Monday, April 30, 2007

The other day, I saw a bear...

Up in the woods? No, on my porch.

So says a Jeff. Co. woman who was swatted by a bear outside her house early this morning.
Beware! As we've said before, bears are out and about - and they're hungry. They won't like anything standing between them and food.

The DOW says a bear swatted the 38-year-old Conifer woman at 12:30 a.m. outside her home. Responding to her barking dog on the porch, she encountered a bear, one of three in the area. The victim’s 10-year-old daughter saw the swat and said the bear was small, 50-60 lbs.

A DOW officer followed tracks leading away from the home and encountered three bears. One bear charged the officer and was shot and killed.

The DOW set a trap for the other 2 bears. The woman was taken to a hospital, treated and released.

To learn more about black bears play the DOW's Black Bear Challenge.

To minimize such encounters the DOW recommends:

++ Keep garbage out of reach and smell of bears. Use bear-proof trash bins. Be sure garbage cans are emptied regularly. Periodically clean garbage cans. Store trash cans in a bear-proof enclosure.

++ Do not store pet food nor feed your pets outside.

++ Clean your BBQ grill of grease and store inside.

++ Hang bird seed, suet and hummingbird feeders on a wire between trees instead of on your deck or porch. Bring all bird feeders in at night.

++ Do not put fruit, melon rinds and other tasty items in mulch or compost piles.


++ Stay calm.

++ If you see a bear and it has not seen you, calmly leave the area. As you move away, make noise to let the bear discover your presence. Stop. Back away slowly while facing the bear.

++ Avoid direct eye contact, as bears may perceive this as a threat.

++ Give the bear plenty of room to escape.

++ Do not run - you cannot outrun a bear. Do not make any sudden movements.

++ If on a trail, step off the trail on the downhill side and slowly move away.

++ Speak softly. This may reassure the bear that you mean it no harm.

++ Try not to show fear.

If a black bear attacks you:

++ Use rocks, sticks, binoculars, a backpack and even their bare hands to defend yourself.

++ Aim for the nose or eyes if possible.

(Photo by Michael Seraphin, courtesy of the DOW)

Where's Dave?

Fruita, my friends, Fruita.
I'll be there Wednesday and Thursday
after hitting up A Basin Tuesday to
check out new terrain for next season.
I'll blog along the way.

Cosmic skiing

From Gazette writer Andy Wineke, who specialized in indoor AND outdoor writing (TV watching/trends and outdoor activities - biking, skiing, paddling, etc.):
Crested Butte ski patroller Ethan Passant made a clean sweep of the inaugural COSMIC series with a win Saturday in the season finale race at A-Basin.

We've talked about the ski mountaineering series on the blog before, but seeing it in person was very different than I thought it would be. I got a workout just trying to keep up with the racers, and I got to use the lifts.

For instance, I'm at the start line with my camera and my notebook. I spend maybe five minutes taking pictures of the mass start. Then I pop down to the Pallavicini lift and head up to the top. I'm on the lift maybe 12-15 minutes after the race started.

And as the lift crosses over the runout from Pallavicini, who comes sailing by? Passant.

The dude climbed to the top of Pallavicini and skied back down faster than I could get from the starting line to even midway up the lift. Yeah, A-Basin is famous for slow lifts, but the fastest high-speed detatchable quad might not have beat him.

It was pretty much like that all day -- I got up to the top of the mountain, where the racers had to bootpack up to North Pole, ski down the double-diamond chute, ski back up, then come down Willy's. Passant had already done Pali twice, climbed up to the top, skied down Montezuma Bowl and was climbing back up.

It was nearly impossible to keep up with him. I took a couple pictures of people on North Pole, skied down to the base and arrived literally five seconds before Passant finished. Dude did 4,000 vertical feet, a half-dozen double diamond runs and I don't know how many miles of uphill in an hour, 56 minutes.

I talked to a few racers from the Springs, all of whom were trying it for the first time. Mike Hagen, a local bike racer, finished a very respectable 10th in the competitive class.

"I got crushed on the downhills," he said. "That was incredibly hard. Just amazingly hard."

Tracy Crowell raced in the rec class (which had a much shorter course), while her boyfriend Fred Hankinson tried the competitive class. They're both triathletes, but discovered ski mountaineering required something more than physical fitness and mental toughness: bravery.

"You have moments of fear in here, too," Crowell said. "Like the narrow chute at the top of North Pole: I left blood all over the snow."

What struck me was the number of people like Crowell and Hagen at the race: Serious endurance athletes who were relatively new to backcountry skiing. I sort of figured most of the racers would be serious backcountry skiers having a little fun trying a race. Given the number of distance cyclists, triathletes, marathoners and mountain bike racers in Colorado, I think ski mountaineering may have a bigger potential competitor base than I'd imagined. I'll be interested to see how the sport grows in future seasons.

Skiing on Pikes Peak

Just got this picture from Eric over at He said skiing on the peak this weekend was sweet. Much more snow than last year, and plenty to last through next weekend, even if the warm weather sticks around.

