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Lessons in the Mountains 18 • Climbing Mexico’s Volcanoes 26 • Hooked on Fly Fishing 30

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The Colorado Mountain Club • Summer 2014 • Issue 1023 •

Our Mountain


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Trail & Timberline

Letter from the CEO Let the Mountains be Your Guide


hroughout life I have learned many lessons from the great outdoors. At a young age I spent most of my time outdoors, and I can vividly remember some of those lessons that molded my life. Two in particular I will never forget. One was getting lost with my best friend while we illegally hiked out of bounds at our local ski resort and thought we’d never find home again. The second was leading 10 young kids on the Appalachian Trail, in my early twenties, during a torrential downpour. Terrified, I was trying to act like I knew what I was doing while the fact was I knew we were lost, and I was the only person who knew it! It was even more terrifying because those 10 kids belonged to the executives at the company where I worked. I kept think-

ing that I’d never find a job again if I lost one of them…. I suspect that our natural landscapes have taught many of us great lessons about life. This issue of the Trail & Timberline highlights the CMC’s great schools that we offer year round. Many of our members join the CMC specifically because they have heard great things about our education programs. And many of those same members give back by becoming instructors in our schools. I encourage you to check out our educational offerings and join in the fun. While you hopefully will NOT get lost in a downpour with young kids, or hike out of bounds in the mountains, you will have an adventure. This is my last note to you as CEO. After

the birth of my son Kian, I decided that I needed to work closer to home so that I can give him a few extra snuggles throughout the day. It has truly been a great joy to lead such a fantastic organization. I thank all of you for being a part of that adventure in my life. I hope to see you all out on the trails while I try not to get lost with my own child in the rain! △

Katie Blackett Chief Executive Officer

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18 Our Mountain Classroom

34 Neptune Mountaineering

26 12 Climbers, 8 Days, 4 Peaks, 1 Cleanup, and a Little Tequila…

38 Revenge of the Trip Leader!

CMC schools prepare members to achieve their outdoor goals

An Adventure Travel trip to climb the Mexican volcanoes By Dave Covill with Roger Wendell

A Colorado climbing tradition and the end of an era By Rick Casey

CMC trip leaders recount tales of their most challenging hikes By Woody Smith

30 Hooked on Fly Fishing

The pure joy of spending time on the river By Judy Hildner

Summer 2014 Trail & Timberline • Issue 1023 •


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Departments 01 Letter from the CEO 06 On the Outside 08 Mission Accomplishments

Learn the latest from the conservation, membership, and youth education departments, as well as news on the Ellingwood and Blaurock awards.

14 Around Colorado

What’s happening in your group?

30 On the Cover

16 Safety First Lightning safety in the mountains. By Brenda Porter

22 Pathfinder

A preview of The Best Aspen Hikes and The Best Front Range Hikes for Children. By Christian Green

40 End of the Trail

Remembering those who have passed.

42 CMC Adventure Travel

Want to get away? Wander the world with your friends at the CMC on these classic trips.

Students practice casting on the South Platte River near Waterton Canyon. Photo by Frank Burzynski


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Trail & timberline

The official publication of the Colorado Mountain Club since 1918.

Editor Sarah Gorecki

Designer Jessica D'Amato Advertising Sales Robin Commons

The Colorado Mountain Club 710 10th Street, Suite 200 Golden, Colorado 80401 303-279-3080 The CMC is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization. The Colorado Mountain Club is organized to ▶ unite the energy, interest, and knowledge of the students, explorers, and lovers of the mountains of Colorado; ▶ collect and disseminate information regarding the Rocky Mountains on behalf of science, literature, art, and recreation; ▶ stimulate public interest in our mountain areas; ▶ encourage the preservation of forests, flowers, fauna, and natural scenery; and ▶ render readily accessible the alpine attractions of this region. © 2014 Colorado Mountain Club

All Rights Reserved

Trail & Timberline (ISSN 0041-0756) is published quarterly by the Colorado Mountain Club located at 710 10th Street, Suite 200, Golden, Colorado 80401. Periodicals postage paid at Golden, Colorado, and additional offices. Subscriptions are $20 per year; single copies are $5. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Trail & Timberline, 710 10th Street, Suite 200, Golden, Colorado 80401. Advertisements in Trail & Timberline do not constitute an endorsement by the Colorado Mountain Club.

Please recycle this magazine. Printed on 10% post-consumer waste recycled paper.


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For Members

member benefits

→ Join us on over 3,000 annual trips, hikes, and activities in the state’s premiere mountain-adventure organization. → Expand your knowledge and learn new skills with our schools, seminars, and events. → Support our award-winning Youth Education Program for mountain leadership. → Protect Colorado’s wild lands and backcountry recreation experiences. → Enjoy exclusive discounts to the American Mountaineering Museum. → Travel the world with your friends through CMC Adventure Travel. → Receive a 20% discount on all CMC Press purchases and start your next adventure today. → It pays to be a member. Enjoy discounts of up to 30% from retailers and corporate partners. See for details. → Receive the Shared Member Rates of other regional mountaineering clubs and a host of their perks and benefits, including lodging. Visit

opportunities to get more involved Charitable Donations

Join our select donors who give back to the club every month by using electronic funds transfer (EFT). It is easy and convenient, you can discontinue anytime, and you’ll provide support for critical programs. Sign up at By naming the Colorado Mountain Club in your will, you will be able to count yourself among the proud members of the 21st Century Circle. Read more at Please consult your financial advisor about gift language. By donating $1,000 or more to the Annual Campaign, you'll enjoy the exclusive benefits of the Summit Society, including hikes to places that the CMC's conservation department is working to protect, an annual appreciation event, and a complimentary copy of a new CMC Press book. If you have any questions about donations, please contact Lesile Woollenweber, Development Director, at 303.996.2752 or lesliewollenweber@

Volunteer Efforts

If you want to share your time and expertise, give back to the club by volunteering on a variety of projects, from trail restoration to stuffing envelopes. Visit for a complete listing.

