven inches of snow have fallen since September and the area has 15 inches at midway and 25 inches at the summit.
Treasure, Bonanza and Nova lifts will open at 8:30 a.m. while construction continues on the new Raven Lift.
The ski school, rental, sport shop, Wolf Pup Building, Wolf Creek Lodge (the main day lodge) and the Pathfinder Bar will also be open. For more information, check the area's Web site.

Caribou mystery solved

It was the case of the mysterious caribou, killed by a car last week about 10 miles south of Greeley. The mystery: Caribou don't live in Colorado or anywhere near Colorado. They are found in the arctic regions of northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland.

Wildlife officials were stumped because they didn't know of any caribou - wild or captive - in the state. But they have learned that a Weld County man has them on his property. The animal might have been scared out of its corral by coyotes before dashing into the path of a car.

Trail conditions after rain and snow

You could call Saturday's grand opening of Cheyenne Mountain State Park a soft opening, both because it is closed again today, and because the trails weren't exactly firm after a few days of snow and rain.

The park is bound to become known for its mud. The mix of shale and gravel on its lower slopes can quickly turn into a sticky goo, even with the tons of gravel that have been spread on the trails. Bottom line: if it's been wet, if it's been snowy, if it's one of those gorgeous days when the sky is blue and the snow is melting, avoid the state park for a day or two. It should be fine by this weekend.

On a similar note, I went biking in Stratton Open Space on Sunday. Conditions were perfect. The moist ground was grabby on the tires, but never slick. The trails are in great shape. I only passed one small patch of snow.
I talked to a trio of riders who had just rolled down from Captain Jacks. They reported it was dry and ready to go, with a few patches of slushy ice on the north-facing sections.

With highes expected in the 60s for a few days, snow should continue to melt. All but the highest trails (the top of Barr Trail, Mount Rosa, etc) should be good to go.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Make your friends jealous

You've seen John Fielder's photos and books. Any one of them is a sure-fire way to make a distant friend or relative green with envy, or a bit less homesick.

Fielder has a new gallery in Denver's Santa Fe Art District. It's worth a look-see, especially on a day when it's too icky to get out into the real thing. If you haven't been to the area, check out the story our summer intern wrote.

To the park we go!

(photo from State Parks)

Whew! I've been trying to post since 5 a.m. and keep getting delayed by software or people.

Just wanted to make sure everyone knew Cheyenne Mountain State Park, the largest park in town, opens tomorrow. I guess we've waited long enough for it to open that more news on it could wait a bit, too.

We've got photos and trails maps in Out There today and there's a slideshow at gazette.com that includes current and historic photos and renderings of the luxurious visitors center and rental cabins.

So head out there Saturday or Sunday. But don't go during the week: The park is open only weekends for at least another month. (And I thought was suffering delays!)

Come back and comment once you've seen the place and hiked or biked around.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sledding the incline

I'm not saying it wouldn't be a heckuva bumpy ride, but from Manitou Springs High it looks like a sweet trip.

Anyone been up the hill today? On Barr? Along Waldo? What's it like?

(C'mon, I've been cooped up every daylight hour since Monday, indulge me!)

Drunk riding

Drunken skiers or boarders in Utah can be thrown out of a ski resort, but they won't go to jail.

A Utah lawmaker is dropping a bill that would have made skiing under the influence a crime in that state. The state representative said Utah resorts have addressed his concerns about ensuring visibly drunk skiers and open containers aren't allowed on lifts. It's already a crime in Utah if a drunken skier injures someone.

In Colorado, the law is tougher - the Ski Act makes it a Class 2 petty offense to ski while drunk according to www.skisafety.com

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

For Procrastinators Only

You know who you are - you're the ones who just can't decide if you want a Four-Pass for Copper or a Four-Pack for Keystone and A-Basin, or neither or both.

You've waited and waited and waited until the last minute, and you finally resigned yourself to the fact that you missed them both.

