Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tourist season must be over

The resident bighorn sheep herd on Pikes Peak has moved around to the east cirque to graze the area usually crowded with Barr Trail hikers. I was up on Pikes Peak Tuesday and ran into a Division of Wildlife biologist who was tracking the herd (which has a few radio collared animals.) He said the sheep follow a fairly predictable pattern. They have their lambs in Bottomless Pit and French Creek in spring, work their way over the the remote, grassy South Slope watershed in Summer, then hang out in the eastern cirque in the cold months.

This just in...

Thanks to a series of October snowstorms that have delivered more than 2 feet of snow mid-mountain as well as cold temperatures for snowmaking, Keystone Resort announced it’ll open Friday, Nov. 2, a week earlier than its initially scheduled opening date of Nov. 9. We just got the above photo from Keystone. Apparently, super girl got to ride the slopes early. Some people are sooooooo lucky.

Welcome to winter

Just got a call from a friend who was driving over Loveland Pass because I-70 was closed both ways due to accidents.

How do you spell, or even pronounce "Sawatch"?

There are different spellings for the Sawatch Mountain Range and Saguache, the town. What gives? And how do you pronounce it? I found this cool explanation by author Virginia Simmons:

The name of the Sawatch Range itself derives from a Ute word, saguguachipa, meaning "blue earth." In the Utes' cosmology the mountains and valleys where they lived in Colorado were part of the Blue Earth, or Middle Earth, in contrast to the Lower Earth of deep canyons and the Upper Earth of peak tops. Among their favorite places in Middle Earth was the Upper Arkansas region, where they frequently camped.

The first recorded use of the phrase "Sahwatch Range" came from the report of Capt. John Gunnison's expedition in the 1850s. It was written by Lieutenant E. G. Beckwith, who was actually referring to the mountains on the west side of the San Luis Valley. But the name was later applied instead to the northern chain with its glorious fourteeners.

So, from a Ute point of view, either way you spell it, you're spelling it wrong.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Floating back in time

I ran into Gazette photographer Todd Spoth at the coffin races in Manitou on Saturday. It reminded me that within weeks of joining the paper we nearly killed him. He'd never been whitewater rafting before and we sent him with Dave to raft the Gore.

I meant to ask him to send us a note about his brush with death. Then he told me he's blogging about his time in Colorado. Here's a link to his blog. Scroll back a few pages to see his tale from Gore (Aug. 24).

I can't wait to send him to Silverton this winter!

Biggest ski show on earth moving to Denver

SnowSports Industries America (SIA) today announced it is moving the annual SIA SnowSports Trade Show from Las Vegas, Nevada to Denver 2010.

The show has been in Vegas for 35 years, but needed a bigger space ( and,let's face it, a better match.) For Colorado, it means a serious cash influx and some great press.

“The SIA board considered many locations for relocating the show and Denver met the needs of our Association
and the snowsports industry perfectly – we’re looking forward to the move in 2010,” commented Mike Carey,
chairman of the SIA board. “We are looking forward to living our snow passion in Denver.”

Troublemaking Aspen bear shot

Division of Wildlife officers shot and killed a bear that struck an Aspen woman after it entered her condo 2 weeks ago.

The bear was located using a GPS tracking collar, placed on the bear earlier this year as part of a research project examining urban black bear behavior.

The bear opened a sliding glass door at the woman's house. It clawed her in the face after she surprised the bear in her home.

Java the Hut sold

Possibly the quirkiest shop in Woodland park has been sold to new owners and will eventually become a restaurant specializing in Southern food, according to a story in today's Gazette. Besides having a funny name, Java the Hut was the only place I've ever been that was equal parts coffee shop and outdoor gear store. It was a nice place to leaf through a guidebook over a latte, and you couldn't beat the view.
Gear and Coffee both seem like tough businesses -- lots of giant corporate competition. The same fate fell on Woodland Park's other funny-sounding gear store, Hoochie Mamma Mountaineering. It recently moved to Canon City.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bamboo bike frames

Sustainable materials, sure, but is it a sustainable frame? I see splinters in the future.
Here's a cool story about up and coming bamboo bike designs.

A raccoon of higher learning

When I first saw the police officer outside Manitou schools' SILC (Shared Integrated Learning Center) building, I thought perhaps it had been hit by vandals again.

Apparently the draw was nothing more than a curious raccoon that had wandered up the steps and along a ledge to camp out in the sunshine. You wouldn't think concrete would be too comfortable, but you can't beat the view.