Contact Us

Our Membership Services team can answer general questions every weekday at 303.279.3080, or by email at

The Colorado Mountain Club thanks the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District and its citizens for their continuing support.

The Colorado Mountain Club is a proud member of Community Shares of Colorado.

It PAYS to be a member! ▶ 40% off admission at the American Mountaineering Museum

▶ 20% off titles from The Mountaineers Books

▶ 10% at Neptune Mountaineering, Boulder

▶ 10% at Bent Gate Mountaineering, Golden

▶ 10% at Wilderness Exchange Unlimited, Denver

Not a member?

▶ 10% at Mountain Chalet, Colorado Springs ▶ 10% at The Trailhead, Buena Vista

▶ 10% at Rock'n and Jam'n, Thornton/Centennial Visit Trail & Timberline



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On the Outside Looking southeast from Kennebec Pass to Cumberland Basin. Rod Martinez

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Mission Accomplishments What’s In It for Me? Another Perspective on Volunteering By Brenda Porter

As a brand new CMC member in June 1997, one of my first experiences was volunteering for the Denver Group’s Basic Rock Climbing Seminar. Having recently moved back to my native Colorado, I joined the CMC to make some outdoor friends. While I was inquiring about BRCS, I mentioned that I knew how to climb and mostly wanted to meet people. Nate Goldstein, the director at the time, invited me to “just come on out and volunteer.” That weekend I was introduced to the amazing community of CMC volunteer instructors. Many of the volunteers were long-time climbing buddies, while newbies like me were welcomed to join in. A year later I volunteered as an assistant instructor for BMS. As the CMC’s new Education Director, I wanted to see our schools in action and received the added benefit of brushing up on my mountaineering skills. I counted 110 hours of volunteer service, several of them alpine starts, well before the sunrise. Yet with a 3:1 student to instructor ratio, once again there was a wonderful group of friends volunteering together. We had some discussions about the benefits we received from teaching—keeping our mountaineering skills fresh were at the top of the list, right along with being part of a community of instructors and students. Recently I asked a group of High Altitude Mountaineering and Basic Mountaineering School instructors why they volunteer. Dave Gibson, a trip leader and HAMS instructor in the Pikes Peak Group, jokingly commented, “It's the only way I can remember how to rig a full-on Z-pulley system!” (Note: The Z-pulley is used to help pull a fallen climber out of a crevasse. It uses mechanical advantage to accomplish rescues that would be impossible by humanpower alone; thus, competency in setting a Z-pulley system is an essential skill when climbing glaciated peaks.) Mike Zyzda agreed that he personally gets more out of teaching for CMC than he gives. Zyzda mentioned this to me after his presentation at the Eckart Roder Education Fund dinner, where he shared how 8

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Pikes Peak Group’s HAMS students demonstrate their chorus line skills. Photo by Dave “Hoot” Gibson

the scholarship he received for avalanche training from AIARE has benefitted his ability to teach HAMS students. Yet another instructor, Jason Kolaczkowski said, “I too teach HAMS because I learn more by teaching than I do by practicing. However, what really got me into it and keeps me coming back is that I am passionate about what high mountains teach me about myself, and I want to share that potential path to insight with others. High mountains test my brain (logistics and planning), my body (for obvious reasons), and my emotions (fear, tenacity, etc.). I feel that when I balance these things well, I come out of the mountains a better person than when I walked in. And when I don't balance them well, the mountains will quickly remind me that I need to gain some perspective.” In fact, volunteering can be a great way to hone skills, make friends, gain new professional contacts, get exercise, spend time outdoors, and be part of an active community. Yet volunteers rarely speak of the benefits of volunteering to themselves—maybe it feels a bit too self-centered, or too far from the altruistic idea of the selfless volunteer. But who says that doing good while meeting your own goals and enjoying yourself can't happen at the same time? Of course, giving back to the CMC is also important to our instructors. “When I

took BMS as a student, I met a lot of amazing people, and learned so much. It gave me the confidence and skills to push myself physically and mentally. For me, instructing BMS is about giving back to my community and encouraging students to push hard towards their goals and decide what mountaineering is to them,” said Erin Thompson, instructor for BMS and co-chair of the Trailblazers Section for 21-40 year olds. Josh Armstrong, also a BMS instructor and co-chair for Trailblazers noted, “I could write essays on the numerous reasons I instruct BMS… I share my enthusiasm and enjoyment for the mountains by leading new friends towards the majesty of the summits offered by Colorado.” Jason Kolaczkowski summed up everyone’s comments. “If I can share just a bit of that potential path to self-reflection and self-discovery with a new cohort of climbers, then it's been a gratifying use of time, indeed,” he said. Hundreds of volunteer instructors in the CMC follow Mahatma Gandhi’s advice: "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." △ If you would like to learn more about volunteering in the CMC, contact

The Least Likely Phrase in Mountaineering By Rolf Asphaug

Mountaineering has more than its fair share of strong-willed personalities: people willing to take substantial risks to achieve new heights. It is also a field where mistakes can quickly lead to serious consequences. Yet one of the least likely phrases you’ll hear as a Colorado hiker and climber is: “I’m going to sue you!” Why is that? Why haven’t there been more lawsuits over mountaineering accidents involving the CMC, its many trip leaders, and its thousands of trips each year? The answers lie in Colorado laws, intended to encourage nonprofit volunteering by people like our trip leaders, and in the Club’s own important measures to protect its members against legal claims. The Release of Liability Colorado grants powerful legal effect to a release of liability. Unlike other states, Colorado allows a parent to release her underage child’s legal claims. Colorado also recognizes electronic signature of releases – such as through web page acknowledgements. Every CMC member and guest signs a release, promising not to hold the Club or its members liable if something goes wrong. This is our first line of defense against a lawsuit, and it is a strong one. In a famous lawsuit against the CMC nearly a quarter-century ago, the CMC and its trip leader went through a protracted legal battle because the plaintiff hadn’t signed a release – or at least, the CMC was unable to locate it. The CMC is now doing a far better job of requiring and filing releases. It’s in every member’s best interest to have any non-CMC guests on a trip sign releases before the trip begins. If your leader forgets to do so, don’t hesitate to ask him to get signed releases – for your protection as well as his. Liability Insurance Thanks to the CMC’s training programs and releases, and Colorado’s special legal protections, the CMC continues to be able to buy insurance coverage to protect the CMC and its volunteers against liability claims. Mountaineering groups in other states have been unable to get such insurance and have had to “go bare.” The CMC’s insurance protects the CMC

