A Cold Shoulder for Chipeta

By Wayne Iverson

Southern Chaffee County boasts a fabulous view of three mountains in the Sawatch Range named for a Ute (Nuche) Indian family – Mount Ouray, Chipeta Mountain and Pahlone Peak. Indians don’t typically name mountains after themselves, so my guess is that some “white guilt” went into that honor – like a developer who names streets after the trees cut down to build a subdivision. But there is another problem – perhaps an error on the part of the applicant or the U.S. Geologic Survey Board on Geographic Names (BGN). Mount Ouray and Pahlone Peak are named for the highest point on their respective mountains, but Chipeta Mountain is named for the second highest point on its massif and is actually out of plain sight. Thus an effort to commemorate an important woman ends up coming across as more of an insult. So perhaps a campaign to move the name “Chipeta Mountain” from the 12,850-foot sub peak to the 13,472-foot highpoint is in order. 

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Summit Myopia

By Maisie Ramsay

Only the women remained.

It was the middle of November, and they had been trudging uphill for nearly six hours. More than a mile of elevation gain lay between the trailhead and the goal: Mount Oxford, a destination that first required us to summit Mount Belford.

The male component of the team – two men and two dogs – had long since fallen back, deterred by poor gear, injury and the suspicion that perhaps one mountain was enough for the day. The women, however, pressed on.

The journey began with Mount Belford’s northwest ridge, a relentlessly steep slog through windblown snow with all the traction of confectioners sugar. Then another mile and a half to Mount Oxford, separated from Belford by a broad saddle that tapered at its western terminus to a steep, narrow ridge.

The traverse meant losing and regaining 1,000 feet of elevation, and traveling three extra miles, adding hours of toil to the journey.

What possessed them to embark on this fool’s errand? Well, Mount Oxford happens to be over 14,000 feet. 

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Some Facts About Mountains, Water, Geology, Spirits and Early Law in Colorado

Mountains by Jane Koerner • Colorado has 637 13ers (mountains over 13,000 feet but under 14,000). • Mounts Bierstadt, Grays and Torreys are the most popular 14ers for peak baggers. • There are seven total mountain ranges in Colorado: the San Juans, the Elk Range, the Sawatch (which include the Collegiates), the Sangre de Cristos, …

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Rocks Along the Rainbow

By Vince Matthews

The Rainbow Trail affords an outstanding opportunity to travel through deep time. The trail wends around two of Colorado’s youngest mountain ranges, which together contain 25 of the State’s 58 Fourteeners. The footpath traverses parts of Earth’s crust that record much of Colorado’s 2-billion-year-old history. Faults and folds along the trail record times of crustal deformation. Rocks that were metamorphosed 1.8 billion years ago record Colorado’s oldest-known, mountain-building event. Colorful conglomerates record the 300-million-year-old mountain-building event that gave rise to the Ancestral Rocky Mountains. The high elevations of the Sawatch and Sangre de Cristo Ranges are testaments to the mountain-building event that is currently transpiring. Glacial deposits along the trail record times of great climate change.

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Taking Flight in Villa Grove

For a week or so this summer, the majestic Sangre De Cristo mountains served as the backdrop for a colorful array of gravity-defying crafts, catching thermals and drifting on the wind.

Dubbed Colorado Fly Week, an event held this past July just east of Villa Grove hosted nearly 130 hang gliders and paragliders from all over the U.S., testing their skills, enjoying the views and raising money to improve access to their launch point. Flyers enjoy the valley view after launching from a nearby bluff, a fifteen-minute drive up from the landing zone (LZ). Along with various festivities, there is a friendly competition based on a number of factors, including total air time and altitude gain. One flyer managed to soar all the way down the Sangre De Cristo range to Taos, New Mexico, where he reportedly spent the night in a homeless shelter due to the fact that he carried no money on his flight.

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The Costs of Altitude

Aerial view of Mt.Ouray and Mt. Chipeta, Colorado by Dan Downing.

By Ed Quillen

If the United States had adopted the metric system in 1820, then Colorado’s highest country might be in better condition today with much less in the way of trail erosion, trampled tundra and disturbed wildlife.

Why 1820? The metric system had been devised by the French Academy of Sciences in 1795, so by 1820, Americans certainly knew about it. And 1820 marked the first recorded climb of a 14,000-foot peak in America.

Consider that “4,267.21-meter summit” lacks the resonance and romance of “14,000-foot peak” or just “Fourteener.” And without that arbitrary line in the sky, few of Colorado’s 54 Fourteeners would suffer the traffic they bear today.

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The wrong place to sign in

Brief by Allen Best

Mountains – October 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

Everyone wants to leave his or her mark in life. Of late, some peak-baggers on 14,440-foot Mt. Elbert have taken to leaving notes of their conquests with felt-tip markers on summit rocks.

One of them recently made the faux pas of also leaving his e-mail address. This being the Internet age, he was quickly tracked down and also vilified in Internet bloggings.

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Owner of highest-end real estate gets a break

Brief by Allen Best

Mountains – April 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

Mauri Reiberg owns the highest of the high- end real estate in Colorado, the summit of Mt. Lincoln. At 14,286 feet, it’s the highest privately owned land in Colorado.

But increasingly in recent years, he and other owners of old mines that swaddle Lincoln and two other heavily mined 14,000- foot peaks in the vicinity made it clear that they didn’t want hikers on their property. They are partly disturbed by vandalism, but more broadly about the liability of somebody falling in a mining shaft or in some other way getting hurt while on their property.

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Volunteers will rebuild Mt. Massive trail this summer

Brief by Central Staff

Mountains – May 2004 – Colorado Central Magazine

One trail up Mount Massive will get some restoration work this summer, providing that there are enough volunteers.

The project, sponsored by the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, continues work that began last year on the North Halfmoon Lakes route to the 14,421-foot summit.

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Dueling mountains to honor mountaineers

Article by Allen Best

Mountains – October 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

RIVAL PROPOSALS to name Colorado mountains after Carl Blaurock and William Ervin, who in 1923 became the first to climb all of the state’s 14,000-foot mountains, are headed to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.

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UN declares 2002 International Year of Mountains

Brief by Central Staff

Mountains – April 2002 – Colorado Central Magazine

If our part of the world gets more international attention than usual this year, perhaps we can blame the United Nations, which has declared 2002 as “The International Year of Mountains.”

Previous international years of something have included volunteers in 2001, older persons in 1999, and oceans in 1998.

The idea is to use the special year to get people to focus on the relevant problems and issues, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is running the show.

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Look beyond hypsometry when you look for peaks to bag

Article by Allen Best

Mountains – May 1995 – Colorado Central Magazine

My quarrel with peak-bagging, particularly of the 14er variety, is that it is so undiscriminating, and at this point, so clichéd. I don’t like sounding haughty about this, but the fact remains that Mt. Princeton is much easier than Ice Mountain, yet Princeton gets assaulted daily and Ice doesn’t, just because Princeton is over 14,000 feet.

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