Monday, March 31, 2008


At Stratton Open Space Saturday morning - a pickup truck with mountain biking decals down the side, and across the tail gate in large, easy-to-read letters:

"If my wife let me ride her as much as I ride my bike, I'd be home right now."

That is all.

Intertube prices set to climb 42%

From Bike Radar:

The shortage in butyl – used to make inner tubes – has resulted in a 42% price increase in tire prices as well as other components also set to increase. That could mean inner tubes climbing in price to about $8.

Foot of fresh in Vail

The robins in my yard and the butterflies on the trail keep telling me its spring, but not in the high country, where ski conditions are still prime. Vail got a foot Sunday, so did Aspen. Beaver Creek got 16". Most of Summit garnered at least 6". I've got to figure out how to get up there a few more times before this show is over.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Elk Mountain Traverse starts at midnight

This is the first time in a few years I won't be doing the 40-mile ski race between Crested Butte and Aspen. It filled up too fast and I missed sign up. After last year, when many racers turned back in a white-out with high winds and sub-zero temps, and others finished with full-thickness frost bike, I'm actually pretty happy I'm not there.

How did Captain Jacks get its name

The popular multi-use trail has a colorful history. This is from Zoltan Malocsay's Trails Guide, Denver to Pikes Peak:
Mrs. Ellen Jack was a prospector who found and
sold a valuable mine, then moved to early-day
Colorado Springs and built what would now be
called a motel on top of the High Drive. She always wore a
six-gun and a pickax in her belt and claimed to
bear a scar from a poisoned tomahawk dating from
the last Gunnison Indian uprising. The real
Captain Jack was her husband, who was just a
memory when Ellen arrived, yet people called her
Captain Jack. Nothing remains of her place but
the parking lot.

Gear up

Here's Out There's latest gear review. As someone who sometimes shoots photos for stories, I appreciate this one.

Digital Photography Outdoors’
c The second edition of this book by James Martin, a veteran photographer who has shot for
Outside, Climbing and Rock & Ice, shows outdoor enthusiasts how to take their snapshots to the next level. Loaded with examples, this compact guide takes budding photographers through age-old rules of the film era and recent Photoshop tricks and tips for the digital darkroom, such as how to interpret histograms and use cloning tools.
Price: $18.95
Where to get it: Most bookstores
Bonus: Beautiful enough to be left on the coffee table.
Bummer: So beautiful you may be demoralized by your efforts.

Cheyenne Canyon spring sightings

Wednesday I ditched work and rode my bike all afternoon, and was delighted to see these signs of spring.
* 3 Colorado Hairstreak butterflies
* 2 painted lady butterflies
* 1 unidentified lizard
* 1 bunch of open pasque flowers

Get out, get busy and get stuff

At the start of January Out There published a list of 52 local outdoor adventures that Andy Wineke and I thought represented the best of living in Colorado. Then we threw down the bike glove with this challenge: the person who did the most of these adventures, and sent in photos proving it, would get a whopping gift certificate at Mountain Chalet. Pretty sweet.

Anyway, the year is a quarter gone. Time is running short to ski to a ghost town or go on a hut trip. However, there's still plenty of other ways to scrape a knee still waiting. Here are two for April:

-Bike, hike and ski the Imperial Challenge the last weekend of the season at Breckenridge. Bike from town, then carry skis to the top of Imperial Bowl at 12,998 feet, then ski down. First one down wins.breckenridge.snow .com
- Catch the songbird migration at Chico Basin Ranch. The trees of this massive ranch are a stopover for thousands of feathered wayfarers.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Appalachian Trail Without Re-Supply

On March 21, Demetri Coupounas, (a.k.a. "Coup") the president and co-founder of Boulder-based GoLite, set out with a 127-pound pack to hike the Appalachian Trail for ith no re-supply.
Coupounas has no idea how far he’ll get claiming “That’s part of the adventure!” but he has targeted more than 620 miles, the current distance record. He added, “I’m carrying maps for over 1000 miles and considering that weight is an issue on this trip, it would be tragic to have carried something that far that didn’t get used!”