Ski TV

This sounds sorta cool, but there could be a dark side, like having to listen to more Glen Plake:
DENVER (AP) — The founder of The Tennis Channel plans to launchThe Ski Channel early next year, with original programming delivered on demand.
The channel would run mountain programming, including rock climbing and backpacking, segments on equipment, travel tips and news, Bellamy said.
It also would provide a platform for viewers to send in videos of themselves.
“It’s the perfect storm of technology right now with Handy cams,people understanding how to upload, the broadband. It’s all happening at the same time,” Bellamy said.
Bellamy thought up the idea for The Ski Channel before launching The Tennis Channel, established in 2003. At the time, tennis was an easier sell as a standard television channel where fans could watch live events at set times. The Ski Channel works better with video on demand, he said. “
Snowboarding — you don’t need to see that live. If you’rewatching the 20 best aerials in the world, and it’s only on at 8 on one night, that would suck. But it would make the best VOD channel ever.”
Bellamy said he wants to target families seeking mountain vacations since other Web sites and channels exist for Gen X viewers, though there still will be programming for them on The Ski Channel. He did not disclose his company’s financial details.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Springs climber takes big fall in Black Canyon

Here's a report we just got in. The climber's name is Adam McKinley. Anyone know him?
Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park Rescue Of Seriously Injured Climber
Climbing Ranger Brent Mims received a report of an accident on a climbing route graded at 5.10 (very difficult) in SOB Gully around 9 p.m. on the evening of April 19th. A 21-year-old man from Colorado Springs was climbing with three other people when he fell about 30 feet below his belay, taking a total fall of 50 feet. He was unresponsive for about two minutes and had an obvious deformity to his right hand.
The nearly eight-hour-long rescue involved a 150-foot technical climb to reach the summit of a detached pillar, then the 400-foot lowering of a rescuer to the injured climber’s position.
A separate haul system was constructed to traverse the rescuer and injured man along the top of the pillar to a point where they could be lowered into the gully. They were then hauled 600 feet to the canyon rim.
This rescue was the first of the year utilizing a team of dedicated volunteer climbers who are familiar with the Black Canyon and train with the staff. This complex rescue, led by Mims, would have undoubtedly been exceedingly difficult without the support of these volunteers.

Pikes Peak Road likely closed above Glen Cove

Just got this note from Eric at It means no car shuttles at Glen Cove, but still plently of skiing.

According to the PP Highway Rangers, the highway might not be open past Glen Cove this weekend due to rib-deep snowdrifts on the highway above Elk Knoll. We'll be skiing in the Hollow and in GC cirque on both days. Meet at the bottom gate at 9am, or we'll see you up there on Sunday. Plan on earning your turns. Oh yea, don't forget your skins.

Ski Pikes Peak this weekend

What's all this talk about skiing Pikes Peak if the Pikes Peak Ski Area closed almost 20 years ago? Well, the skiing isn't at the old ski area, and it isn't on the broad, snowy cirque visible from Colorado Springs. The best skiing is on a north-facing slope above Glen Cove (far right in the picture above, click it for a bigger image) there is spectacular skiing, made even better this year by a cool, wet spring. Conditions this weekend should be perfect.

Here is a recent Gazette story I wrote about skiing there with Mike Miller from Mountain Chalet.

Basically, the drill is this: Drive up the Pikes Peak Highway to Devil's Playground. Walk 10 minutes down an alpine ridge. Take your pick of ski runs. This is all backcountry skiing, there are no patrolers and no difficulty ratings. It's also steep and potentially rocky. Suffice it to say you should be a good skier and use the buddy system in this area. Ski back down to the road at Glen Cove and hitch hike up. Or, f you have a big enough group, you can take turns driving a shuttle. The true pros get several people together, show up right when the gate opens at 9 a.m., bring a BBQ grill and spend the day.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

For tame crane, no call of the wild.

A Greater Sandhill Crane raised on a ranch in western Colorado refused to region the wild flocks this year, and will The eventually be delivered to a zoo.
The crane was just a chick when it was found by a ranch hand three years ago. Apparently, dogs had chased off other birds in a flock that had been in the same field. Believing the young bird had been abandoned and couldn't survive on its own the rancher took the bird home, fed it cat food and treated it like a pet. Birds imprint on humans quickly if they are exposed to them at a young age. Once a bird imprints, it can seldom be trained to survive in the wild – even with other birds. When the ranch hand became ill with cancer, he asked some friends to care for the bird. In the spring they took it to an area where large flocks of sandhill cranes gather during their migration north for the summer. But when they released the bird it wanted no part of its free-roaming cousins. The bird was taken to the Schneegas Wildlife Foundation near Silt, a wildlife rehabilitation center. The professional trainers there saw quickly that the bird couldn't be retrained. "The sandhill crane never learned to be wild," Gurzick said. The crane will be cared for at the DOW's wildlife facility until a suitable home is found.

The lesson here: Observe animals from a distance, allow nature to take its course. Just as people usually mentally warp their children, you will mentally warp a crane.

Lesson two: in a pinch, cat food, apparently, is a suitable crane food.

Leave the babies alone

A note from the DOW - Colorado's Division of Wildlife - reminds to leave young animals alone when you see them along the trail, in your yard, wherever.