You're in luck. You can still buy the Copper Four-Pass for $99 (it was originally $88). And the Copper Trans-Pass (a transferable four-pass) hasn't gone up in price - it's still available for $149. (Comparable Winter Park passes are $129 and $169.)
Keystone-A-Basin Four Packs are gone.

This is strange

This summer, Colorado residents have reported sightings of grizzly bears and wolves, and even an occasional Bigfoot-type creature.
But this time, the Colorado Division of Widlife can (unfortunately) confirm a beast wandering far from home. A caribou was struck and killed by a car near Greeley this week. The buck, about 350 pounds with a large rack of antlers, was spotted Tuesday grazing alongside U.S. 85 10 miles south of Greeley. Startled by the horn of a passing train, the animal dashed into the path of a car. Caribou normally live in the arctic regions of northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland. They don't live in Colorado.
"We don’t know where a caribou would come from," Colorado Division of Wildlife manager Chad Morgan told the Greeley Tribune. “We don’t know of any farms that have them in this area. I’ve been here four years, and I’ve never seen one.” Other state departments - the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Division of Wildlife and State Veterinarian’s office - said they had no records of caribou in Colorado.

Palisade whitewater park on hold

A plan for a whitewater park on the Colorado River near Grand Junction has stalled. An old diversion dam above Palisade is getting retrofitted to allow two endangered native fish (the Colorado Pikeminnow and Razorback Sucker) to pass up and down stream. Paddlers pointed out the new fish ladder could easily be designed to also be a whitewater park.

It's particularly attractive to boaters because the mild climate of the area would make boating possible almost year-round.

But... there are problems. Who is going to pay for the extra cost of making the park? The $650,000 the community has raised is not enough. On top of that, the city of Palisade has refused a construction easement until it can find away to ensure it won't be held liable in case of injuries. It doesn't look too good.

If boaters keep the pressure on, they may still be able to pull something off. Colorado has built several parks, often with similar contentious issues, and I have yet to visit a community where the people regretted the addition.
We'll see what happens.

Snow round-up

Downtown Colorado Springs got about six inches of snow yesterday afternoon and evening, though the roads are mainly clear. A look around the state's Webcams shows a light dusting in Summit County and Vail, but a fairly thick blanket on the eastern side of the divide in Loveland. Monarch picked up a few inches. Pikes Peak's Webcam is still obscured by snow. The big winner locally seems to be Woodland Park, which looks like it picked up about eight inches. With temps in the 50s and 60s, this will all soon melt, but an ambitious person might be able to get a good cross country ski in at Rampart Reservoir today.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's officially snowing

And cold and wet and nasty in Colorado Springs. It's sticking in Woodland Park. And in ski country. Oh yeah, it's coming.

What's next? A rollercoaster?

Alpine slide: Amusement park ride or thrilling ski area attraction?

Former President Gerald Ford and other property owners in the Beaver Creek community are fighting a proposed concrete alpine slide that would be open summers.

“An alpine slide is an amusement-park ride,” Beaver Creek Property Owners Association attorney Rick Johnson said in an AP story. “An alpine slide is not compatible with the valley’s environment.”

Property owners say the slide would be noisy and ugly. The slide is part of a strategy by Vail Resorts, which owns the Beaver Creek ski area, to turn its winter resorts into year-round destinations. The company already operates an alpine slide at its Breckenridge resort. But Breckenridge doesn't have the real estate power of Beaver Creek, where the average sale price of a home is more than $900,000.

The Eagle County Commissioners haven't made a decision on the request.

Alaska. Is that the Garden State?

I'm hoping Coloradans are smarter than this. A poll commissioned by the governor of Alaska showed that:

*** 1 in 8 Americans believes that state is a separate country or don't know it's a state.
*** More than half the nation thinks that most of Alaska is covered in ice and snow year-round.

We'll give you the out-of-sight, out-of-mind thing - only 14 percent of the people polled had ever been to the state to the north. On the positive side, nine out of 10 people said they had a positive impression of Alaska, citing its natural beauty and vast space.