and its volunteers against liability claims. Just as importantly, it can provide legal representation. Without insurance like the CMC’s, litigants could try to force us into settling bogus claims to avoid high legal costs. Laws that Protect Volunteers First enacted in 1992 after that famous CMC lawsuit, the “Colorado Volunteer Service Act” (CRS §13-21-115.5) provides further legal protection to CMC trip leaders and other CMC volunteers leading trips in Colorado, even if no release or insurance is available. The law recognizes that “the willingness of volunteers to offer their services has been increasingly deterred by a perception that they put personal assets at risk in the event of tort actions seeking damages arising from their activities as volunteers.” To combat this perception, Colorado applies the federal Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 (42 USC §14501) to intrastate claims. As a result, CMC volunteers may be protected by Colorado law for trips in Colorado and federal law for trips outside Colorado. The volunteer is generally not liable for harm caused by an act or omission of the volunteer on behalf of the CMC if the volunteer was acting within the scope of the volunteer’s duties, and if the harm “was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by the volunteer.” To qualify as a “volunteer,” you must be performing your services without compensation “other than reasonable reimbursement or allowance for actual expenses incurred,” and must not receive “any other thing of value in lieu of compensation, in excess of $500 per year.” What’s “gross negligence” or “reckless misconduct”? It depends on the facts of the case, but it’s intended to address much worse than an honest mistake. It’s also not just putting others in a potentially risky situation, if the trip you’re leading inherently involves such risks. Other general legal principles such as “comparative negligence” also make it hard for climbers and hikers to avoid personal responsibility and blame others when things go bad.

What Can I Do to Avoid Hearing That Unlikely Phrase? All these legal protections may help explain why we so seldom hear about injured hikers or climbers trying to sue others. However, all the laws in the world take second fiddle to acting safely and responsibly in the first place. Whether as a trip leader or participant, you will someday face a tough, safety-related decision on a trip. Dark clouds are gathering: should you press on? There’s high water or unanticipated snow: do you change course? The dry granite you were planning on friction-climbing down from a summit is now wet from a rain shower. What should you do? Regardless of your final decision, and regardless of whether you’re leading the trip, when faced with an unexpected situation: STOP. That’s an acronym for Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan. When facing a tough call, first stop what you’re doing if possible, if only for a few minutes. Take a breather – physically and mentally. Take the time you can to think through options and consequences, and to observe the situation and your surroundings. Then make a plan, consulting with others in your group while doing so. And be sure to take all these steps in front of your fellow trip members, explaining what you’re doing and your reasoning. This will help get group buy-in to the final call, and – if things go south despite your best efforts – will also ensure you have witnesses that you did act responsibly: that you weren’t “reckless” or “flagrantly indifferent” to anyone’s safety. Take these steps and you won’t hear that unusual phrase – not only because of Colorado law, and not only because no one will feel angry and litigious against you, but most importantly because you’ll have the best chances of staying safe in the first place. △ (Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. It provides general information designed to help people deal with their own legal needs. Legal information is not the same as legal advice: the application of law to your specific circumstances. Consult a lawyer for professional legal advice appropriate to your situation.)

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Hands-on Science Education for Youth By Ryan Johns

◀ Students identify wildflowers during a YEP class.

We live in a special place that offers unique science education opportunities. Since 1999, the Colorado Mountain Club’s Youth Education Program (YEP) has been providing science education for students across the Front Range. YEP offers lessons in geology, physics, biology, human and animal physiology, and weather with a fun mountaineering focus. Each year, YEP works with nearly 7,000 students. Our programs reach our students through a wide variety of programming that expands each year. We offer programming to school groups and to community groups like the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver, and through YEP afterschool programs and our school break and summer camps. In this article I will outline the details of a couple of our most successful science lessons as well as offer some unique insight from one of our most active supporters, Dick Louden. Climbing through Colorado Geology is one of our more popular YEP classes. For this class, students come to the American Mountaineering Center (AMC) to climb on our indoor climbing wall and learn about the different types of geology that climbing in Colorado has to offer. Students are taught the details that geologists look for when attempting to identify a specific rock in the field, including vesicles, layers, 10

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and crystals. Then they put these new skills to the test and attempt to identify a set of mystery rocks and classify them as Metamorphic, Igneous, or Sedimentary. After locating on a map where exactly these rocks were found in Colorado, they can learn what type of rocks are best for climbing. Another popular class that YEP offers both here at the AMC or as an outreach option to local schools is our Colorado Weather class. Students rotate through three separate weather stations focused on clouds, mountain barriers and rain shadows, and a hair-raising lightning station. At the clouds rotation, students create a cloud journal and learn to make weather predictions based on the type of clouds they see outside their window. The mountain barriers rotation allows students to use tubs of water and mountain models to create warm and cold weather fronts and see how they interact with each other to learn how the mountains create a “rain shadow” over the plains. Finally, the lightning lesson allows students to get a hands-on feel for how lightning feels and looks using our very own Van de Graaff generator. Students learn about static electricity as their hair stands on

end and a discussion about how to stay safe in a thunderstorm follows. Dick Louden is one of YEP’s consistent volunteers. He has worked in the education field since retiring from his profession as a geologist in 1998. I recently sat down with Dick and asked him why he volunteers for our programs and what about our programming he thinks sets it apart from other science programs in the area. “I come away from some of these school classes with a lot of optimism,” Dick said about our outreach programs. “There are certain things that a classroom teacher just can’t do because it requires too many hands and specific materials.” YEP offers quality science-based educational programs to classes and individuals and each year we improve and grow. For more information on YEP, please contact Melanie Leggett, Youth Education Program Director, at △

▲ Students identify different rock types in a Climbing through Colorado Geology class.