A Greater Sandhill Crane that has been raised on a ranch near Nucla will be held by the DOW and, likely, shipped to a zoo.

The crane was a chick when found on a ranch 3 years ago. Thinking it had been abandoned, a rancher took it home, fed it cat food and treated it like a pet. Later, the rancher became ill and friends took the bird to an area where sandhill cranes gather during their migration north for summer. The bird wanted no part of its free-roaming cousins. Trainers at the Schneegas Wildlife Foundation saw quickly that the bird couldn't be retrained.

There's little that can be done with the crane, which is why DOW asks people not to mess with wildlife.

"Adult animals often leave their young ones to go off to feed or to distract predators," said DOW's Tony Gurzick. "Young animals are well camouflaged and learn their own survival skills when left on their own. We know people are well-intentioned, but the animal's best chance of surviving is if it's left alone."

In the wild sandhill cranes can live for 20 years. That's a long time for a crane to live in a zoo, too.

Where are we?

Where, indeed.
Noses to the grindstones (owww!), baby, noses to the grindstones. I've been on a conference call talking to news people across the country about news on the Web. Whoo-hoo! Dave and Andy are slaving at their desks cuz soon they'll be off on assignment.

Dave's heading out to hang with the FROGs, a local group that's into adventure racing (Front Range Outdoor Groupies).

Andy's headed to A-Basin for ski mountaineering.

Look for Dave's story in next Friday's OT section. We'll ask Andy to post info about ski mountaineering on the blog - for now. Pix to come.

Me? I'll be here, trying to keep us on course.
(Photo of Geoff Doerr at Mt. Ellis, near Bozeman, Mont., by Matt Schultze. They're Life-Link staffers.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Powder Alert!

And not just in Calhan.
Loveland got a foot of snow yesterday. So did Silverton. Little Echo Mountain (which has had a phenomenal year with all these upslope storms) got 13 inches. Silverton got 11. The rest of the resorts (which are all now closed, also got a hearty dose.)

Pikes Peak and the Crags are likely in prime ski condition.

The season is by no means over. Strap on the boards.

If you don't mind a crowd

This weekend is the Fat Tire Festival in Fruita, which means beer, biking and not many free campsites. If you want to hob nob with your mountain bike friends, it's a great weekend to be in Fruita. If you want to ride, next weekend might be a better choice.

Worth seeing, though, is the Clunker Crit -- an in-town race on old cruiser bikes. See video of it here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Gear & Cheer change

If you were planning to head north for The Women's Wilderness Institute's 5th Annual Gear & Cheer fundraiser on Thursday, take note of this venue change:

Instead of The Republic of Boulder, steer over to The Hotel Boulderado at 2115 13th St., in Boulder.

The rest of the gig remains the same: live and silent auctions, beer, wine and food tasting, live music.

A damn shame...

Gazette Biz editor Joanna Bean just emailed me this image.
Too bad Monarch closed last weekend.

Keystone keeps expanding singletrack

Keystone, which already pretty much owns the downhill mountain bike market on the Front Range, keeps expanding. Last year it built the Drop Zone – a terrain park-like area on the mountain for downhill bikers – and constructing two new downhill bike trails. This summer marks the biggest investment in Keystone’s downhill bike program with plans to build five new trails with berms, tabletop jumps, rock gardens, ledges and fast singletrack. Plus, Keystone enhance its ASX skills park at the base of the mountain with a new jump line, new teeter totters and other freeride features.
Keystone’s set to open for the mountain bike season June 15 and will debut the “Money” trail, one of the new downhill trails completed at the very end of last summer on opening day. “Money” features 22 tabletops and massive berms.
Think that has the potential to hurt you? This will definitly hurt: summer season passes for mountain bikers is $229 for weekday access (Monday – Friday) and $269 for unlimited access. A daily bike haul ticket is $30 for all-day access and $18 for one ride/run. An all-day kids bike haul ticket is $18 ($9 for one ride/run).

Give us your snow, your slush, your driving rain

Oh boy! It was inches of slush at my house in Manitou this morning, but the cars coming down the pass - ever so carefully - were topped six a good 5 inches of snow. Now they're saying Woodland Park has 8 inches (Zen, Deb, Jody, can you dig out up there?), and a foot in Monument.

What's up OT readers? Dave is ready to ski the peak. As soon as the freaking wind dies down.

Hummingbirds in snow

When I woke up this morning, I was worried for the hummingbirds. They are definitely here, zooming in and out of branches on the western edge of Colorado Springs. But they don't deal with cold very well. In fact, when conditions get too harsh, they enter a hibernation-like state called torpor. They drop their body temperature to conserve energy.
In 1832, Alexander Wilson first described hummingbird torpor in his book, American Ornithology. He said, "No motion of the lungs could be perceived ... the eyes were shut, and, when touched by the finger, [the bird] gave no signs of life or motion."
Awakening from torpor takes 20 minutes or more. During arousal, the hummingbird's body can warm up by several degrees each minute and the bird awakens with enough energy reserves to see him through to his next feeding bout.
But if cold weather lasts too long, the birds can essentially starve in their sleep, and never wake up. Let's hope its warmer tomorrow.