Gov. Frank Murkowski commissioned the poll after two congressional debates last year that he feared had muddied Alaska's image: whether federal earmarks should go to build two so-called “Bridges to Nowhere” in the state and the failed effort to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.

Turns out the worries were unfounded. Just three out of 100 people polled had a negative perception of the state's residents.
Among the questions that stumped many of those polled:
+ How many people live there? (As many people guessed under 250,000 as did those who said it was up to two million.) Correct answer: 665,000.
+ Which do you choose - developing Alaska's energy resources or protecting the state's environment? (About two out of three chose the environment, but at the same time, more than half said ANWR should be opened for oil and gas exploration.)

Fat is beautiful

Major ski makers gradually have been building wider skis for years, but it took two Breckenridge powderhounds to take the growing waistline to the super-size double bacon cheeseburger level.

They created the Fatypus, a ski with a 5.5-inch waist and a massive, almost 7-inch, shovel at the tip that, according to the designers, "Rules in powder, carves up the groomers and generally kills it."

It's the fattest ski you can buy, but the mainstream manufacturers are going obese too.

K2's entry in the market is the Pontoon -- not quite as big, but still made to float on powder.

Can skis get any wider and still be ridable? We're not sure, but we're thinking of strapping on two snowboards to find out.

Monday, October 16, 2006

We're number 3 and 7 and 8

We don't pay all that much attention to lists, but seeing Colorado ski resorts on "best of" lists always catches our attention.

TransWorld SNOWboarding readers name North America's top snowboard parks in the mag's December issue that came out this month. Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C. is No. 1, followed by Mammoth Mountain and Breckenridge. Also in the top 10 list: Vail at No. 7 and Copper at No. 8.

To compile the list, the magazine asked readers to rank resorts they had visited during the 05/06 season on a variety of criteria including snow quality, vibe, nightlife, food, lodging, lifts, value and challenge.

Coyote call

A reader has seen more coyotes than ever before and wonders if there's a coyote population explosion going on. The Colorado Division of Wildlife says there isn't. Senior terrestrial biologist Bob Davies says it's normal to see more coyotes this time of year, when the young are venturing out on their own for the first time. They're also busy getting into trouble - Davies says he saw a coyote being chased by a deer last week.

Colorado ski hall of famers: well-deserved, but where are the boarders?

The Colorado Ski Museum announced its hall of fame inductees for the year this weekend.

They are:
Ray Duncan -- founder of Purgatory (now Durango Mountain)
Henry Christian Hall-- Aspen ski jumper
Barbara Ferries Henderson -- one of America's great ski racers of the 1960s.
Mark Tache -- a World Cup ski racer from Aspen

To read more about each of them click here.

The Colorado Ski Hall of Fame is a cool tradition with many worthy skiers in its ranks, but year after year, we wonder when they're going to give props to the snowboarders. Look, the skier/snowboarder rivalry is done, done, done. It went out of fashion about the time Newt Gingrich did. But the museum, and the hall of fame, have yet to reach out to the knuckle-draggin' brethrenen.

Instead, the state has a few amateur collections of old boards and lor scattered here and there. It seems fated either to go the way of the dumpster or the savvy private collector, and be lost for good. Eventually, the museum is going to realize what it missed. Why not reach out to the community when many of the pioneers are still active, and have sharp memories?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Day 1, Day 2

(AP photo from A-Basin on opening day)

Well, it was Day One of the season at Loveland and Day two for A-Basin.

And word is that while we aren't talking feet of snow, there was enough for a few decent, albeit limited, rides.

Hey, if you went up to ride, drop us a line! After the first run, was it T-shirts? How many runs did you get in? How good was the brew afterward?

A-Basin became the nation’s first ski area to open for the season Friday, offering man-made snow on a single run and its terrain park.

“The snow is basically beautiful. There’s no bald spots anywhere, which actually really surprised us,” said Chris Salturelli, a skier from Denver who was doubly anxious to hit the slopes because he lost last season to a blown knee.