Learn that it's not as easy as it looks

Just in time for spring, has free, illustrated guides to routine bike repair projects. You can do it at home. You won't save money, but it will make you feel better about taking your bike into the shop.

Lions back in Kansas after a century?

In November a man in Medicine Lodge Kansas resident was cutting wood on his property when he saw the mountain lion nearby. He walked to his truck, grabbed a rifle and shot it.

The last lion in Kansas was killed in 1904. So our flat neighbor the to east is all abuzz about whether lions are back, having wandered in from the mesas of southeast Colorado, or whether this was a pet lion set loose, like others that have been killed in the midwest.

According to the Kansas City Star, the Kansas Department of Wildlife plans to DNA test the lion to see whether it is wild.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Toyota gives $20 million to Audubon Society

The $20 million Toyota grant announced yesterday is the largest Audubon has received in its 103-year history. It will fund TogetherGreen a conservation program with three components:

  • Innovation Grants to fund dozens of on-the-ground projects each year that employ creative approaches and engage diverse communities to help achieve measurable land, water and/or energy conservation results.
  • Conservation Fellowships to train and foster up to 200 promising environmental leaders who can serve as role models, expert guides and organizers for engaging new and diverse audiences in effective conservation action.
  • Volunteer Days to be offered at Audubon Centers and other locations nationwide, providing hands-on opportunities to address environmental problems and take part in restoration activities.

DB Cooper's parachute found?

The Seattle P.I. is reporting that a farmer found an old parachute in his field that may have belonged to D.B. Cooper, the criminal/folk hero who in 1971 hijacked a plane, collected a ransom of $200,000, the parachuted out the back.

Many think he died. None of the ransom money was ever circulated. But if this parachute turns out to be the right make, it could revive all sorts of speculation. Until then, I recommend listening to the Todd Snider song DB Cooper.

Sueing for wolves in RMNP

A nonprofit group sued the National Park Service on Tuesday because it plans to cull elk in Rocky Mountain National Park instead of reintroducing wolves to naturally control the herd..

WildEarth Guardians, a.k.a. Sinapu, claims that park officials did not adequately consider reintroducing gray wolves into Rocky Mountain National Park to solve the elk population problems.

Park Service biologists considered reintroducing wolves as one alternative to control the elk but nixed the idea because reintroducing a self-sustaining wolf pack was not feasible, because there was no regional wolf reintroduction plan. (The plan to cull elk took six years to finalize, so just imagine.)

But the lawsuit, the bureaucratic excuses, and the culling may miss the larger wolf point. Independent of any human plans, signs suggest the wolves are coming, from the north, and possibly from the south. Maybe it's best to just wait and see what happens.

A brewing battle over Battle Mountain

Folks in the small town of Minturn are mobilizing to oppose the proposed Battle Mountain private ski area that a Florida-based golf and resort company wants to build 1,700 homes, a golf course and 1,100 acres of ski terrain on 5,300-plus acres of Battle Mountain.

Here's the hitch: In order to develop, the resort must by annexed by the tiny town of Minturn. The city council approved the annexation in February. But some residents aren't so sure they want more congestion, more skiers, and more second homes in their little community, so they are petitioning to have a referendum. It only takes 73 signatures in the tiny town to get a referendum, and organizers say they're "75 percent there."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Another example of fake Rockies

I see it in adds all the time -- even adds that promote tourism in Colorado -- fake Rockies.  And by that I mean, other mountain ranges being passed off as our own.  Most recent example, from a gas station on Ute Pass.  Here we see what I believe to be Mount Raineer, behind an add saying Coors is so good because it's brewed with "pure Rocky Mountain spring water."  Why couldn't they have called up John Fielder and used a picture of Sneffels?

Have other fake Rockies examples?  Post a link below.

Priorities, priorities

In a besieged economy, the snow sports market is booming with $2.35 billion in sales representing a growth rate of approximately 13 percent over the same period last season.

“The subprime mortgage crisis, the falling value of the dollar, increasing prices for consumer goods, and the high price of petroleum have hit the economy very hard but when the snow is good nothing will keep people off the slopes,” said Kelly Davis, Director of Research for SIA.