Everyone has lobbyists

Even the makers of canoe paddles and sandals grease the wheels in Washington. The Outdoor Industry Association employs a seasoned lobbyist named Laura Pemberton, who got her start working for Mississippi senator Trent Lott. This year, according to a news release O.I.A. focused their lobbying efforts on four issues: increased funding ($125 million) for the Land & Water Conservation Fund; support for a proposed $258 million increase in funds for the National Park Service; a request for $69 million in funds for BLM lands; plus reductions in trade barriers for outdoor products.
So basically, they want the government to spend more to protect the environment, while at the same time making it easier for companies to do business with countries that don't do much to protect the environment. Ahh, consumer culture.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Are you a bigfoot?

Even if you aren't into the whole carbon-offsetting, it's interesting to look at the effect of what we do and how we go about it. Here's a site that calculates how you can offset your carbon emissions based on the kind of vehicle your drive and how much you drive it - or your next flight.

I can't use it to figure out how to offset the '69 Volksie, but then again, I don't drive it much. Does make me think about biking to work more often, though.

ADDING: I'm not advocating for this or any other off-setting group. And I hope it doesn't come off that way. I'm not sure I buy into the concept. I mean, if I'm worried about wasting energy, I find ways to cut back, no? But I like that it makes me think about my lifestyle. Because I can afford a car should I drive one to work? Take the bus? Ride my bike? Because I love oranges and I'm used to eating them year-round, should I liimit consumption to in-season? Drop them altogether for fruit that's grown locally? Build a greenhouse so I can grow my own oranges?

Hummingbirds are back

I first noticed the signature trill of male humming birds at the top of Ruxton Avenue on Wednesday. Thursday and Sunday I heard them again. These tiny birds who work their way up from Texas and northern Mexico to spend the summer in the Rockies aren't up in the woods quite yet. They seem to be hanging around the houses on the edge of Manitou, where feeders are plentiful. It's a good thing those feeders are there, because the flower season seems to be a few weeks behind schedule this year, leaving little nectar for these guys to eat.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Earth Aid

It'll be a beautiful weekend to get out amongst it, as the Aussies would say. Celebrate Earth Day with a few planet-friendly activities:


Garden of the Gods - workday in spring canyon area; pre-register at 471-7736. Pick up litter at the park all day, register from 8:30 a.m. visitor center. Indoor and outdoor activities at visitor center 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for info: 219-0108.

Pikes Peak Earth Day, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Palmer High School, 301 N. Nevada Ave.. Kids activities. Worm Composting demonstration 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.; Weecycler's puppet show 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.; solar cooking demonstrations 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; recycle plants and make pencil holders, 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and noon; earth and peace songs for kids 11 a.m. and noon; peace pole creation 11-11:45 a.m.; "Energy in our Community: Making Environmenal Decisions" with Simon Baker, Colorado Springs Utilities senior conservation specialist, 11 a.m.-noon; "Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' slide show and Q&A" with Teri Ulrich, Clean Cities coordinator for the Pikes Peak Region, 1-2:30 p.m.; more than 45 vendors, including solar thermal hot-air collector and bio-diesel apple-seed processor. Live music. Free fresh, natural and organic treats.
Lake Pueblo State Park, Arkansas River Cleanup; sponsored by Trout Unlimited, 10 a.m.-noon, meet at Snakeskin Picnic Area below Pueblo Dam, take insect repellent and sunscreen (waders, if desired), free lunch, carpool provided from free parking area just outside the pay station below Pueblo Dam (9:30-10 a.m.) for those without park passes, 1-719-489-2913.

South Platte River Floodplain Reforesting.9 a.m. to 1 p.m.. REI is partnering iwth Denver Parks & Recreation and the Greenway Foundation for this prohect along the South Platte River at Centennial Park. Volunteers 12 an dolder will help reintroduce native species and diversity. Pre-registration is requested at Info: 1-303-756-3100

Workday at Red Rock Canyon Open Space, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., removal of dying or invasive elm trees and closure of social trails. pre-register at 385-6520 /

Parker, Earth Day Celebration; The Wildlife Experience, 10035 S. Peoria, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., educational day with activities and programs focused on our planet, adults $7.95, ages 2-12 $4.95, 65 and older $6.95, 2 and younger free, 1-720-488-3331,

Trails closed

Trails south of the Arkansas River in Lake Pueblo State Park will be closed 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday during the Arkansas Point Challenge mountain bike race. That means no hiking, biking or horse riding.

Other areas of the park will be open - and that's plenty of room to roam. And this weekend promises to be a good one for roaming.

The race is USA Cycling sanctioned and sponsored by the Southern Colorado Trails Builders Club. For more information about the race, contact The Great Divide at 719-546-2453 or Vance’s Bicycle World at 719-566-6925.

See below for a link to registration.

Ski patrol: they have what it takes, and they're taking it off

I had a story today in Out There about what it takes to be a ski patroller, focusing on the folks up at Breckenridge and their annual spring try-outs. Read it to the end. It has a funny line at the closer.
Also, Breck ski patrol recently put out a calendar of the women of ski patrol. It's one of those "scantily clad regular folks show a little ski for charity" gigs. But ski patrol folks look a little better than most regular folks.