Snowboarder Andrew Lawrence, who moved to Denver from the East Coast this year, added: “It is wonderful to get such an early start on the season.”

It was the first time in seven years that Loveland wasn’t the first area to open for continuous operation.

Check out more photos here.

Copper Mountain has been making snow and is scheduled to open Nov. 3.

What about the rest of the country? AP reports Mammoth Mountain in California is scheduled to open Nov. 9. Alta in Utah is shooting for Nov. 16.
Killington, in Vermont, won't even begin making snow for at least 10 days. (Don't know if any of that storm that walloped Buffalo, NY, also hit that area.)

Look further down the blog for reports on other opening days across Colorado or check out Colorado Ski Country USA.

And word is tomorrow's the last day to get a bunch of the ski pass deals, so hop on it!

Black bear on the incline

Just got this email from a reader:

Dear Dave,

I don't know if this is anything to be concerned about or if there is any way of getting the word out if it is something potentially serious, but our two friends who introduced us to the incline just had a big black bear follow them at close range halfway down it yesterday. They were rather frightened, to say the least, and warned others about the bear. Since you are my young hero in the outdoor section of the Gazette, I thought I would let you know. They are no novice outdoor people, having climbed about a third of the fourteeners in our state. We were planning to climb it today, but we have an eight-month-old Irish setter who thinks anything is a friend, and we could not feel comfortable doing that the next day.

I hope this is not a pointless notification, but if so, sorry about that!


I've run into several black bears, and never had a bad encounter. There bears are rarely aggressive. You should watch your dogs around them though.

They're generally not active during the middle of the day, that might be the time to go.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Glenwood wants to clamp down on free hot springs

Photo from Glenwood Independent
The Glenwood Springs police chief wants to shut down the "hot pots" where excess hot water from commercial springs pours into natural pools along the Colorado River. Why? According to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, the pools are a magnet for crime and trash, and a danger to public safety. He wants the city to erradicate the pools in a way that they can't be rebuilt.

Bummer for boaters. Last time I kayaked that section of the Colorado - actually, the only time - we stopped and soaked a bit in the pools to warm up. It was a nice treat.

Maybe, instead of destroying the pools, the city should examine turning them into a city park. Might be nice.

Wish we were there

...Even though it looks like Jason from "Friday the 13th" showed up. It was opening day at Arapahoe Basin, where tall grass and an 18-inch base greeted the state's first skiers and riders.

The big bad wolf

Weird story of the day: Two Forest Service employees working in the Sawtooth Wilderness in Idaho late last month heard wolves howling around them, panicked, and called their supervisor for help. They were "rescued" by helicopter.

What's strange about this? They were Forest Service employees, who work in the forest (where wolves often live); they were in Idaho's wilderness; they weren't attacked by the wolves.

Best reaction: “Holy moly — sounds to me like someone’s read too many of Grimm’s fairy tales,” said Steve Nadeau, wolf program supervisor with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “I’m flabbergasted that (the Forest Service) would go to that extent over wolves howling in the woods because wolves howl in the woods all the time. That’s how they communicate.”

Schedule your sick days

Here's Colorado Ski Country U.S.A.'s list of opening dates for Colorado resorts:
A-Basin: Open!
Aspen Highlands, Dec. 9
Aspen Mountain, Nov. 23
Beaver Creek, Nov. 22
Breckenridge, Nov. 10
Buttermilk, Dec. 9
Copper Mountain, Nov. 3
Crested Butte, Nov. 18
Durango, Nov. 23
Echo Mountain, Nov. 22
Eldora, Nov. 17
Howelsen, Dec. 2
Keystone, Nov. 10
Loveland, Saturday
Monarch, Nov. 22
Powderhorn, Dec. 7
Silverton, Nov. 23
Ski Cooper, Nov. 23
Snowmass, Nov. 23
Solvista, Dec. 13
Steamboat, Nov. 22
Sunlight, Dec. 1
Telluride, Nov. 23
Vail, Nov.17
Winter Park, Nov. 15
Wolf Creek, Nov. 3

The best trail guide around

Medicine Wheel has just posted its new Web site, and it's dope. It has information on trail volunteering, meetings, and coolest of all, 3D maps of favorite rides. The address is www.medwheel.org

Search around, this page has become the best guide in town (why didn't I think of this?).