◀ Students learn how the Rocky Mountains affect the weather along the Front Range in YEP’s Mountain Weather class.

A Partnership of Mountains and Music By Melanie Leggett

Key to the success of nonprofits is their ability to foster partnerships with other like-minded organizations with which they can share support in a variety of ways, including joint programming, reciprocal marketing, and sometimes just the sharing of ideas. For the past several years, one of the CMC’s most enjoyable partnerships has been with our friends at Planet Bluegrass. If you aren’t familiar with Planet Bluegrass as an organization, you may be familiar with one of Colorado’s favorite mountain-based events put on by them, the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Although the CMC doesn’t make the trek to Telluride (yet!), we do participate in two other annual music festivals, RockyGrass and Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, which are held at the Planet Bluegrass Ranch in Lyons, Colorado. Each summer the CMC Youth Education Program coordinates a booth of kidfriendly mountain activities that parents and kids can enjoy when they’re looking for some entertainment in addition to the music. Last year the YEP booth helped teach kids to slackline, tie knots, and use prussic knots to ascend a fixed line. In terms of community outreach opportunities, it doesn’t get much better than Planet Bluegrass events, and over the past two summers, YEP has worked with more than 1,600 youth through

education at our booth. Steve Szymanski, vice president of Planet Bluegrass, summed up our partnership nicely: “The Colorado Mountain Club was one of the first groups that we approached when we started our partnership program in 2008. The partnership has been a great fit. We support CMC through donations of festival passes and concert tickets and promote CMC to our Festivarian community. In turn, CMC includes us in their events and outreach efforts, and the organization’s presence at our festivals has added a whole new dimension to the family area at RockyGrass and Rocky Mountain Folks Festival. Before CMC, our family area consisted of crafts and music. CMC added outdoor activities that are very popular with families and kids. Our audience loves the outdoors, so parents are happy that their kids get to try new things like slacklining, tying knots, and climbing. The kids get exercise, challenge themselves, and leave our festivals with new experiences. We’ve also enjoyed seeing our relationship with CMC grow through the years. When Planet Bluegrass was devastated by the September 2013 flooding, CMC staff and volunteers offered to help. We really appreciated that.” Reaching youth means reaching parents as well, and in the summer of 2014 we plan to incorporate increased outreach to adults regarding CMC membership and stewardship opportunities. As Steve mentioned, the Planet Bluegrass Ranch in Lyons was devastated in the flooding last fall. This year’s RockyGrass Festival will be their grand re-open-

ing, and festival organizers hope to highlight flood education and stewardship project opportunities geared towards getting Lyons back on its feet as part of the events of the weekend. Great music, gorgeous surroundings, and the opportunity to help restore a mountain town to its former glory – what a great partnership for the CMC! We hope to see you at the YEP booth this summer. For more information, visit RockyGrass is sold out for 2014, but tickets are still available for the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, to be held August 15-17. △

▲ A YEP participant learns to ascend a fixed line at Rocky Grass. Photo by Dan Orcutt

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Recreation and Conservation Go Hand in Hand By Julie Mach

How much dirt does a hiking boot erode? How many plants does a tent squash? How many invasive seeds does a dog carry on its coat? How big of a rut does a mountain bike tire make in the mud? How many times has your favorite outdoor recreation activity had an impact on surrounding natural resources? The answer is every time. Whether you hike, ride, climb, camp, fish, ski, or otherwise play on our public lands, humans change the natural balance and ecosystem sustainability of the places we love. The CMC Conservation Department is trying to restore the balance between recreation and the environment, and the volunteer stewardship program is one of the most important ways we can reduce our environmental footprint. In 2014, CMC will host a series of summer and fall conservation projects to engage our members, the general public, and public land managers in fun, challenging, and educational activities that help sustain local environmental resources. Projects will include trail construction, habitat restoration, campsite rehabilitation, GPS mapping, and more to help land managers provide sustainable recreation opportunities and protect natural

resources. CMC will partner with the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and a host of other organizations to address critical environmental issues in areas around the state. To kick off the season, CMC partnered with Jefferson County Open Space to hold the 4th annual Spring into Service event on May 17, which focused on flood recovery efforts at Apex Park in Golden. Volunteers helped create more sustainable, durable trails to accommodate the thousands of hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians that frequent Apex Park each month. This familyfriendly event included service projects and educational activities for all ages as well as music, food, and fun! While water is one of the strongest environmental impacts that land managers combat, human impacts can be just as hard to predict and control. Picture a wide, undulating valley with gently-sloping subalpine meadows, small clumps of ponderosa pine, and a creek winding throughout: perfect habitat for elk, deer, antelope, and mountain goats. Now imagine that landscape cut with over 200 miles of usercreated non-system roads and trails – destroying the native vegetation, causing

erosion, introducing noise pollution, trash, and human waste. This is the reality on a 50,000-acre section of Forest Service land just northwest of Lake George, Colorado; but the CMC Conservation Department is working to change that. In 2014, CMC will host five weekend stewardship events to begin assessing and repairing damage as part of the Badger Flats Habitat Restoration project. Volunteers will help inventory and close non-system routes, install signage and natural barriers to deter use, construct fences, and rehabilitate impacted areas. The project will be an ongoing effort to reduce illegal motorized use in sensitive habitat areas and we need volunteer help to achieve that goal. Nearly every weekend this summer and fall, CMC will provide opportunities for our members to give back to their public lands by swinging a pick-axe, spreading native seeds, and hiking with a GPS. Don’t miss this opportunity to strengthen the Club’s stewardship ethic and help protect the places you love to recreate. See full project descriptions and register online at △