Here's a story on it. Money goes to a number of causes including avalanche safety education.

Buy the $15 calendar at

Mountain Bike Pueblo

Want to check out the sweet single track in Pueblo I wrote about recently? Southern Colorado Trail Builders is sponsoring a USA Cycling sanctioned mountain bike race Sunday, April 22, at Lake Pueblo State Park.The events begin at 10:00am at the Lake Pueblo Swim Beach parking area. Two race courses will be set. One course will be for beginner and sport classes with a longer course for expert riders.Registration forms are available at The Great Divide (719) 546-2453 or Vance's Bicycle World (719) 566-6925.

You can also download the registration forms at Fees are $20.00 with a USA Cycling license or $25.00 without a license. Registration includes entry fees to the State Park. Ribbons will be awarded to the top three placements in each category and prizes from the local bike shops will be drawn following the race.

Holy Smokes! The Dead Kennedys! Whoops, maybe not

I almost spit out my coffee when I read that part of the festivities for this last hoorah spring ski weekend was a free mid-mountain concert at Vail by legendary punk rockers, The Dead Kennedys. I was ready to pull out my black, torn Chuck Taloys and head over. Then I read more closely. It was the DeadKennys. Not as cool. At all.
This is the big weekend though. After Sunday, only Silverton, A Basin, Echo Mountain and Loveland will remain open. If you want to get your ski on, now's the time.
For a rundown of events, visit

For me it was a great year. I got a little frost nip, but I also learned to ski black diamond bumps on my telemark skis. I almost broke my thumb, but I also skied over-the-knees powder that was so lusciously light I giggled the whole way down.
And I ended the season, as I usually do, wishing I had gotten out a little more than I actually did. That's a good sign.
Drop a note below about your best ski day of the year. And your favorite Dead Kennedys song.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Once more to the wolf -- at half price!

Wolf Creek Ski Area Opens one more time this Saturday, April 21st!
Last Saturday 1,500 skiers enjoyed blue-bird skies and cold early morning temperatures along with 16 inches of fresh snow.Alberta, Treasure, Bonanza and Nova will operate from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM for one last day, this Saturday.Lift tickets are $25.00 for Adults and $15.00 for Seniors and Children.The ski school, rentals and outside grill will be available.

Life goes on...

A note from photographer Lincoln Karim from his vigil watching New York hawk Pale Male. "Today is the fourth day with very low light/rain but both Palemale & Lola are doing well. Lola had her late evening meal and a bit of exercise. She took on an intruding hawk over the San Remo towers. Palemale took over from her and chased the young red-tail hawk north along Madison Avenue."

Winter Park going Whistler

Looks like winter park is trying to snag some of the freeride glory from nearby Keystone Resort. For years Keystone has been the go-to spot for gnarly, cranium cracking freeride mountain bike trails.
This summer, Winter Park Resort unleashes Crankworx Colorado, a three-day (July 5-7) freeride fest with
a cross-country race, a downhill dash modeled after the notorious Air Downhill in Whistler, a Super Downhill, Big Air and a Slopestyle competitions.
The jumps, berms and other obstacles will be designed by
John Cowan, one of the most recognizable riders in dirt jumping and builder of the Whistler Blackcomb Mountain Bike Park's Kona Jump Jam, and the world-renowned Hell Track I in San Diego, CA and Hell Track II in Kamloops, BC.
Could be totally off the hook. And when the comp is done, Winter Park will have a world-class jump course.
See more at

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The three mile high club

Someone had to pose the question. On, there's a thread going right now on whether anyone has ever had sex on a fourteener summit. A few said once. A few more said they know people who've done it on several. One guy said "I had sex on a fourteener once... but I was by myself."
It's a problematic hobby. It's usually way too cold on summits, even in summer, to want to drop trou. There isn't a lot of privacy. And those rocks, sure they're probably not considerably less comfortable than the mile high club's cramped airplane bathrooms, but not exactly the honeymoon suite. Then there's the marmots, those kinky little rodents.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Soggy, but still on the nest

After 8 INCHES of rain over the last few days, New York City hawk Pale Male and his mate Lola are still tending to their nest as if everything is A-OK. The chicks should hatch in a week or two if all goes well. Meanwhile, more rain, and possibly snow, is forecasted for tonight.

Less encouraging bird news in Colorado Springs. I belief the local great blue herons have given up their rookery along Fountain Creek. Yesterday I only saw two nesting birds there and today I saw three. In years past there have been over 50. There could be several causes: cold weather, a nearby red-tail hawk, and the expansion of a mulching business at the foot of the rookery. I'm finding out more. I may write a story on it.