Or... maybe people that signed up for subprime home loans (and the hapless investors who bought them) don't ski.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ski area hits the skids

Plans for a ski area on the west side of Pikes Peak announced in February skidded to a stop last week when the developer failed to come up with a down-payment for the land.
John Ball of Boulder was supposed to pay land-owner Harvey Carter $1 million on March 20, but he said because of the dire economic atmosphere created by the credit crunch, his investors have been hesitant to write checks.
“I’ve got $1.5 million pledged by 22 investors,” Ball said Monday. “But it’s just taking longer to get the money together.”
In the mean time, Carter, who owns 320 acres near The Crags, said he is discussing offers from Ball and other developers who want to build a ski area on the site, including an unnamed real estate agent in Manitou Springs.
“I’m talking to both of them, plus another guy. There’s a lot going on but nothing happening,” said Carter.
He said he’ll go with the first party to make the down payment.

China clamps down on Everest permits

China is denying mountaineers permission to climb its side of Mount Everest this spring, a move that reflects government concerns that Tibet activists may try to disrupt plans to carry the Olympic torch to the world's tallest peak. Read more.

Google maps for bikes?

There's a movement afoot to get Google maps to add a bike routes to its mapping software. Sounds like a good idea to me, until you find yourself in a part of town where there are no good routes.

By the way, you can see a map of Colorado Springs Bike Routes here.

Why ski resorts can't stay open

With all the snow we have, people often ask why ski resorts don't stay open through April. This story lays out the two reasons.
One: Forest Service permits usually have a closing date on them.
Two: Interest drops dramatically.
Two is probably the main reason. If people still wanted to ski in May, the resorts could convince the Forest Service to let them. But they don't. I'll never understand why people are so eager to ski in November on crowded ice, but are tired of it by April when days are long and warm, and snow is plentiful.
This doesn't apply to backcountry skiers. Their season is just really starting.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Reading level revealed

So, like, you can test what reading level is required for your blog, and stuff by pasting the URL in this test. And it turns out Out There blog is a high school level read. ROTFL.

Gear up

The Fourteener Knotting Tool
Clove hitch, marlinespike, cat’s paw, bowline. If you get tangled just thinking about these knots, the Fourteener could straighten things out. The hook-shape plastic gadget mimics everything in the outdoors you might have to tie a rope to, whether a tent stake or a fellow climber, so you can practice knots before you really need them. A companion booklet gives clear, step-by-step instructions for 17 handy knots.
Price: $14.99
Where to get it: 14erknotting
Bonus: It comes with rope and a storage sack.
Bummer: It’s hard to secure so you can use both hands to tie.

Dow to enforce poaching of roadless areas too

DOW OFFICERS TO ENFORCE MOTORIZED VEHICLE REGULATIONS ON FEDERAL LAND A new law lets Colorado Division of Wildlife officers enforce motorized vehicle regulations on federal public lands..

This bill, signed by Gov. Bill Ritter on March 20, specifies that DOW officers along with other state law enforcement officers will now be able to issue tickets in the field to those who violate motorized vehicle laws.

Anyone who spends time in public lands (who isn't a bad hombre) will probably agree this law was needed. The U.S. Forest Service is spread thin, and can't keep up with the number of tire-spinning yahoos tearing up some parts of the national forest.

“This bill is the result of many people coming together in an effort to preserve public lands in Colorado. It addresses the growing problem of unauthorized motor vehicle use in prohibited areas and we look forward to assisting federal agencies in enforcement on public lands," said Tom Remington, Director of the Division of Wildlife.

Training for the Pikes Peak Ascent

What's the best way to prepare for the grueling run up Pikes Peak?
In the five years I've run the Pikes Peak Ascent or Marathon the one thing I've consistently done to prepare is run on Thursdays with the Incline Club. This free, local club is a great way to stay motivated. Plus, Matt Carpenter graciously donates his time to making sure runners of all abilities are training smart. To learn more about the club click here.