While you're there, think about what Med Wheel stands for: mountain bikers giving back to the community through outreach and volunteering. Everyone benefits from their actions. The town's riders largely have them to thank for the fact that there are so few trails with "no bicycles" signs.

Hunting a new arch

In the post-Google Earth world, where every inch of the globe seems to be explored and thoroughly surveyed, there is still, thankfully, room for discovery.

Scott Patterson, an avid Colorado hiker, along with Stephen Ho and Mike Kelsey, discovered the 9th-largest rock arch in the world in September, called Out Law Arch.

In a post on 14ers.com, he said:
What we discovered in the canyon and on a bench on the side of Outlaw Peak was a large natural arch. We knew it was big, but didn't have time to measure the arch. Last week, I returned with Jeff Foxe (14ers.com member) and got accurate measurements on the arch. At 206 feet, it turned out to be the 9th-largest known arch in the world, and the largest "new discovery" reported in the United States since Wrather Arch (Paria River Canyon) was first reported in the 1950s.

Only one arch since then has been reported to be over 200 feet and it is in Africa in 2004. One may wonder how an arch could be hidden for so long (until 2006!), but there are three main reasons.

1. Since it stands against the cliff wall, it really isn't visible from the air unless you know it is there. Now that we know it is there, it is visible on photos taken from the air.

2. The arch is not visible from below, and you can't get to it from below.

3. The arch is well hidden in a remote canyon, and the route to get there is very obscure.

To see a list (now a bit out of date) of the largest known natural arches, click here.

Scott has also posted photos of the arch, and the measuring process. See them here.

The arch is in the one of the most remote, rugged sections of Colorado, in Dinosaur National Monument. Getting there involves long miles, rock scrambling and a few long rappels.

Needless to say, it's not for the faint of heart. Adventurers, you won't be able to look at the pictures in the detailed directions posted here, without salivating. This area along the Yampa River is gorgeous. If you decide to go, call me. I want in.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A-Basin wins!!!!

Arapahoe Basin wanted to be the first ski area to open, and it looks like it got its wish. The resort will open Exhibition Lift to High Noon run and the High Divide terrain park at 9 a.m. Friday. A-Basin beat the state's other perennially early opener, Loveland. It's tentatively set to open Saturday (unless it gets really warm tomorrow). Tickets for A-Basin are $43; Loveland will be $40.

Take the grizz quiz

It happens all the time in Colorado - people thinking they've seen a grizzly bear. (There are also reports of bigfoot and kangeroos, too. That's a whole other story.)

The Colorado Division of Wildlife investigates reports of grizzlies, but its biologists have been unable to prove their existence in this state since the late 1970s. Still, some hunters, hikers and campers insist they've come upon a grizz in the wilds. If you think you can distinguish a grizzly from the black bear, check out this cool quiz, set up by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department to educate hunters.

Sample question (see the photo above): Always look for a combination of characteristics (shoulder hump, ears, facial profile). Is this a grizzly bear?

Answer: Yes

Looking for clear skies, head up

This is what the summit of Pikes Peak looks like this morning, clear as a bell, overlooking a sea of clouds. Colorado Springs is experiencing an upslope, which means warm, moist air is coming up from the southeast and getting trapped against the mountains. The cloud level seems to be at about 8,000 feet. If you can get above that, you can bet on beautiful weather.

Apparently Woodland Park is in the sun right now, too, so you don't have to go far.

Ski conditioning? Who's got the time? You better.

What looks more fun, this?
Or this?
This is the time of year when magazines, and even the Out There section of The Gazette, tend to be full of silly photos of people doing exercises they would never normally do in order to get in shape for ski season.

If you're one of those people who likes these tips, here are a few you can go read. Click here or here.