A great snowline on Pikes Peak

I fell asleep listening to the rain on the branches outside my window last night -- a true delight.
In branches higher up Pikes Peak, it was snowing a wet, heavy snow. This morning you can see the snow-line at about 9,000 feet -- another delight. If the weather ever gets nice, April should be great skiing on Pikes Peak.
In the mean time, lower down the wildflowers are starting to unfurl. This wet, cool spring should make for an awesome flower season.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The future of Cheyenne Mountain

For non-subscribers (shame, shame, you're erroding democracy) I wrote a front-page story in Sunday's Gazette detailing how revenue generation threatens to sidetrack the state park system.
Heres the top

A park’s two paths
April 15, 2007 - 12:49PM
If you had $3 million to spend on Cheyenne Mountain State Park, what would you buy: (A) 20 campsites and an amphitheater, or (B) Cheyenne Mountain? Before you decide, consider a few details. - The new, 1,680-acre park includes foothills but not the mountain itself. It already has 40 campsites, and studies suggest the vast majority of visitors to our state parks do not stay overnight. - Cheyenne Mountain is worth an estimated $12 million, but the owners are offering a 75 percent discount because they want to preserve land homesteaded almost a century ago by their grandfather. - The deal won’t last much longer. The owners have been negotiating with the state for eight years and “are at the end of their rope,” according to their attorney, P.J. Anderson. “We have a bank loan due Aug. 31,” he said. “That’s the drop-dead deadline. If we don’t have a deal by then, we’ll list it.” Some would say it’s a no-brainer — buy the land, while it’s available, and add campsites later. But this spring, when park officials applied for state grants, they picked the campsites over the mountain.
For the rest, click here.

Low trails are now dry

I rode Stratton Open space Sunday. It was dry and beautiful. The recent moisture has encouraged a pasque-a-palooza of pasque flowers in the park, popping up every few feet in clumps of two to ten. It's awesome.
Higher up, winter is still in effect. A biker who rode Captain Jacks Sunday reported it quite muddy and worth avoiding. Same is probably true for much of Cheyenne Canyon. Red Rock, Waldo Canyon and other Palmer Park are probably good to go.

Send us other trail updates.

Flooding in Central Park, how is the hawk?

A Nor'-Easter hit New York and New England this Sunday, drooping 5 inches of rain on Central Park -- the second wettest day on record. The storm caused wide-spread flooding, closed roads and made today's Boston Marathon a chilly, soggy affair. All this had me thinking about Pale Male, the red-tail hawk who lives on Park Avenue. His mate, Lola, is sitting on eggs now. Are they alright? Did the storm drive them away?
The photo above shows the flooding near the nest. A photographer who keeps daily watch of the hawk family caught brief glimpse of Pale Male Sunday, but didn't get a photo. Cold weather has aborted the hawks' family plans in years past. We'll see. Hopefully the hawks got drenched, but not dissuaded.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Learn to Climb

If you're interested in learning to rock climb, local indoor centers regularly offer classes - some specialized for kids, teens, women - and REI is holding a session, too, at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at the shop, 1376 E. Woodmen Road.

You'll learn the basics - what equipment you need, safety tips and first-time training. Contact the store for details.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Flower power

How did Andy begin his story today? Oh, yeah. "The daffodils are blooming..."

Indeed they are, even in our "blizzard." (OK, not exactly blooming, but standing tall, nonetheless. There two are around the corner from the Gaz on El Paso.)

Unless you have one of these...

We can't really recommend biking on the local singletrack this weekend. Even with warm temps expected, if all this wet snow melts, it's going to turn the trails to mush, and bike tires could end up doing long-term damage. Even normally dry Pueblo will be a mess.
Fortunately, Colorado Springs has one of the great urban trails systems in the state. A network of interconnected paved and gravel trails makes a grid over the city. You can ride for miles and miles, all the way from Palmer Lake to Fountain. For a map, click here. If you go, bring a few bucks. The great part about urban pedaling is you never know when you will encounter gelato. A good place along the trail for this tasty treat is Dog Tooth Coffee on the Shooks Run Trail.
Of course, if you're really itching to ride, you could pack up the car and roll to Fruita or Moab. Both this weekend should be good. Just stop at Over the Edge Sports if you're thinking of rolling out to Fruita's book cliffs and ask if they are too wet to ride.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Open mouth, insert foot.

Just when you think people will learn to be a little more sensitive to their neighbors, motorist and Colorado Springs Business Journal editor Mike Boyd comes out with a weird anti-bicycle tirade.
It was forwarded to us by the good-hearted nobby-tired zealots at
A brief sample, for it is a long, long tirade: "Stay out of the way of traffic, because those of us in hulking SUVs like driving really fast and can become quite agitated when we have to slow down because some health-nut on a bicycle thinks he or she is just as much entitled to the road as we are."
To read the whole thing, click here.
Want to send Mike a note? or 329-5202.

$5 lift tickets, plus waffels? Madness. Sheer Madness

Saturday, April 14 Echo Mountain Park, the Front Range terrain park dripping with teen angst, will drop tickets prices to $5 for all riders all day, and be serving up free waffles and syrup. It's worth it just to see that ski country end-of-season tradition, the pond skimming contest. Also look out for the Undy 500 Race (Who knows? Don't ask, don't tell.) See more Echo Mountain Events or see the long list of events at all Colorado Resorts.