Here's what else I do on a weekly schedule

Sunday: A long run. This generally means running/walking up Barr Trail. As soon as snow melt allows doing the whole thing, I head to the summit, then hitch hike down. I find this is much easier on my body than running back down. In July and August, I'll start alternating this run with a 3-2-1 run (a series of laps down from the summit designed by Carpenter.)
Monday: mountain bike - my true love and a nice break from running, especially after Sunday
Tuesday: fast 5k - this can easily be done at the Jack Quinns Running Club, because there are always folks there who want to race a bit.
Wednesday: the Incline, illegal but a great workout
Thursday: Incline Club, 30 minute "fast" run up Barr Trail, short hill repeats.
Friday: short run with my dogs, basically a rest day.
Saturday: Ditto. Rest up for Sunday.

This works for me, everyone is different. Matt Carpenter and Jim Freim have a great book about training for the Ascent and Marathon that will give you more info.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pikes Peak ski area

A $1 million down payment for the land on the west side of Pikes Peak that a Boulder investor has proposed for a ski area is due today.
Land-owner Harvey Carter doesn't think it is coming.

The green machine

Local climber and author Stewart Green is now the go-to guy for rock climbing questions. He's running's new climbing section,where he'll be penning number of articles aimed at novice climbers.

Pikes Peak Ascent Wave 1 still open

I can't believe it is taking this long to fill, so I'm taking a poll. See right.

Taos one day after the fall

The "alpine apartheid" has ended.
Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post both headed down to cover the coming of the knuckle draggers (I can call them that since I'm a knuckle dragger.)
No big dust up, just people having a good time.
The post had a very short, matter-of-fact report and didn't send a photographer. (see freelance results left)
The Rocky spilled a bit more ink, but I was disapointed to see the writer propped up the old straw man of skier/border strife, saying "Snowboarding has been shadowed by controversy ever since pioneers like Jake Burton, Tom Sims, and Chuck Barfoot pioneered the sport in the late 1970s."
Makes it sound like some deviant cult where you get to marry more than one person.
Anyway, shred on. Taos rocks.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More Epic Pass news

Vail just sent out a note saying next season's Epic Pass, which Dave wrote about yesterday, will include A-Basin.

They also say there'll be info about the Colorado Pass and Summit Pass on April 2.

So that $579 Epic will get you unlimited lifts at A-Basin, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly (California).
(Cool photo by Bob Winsett from A-Basin, eh?)

Mama's a llama, dad's a segway

Check out this CRAZY video of a new walking robot called the Big Dog. Looks more like a llama to me. Or two guys who got their helmets stuck together. Before long you may not have to carry your pack. Watch out Sarah Connor.
Note to Uncle Sam: wouldn't it be cheaper to just outfit tomorrow's warfighter with a mule?

Hell has frozen over

...Or so says the press release from Taos.

That's right, today's the day the boarders officially hit the slopes with the skiers at the little but mighty steep resort down I-25.

Headed down that way? Send us a report. And join in the Ernie Blake Birthday Celebration on Saturday - marking founder Ernie Blake's birthday with fireworks, a torchlight parade and music in the Martini Tree Bar.

Oh deer

So this morning, I'm still in the shower and Porter-the-incredibly-silent-dog just starts going apesheet. And I figure it's somebody walking by, but no, it goes on and on.

So I get out of the shower and go look out and there's a deer that's been hit by a car lying on the side of the driveway. What was really sad was that three other deer were there and they kept going up to it and nosing it.

I called the Humane Society who told me to call Division of Wildlife who weren't in yet so I had to call the State Patrol who called Wildlife who were apparently on their way 'cause they gave me a call about the time I got to work.

Anyhoo, should this happen to you - and 'tis the season - you call the DOW Pueblo office at 719-561-5300, or, after hours, the State Patrol at 719-544-2424. Note that if the poor thing is already dead, you call Colorado Springs Public Works instead. They have a guy.

That's 385-5934.

Great snow, crappy dollar make for near record ski year

More than 5.5 million skiers visited Colorado's 26 major ski resorts in January and February according to Colorado Ski Country USA. The tally, which exceeded industry expectations, represents a nearly 7 percent seasonal increase to date. The season started slow with warm weather and dry slopes, but almost ceaseless storms lured skiers back. The up-tick in visits is also due to skiers from outside the U.S. taking advantage of cheap trips courtesy of the weak dollar.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Steep" out on DVD today

The extreme skiing doc "Steep" comes out on DVD today. The producers were shooting for a skiing version of "Riding Giants" or "Dogtown and Z-Boys," so if you liked those and like skiing, you may be a fan.

