By Allen Best
Women conquer highest peaks
The spring climbing season on Mt. Everest yielded ascents by several ski-town residents, among them two women.
Melissa Arnot, a mountain guide from Ketchum, Idaho, summited the 29,029-foot (8,848 metre) peak – her fourth successful summit bid of Everest, a record for women.
Originally from Whitefish, Mont., she began mountain climbing in 2001. She earned her stripes as a guide on Mt. Rainer, which she climbed 30 times a summer from 2004 through 2009. “That’s where I got the skill set to be able to climb the Himalayas,” she told the Idaho Mountain Express.
As for her most recent trip, she says that the record is not what drove her to climb. “I enjoy just being there,” she said. In 2010, she had set out – unsuccessfully – to climb Everest without oxygen. There were a lot of people on the mountain, and with resulting stress, she found it necessary to use oxygen from 27,000 feet and higher.
This year, 10 climbers died on Mt. Everest and 240 summited.
Telluride resident Hilaree O’Neill also summited Everest this spring But while she’s proud of that, the sublime experience in mountaineering was on the adjacent 8,000-meter peak, Lhotse. She and climbing partner Kris Erickson became the first women to summit two 8,000-meter peaks within a 24-hour period. They were accompanied by the legendary Conrad Anker.
O’Neill told The Telluride Watch that climbing Everest was stressful, partly because the jetstream parked overhead, limiting the climbing window.
“The jetstream wouldn’t move off the summit,” she said. “There were winds of 100 miles an hour plus. It sounds like a freight train over your tent; it’s one of the most disturbing sounds I’ve heard: that jetstream charging over your tent.”
Arts & culture an economic driver
JACKSON, Wyo. – Arts and cultural organizations are an important economic driver in Teton County, a new report finds.
The report was commissioned by – well, don’t be surprised by this – a group called Americans for the Arts.
The report found that nonprofit arts and culture support 1,011 jobs in Teton County, generating $4.7 million in revenue for local and state government.
Although dampened by the recession, according to the study, the economic value of arts and culture remained strong between 2005 and 2010.
Rivers, real estate links
ASPEN, Colo. – A $100,000 study is likely to be commissioned that seeks to spell out the relationship between the Roaring Fork River and other local waterways and Aspen-area real estate values.
It seems intuitive that there would be a connection between the rivers and high property values, said John Ely, county attorney for Pitkin County. The goal of the study, he said, is to find out if that relationship can be teased out and quantified. In doing so, that value will have to be compared against festivals, skiing and other recreational activities that are also thought to be economic drivers.
The value of this study? To use as a reference if plans are hatched that would diminish the water volume of local rivers. Already, the local rivers are greatly diminished by transmountain diversions constructed in the 1960s and earlier, prior to Aspen gaining economic and political clout as a resort. The water is diverted from the headwaters creeks along the Continental Divide to farms and cities on the plains of eastern Colorado.
Water managers in eastern Colorado have statistical models that quantify the economic impact of the diverted water in terms of jobs and tax revenue generated. Pitkin County wants a similarly powerful tool.
Good, bad & ugly of drought
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – As forest fires spring up, the hot, dry and windy weather continues in Colorado, with no end in sight.
In Steamboat Springs, where temperatures crept above 90 degrees, the flow of the Yampa River fell to 82 cubic feet per second, compared to the normal flow on that day of nearly 1,600 cfs.
The low flows ended the commercial tubing season of three commercial outfitters. “It really hurts,” outfitter John Kole told Steamboat Today.
Hoteliers tell the newspaper that bookings are up, despite the drought. “We’re just making little shifts to reflect the changes in the environment this year,” said Tom Kern, chief executive of the local chamber. Instead of focusing on river activities, for example, the promotions now highlight rodeo, cycling and horseback riding.
Looking for a silver lining, Today’s columnist Tom Ross points out that the mosquitoes are also in short supply. “I know they are present in the high country this week, but the continuing bouts of gusty wind have blown many of them to Nebraska, never to buzz round our heads again,” he wrote.
Train service likely to be trimmed
JASPER, Alberta – Citing an unnamed source within the rail industry, Jasper’s Fitzhugh newspaper reports that passenger service of the Canadian, which stops in Jasper on its route between Vancouver and Toronto, will get trimmed in winter months. The train currently passes through Jasper three days a week: the cut, if executed, will yield just two stops a week.
Tough Mudder a big draw
WHISTLER, B.C. – Tough Mudder, the obstacle race, continues to thrive this year. In Whistler, 14,000 people swam through ice cold water, dodged electrified wires, carried logs and otherwise negotiated a 16 kilometer course at the Whistler Olympic Park. Also on the Tough Mudder network this summer will be a competition in Calgary. Rocky Mountain and Sierra resorts are likewise hosting a variety of Tough Mudder and similar obstacle races.
Accident sparks helmet proposal
BANFF, Alberta – Banff Mayor Karen Sorenson wants to explore whether helmets should be mandatory for skateboarders. Her investigation was sparked by an accident that involved an 18-year-old who was a family friend.
“All of a sudden, I felt this huge sense of obligation and responsibility to do whatever I can in my position to limit that type of accident as much as possible and keep skateboarders safe,” she told the Rocky Mountain Outlook.
“To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what my end goal is, but I am interested in seeing research and information of where helmets are used and I am interested in getting information on head injuries in our town,” she said.