Ensuring Colorado's Roadless areas

Last year a task force appointed by Governor Owens recommended that the State's 4.1 million acres of roadless federal land remain roadless. The recommendation was sent off to Washington, where it is grinding now through the sausage factory that is representative government. Meanwhile, as it stands, roads can continue to be cut for timber or energy extraction, or just about anything else.
Wednesday, Gov. Bill Ritter told the Agriculture Department and the U.S. Forest Service that he wants interim protection for Colorado's roadless areas while the federal government reviews whether to keep wilderness-style protections for the lands. He called it an "insurance policy."
To read the full news story, click here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

But do bears love us?

Not so much...

Idaho fish and game officials are searching for a grizzly that attacked a 33-year-old near the Idaho-Wyoming border. Teton County Sheriff Kim Cook said the man was walking Tuesday near his home in Tetonia, looking for his barking dog, when the bear attacked. The man is in stable condition in a hospital.

Fish and game officials laid a series of traps and are working with local police to capture the bear.

Anheuser-Busch releases 14er beer

According to Anheuser-Busch is planning to introduce Ascent 54 -- an authentic German-style dunkel weisse (dark wheat) beer available on draught in select bars and restaurants in Colorado.
Developed and brewed locally at Anheuser-Busch’s Fort Collins brewery, Ascent 54 is an unfiltered beer with "a delicate sweetness, complex taste and a surprisingly light finish."
The name seems to be a combo of 54 fourteeners and The Pikes Peak Ascent. Or maybe that's me being overly local.
Some other 14er-themed beer suggestions:
headache hefeweizen
Altitude sickness ale
Portly marmot porter
Lightning strike lager
Other suggestions?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

We love bears - even when they're not cuddly

More than 500,000 people have commented on a proposal to list polar bears as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. America’s polar bears, found exclusively in Alaska, merit additional protection due to global warming.
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in December proposed listing polar bears as threatened, defined in law as likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. The more drastic listing under the law is “endangered” — in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

The University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center reported last week that Arctic sea ice this winter just missed setting the record for fewest square miles covered since monitoring by satellite began in 1979. In recent years, winter sea ice has fallen by at least 600,000 square miles, double the size of Texas.

Possible solution for closed 14er

The Telluride Daily Planet is reporting "A private conservation group is negotiating with a Wilson Peak landowner to buy out his acreage and give hikers easy access to one of the state’s most stunning mountains.
The Trust for Public Land said it is in discussions with Rusty Nichols, who owns some 220 acres around Wilson Peak, including land very near the summit."


I just got a call from good friend and de facto correspondent Hunter Mortensen, who ski patrols at Breckenridge.
He said, "There's so much F*$&Xn' snow up here. It feels like February."
He was loading up a pack full of explosives to go out for a round of avalanche blasting, and estimated they were carrying about 70 pounds of pentolite because the heavy snowfall. It was still dumping as of 9 a.m.
Breck and most other resorts (that are still open) are only reporting 4 to 6 inches but the current amount is much higher. Plus, the ski traffic this time of year is next to none. Might be a good day to call in sick.

Getting good with Google Earth

GoogleEarth, that stupendously fascinating time waster, can also be very helpful for mountaineers posting routes using GPS, but it takes a little training. There's a helpful tutorial this morning on See it here.
Don't have GoogleEarth yet? Download it free here:

Monday, April 09, 2007

A good day to play hooky

So says the boss man.

Gazette editor Jeff Thomas sends this from a few thousand feet up:

I'm playing hooky, squeezing the last ride of the season out of my Four-Pass. The view from Copper Mountain's Center Village is wintry. The trees are frosted, the sky is silvery, and a light snbow is falling. Temps are in the 30s. Perfect.
Meanwhile, they're playing baseball in Colorado Springs. Does life in Colorado get any better? As Brian Regan would say, I submit that it does not.
If you're even thinking about getting a last run this season, it sure looks like there's good skiing left!

If the boss says it, it must be true. So get out there!

He swam the freakin' Amazon!

Martin Strel, a long-distance swimmer who has already swam the Danube, Mississippi and Yangtze, broke a record yesterday when he reached the mouth of the Amazon River after swimming 3,272 miles in 66 days.
He had to swim alongside alligators and piranhas. The big problem though, he said, was the tidal bore near the mouth that often washed him backwards. He also suffered from diarrhea, nausea and delirium toward the end. He is now in the care of a doctor. Reed the full story at
Interesting side note: his support crew found this sloth a few days ago, tied to a pool table in a seedy Amazonian bar. They bought it for $5 and are nursing it back to health.

No news from the nest

Pale Male and his mate, Lola, as still sitting on their NYC nest. No chicks yet. But the amazing pictures keep rolling in on the Website of one dedicated photographer. See them at
Don't forget to check out the cameras trained on local nests too. Click here.

Angel of Shavano is open for ski business

The ski season is ending. But the backcountry snowfield ski season is just starting. One of the most popular destinations for spring skiing is the cherub-shaped Angel of Shavano snowfield on Mt. Shavano. This century has seen several bad years where the angel has never really formed up. Not this year.
A couple folks skied it this weekend and reported: (read more at
On our descent we skied continuously from the top of the head all the way to 10,500'. The snow in the Angel was firm in the morning and was good for cramponing. We ditched the skis from our packs at the top of the head and continued to the summit on patchy snow. We got back to our skis just as it was starting to soften and were able to make good turns all the way down. In the steeper section of the body the snow was in great shape and provided the days best turns. We skied the trees to 10,500' and took of skis to hike back down through patchy snow.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Best ski movie ever

Here's my choice. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Applause for Zwinger

Local naturalist and author Ann Haymond Zwinger will receive the Stuart P. Dodge Award for Conservation Leadership from the Palmer Land Trust on Tuesday at Colorado College.

