Dog days of summer are here in Colorado — temps in the high 90s here in the old coal mining town. Thing is, as far as my “skin index” can tell it used to be hotter here in the summer. Despite global warming, the last time I hooked up my window AC unit was at least five years ago. Don’t ask me why, except it is climate change of course (and so is my latest headache.) If anyone has any data on how hot this summer has been worldwide, let me know in the comments, as I had a link here that I thought showed the picture but it was for two summers ago. As for our Colorado winters, if anything I’ve been hoping that global warming would make them warmer (more and denser snow), but everything I can find seems to indicate there hasn’t been much if any change even though they seem warmer (wishful thinking?).
In Colorado climbing news, the usual and always amazingly voluminous crowds are topping our 14,000 foot peaks. Numbers like that, you get accidents. A few weeks ago things got bad and sad, with four climbers reaching their demise. Then, this past Sunday, a man died from a heart attack while nearly on the summit of 14er Quandary Peak. They got the rescue helicopter there in European time (about 1/2 hour after a 911 call), but CPR was unsuccessful. One recent save on 14er El Diente is worth noting as it was instigated by a SPOT satellite messenger. While reports still dribble in testifying as to the unreliability of SPOT, a regular string of successful rescues shows they work.
Resort town exceptionalism (do we need a category?) is disturbing. What is it that makes tourist villages think they’ve got some kind of superior role in things such as energy politics, recreation policy or economic vision? Witness, you see weird tangents such as this guy in Jackson thinking they can replace their formerly robust construction industry by morphing to some kind of “Silicon Valley of the Environment.” In the aforelinked article, writer Jonathan Schechter claims that “that no other place on Earth has Jackson Hole’s public lands and conservation legacy, and few have our combination of wealth, intellect and sensibilities.” Last time I looked, Rekyjavik, Iceland was doing pretty well in most of those departments as were a number of other green places. In terms of intellect, it doesn’t take much googling to find that the towns with the most brain power are college bergs such as Cambridge. As for sensibility? I’m not sure what region or city should take the prize on that, perhaps an Antarctic penguin rookery?
Lest we go too negative, good to see resort areas that used to depend on construction for their economy trying to create something different so the folks who have put down roots can stick around. Main question with that is what else (that exists now) could employ so many people, with varied skills, for such high wages? Places like Jackson and Crested Butte are expensive. Everything has to be trucked in on two-lane roads, development land is limited so supply/demand drives real estate prices up, the middle class in such areas are used to quite a nice lifestyle with commodious recreation, good schools and a service oriented government that is well funded and even employs a hefty portion of the middle class itself. Will be interesting to watch it play out.
What kind of winter are they having down under? After a slow start, sounds like this might be a good year for a September springtime visit. Snow report.
Folks sometimes rue our lack of backcountry land. Yet when people go missing out there and require a search, the true vastness of our wildlands becomes clear. Search for a skier who went missing in Montana brings the point home. More here.
Land use ramifications of the Endangered Species Act trigger our radar like we’re Alaskan NORAD blipping a missile headed south. We like animals as much as the next guy, but we’re also sensitive to how the “Act” can be used as a tool to force certain types of land use (mainly, limiting human recreation). In Montana, they’re getting closer to listing wolverine. Problem is, it appears no one knows how many of the elusive beast there ever were, and whether they are diminishing in numbers in any critical way. Nonetheless, in an obvious application of the doctrine of “preemptive caution,” Montana residents may soon find their recreation access curtailed because wolverines live there. This will be super interesting to watch. More here.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.