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San Juan Mountains Wilderness Bills: What Will Be Protected?

November 22, 2009 Wild No Comments

Companion bills introduced this fall in the House and Senate would add greater safeguards to more than 61,000 acres in southwestern Colorado. Here are five cool things that would be protected if the legislation passes:

Mt. Sneffels and peaks to its east would be protected under new wilderness legislation.

Mt. Sneffels and peaks to its east would be protected under new wilderness legislation.

Mt. Sneffels. Yup, this striking 14,150-foot peak isn’t covered by the existing Mt. Sneffels Wilderness—only about one-third of the mountain is currently protected. The planned 13,231-acre expansion would fix that.

Whitehouse Mountain and the other high peaks west of Ouray. This is the million-dollar (billion-dollar?) view you get across the Double RL Ranch as you head west out of Ridgway. The newly expanded Sneffels Wilderness would encompass most of these beauties.

McKenna Peak

McKenna Peak.

McKenna Peak. A new, 8,614-acre wilderness area will protect Colorado’s badlands, with wild horses, expansive piñon-juniper woodlands, abundant wildlife, fossil beds, and—get this—no developed trails.

U.S. Grant Mountain. This rugged 13er, along with Pilot Knob and the other high peaks south of Ophir and west of Silverton—plus Ice Lake and the other stunning alpine tarns in this area—will be covered under the new, 21,697-acre Sheep Mountain Special Management Area.

The Hardrock 100. The super-tough San Juans ultra is grandfathered under the proposed wilderness expansions. Similarly, heli-skiing, mountain biking, and other existing recreational uses of the Sheep Mountain area will be allowed.

Riding the 14ers

November 13, 2009 Ski No Comments
Mark Rikkers making the first known snowboard descent of Mt. Sneffels, via the Snake Couloir, in 1998. Photo by Barrows Worm

Mark Rikkers making the first known snowboard descent of Mt. Sneffels, via the Snake Couloir, in 1998. Photo by Barrows Worm

Lou Dawson was first to ski all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks, and Chris Davenport famously skied them all in 12 months, in 2006–’07. But what about snowboarding the state’s highest peaks? Who did them first, and how many remain to be ridden?

The Colorado 14er First Snowboard Descents Project is a website created by Avon resident Zach Taylor to chronicle the history of snowboard mountaineering in the state. Taylor has built photo-packed web pages for most of the 14ers, with information on first known descents of each route that’s been ridden, plus links to trip reports. He’s seeking information on more descents, especially from the early days of snowboarding in the state.

According to Taylor, all but one of the 14ers has been ridden. Fearsome Capitol Peak is the lone holdout, but, as Taylor writes, “We would expect that to change in the next year.” Erik Kling from the Golden area and Jarrett Luttrell from Gunnison are the two most likely to be first to ride all the 14ers; their tick lists are both in the “high 40s.”

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Recent Comments

  • Jamie Jones: The secret chute was only a secret top all you easterners....
  • Jeff: Awesome!!!! Are they ever going to be published in book form! These stories need to be made into a movie!!!!...
  • Karen D McCall: What a story, I read every word, absolutely enthralled. As an aging outdoor enthusiast headed for hip replacement, I can...
  • Kirk Miller: New rats in the Platte. Well done sir....
  • Dale: I met Clerin Zumwalt hiking on the Long's Peak trail back in the 1990's. He was with his family and was wearing his RMNP...
  • Ben Collett: Dougald, I miss the updates on this site. Anyway, there is a great route on the 4th Flatiron (see MP.com for details) th...
  • Tim: Thanks for the great writeup. We just did this loop yesterday and had a blast. Do you know if anyone has skied the coulo...
  • 14er Sports: Awesome accomplishment!...
  • Kailas: Yes Wick there are that many people. And they are all from back east or Texass... booooo. I've skied up here for ove...
  • jeff: What amazing experiences Dr. Cook had. I feel so fortunate that I've found this website and have been able to enjoy Dr. ...

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Firsts

A Fine Line on Arrowhead

March 26, 2010

A Fine Line on Arrowhead

Climbers Scotty Nelson and Gil Weiss have discovered (or maybe rediscovered) a great-looking moderate mixed route in Rocky Mountain National Park that might take pressure off overcrowded climbs like Dream Weaver or Martha. The line, which they called Deborah, splits the south face of Arrowhead above the high bench to the west of Black Lake [...]

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

March 10, 2010

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

Colorado’s Shelf Road , a network of vertical limestone cliffs near Cañon City best known for sunny moderates, has a new 5.13d pitch and may soon get its first 5.14. On Sunday, March 7, Mark Anderson redpointed a striking, super-technical arête at Cactus Cliff that was bolted in the early 1990s but apparently never free-climbed. [...]

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

February 14, 2010

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

Jason Haas, who’s working on a new guidebook to South Platte rock climbs, has just redpointed what’s likely the Platte’s hardest pitch, a roof seam that’s protected with removable pro and might be 5.14a. The new route, Comprometido, took about a year and a half to complete. Here, Haas tells the story.
While researching routes [...]

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Classics

Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

March 18, 2010

Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

In the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, a granite spindle called Zowie protrudes from the convoluted south face of Mt. Otis. Just to Zowie’s left is a zigzagging chimney and gully system that holds an unlikely mixed-climbing gem. Brain Freeze was discovered very recently (early 2008) by Andy Grauch and Chris Sheridan. Several parties [...]

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

February 19, 2010

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

Kevin Landolt is a skier/climber/student, based in Fort Collins, who writes the fun Alpine Ambition blog for the Mountain Shop. Here, Kevin describes a favorite midwinter ski tour near Cameron Pass offering a little of everything.
Trailhead: Lake Agnes Road, 2.5 miles west of Cameron Pass
Tour Distance: 7.3 miles
Total Vert: ca. 2,900′
Season: Midwinter to spring; two [...]

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

January 28, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

Two of the wildest and most difficult water-ice pitches in the state are in plain view from Highway 50, en route to Ouray and Telluride from points north, plunging down the sheer face of Grand Mesa. Yet few people notice them, and far fewer have climbed them. The routes are tough, to be sure, but [...]

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

December 28, 2009

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

Mt. Bancroft’s rocky east ridge is a terrific mountaineering adventure for Front Range climbers, beginning less than an hour from Denver. The 13,250-foot peak is relatively close to the road, and avalanche danger can be easily managed, making this perhaps the most accessible technical winter summit on the entire Front Range. The east ridge offers [...]

Wild

Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

February 5, 2010

Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

Photographer James Beissel sent us this fantastic dawn-patrol shot of the full moon setting over South and North Arapaho in the Indian Peaks, shot from Flagstaff Mountain. Said Beissel: ”The first full moon of the New Year is often called the Wolf Moon. The name comes from Native American culture, in which it was associated with [...]

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

January 20, 2010

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

By Bob Berwyn
Stakeholders in the San Luis Valley have taken a giant step toward protecting Great Sand Dunes National Park from mining, energy development, and water exports. Lexam Explorations has agreed to sell its mineral rights if a $9.7 million deal can be finalized by May.
Great Sand Dunes National Park was created by Congress [...]

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