For the rest of us, who don't have medicine balls, and wouldn't spend an hour a day messing with them if we did, there are ways to get in ski shape without wasting a lot of time.

The trick is to multi-task.
This year I've vowed to quit snowboarding cold turkey and fully commit myself to telemark skiing. It's the only way I'm going to get better. I know I'll need a lot of quad strength, core strength, and aerobic fitness too keep up with my buddies. So here's the plan:

++ Wall sits at work. Sit at a desk a lot? I do. And there's a filing cabinet nearby that I can sit against while proof-reading copy. It builds leg and core muscle.

++ Lunges while walking the dog. It doesn't take many of these knee-dipping steps to build a lot of strength, and it's just the kind I need.

++ Build balance and eye coordination with mountain biking. This is something I love to do anyway, and the crossover to skiing is a natural. It gets you in shape, but also sharpens your brain's ability to pick a line of travel while moving quickly. Oh, and that shift over the axis the hips do while making quick turns on skis? It's the same on a bike. This is the most fun training you can do.

++ Take the stairs two at a time: it builds strong hips and good balance.

++ And of course, a little hard-core body punishment is always a good thing. Many people choose to do the incline. Not that we endorse that...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Funny, and fairly accurate

Here's a tongue-in-cheek cheat sheet for how to generate names of subdivisions in Denver. It could easily work for the Springs too.

It's not Planet of the Apes

We don't know how this is the first time we've ever heard of the Denver Gorilla Run.
But now we're hooked. The Oct. 28, 5K run raises money for gorilla conservation, which is cool, but here's what's really cool.

Everyone who takes part wears a full gorilla costume - from fluffy head to furry toe. And you get to keep it afterward! Your own gorilla costume!

So, you help save gorillas, you do something really silly, and you have a costume for Halloween. Perfect.

First Time Gorilla $150.00
Returning Gorilla $75.00

For more info, click here.

Outside picks the "best ski town."

And it's Aspen.

Now, a few caveats. The glossy magazine didn't rate towns on quality of skiiing, but on quality of apres ski partying (which might be why hedonistic Aspen won out over Mormon-influenced Park City or Sun Valley). And, don't tell anyone, but media "best" lists are usually anything but merit-based and methodical.

With that in mind, Outside liked Aspen's pedestrian-friendly downtown full of high and low brow watering holes.

"One moment you're gawking at a jet-lagged millionaire parsing brandies more expensive than your car; the next, you're grinding with the pierced midriff of an X Gamer," the intro to Aspen nightlife reads.

Their favorite bars: 39 degrees, The Double Dog Pub, Caribou Club, Eric's Bar and Club Chelsea.

On the list of other great ski bars beyond the Aspen city limits, Outside lists The Club in Vail and The Secret Stash in Crested Butte.

We'd like to add South Street in Breck and the tent with the woodstove and the keg at Silverton Mountain.
Anyone not see their favorite post ski watering hole? Add it below.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A natural schnack

Louise Hile sent this photo she snapped on the way to the farmer's market in Old Colorado City on Saturday. Seems it isn't just deer and bears bulking up for winter.

Bon appetit, furry friend!

Where's the snow!?

Sure, it's cold. But the only snow in the mountains is the stuff the resorts are making. Above is today's view of Loveland. Breckenridge looks even less wintery. I had more snow on my car this morning in Colorado Springs.

Now, you want to talk skiing, let's talk Monarch. Check this out:Gaze at the yurt. That looks like five or six inches to me. It's a good thing too. Monarch doesn't make snow. The mountain has to wait until the white stuff actually falls.

The sun always shines on Fruita

We took a gamble this weekend and drove over the mountains to the little farming town of Fruita near the Utah border. I try to make a pilgrimage there at least twice a year (it doesn't always work, but I try) because the mountain biking is phenomenal. And because it's an arid spot at around 4,000 feet, the weather is almost always good.