Sign up for a Stewardship Project! June 21-22

Collegiate Peaks Overlook trail reconstruction (Buena Vista)

June 28

Mt. Evans Wilderness trail maintenance (Idaho Springs)

Aug. 16-17; Sept. 7-14; Sept. 20-21

Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness campsite rehabilitation (Aspen)

July 18-20

Castle Peaks Wilderness Study Area GPS mapping (Eagle)


Badger Flats habitat restoration (Lake George) – Weekend projects monthly


Ice Cave Creek trail construction (Palmer Lake) – Saturday projects monthly

August 23-24

Brainard Lake trail reconstruction (Ward)

October 18-19

Oilwell Flats trail construction (Canon City)


Denver Group stewardship projects – most Saturdays, at Chatfield State Park, USFS South Platte RD, USFS Clear Creek RD, and Golden Gate State Park


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Rampart Bioblitz

Rampart Range Wildlands Project invites you to participate in our bioblitz. We’ll be attempting to identify as many plant and animal species as possible during the weekend of June 21-22. While hiking with CMC trip leaders and scientists, we anticipate finding numerous rare species. The event is open to members and nonmembers. Camping will be available. To learn more visit: RampartRangeWildlandsProject.aspx.

Brenda Leach Receives 2013 Carl Blaurock Silver Piton Award By Roger Drake

Brenda Leach is our 2013 recipient of the Carl Blaurock Silver Piton Award. This award is given to CMC members who have invested a substantial amount of effort in CMC activities resulting in significant improvement to the Club. Enthusiastic, tireless, welcoming, organized, and dedicated—these are words that describe Brenda Leach. Since first joining the CMC in 1981, Brenda has held a broad array of leadership and committee positions within the Boulder Group, including 2008 Council Chair. Brenda is best known as a rock climbing trip leader and mountaineering school director, where her organizational and interpersonal skills have been key to the continued success and expansion of the schools. Serving as a trip leader and instructor, she

works one on one with people to make them feel valued and to further integrate them into the group, leading many to go on to assume leadership roles of their own. Former Boulder Group Chair Don Walker says of Brenda, “Over the 15 years or so that I have known Brenda, I have been consistently impressed, even astonished, by her tireless generosity and enthusiasm in contributing to the Colorado Mountain Club. For more than a decade Brenda has led hiking trips, taught in the Mountaineering School, and served on the Boulder Group Council. I have never met a more dedicated, helpful, and cheerful volunteer than Brenda Leach. Her good nature and her selfless dedication to the CMC continue to provide inspiration to all those around her.” △

▲ Climbing up Zig Zag on the First Flatiron. Photo by Gabi Pfister

Charlie Winger Receives 2013 Ellingwood Award By Jean Aschenbrenner

Charlie Winger received the CMC’s 2013 Ellingwood Golden Ice Axe Mountaineering Achievement Award for his accomplishments as a climber over the past thirty-eight years as well as his outstanding role as a volunteer instructor. A very active member of the Denver Group in the past, Charlie now lives in Montrose. Charlie is a life member of the Colorado Mountain Club, joining in 1976. He has served as a volunteer instructor for most of the courses offered by the Club. Hundreds of Club members have been taught and inspired by Charlie to go beyond their perceived limitations. A number of his students have gone on to become notable mountaineers themselves, crediting Charlie for getting them excited and prepared for their climbing goals. Charlie has an impressive resume of climbs under his belt-or in his case, under his climbing boots. Here in Colorado, he not only climbed all the 14ers, but also went on to summit the 200 highest mountains in our state. He is fond of peak lists and has climbed each of the highpoints of the 50 states; the highpoints of every county in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada; over

100 peaks in Death Valley; a list of 99 desert peaks identified by the Desert Peak section of the Sierra Club; over 100 peaks in the Sierras of California; and the list goes on. Charlie has also summited all 57 “Ultra Prominent” peaks, which have 5,000’ of prominence or more in the lower 48 states. Outside of the U.S., Charlie has climbed in Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Wellknown peaks he has completed include the Matterhorn, Aconcagua, Mt. Elbrus, and Kilimanjaro. In addition to mountain climbing, Charlie also enjoys rock climbing and ice climbing, especially at the Ouray Ice Park. At age 76, Charlie keeps up a level of activity that many would envy. He ice climbs 20 to 30 days during the winter season. In 2013, he climbed fifty-two peaks, went on rock climbing trips for fourteen days, enjoyed a six-day trek along the Pacific Crest Trail in California, cross-country skied, snowshoed, and volunteered with the Ouray Trail Group. Charlie Winger is an author of three outdoor guidebooks (co-authored with his wife, Diane Winger) which were published

by CMC Press, and an autobiography which describes many of his mountaineering adventures. Thank you, Charlie, for pushing your limits and for encouraging us to push ours. △

▲ Winger climbing Smithereens, Joshua Tree National Park. Photo by Dave Cooper

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Around Colorado

Our groups across the State DENVER Who Are We? Our website——is where you’ll find everything about the Colorado Mountain Club’s Denver Group. With over 3,200 members, we offer something for everyone 18 years or older who loves the outdoors. The CMC leads over 3,000 trips a year into the mountains. Would you like to meet folks in your age range? Check out the Trailblazers (21- 40) or the very popular Over the Hill Gang (50+). For more information, take a look at the e-version of our monthly newsletter, Mile High Mountaineer, at Get Involved Our trips include hiking, including specialty hikes for wild flowers and photography; fly fishing; and rock climbing. Learn new skills at our competitively priced schools. It’s all possible because of our dedicated volunteer trip leaders, school directors, and instructors. Learn More Send an e-mail to for specific questions. Or attend one of our New and Prospective Member Orientations, which are offered most months. Orientation starts at 6:30 pm at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden. Please confirm dates and details by searching for “New and Prospective Member Orientation” on the schedule Open Climbs Indoor climbing at the American Mountaineering Center. Members must know how to belay. Bring your own helmet and harness. For more dates and details look for “CMC Wall Climbs” or “Open Climbs” on the schedule Calendar/Trips.aspx Fly Fishing Monthly Program For more details go to Upcoming Schools All classes start with lectures held at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden. Then you’ll go to the mountains and practice what you learned! Basic Rock School Multiple classes with start dates in June. For more details go to schools/basicrockclimbingschool Rock Seconding School Class starts June 23. For more details go to http:// Backpacking School Starts early August. For more details go to http://