By the time a few hundred kids and teachers had tromped up and down the stairs underneath its sleeping perch, the raccoon was ticked.

MSHS freshman Chris Hollingsworth described the critter as "really cranky."

Animal control was hanging out, waiting and watching.

Bear of the week

A photo snapped by Gazette writer Andy Wineke
Taken on St. Elmo Ave., just off Cheyenne Blvd.
" It was a cute little thing," he said. "Even if it's destined to become a bear pancake."

Why aren't these guys hibernating yet.

There's no joy in snowville

Well... unless you're in the ski business. There's the often told story that bookings at resorts surge when it snows during a Broncos game. Is the same true as the nation watches the Rockies humiliated by the Boston Red Sox?
Resorts hope so. They have decent snow and have done everything to play up ski footage during the game.
Here's a story on it from the Vail Daily.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Yikes, Telluride opens sick hike-to terrain

On the heels of Telluride’s opening of Black Iron Bowl to pubic access, the resort has gained approval for skiing and riding Palmyra Peak this winter. Located east of Black Iron Bowl and Prospect Bowl, this unbelievable hike-to terrain includes well over 200 acres and almost 2,000 vertical feet on the north face of 13,320 foot Palmyra Peak.
Telluride employees say it's some of the most spectacular in-bounds terrain in the country.

This opening has been made possible due to the addition of a new avalauncher this fall.

Bear Creek park

Do you hike or walk your dog at Bear Creek Regional Park? Do you wish the new mountain bike trails would be doubled in length? Or maybe you want specific trails to ride your horse.

Whatever your needs and desires, take action. El Paso County parks folks are updating the park's Master Plan. Go to the park Web site, take the survey, and let those who will make decisions about park use know what you'd like to see.

Follow up by making your voice heard at park planning meetings.

Start your involvement here:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Need a hand? OK, bad joke.

Surfing through, I found a cool feature on Blue John Canyon, a little-visited slot in Utah that became big news when Aron Ralston was trapped there for five days before cutting off his hand. (The hand was later removed by the BLM to discourage souvenir hunters.) Anyway, some summitposters revisited the area and clicked some really cool pics of the canyon. Check it out. Makes me want to go.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Out There's trail guide keeps getting better

Out There unveiled its free online trail guide two weeks ago. Since then, I've added over 20 trails, including several trails no one else has! Want to ski Pikes Peak? It's in there. Want to tube in Pueblo? It's in there. Want to ride Jones Downhill. That's there too. We now have 89 local trails. You get maps, photos, and description if a printer-friendly format you can take on the trail. Check it out.

And tell your friends. It's free!

What says "bike commuter" more than Hummer?

There's a funny post on the bicycling blog, Pinch Flat News, about extending brand name to other products. Which can mean a lot of things. With bikes it usually means companies like Ducati and Jeep slap their name on fairly cheesy mountain bike frames. The guys at Pinch Flat found the one they hate the most. It's pictured above.

Brrrr - he's cold

Ha! Sharing the laugh I got from this photo from Steamboat Springs on Colorado Ski Country's site. Jst a reminder our leafy trees and green grass won't last forever. Opening day at Copper is a week from Friday - with skiing and music and giveaways. Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

OK, it's playing, so let's talk about it

Two people at the gym yesterday stopped to ask if I'd seen "Into the Wild." I read the book (10 years ago) and enjoyed it. But to be honest, I don't have any interest in seeing it, though I can't quite say why.
Either way, it's playing now at Kimball's Twin Peak. Everyone I've talked to who's seen it, liked it. That's the general consensus of other reviews, too. So, who else has seen it? Is it any good?

Mountain passes start to close

Trail Ridge Road, which crosses a 12,183-foot pass in Rocky Mountain National Park closed for the season Sunday. Mount Evans is closed too. That leaves just a few seasonal roads still open.

Independence Pass is still open after the weekend snow. It is scheduled to stay open until Nov. 7 — the established annual closure date for the pass — but oftentimes, they wind up locking the gates early. Last year it closed on
Last year, CDOT closed the pass after a storm Oct. 20. The pass usually reopens by late May.

That pretty much just leaves Cottonwood Pass between Buena Vista and Crested Butte (sorta). It usually closes right about now and opens in late May.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Trail Ridge Road closed

Trail Ridge Road across the high tundra of Rocky Mountain National Park closed for the season today.