ALMOST always. Last year, we tried to ride the Book Cliffs section of Fruita after a night of rain. The shaley clay was so sticky we were soon carrying about 10 pounds of mud each on our bikes. It clogged our tires to the point where they would no longer roll. Fortunately, the other side of the valley, near the Colorado River, is all slickrock and sandy gravel. Even when it's wet, it's great riding.

This year, when we arrived Saturday, almost an inch of rain had fallen over night, so we headed to the Colorado River section of trails. The turf was primo: slightly tacky from the moisture and groomed by the rain. And the crowds from the Front Range had been scared away by forecasts of storms. Too bad. It was sunny the whole time.

We started with Rustlers Loop, an easy, but by no means boring 3-mile loop along the river. Then we graduated to Horsethief Bench, a 5-mile loop just next door, with fast, winding singletrack, some great, challenging rock ledges, and postcard views from cliffs dropping straight down to the river. It was so fun that we got back to the car and decided to do it again.

That night we ate at Hot Tomato on Aspen Street in Fruita. It's good, well-priced pizza, and a nice alternative to the chains on the interstate.

Next morning we hit the Book Cliffs, hoping they had dried out enough to let us ride. They had. We hit Joes Ridge for a fast, rolling descent, then rode up to Zippity Doo Dah to test our skills against a narrow ridge ride with some CRAZY steep drops. The drops are actually pretty easy, but the shale is so smooth it's like dropping into a half pipe. Still, until you figure this out it can be a little freaky.

We finished up with a ride down Kessel Run, a fun, looping connector trail that was short enough for me to let my retired greyhound, Stella, come along. She loved it, and in true racing greyhound fashion, couldn't stand being at the end of the pack. Halfway through, she made her move, nearly pushing me off the trail, and sprinted ahead to the finish.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hail, Hyperion!

(photo courtesy of National Park Service)

Somehow I missed this story - I'm a week late!! - but researchers have confirmed that a redwood named Hyperion in a remote Northern California forest is the world’s tallest tree. It's the world's tallest living organism.

And estimating 10-12 feet per floor, it's, what, twice as high as any building in downtown Colorado Springs?

That's a BIG tree.

Steve Sillett, a forestry professor at Humboldt State University, recently climbed Hyperion and measured it at 379.1 feet, one foot taller than previously thought, reports the AP.

Hyperion, which grows in Redwood National Park, edged aside the previous record holder, a 370.5-foot redwood called Stratosphere Giant in nearby Humboldt State Park.

If it weren’t for damage caused by woodpeckers at its top, Hyperion could have reached 380 feet, researchers said.

Officials would not pinpoint the exact location of Hyperion because they are worried that too many visitors could damage the tree’s delicate ecosystem. Much like our old bristlecone near Pikes Peak, sometimes the best things are left known but unvisited.

No match for tires

I won't share the photo, but driving a friend along Highway 67 near Mueller, just as I was telling her about the porcupine I saw along the trail 2 weeks ago, I spotted a dead porcupine by the side of the road.

I hope it wasn't "my" porcupine - the first I'd seen in the wild - but... It was less than 50 yards from where I'd seen it near the pond along the Cheesman Ranch Trail. (Insert frowning face here.)

It was a glorious day for a hike, though, and I hope you all got out amongst it. Saw plenty of folks at Waldo and also Horsethief.

Send us your trail reports and photos!

Friday, October 06, 2006

It's the most wonderful time of the year

( photo courtesy of Ski Cooper ski school)

You know it's fall when even the kiddies are thinking about the slopes.
This from business editor Joanna Bean:

"My second-grade daughter told me about a recent school assignment: 'We had to write about something we do as a family. So I wrote about skiing,' she said, pausing. 'It made me want to go.'

"Music to my ears!"

If you've got a fifth-grader or sixth-grader in your house, consider Colorado Ski Country USA's 5th Grade Passport. Passholders get three lift tickets to 25 Colorado resorts, plus discounts on rentals, lessons and tickets for mom or dad. Sixth-graders can get a Graduate Pass for $59, with the same benefits.