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Wilderness Trekking School Tentatively starts September 9th. For more details go to BOULDER Who Are We? The Boulder group came into existence in 1920, eight years after the Colorado Mountain Club was founded. Today, the group's 1,100-plus members enjoy a variety of climbing, hiking, backpacking, running, and skiing activities. Boulder Group outings range from casual after-work hikes and leisurely flower photography walks to high mountain meadows. With our proximity to the Flatirons and Eldorado Canyon, it's no surprise that rock climbing is a favorite activity. Details about Boulder Group outings may be found at Get Educated During the summer, the Boulder Group offers Rock Leading School (RLS), Backpacking School, a Top Roping Clinic, and a Sport Leading Clinic. Spots in these courses fill fast, so if the spring/ summer courses are already full, now is a good time to begin planning for the fall courses. Fall registration opens in early August, and some fall courses begin as early as mid-August and early September. Fall offerings will include Hiking and Survival Essentials, Hiking Navigation, Hiking Route and Trip Planning, Basic Rock School (BRS), and GPS Navigation. For details about these courses, visit bms/index.html Get Involved There are many ways to become involved in the Boulder Group, including participating in outings, taking courses, volunteering, working on conservation projects, and leading trips. New trip leaders and co-leaders are always welcome; interested persons should contact the Outings Chair and view the information at A great way for new and prospective CMC members to learn more about the Boulder Group and its many classes, trips, and activities is to attend one of the Open Houses that takes place 7:00-8:30 pm on the 3rd Wednesday of every odd-numbered month. Upcoming Open Houses are on July 16 and September 17. Experienced members will be on hand to share their enthusiasm and knowledge about hiking, camping, peak bagging, rock climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and more. The Open Houses take place at the Boulder Group clubroom, in the Table Mesa Shopping Center. We hope to see you and a friend there! FORT COLLINS The Fort Collins Group is the fourth largest

group in the CMC. We offer year-round activities including monthly programs, hiking, climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, mountain hiking schools, scrambling, snowshoeing, crosscountry skiing, and more. Watch for our Trails Day in early June; we will be working on the Grey Rock Trail in the lower Poudre Canyon. For more information on our trail rebuilding efforts, as well as general information on the Fort Collins Group, visit Our annual BBQ Picnic Potluck will be held at Roland Moore Park in Fort Collins on June 23. Look for our booth at the Sustainable Living Fair September 20-21 at Legacy Park in Fort Collins. We have recently initiated three new series of trips, so watch for these additions to our schedule: Easy A/B weekend trips, a conditioning series culminating in a Fourteener hike in August or September, and a series of geology hikes in the Devils Backbone (Loveland) area. Our annual dinner meeting will be held on November 8, 2014 at the MacKenzie Place in Fort Collins. Gerry Roach is the featured speaker. PIKES PEAK Who Are We? The Pikes Peak Group of the Colorado Mountain Club is based out of Colorado Springs. We are a diverse group of approximately 600 members with a variety of activities and challenge levels including hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, biking, ice climbing, skiing, snow climbing, snowshoeing, and conservation activities. We offer courses in Basic Mountaineering, which includes wilderness fundamentals, land navigation, rock climbing, alpine snow mountaineering, ice climbing, and backpacking; High Altitude Mountaineering, which includes glacier travel; Backcountry Skiing; Anchor Building; Lead Climbing (rock and ice); Introduction to Avalanches; Snowshoeing; Wilderness First Aid; Hut to Hut Clinic; Scrambling Clinic; Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking Clinic; Winter Wilderness

▲ Members of the Aspen Group at the Barnard Hut. Photo courtesy of Carol Kurt

▲ Rattlesnake Arches hike. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Emanuel

Survival; and GPS Training. Basic Mountaineering School - Colorado Wilderness Backpacking Colorado Wilderness Backpacking pre-requisites include PPG BMS Colorado Wilderness Fundamentals and Colorado Wilderness Land Navigation. There are three class lectures. Our discussions include finding the right backpack; systems review, including sleeping systems, cooking systems, and clothing systems; ultra-light techniques; tents; trip planning; team composition; group dynamics; and site selection. We will do a gear check prior to the overnight trip to make sure you are properly equipped. The dates are June 11, 6:30-9:00 pm; June 18, 6:30-9:00 pm; June 21, CMC Rating Trip (overnight); June 22, CMC Rating Trip; June 28, weather makeup date; and June 29, weather makeup date. For details, contact Collin Powers at Collin. Ice Cave Creek Trail Project #6: June 7, 2014 This project is sponsored by the Rampart Range Wildlands Project of the Colorado Mountain Club. This year's work picks up where we left off last year, after building 0.4 miles of new trail along the Ice Cave Creek drainage above Palmer Lake. In 2014, we are realigning and repairing trail further up the canyon. Volunteers will have a short, but sometimes steep hike up the Palmer Reservoir Road to the work site. Volunteers must bring work clothes and gloves, water, snacks, sunscreen, and a hat. This is a rare chance to build new trail, and a rare trail opportunity in northern El Paso County. It is also a BIG project, so we need lots of volunteers and crew leaders. The result will be better access into the Ice Cave Creek drainage and the Cap Rock area and opportunities for loop hikes from Palmer Lake. This project will be completed through a partnership with the Town of Palmer Lake, Denver Group, Pikes Peak Group,