The road reaches more than 12,000 feet above sea level. It’s the highest continuous paved road in the nation, and winter wind and snow make it impossible to keep open. The road connects Estes Park with Grand Lake.

A familiar problem for Pikes Peak Ascent Runners

Signing up on line sounds so easy. No lines. No waiting out in the cold. No getting off work. You can do it from your desk. Except that everybody does, and you get a virtual bum rush that crashes a server. It happened last March with sign up for the Pikes Peak Ascent. It just happened again with Rockies World Series tickets.

About 5 inches

That was the scene in Manitou on Sunday morning. It snowed off and on most of the day. Wet and heavy. A bit of a dud for sledding. It's still in yards today and on the hills, but not for long. Hello, sunshine!

Crags campground closed

The Crags Campground will be closed starting today, Monday, October 22, to remove hazard trees. A temporary trailhead and trail detour will be marked outside the campground to provide access to the Crags Trail and Devil’s Playground Trail. A hazard tree survey was recently completed and trees with severe defects or disease were marked for removal. Campsites below the Crags Campground will remain open for camping and the tree cutting will not affect the Ring the Peak Trail. For more information, contact the Pikes Peak Ranger District at (719) 636-1602.

After the storm

In downtown Colorado Springs, we got maybe two inches of snow (on the grass only) on Sunday. But when I drove over to The Incline Sunday afternoon, I saw at least 6 inches, maybe more toward the top. Up in the mountains, it's the same story. At Beaver Creek (pictured) mid-mountain measurements showed nine inches of new snow, with eight inches falling at Vail and five inches at Keystone. Breckenridge residents woke up to five inches.
Not quite enough for winter sports, but on the Front Range, it's some well-needed moisture.

Friday, October 19, 2007

New ski/ride shop

Anyone know who's behind Blindside, a ski/board/skate shop opening at the Angler's Covey building on the Westside - Highway 24 at 21st Street?? Says it's opening soon. Didn't catch the phone # as I drove by, but will have to check it out. No one was around early this a.m.

Colorado Kite and Ski moved to Colorado Avenue, just a bit west of 21st (2820 W. Colorado). That strip mall they were in off Highway 24 seemed like a place with good visibility, but I doubt people liked having to snake their way over there. The new place looks cool. Larger, too. They're already in and ready to tune-up your gear. If you're a Westsider, what are you waiting for?

Snow has hit the Rockies, and more is coming

Here are the late4st images from our local ski resortsArapahoe Basin, not looking too bad. It's open this weekend.
Breckenridge: snowy in the pic on Peak 8, but not scheduled to open until Nov. 9
Copper Mountain: busy blowing snow, and actually has the lift running for pre-season ski camps, but won't open to the public until Nov. 2
Loveland, looking quite snowy in the dawn shadows this morning, is currently open.
Vail: also a good blanket of snow, but doesn't plan to open until Nov. 16.

For a full list of which hills open when, click here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dumping on our playgrounds

Attention, fellow Front Rangers:

Folks at Vail sent these photos and word they woke up to 4 inches of snow in town - and more on the mountain.

(Vail Village at 9 this morning / Vail Resort)
(Beaver Creek at 8 this morning. / Beaver Creek Resort)
They're expecting more snow through Friday morning with another storm predicted to start Saturday night.
They're making snow at Keystone and Breckenridge, getting ready for a Nov. 9 opening. Vail kicks off Nov. 16 and Beaver Creek, Nov. 21.
Everyone's touting new equipment and terrain and lodging/skiing/boarding packages. We'll take a look in an upcoming Out There section of The Gazette, or you can poke around the resort Web sites for details.

2 more inches

A-Basin report 2 more inches of snow, making an 18-inch base. Check out the photo is that just 2 people?

Loveland says it got 3 inches. No sun in their photos, either. I think I'm liking this sun a bit too much today.

Avoiding ice

There's chatter right now on about how to avoid ice in waterbottles on cold winter climbs. Some swear by those pricey waterbottle insulators, some say just put your bottle in your coat. One guy actually did a test in his freezer and discovered an aluminum, vaccume-sealed thermos is the best way to go.
On cold skis, I can generally get by with a Camelbak under my jacket. If it's reallly cold, I may add a little gatorade or Mountain Dew (which shares some ingredients with anti-freeze) and most times I get away with it, but if I knew I was going to be out for a long time, say overnight, the thermos might be a good idea.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm not even sure how to make fun of this...