Oh, deer!

Kyle Fenner e-mailed early today to say he and a crew of others pulled a deer out of a mine shaft Thursday night.

Here's his tale:

We saved a deer last night, had to pull it out of a mine shaft -- hard work, lots of people, the city cherry picker/BIG fork lift, Fire, EMS, PD, DOW, Cripple Creek Victor Gold Mine rescue guy... what an ordeal... in the dark...

but happy ending :-)

I am amazed at what people will do to help.

Scott Kerr (a co-worker) was the one to call me... he was walking his dog on a trail when they found the buck in a 25-foot hole, unhurt. There were timbers down there that he could hide behind.

How he got there unhurt I have NO idea! Helluva fall.

We named the buck (a little spike) "Gold Digger". When we got him out after about 2 hours we had to tackle him right away to get the ropes off. Then he ran off into the night -- a minute later four HUGE bucks came up over the hill and just sat there feeding and looking at us....then a little head poked up behind them and it was Gold Digger... It was like they had been out there waiting for him.

They hung out right there for 15 minutes while we all talked about the experience and then they trotted off into the night...All of us were thrilled by it...

Great story and a greater ending! Thanks, Kyle. I'll contact Metro folks and also see about posting to YourHub. More people should read about this one!

Anyone get a photo? If so, send it and we'll post that, too.

We have the results of last week's rock climbing comp

The overall winner for the men was Jason Waldman, 23, who walked away with a new climbing rope courtesy of Sterling Ropes.

The women's overall winner was Lindsay Watson, 23, who won a climbing helmet from Trango, a gift certificate to Mountain Chalet and a chalk bag. It was Lindsay's sixth time climbing ever. When she turned in her scoresheet, she told me, "I think I did better than I thought I was going to. I thought I might be in the beginner category but after my climbs, I might actually be in intermediate." Turns out she won the category.

The competition had 27 folks show up and climb, ranging in age from 11 to 51. The competition started at 10 AM and went until 3 PM. Climbers could do as many climbs as they wanted but would only be scored on their top 10. We gave them a scoresheet and a guidebook and turned them loose. Climbing competitions work on the honor system - if you say you did a climb without falling and get someone to witness it, that's enough for us.

The most climbs were completed by Clay McGann who did 12 climbs. Jason Waldman completed the most difficult climb, "The Seminar," rated 5.11(c) which earned him 1,365 points.

Lisa Bausum, 11, was the youngest competitor.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It seems so obvious...

The National Park Service and one of its major concessionaires, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, are worried about recent studies that show declining attendance at the country's parks. Of special concern: fewer children visiting.

In a press release sent out today, Xanterra suggests something kids can do once you get them inside a park: Take a hike. Other suggestions, all worthy - ride a horse or a train, watch for wildlife, and play golf (?).

(Hikers at Rocky Mountain National Park)

Are you ready for some skiing?

It doesn't take much to get the flatlanders excited about another ski season - a dusting of snow during a "Monday Night Football" game will do.

The cameras will roll Monday night as the Broncos play, and Colorado resorts are praying for a little snow to get viewers in the mood. “You can’t buy exposure like that,” said John Sellers,director of communications for Loveland Ski Area. “It gets everyone thinking about the ski season.”

Resorts are gearing up: Loveland and A Basin are making snow around the clock in the race to be the first to open. Silverton Mountain says it's in the race, too. Last year, Loveland won, opening Oct. 14.

Primal Quest 2006 is coming to TV near you

ESPN2 viewers can tune it to a 10-day, 450-mile journey through the Utah desert starting Monday, Oct. 9, at 7:30 p.m. (EST) with the debut of Primal Quest.

The elite expedition-adventure race will air four consecutive nights and then wrap up Saturday, Oct. 14, at 2 p.m. on sister broadcast network ABC.

I was there to cover the whole thing. It meant hours of rutty dirt roads and waiting around, and still it was riveting. I can't wait to see it condensed, with all the cool helicopter angles.

Check it out and let us know what you think.