It's got some pretty amazing archival footage of first descents in Chamonix and some sweet new stuff, but your interest level will mostly depend on how much you want to hear pioneers like Lou Dawson and Andrew McLean talk about why they do what they do. I liked it, FWIW.

Vail charges more, encourages trans-desert roadtrips

The season pass hype for next winter has started. Vail announced its new Epic Season Pass. For $579 the pass offers unrestricted, unlimited access to Breck, Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek and Heavenly in California.
The up side: no more 10 restricted days only at Vail like the Colorado Pass.
The downside: no A Basin.
The bait and switch: Instead you get Heavenly, which is 1,000 miles away. I'm not sure I'd drive past Breck, Copper, Vail, Beaver Creek, Aspen and the mountains of Utah to ski in Lake Tahoe. We'll see how it sells.

Dolphin rescues beached whales?

Whoa. Rescuers in New Zealand were having no luck driving two beached pygmy sperm whales back out to sea. After hours, they were ready to give up, when (cue the music) Moko, a friendly neighborhood dolphin (pictured above) swam to the rescue. He apparently communicated with the whales and led them back out the sea.

I'm not a hunter, but this is interesting stuff

According to the DOW, in 2007, 227,262 hunters killed 49,012 elk for a 22 percent success rate. Hunters killed nearly 8,000 fewer elk than in 2006 and for the first time since 1999, elk harvest dropped below 50,000. The drop is chalked up to warm fall weather keeping elk in the high country.

Deer hunters in Colorado harvested the highest number of deer since 1997 with 98,283 hunters killing 45,026 deer for a 46 percent success rate in 2007.

Pronghorn harvest and success remained high in 2007 indicating that unusually harsh winter conditions on the Eastern Plains the previous winter did not have a major impact on pronghorn populations. In 2007, 12,647 pronghorn hunters harvested 8,492 pronghorn for a 67 percent success rate. The 2007 pronghorn harvest was the highest since 1997.

Ugly or fugly?

Is this the most hideous thing ever to be sold on Steep and Cheap?

I post, you decide...

Skiing is official

The Colorado house passed a resolution Monday making Skiing and snowboarding the state's official form of winter recreation. Bet the ice fishing lobby wishes they had been a little more proactive. Seriously though, I'm now taking bets on what the next feel-good, time-wasting "official" designation from the legislature. We'll probably go the way of California (we usually do.) Besides having a state dance and state grass, it has an official state soil. That would be the San Joaquin soil.
Think Pikes Peak gravel has a shot?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ascent wave one still open

click here to register.

Start planning your summer epic

Here's a great trip report by a Manitou Springs mountain biker who decided to ride the Ring the Peak Trail sight unseen. What a fun adventure. It makes me look forward to warmer days.

Gear review

“Rocky Mountain Mammals” by David Armstrong
“Mountain lions, on average, walk about 25 miles per night and eat a deer per week. Jackrabbits can run at 40 mph but prefer to avoid predators through excellent camouflage. Tiny water shrews pluck insects from stream bottoms, eating their weight in bugs every day.
These are some of the surprising facts in this new color guidebook to the mammals of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Color photos make it a useful field book. Colorful descriptions make for an intriguing read. This book is a great start for anyone who wants to learn more about the wild world.
Price: $19.95
Where to get it: Local bookstores or
Bonus: The chapter on observing animals makes spotting wildlife more likely.
Bummer: The book’s focus on RMNP shortchanges local mammals such as the pronghorn.

Friday, March 14, 2008

wet, wet, slushy snow

At least downtown. I bet the unpopular kids waiting at the bus stop are really getting pelted with snowballs today.

A closer look at ski biking (stop giggling.)