▲ Pikes Peak Group snow class. Photo courtesy of Neil Butterfield

Friends of the Peak, and Friends of Monument Preserve. Additional work days will be July 12, August 9, September 13, and October 11. Learn More Attend the monthly Pikes Peak Group meeting the third Tuesday of each month (except May, November, and December) at 7:30 pm at the All Souls Unitarian Church. Or, connect with members of the Pikes Peak Group by joining us on one of our many trips or classes. EL PUEBLO The El Pueblo Group meets every first Friday of the month at 7:00 pm in the Parish Hall of Ascension Episcopal Church at the corner of 18th and Grand Street, Pueblo. Please check with us before coming to a meeting as a guest, as sometimes a meeting is rescheduled. We always have a fun and interesting slide show and refreshments. We are a small but very active group, with outings on most weekends year round. Favorites are snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, biking, and hiking in the beautiful uncrowded southern Colorado mountains. We have everything from easy strolls to climbing 14ers. We would love to have you join us! ASPEN The Aspen Group has about 200 members in the Roaring Fork Valley and our ages vary from 2090. We recently completed a leadership training with Uwe Sartori. We do all types of trips and are always happy to welcome members from the other groups. This summer will include wildflower hikes and hikes with wilderness experts. We have the Gates Hut reserved for next winter, March 20-22, 2015. Call 970-925-6648 or e-mail to sign up. WESTERN SLOPE The Western Slope Group has 45 members from

all professions and states in the country. Members have a keen interest in hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing, cycling, geology, wildflowers, stewardship, and conservation. The group has adopted Flume Canyon in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area for trail monitoring and restoration. It is monitored monthly by our members. Our members contribute stories and photos to our monthly e-magazine, Canyon Call. In addition, the CMC Press has recently published our own member-written The Best Grand Junction Hikes Pack Guide, which is available in many outlets, including online at We may be small, but our activities are diverse, from hikes in McInnis Canyons and Horsethief Bench to the Colorado National Monument, Dominguez Canyon, The Lunch Loop area to Fisher Towers and Upheaval Dome in Utah’s Canyonlands; hikes to the Kebler Pass area, including the Dyke Trail and Scarp Ridge above Lake Irwin and cross-country skiing on the Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flattop mountain at 11,000 feet, where there are many classic and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities; plus downhill at Powderhorn and nearby Snowmass and Telluride. This summer we will offer hikes in the Elks, West Elks, and the San Juans. Come Hike or Cross-Country Ski with Us Interested in learning more about the Western Slope Group? Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month at the Masonic Lodge at 2400 Consistory Court just off First Street in Grand Junction. Meetings generally feature a prominent speaker from the Western Slope. For more information, contact Stanley Nunnally at (970) 640-4160 or stanleynunnally@

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Safety first Lightning Safety in the Mountains Five Key Decisions for Backcountry Travelers By Brenda Porter

Illustration by Aerie Medicine

My hair was literally standing on end in a halo around my head. Tingling, prickly sensations spread across my neck and arms and it felt like electricity was coursing through my body. It was time to make a decision, and fast! Those of us who spend time in the mountains and backcountry are faced with making decisions about lightning safety every time we head outside during Colorado’s summer thunderstorm season. According to research compiled by John Gookin, Curriculum & Research Manager at the National Outdoor Leadership School, there are five key decisions for backcountry travelers: time visits to high risk areas according to weather patterns; seek safer terrain if you hear thunder; avoid trees; avoid long conductors; and get into lightning position. Let’s take a closer look at five lightning safety decisions in the backcountry: 1.Time your trip according to weather patterns

Living in Colorado, we are all familiar with the typical afternoon storm. Sometime after noon, the skies darken, thunderheads develop, and before you know it – Kaboom! – a dramatic thunderstorm erupts, resulting in millions of volts of electricity, heat, and a thunderous blast from rapidly expanding air. Plan your summit turn-around time to avoid high, exposed peaks and ridges, as well as wide-open fields and plateaus during predictable storm activity. Noon is a common time to be off high peaks during the summer months.

2. Seek safer terrain if you hear thunder

Peaks, ridges, and open fields are at high risk for lightning. These areas attract direct strikes, which cause up to 5% of lightning fatalities. If you hear thunder, (which means lightning is less than 10 miles away) descend in a gully, rather than on a ridge, if possible. Also, avoid water and shallow caves. Seek lower risk areas such as a depression, ravine, or a patch of uniform trees that are below nearby high points. A vehicle with a metal roof (not convertible) or a mod16

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ern house are the safest places from lightning.

3. Avoid trees

Lightning “side flash” jumps from high points, such as tall trees, to other nearby objects. Pay attention to tree locations when you set up your tent, especially the tallest trees in an area and stay away. If you are forced to travel through a forest during a thunderstorm, try to avoid proximity to tree trunks.

4. Avoid conductors

Metal hiking poles, crampons, fishing rods, wet climbing ropes, and water don’t attract lightning; but if it comes in contact with any of these items, electricity has a direct route to the human who is in touching them. Get away from these objects during a thunderstorm, if possible.

5. Lightning position

When it is impractical to get to safer ground, use what NOAA calls the “lightning desperation position.” Ground current is the cause of 50% of lightning fatalities. Reduce your risk by keeping your feet close together and staying low. Squat or sit on a sleeping pad or insulated clothing. Cover your ears with your hands and close your eyes. Never lie down (even in your tent) during an electrical storm;

it will increase your exposed surface area to ground current. Even standing with your feet together is a safety improvement over a wide stance. This is because when your feet are wide apart, one foot is closer to the lightning strike which can cause a dangerous difference in voltage entering between your two feet. When my hair was standing on end, I was taking part in a lightning education class, so my safety decision was easy – step back from the Van de Graaff generator that was creating static electricity to demonstrate lightning. I’ve heard many stories from mountain hikers who had a close call – also known as a “near miss” – with storms threatening and their hair frizzing out. These five lightning safety decisions will help us all to keep our hair in place, and more importantly, help avoid a serious lightning incident.

Read more about lightning safety:

NOLS Backcountry Lightning Risk Management: www. National Weather Service, Lightning Safety: http://www. Lightning Safety Myths and Facts from NOAA

Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice. Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit nearly 100 times a year.