I just got this press release:

If you missed Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel, when he last visited Colorado Springs, you will have another chance to see him on Saturday Oct. 20.
Twiggy will be featured at the grand opening celebration for Integrity Bank’s third branch at 13475 Voyager Parkway, southeast of Voyager Parkway and North Gate Boulevard.
The squirrel, which drew a crowd of more than 1,000 at another Integrity branch opening in 2005, is scheduled to perform at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon.

Oh, just as an ironic aside, the guy who trained twiggy, and toured around with him talking to kids about water skiing safety, drowned in a boating accident.

1 picture worth a trip to Vietnam

Patagonia is holding a photo contest called "Capture a Patagoniac," inviting customers to submit a photo of themselves or family members engaged in activities from rock climbing to fly fishing while wearing Patagonia clothing.

Customers will vote on entires, and winners in each store will get $100, $75 and $50 gift cards. One winner from stores across the country will get a random-drawing grand prize of a trip for two toVietnam courtesy of Backroads Travel Co.
Photos must be submitted in stores by Oct. 31. Customers will vote on entries displayed in the store Nov. 1-11.

Photos must be printed and 4"x 6". You have to be at least 21 to enter, and you can only enter once. You can only vote one, too.

Bear attacks woman in Aspen

DOW officers are attempting to capture a black bear that attacked a woman in her Aspen condo early this morning.

The woman was awakened by noises in her kitchen about 1:30 a.m. When she walked in, the bear smacked her in the face. She was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital with claw injuries that are not considered life-threatening.

Police said the bear entered the house through a closed but unlocked sliding glass door. It fled the home after the attack.

Pike Peak National Monument? Not so much.

The gazette reported today that a committee formed last month by U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn to examine making the mountain a national monument or some other federal designation decided after two meetings to to leave the status of the peak alone. It then disbanded.
While being a national monument — a status enjoyed by 70 other landmarks, including Devils Tower and Mount St. Helens — could bring in extra visitors and offer additional protection for the peak, the committee determined it would come with too too many strings attached.
Colorado Springs Vice Mayor Larry Small, a committee member, said the designation would have jeopardized popular events such as the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon, and the operation of the Pikes Peak Highway.

So... we're back where we started. Many feel the summit house needs major help, both physically and culturally. But, with paving taking up much of the money generated by the toll road to the summit, there are few resources for any kind of fix.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Who says 14er season is over?

(AP) - -- A 23-year-old Missouri man has been found alive after disappearing in Colorado's Holy Cross wilderness two days earlier.
Rescuers say Jacob Gatley of Lee's Summit had no life-threatening injuries when he was found Monday, despite enduring wintry weather.
He and his brother reached the summit of the 14,005-foot Mount of the Holy Cross on Saturday but became separated on the way down.
Gatley was wearing only jeans, a fleece garment, a rain jacket and tennis shoes and carried only water and an energy bar. The area has received up to a foot of snow since Saturday.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Loveland opens Tuesday

More than a foot of fresh snow on Sunday has prompted Colorado's Loveland Ski Area to officially open the 2007-08 ski and snowboard season at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Loveland Ski Area's opening day trails will offer skiers and riders a 1,000 vertical foot run with top to bottom, side to side coverage and a minimum packed base of 18 inches. Tickets are $17 for Chair 7 only; otherwise through mid-Dec: $42 ($20 ages 6-14 and free ages 5 and younger).

New trails site!

If you haven't checked out Out There's new searchable trails site, do it now. You'll thank me.
Also, any feedback on it is greatly appreciated.

I was thinking the same thing

Here's the peak from Manitou Springs High School. No wonder that predawn jog was so chilly. Probably 50 people on the Incline already.

File under obvious

The Rocky Mountain News's Tech section had a ski technology story with this amazing revelation:

Ski resorts are turning to technology to deliver skiers up the slopes more quickly, a move industry officials say has cut lift lines. In recent years, resorts in Colorado and elsewhere in the United States have been installing high-speed "detachable" chairlifts that whisk skiers up the mountain twice as quickly as older "fixed-grip" lifts.

Ummmm... so... the first high speed lift was installed in the state about 25 years ago. Since then, the fast four-packs (or six-packs) have pretty much become the norm.

Look for this next exciting story: Young rebellious "snowboarders" surf on snow!

A sightI always like to see

New snow on Pikes Peak this morning. How beautiful, especially first thing in the morning.
I'm always surprised and delighted by the coming of a new season. Every year I seem to forget how gorgeous the quality of September light is, or the sound of oak leaves hitting the sidewalk, or the smell of the first snow in the forest.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Understatement of the year

Love this headline from the DOW today:


And this quote: "When you're firing a rifle, a mistake can have serious consequences."