We have a story in today's Out There in the Gazette about the future of ski biking, which looks at the sweet, sweet bikes being made by a fellow named Devin Lenz in Ft. Lupton. They ride like a big downhill mountain bike, which is pretty cool. For a long time, the alternative ski bike has been something more like the bike below. Something that looks more like a kids toy that you ride using short foot skis like outriggers -- a lot of fun but silly looking.
Even if you're very good at it, like racers in the Alps.
So... ski biking, or skibobbing as it's also know, has never really caught on. But now there are a few people like Lenz making a more bike-like ski bike that seems to attract a lot of attention. Also, a company called Hansen (formerly Winter X Bike) makes these cool conversions for your existing mountain bike. I rode one recently, it was pretty cool. Not as design-specific as the other bikes, but also a lot cheaper.
So, if you really want to see what these bikes can do, get yourself some of this youtube of them in action at A Basin.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Acent wave 1 still open

A story in today's Gazette says wave 2 of the Pikes Peak Ascent filled in 67 minutes yesterday (versus 9 last year.) The slowdown in due to more restrictions on who can register. The cheaper Marathon filled faster, in 26 and 50 minutes for respective waves. (I tell you racers, the money you save is not worth your knees.)
Interestingly, wave one is still open as of noon, Thursday.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Zen's gold star

Dude on night scramble falls in Garden of the Gods

A 19-year-old man suffered serious injuries when he fell from a rock formation at Garden of the Gods Tuesday night.

Police and the fire department responded to a call at 7:31 p.m. They learned two men had climbed a rock formation without safety equipment or a permit.

One of the men fell about 25 feet and was taken to Penrose Main Hospital, where it was reported he had sustained life-threatening injuries, including trauma to his head.

How did registration go?

I just signed up for wave one of the Pikes Peak Ascent. How did other people do? Did the server crash? Did you get in? Is it closed now? Comment below.

Ascent/Marathon sign up today

Wave 2 Ascent at noon. Wave 1 Ascent at 12:30 p.m.
Marathon waves at 1 p.m.
Registration links and more info here.

Medicinewheel's plans for 2008

Here's what local bike advocacy group Medicine Wheel wants to do, according to their Website, in 2008

Finish the Bear Creek Singletrack Project
Start the West Bear Creek Trail
Ute Valley Park Trail Building - with Rock Shox
Ongoing trail maintenance in Palmer Park
Red Rock Canyon Freeride Park Phase II
Layout new trail in Cheyenne Mtn State Park
Fight tooth and nail to let bikes back into Garden of the Gods after over 20 years by staging raucous "bike-ins" at city council meetings.

Oh, wait. Never mind about that last one. (That's 2009)

Despite (or maybe because of) opposition from Rep. Doug Bruce, the western painted turtle continues it's plod toward becoming the state reptile. A bill giving it the honor unanimously passed the state senate Tuesday. Now it only needs the signature of the governor to join the roster of other official state creatures.
A gold star to the first non-fourth grader who can name the state dinosaur, mammal and insect.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

One day to Ascent sign up

Are you registered with You need to be to register for the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. Go to to sign up.
Don't forget, there are new criteria this year for sign-up.

Here's links for sign-up (won't work until noon Wednesday)
Ascent wave 1
ascent wave 2

Marathon wave 1
marathon wave 2

New digs for USA Cycling

The Gazette has reported before that USA Cycling has been wooed by other cities and has considered moving. Today, Brian Gomez reports that Nor'Wood Development, deeded a two-story property at 5935 Delmonico Drive to USA Cycling.
The market value of the property is $691,513, according to the assessor's office.
Very nice of Nor'wood President Chris Jenkins to make that move. We'll see if it works.

Read the full story here.

Now a registry for the trip down, too

I mentioned a few weeks ago that the Colorado Mountain Club keeps a tally of people who have officially climbed all the fourteeners. For a long time there was no need to keep an official list of who had skied down all the peaks because it consisted of one guy, Lou Dawson. Then, last year, Chris Davenport joined him. Now, Davenport's friend and companion on many summits, Ted Mahon is one peak away from making it a trio. (He still has to do Capitol.) In the mean time, Davenport has set up a registry and Web forum at
Davenport said in an email today that he hopes the exchange of information on routes and conditions, and the forum's ability to connect like-minded people "can grow into a strong and open community that will help grow the sport of ski mountaineering."