It falls during the college's annual State of the Rockies Conference. Ann is a wonderful lady and friend to all in the outdoors. The presenation, with light buffet and wine, is 5-7 p.m. in Gaylor Hall at Worner Campus Center. It's $50, but half is tax-deductible, so what's that, in the end? Dinner, glass of win and a movie with Snowcaps?

More info here and 632-3236.

In case you're wondering, the Palmer Land Trust's mission is to permanently safeguard the heritage of Southeastern Colorado communities through voluntary land preservation.

Spring skiing deals

Spring, schming, Colorado skiing is not over by a long shot. Yesterday I skied beautiful, deep powder at the top of Breckenridge (sure, it was mashed potatoes at the bottom, but whaddyagonna do?)
For Vail resorts, the best tip is to find a friend (or friendly-looking stranger) who has a pass. Vail Resorts season pass holders can get discount "friend" lift tickets for about $50 bucks, which is much better than the current "late season" rate on Breckenridge's Website ( $81).
Copper has a great discount. $48.95 for an adult pass late season. Unfortunately, late season doesn't start until Monday, April 9. For the same price, skiers can hit Winter Park this weekend.
Loveland's price has dropped to $40.
Monarch doesn't offer a discount, but with regular tickets only $49, it almost feels like they have.
Wolf Creek: College ski day April 7 -- tickets $25 with college I.D.
By the way, it's not too early to start thinking about next ski season. Details for Vail Resort season passes is here. Winter Park/Copper (and possibly Steamboat) here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Don't put the skis/board away

It's gray here, but it's white on the slopes.

A-Basin, Aspen Highlands, Copper, Eldora and Keystone report 3-4 inches of snow in the last 24 hours.

Aspen Mountain, Breckenridge, Vail and Winter Park report 4.5-5 inches.

Beaver Creek, Loveland and Snowmass report 6-7 inches.

Dave's at Breck today. Maybe we'll get a report in a bit about what that really means for conditions. But Colorado can boast great spring skiing, so put away the extra layers, but don't put away the rest of your gear. Get out there.

Vail passes on sale

Got a Vail pass? You can renew now for next season. Want one? They'll go on sale next Friday (yes, Friday the 13th). Don't think about it too long; prices are guaranteed only till May 6.

We're talking about The Colorado Pass ($199-$419) and The Buddy Pass ($189-$379) - and the new Colorado Pass PLUS ($239-$519). If you're new to the game, these passes get you onto the slopes at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin.

Where can you buy them? The only place listed in Colorado Springs is Colorado Ski and Golf. If you're on the road, check out Boulder Ski Deals in Boulder, Colorado Ski and Golf in Aurora, Arvada or Littleton, and REI in Denver and Fort Collins.

When can you buy them? Store hours Friday to Sunday through May 6 (remember: renewing now and buying anew beginning April 13).

The Colorado Pass offers unlimited access at Breckenridge, Keystone and A-Basin and 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek (with some restrictions). The Colorado Pass is $419, $319 ages 13-18 and $199 ages 5-12. That's the same price as '06-'07.

The Buddy Pass provides unlimited access at Breckenridge, Keystone and A-Basin. It's $379, $299 ages 13-18 and $189 ages 5-12.

The Colorado Pass PLUS provides 6 unrestricted days and 4 restricted days at Vail and Beaver Creek AND unlimited access at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin. It's $519, $379 ages 13-18, and $239 ages 5-12.

Buy The Colorado Pass / Pass PLUS by May 6 and you also get 4 unrestricted tickets good at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin to be used by the passholder or given to family and friends. You also get unlimited access at Vail and Beaver Creek next April; a 1-year subscription to Skiing Magazine; enrollment in The Colorado Pass Club (rewards include deals, freebies, events, discounts).

All pass buyers get:
++ half-price lift tickets at Heavenly Mountain Resort at Lake Tahoe.
++ 6 discounted Ski With A Friend tickets
++ Free summer 2008 lift access at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone

Don't have the cash now? There's a layaway plan, of sorts. Pay $29 now and the balance in September.

Whew! Need even more info? Click here.

What'll be new?
Vail will replace the Highline (#10) and Sourdough (#14) lifts with high-speed quad chairs and improve the Golden Peak Children’s Center.

Beaver Creek will unveil a new gondola and new children’s ski and snowboard school. The 8-passenger gondola will replace the Haymeadow Lift (#1). Also, Trappers Cabin will convert from a private retreat to a public, fine-dining restaurant on the mountain.

Keystone’s KAT Ski Experience will include a new yurt, and there'll be a new lift and lanes at Adventure Point Tube Hill.

Arapahoe Basin will expand its lift-accessible terrain by 80% with a new lift in Montezuma Bowl. The Zuma Lift will add 400 acres and 34 runs on intermediate and advanced terrain.