It's a legit topic, of course; the DOW is trying to emphasize to hunters to ensure they're targeting the correct animal. It just struck me as funny. Yes, definitely know what you're shooting and that shooting can have serious consequences (up to and including death).

The Colorado Division of Wildlife cautions big-game hunters to always be sure of their targets, to be aware of the different types of animals that are in various habitats and to know what might be behind their targets. The rifle season for big game starts Oct. 13 and a variety of big- and small-game seasons continue through December. "If you are in doubt about what you're looking at, or if you're not sure what̢۪s beyond the target, don't shoot," said Tony Gurzick, southwest assistant regional manager for the DOW, "When you're firing a rifle, a mistake can have serious consequences."

Happy trails to you!

Today Out There launched a new searchable trails Website. Just surf to and you can choose trails by region, by difficulty, or by specialty (biking, hiking with kids, cross country skiing, etc.) They have full topo maps of each hike (something we never had in print) and we hope will eventually include GPS waypoints.
Once you've found the trail you want, just click the link for a printable page and take the description and map along with you on the trail.

This brand new site is very much a work in progress. I invite everyone to send in their critiques.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pics from opening day at A. Basin

Here are some photos Gazette Photographer Mark Reis shot while we were up at Arapahoe Basin on opening
day Wednesday.

If you missed the story about "the dudes" and their efforts to be the first skiers in Colorado - and, often, the country - read it here.

Bear who attacked man near Aspen killed

This morning a homeowner in Snowmass entering his garage to feed his dogs was charged and clawed by a 350-pound male bear. The man suffered minor injuries but was able to retreat back inside the home and dial 9-1-1. Pitkin County Sheriff's deputies and DOW District Wildlife Manager Kevin Wright were called to the scene shortly after 7 a.m. Upon arrival the bear remained in the garage despite having the opportunity to flee into the surrounding woods. The bear behaved aggressively toward officers and the bear was shot and killed.
Bears are currently preparing for hibernation by consuming large quantities of food. Apparently dog food is on the list. Usually though, black bears aren't so aggressive.

What's bigger than a college lineman?

(Image courtesy of Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, a nonprofit, grant-funded site that provides research-based information on how to responsibly handle wildlife damage problems.)

I missed this AP story yesterday. Ouch!

BILLINGS, Mont. — A Carroll College student is recovering from a severed hamstring and other injuries suffered when he was mauled by a grizzly bear while bow hunting for elk over the weekend.

Roman Morris, a freshman wide receiver, said he was crouched on a hillside north of Gardiner at dawn Saturday when a female grizzly that was walking by turned and attacked him.

Over the next 30 to 45 seconds, Morris fought with the bear as it bit and clawed, severed his left hamstring, punctured his shoulder, chomped at his head and tossed him around.

“I thought the whole time, This is so messed up. I’m going to die, I’m going to die,’” said Morris, a pre-med major.

The bear ran off after a friend fired a pistol. Morris underwent surgery at a Livingston hospital and was recuperating Monday at his brother’s house in Helena.

“I still have a pretty dang good headache from the whole thing,” he told The Billings Gazette in a telephone interview.

Morris said as he and the bear slid downhill, he held the bear’s head and pounded away with his fist. “I put everything I had into it. It didn’t budge at all,” said Morris, who is 6 feet, 2 inches, and 205 pounds.

Morris said he tried to play dead, but also kept pushing the bear away as it bit and slapped at him. Finally, the grizzly tore into his left leg — leaving a deep 9-inch gash — and tossed him, perhaps five to eight feet, he said.

“I don’t know how you can stay still when it sinks its teeth into you,” Morris said.

A section of Yellowstone National Park west of Gardiner has been temporarily closed due to the attack, park officials said. The same area of the park was closed Sept. 14-18 after another bow hunter was mauled by a bear.

Bats and bogies at Cheyenne Mountain

Sounds like a fun evening with the kiddies:

Cheyenne Mountain State Park is offering a Halloween program, Creatures of the Night, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 26 - that's a Friday.

You can learn about owls, bats, and other creatures of the night, enjoy a snack and some games and take a hike in the moonlight. We aren't talking tough trails - guests are encouraged to wear costumes. Hikes are scheduled at 7 and 8:15 p.m.

Entry is the same, unless you have a State Parks pass: $6 per vehicle.