Mexico town fears tailings slide
QUESTA, N.M. – New Mexico is in the midst of a multiyear
drought, but residents of Questa – a town north of Taos
and east of Angel Fire – are hoping it doesn’t rain.
A new engineering report suggests a major rain could dislodge
a million-cubic-foot mass of waste rock from a molybdenum mine,
reports The Taos News (June 12).
The rock pile has been moving two inches per month, but an
extreme rain could shear off a massive chunk from the pile,
says a panel of three independent engineers.
A representative of the mine, which is owned by Unocal, is
calling for “sound science,” arguing that the rock
pile has been moving since the late 1960s without calamity.
A river advocacy group in Taos accused the mining company of
a cover-up. Meanwhile, the mine is awaiting action by the Environmental
Protection Agency for a Superfund clean up.
Lion hunting mixes emotions
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – A proposal by state wildlife officials
to increase hunting of mountain lions revealed a strong philosophical
split at a recent meeting, reports the Jackson Hole News &
Guide (June 11).
A wildlife photographer questioned whether killing lions prevents
attacks on people. California has not hunted lions for 30 years
and has not had a lion attack in 8 years, he said. In fact,
said the photographer, lion researchers theorize that hunting
creates more problems by orphaning young lions, which are more
likely to cause trouble without a parent. Outfitters strongly
disagree. They say they remove the animals most likely to get
Meanwhile, in Colorado, mountain lions were back in the news
again after the tattered clothes of a 3-year-old who had disappeared
four years ago were discovered. The boy had been hiking with
a Christian singles group west of Fort Collins, at an elevation
of about 9,000 feet, when he disappeared.
The clothes of the 35-pound boy were discovered this past week
and then the portion of a skull. There’s some speculation
and some circumstantial evidence that he was killed by a mountain
Twice before in the last 15 years people have died from mountain
lion attacks in Colorado. Another boy, who had become detached
from his family while hiking near Grand Lake, had been killed
by a lion. A high school senior who had been jogging near Idaho
Springs also was killed by a lion.
However, wildlife officials say statistics show that such attacks
have been anomalies, and they remain so, posing far less threat
than lightning or even insects.
County pays $100k in skate park suit
EL JEBEL, Colo. – Rather than continue litigation that
might take years to complete, Eagle County commissioners decided
to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging negligence. Importantly,
they also agreed to concede wrong doing, despite a loud protest
from the county’s insurer, which doesn’t like to
settle cases it thinks it can win. As such, the insurer won’t
pay the money.
The claim stems from the death of a boy who died while playing
in a makeshift skateboard park on county-owned property at El
Jebel, downstream from Aspen. In response, the county at first
claimed governmental immunity, which the insurer believes was
grounds for winning.
The boy was running with friends at the makeshift skateboard
park when he banged his head against a 200-pound metal bar that
wasn’t anchored properly, explains The Aspen Times (June
3 and 6). Falling backward, he grabbed the bar, which landed
on his forehead, crushing his skull. He died instantly.
The county had assigned supervision and maintenance of the
facility to a group called the Mount Sopris Skateboarding Association.
Two leaders of that group had been released from responsibility,
because Colorado law gives individuals who volunteer time for
children’s recreation endeavors immunity from liability.
A-Basin outlasts Mammoth Mountain
MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, Calif. – Mammoth Mountain planned to
remain open for skiing through June 15. The resort, noted the
local newspaper, stays open weeks longer than any other resort
in the West.
But wait – where is Arapahoe Basin? The resort, located
about an hour west of Denver, this year expects to stay open
until July 7. And what about Mount Hood’s Timberline,
about an hour from Portland, which stays open through summer?
Telluride real estate bounces back
TELLURIDE, Colo. – Evidence is emerging that Telluride’s
real estate market is at least holding its own. Even better,
reports the Telluride Watch (June 3), there is a sense among
real estate agents that the market could be poised for a stronger
Nobody is expecting the types of sales that occurred before
the dot-com crash, and it should be noted that some people,
when they’re selling, are taking losses. But barring another
war, terrorist attack or string of wildfires, some foresee steady
gains in sales.
Large telescope moves to Gunnison
GUNNISON, Colo. – By next winter, Colorado’s largest
research telescope is expected to be situated on the outskirts
of Gunnison, a small college town about 30 miles from Crested
Butte. The public observatory was partly sold as an economic
A $150,000 grant expedited purchase of the 30-inch Cassegrain
telescope. However, even in rural Gunnison, an area with huge
expanses of sagebrush, light pollution is an issue. By locating
it on the outskirts of the town, the observatory can easily
tap into existing high-speed Internet cable, notes the Crested
Butte News (June 5).
New film traces ski film history
TELLURIDE, Colo. – A new ski film, “Cinema Vertical,”
has been completed by two Telluride filmmakers. It has clips
from films made from the 1920s to the present, including those
made by Dick Durance, John Jay and Dick Barrymore, as well as
Roger Brown, Warren Miller, Greg Stump and more. It also has
interviews with most of those filmmakers.
“The film gives a little insight into the lives of these
filmmakers, who were all completely self-made filmmakers who
just had a dream and made it happen, “ Dave O’Leske
told the Telluride Watch (May 23). “These guys did what
they did purely out of passion for the sport and a love of the
Much the same can be said for O’Leske and his partner,
Stash Wislocki. O’Leske was working construction last
year before he released his first film, an ode to backcountry
skiing. He is still working construction, he said at his new
film’s premiere at this year’s Telluride Mountainfilm
Among those on hand were Otto Lange, who fled Austria in the
1930s, going on to teach skiing at Sun Valley before becoming
a filmmaker. A little-known fact is that Lange taught skiing
to the parents of Stein Ericksen while he was still at St. Anton.
Snowmobiles busted in wilderness
ASPEN, Colo. – The prevailing wisdom among wilderness
advocates is that snowmobiles often violate boundaries of wilderness
areas but rarely get caught. Indeed, you need not go far to
find snowmobile tracks in most wilderness areas.
But on the Memorial Day weekend, three snowmobilers were ticketed
for riding their machines in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness
east of Aspen. A ranger who happened to be in the area monitoring
the backcountry skiing was alerted to what was going on, and
he waited for their return. Fines for the violation are $75,
notes The Aspen Times (June 4).
Woman second to ski Grand Teton
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – On June 4, Carina Osterberg became
the second female ever to ski 13,770-foot Grand Teton. Accompanied
by her husband and a photographer, she set out at shortly before
2 a.m., summiting 8.5 hours later while the snow remained firm.
They descended the Ford and Chevy couloirs to the Stettner Couloir.
The first woman to ski it was Kristen Ulmer, a professional
skier from Salt Lake City. Men ski it often, almost a dozen
this year as of early June, notes the Jackson Hole News (June
Ironically, Osterberg is relatively new to alpine skiing. She
grew up cross-country skiing in Sweden, and although forced
to take alpine lessons, she and her sister thought it was the
“dumbest thing in the world.”
Both have since changed their minds.