Myth: If it’s not raining or there aren’t clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning.

Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm. Myth: A lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted. Fact: The human body does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning myths. Imagine if someone died because people were afraid to give CPR! Myth: If outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree to stay dry. Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. Better to get wet than fried!

Myth: Structures with metal, or metal on the body (jewelry, cell phones, Mp3 players, watches, etc), attract lightning. Fact: Metal conducts, but does not attract lightning. Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference on where lightning strikes. When lightning threatens, take proper protective action immediately by seeking a safe shelter. Don’t waste time removing metal, but do stay away from metal fences or railing. Wet climbing ropes also conduct electricity. Myth: If trapped outside and lightning is about to strike, I should lie flat on the ground. Fact: Lying flat increases your chance of being affected by potentially deadly ground current. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, keep moving toward a safe shelter.

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Our Mountain Classroom CMC Schools Prepare Members to Achieve Their Outdoor Goals "Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous." — Reinhold Messner

HAMS alumni build a tent pad at Kahiltna Base Camp, Alaska.


n the summer of 2011, while I was belaying my two teammates to the summit of Denali for our near-midnight summit snapshots, I had a few moments of calm to reflect on what I was doing up high; how it came to be that I was leading a team up this beautiful mountain. Only six years earlier I was stuck on idle in my quest to do the last half of the Colorado 14ers. I did not possess the knowledge, skills, experience, and confidence I needed to continue. So I did what many have done before me when their mountaineering ambitions exceeded their abilities: I joined the Colorado Mountain Club and went back to school. One of the best benefits members receive from the Colorado Mountain Club is outdoor recreation skills and safety training in


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a variety of outdoor activities. Want to learn about ice climbing, rock climbing, and winter survival? There are CMC schools that do that.You’re new to Colorado and have an interest in acquiring some basic backcountry and Colorado wilderness travel skills? Welcome to Denver’s Wilderness Trekking School. Interested in an alternative to fighting I-70 traffic and wanting to experience winter backcountry skiing or snowshoeing? The Pikes Peak Winter Schools will get you ready. Aspiring to climb tall mountains the world over? The High Altitude Mountaineering Schools in Boulder, Denver, and Pikes Peak will get you ready. Want to learn about fly fishing? The Colorado Mountain Club has you covered with its Fly Fishing School.Want to ski 14ers and navigate

through avalanche territory? Our AIARE 1 and Ski Mountaineering Schools will help you enjoy and survive the winter season. Schools can run one day, multi-day, or modular. CMC members have flexibility in how they pursue their curriculum goals. Each year, the Colorado Mountain Club trains over a thousand members who use their newly minted skills to tackle the Colorado backcountry in a variety of outdoor recreation disciplines. For the outdoor recreation industry, one of the major goals is public safety. The acquisition of a body of knowledge, skill sets, and experience related to the activity undertaken is one of the surest ways of reaching that goal. The CMC’s approach is to provide a progressive learning environment

through a series of specialized schools that focus on subjects of interest to the members. Not everyone wants to climb rock or scale Aconcagua. Some want to be able to backpack or learn to use a map and compass. Some just want to know how to pick out a pair of good hiking shoes. With the diversity of schools offered by the Colorado Mountain Club (over 50 schools), no subject is wanting, no member need unmet. How is the CMC able to build an inventory of high quality schools without imposing huge costs on its members? By tapping into its greatest resource: CMC member volunteers. The Colorado Mountain Club has a wealth of well-trained and experienced members in a host of outdoor recreation disciplines. In addition, some of A HAMS alumnus in Ecuador climbs Cotopaxi.

the CMC communities provide professional training opportunities to current and potential CMC instructors. This includes being trained by American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) certified professionals. It is true that some of our best instructors started out as our best students. Our School Directors were once Senior Instructors. The member who did not know how to swing an ice axe was evaluated for instructor potential, recruited, trained, and now is the one teaching a CMC member how to swing the ice axe. Students coming into the schools can be confident that they are working with instructors who are well trained and experienced. How do our schools actually work? Let’s look at Denver’s Wilderness Trek-

king School (WTS). School Director Joe Griffith has a committee that manages the school’s schedule, curriculum, roster, marketing, and communications. They have a progressive WTS instructor development program: the Assistant Instructor works up to Senior Instructor over a period of years. The committee ensures that each class is consistent in its teaching methodology and education outcome expectations. Instructors have training days to attend prior to each school session. There is a curriculum to follow. There are performance metrics to be met. Because of this discipline, the Wilderness Trekking School over the years has provided a consistent high-quality program that prepares our CMC members for achieving

AIARE 1 students discuss an avalanche case.

HAMS alumni tackle Denali.

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their outdoor goals.The school is mindful of instructor recruitment and retention. The goal is to have the volunteer instructors do their tour of duty with qualified volunteer replacements right behind. This infrastructure and methodology is consistently practiced throughout all the CMC schools. Colorado Mountain Club schools enrich our members’ outdoor recreation experience. Because of the emphasis on skills acquisition and experience building, the CMC consistently produces a better, safer, more skilled and aware outdoor recreationalist. Our members not only possesses the skill sets and experience necessary to be safe and successful in pursuing their outdoor endeavors, but they also learn about the values and ethics that are important to the CMC, such as Leave No Trace. One of the future challenges for the Colorado Mountain Club is providing education opportunities to members beyond the Front Range. The CMC is committed to providing education opportunities to all of its members. Our Front Range CMC communities are resource-rich in volunteers who can build and run schools. Some of our smaller CMC communities are not able to

BMS alumni descend after a climb of Pyramid Peak.


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mobilize a cadre of instructors across a diverse range of outdoor recreation activities. What to do? The CMC State Safety and Leadership Committee is piloting a program called “School in A Box.” The concept is pretty simple–gather up the resources and transport them to our smaller CMC communities, delivering a la carte training. This concept is not new. Bill Houghton, a long-time Pikes Peak volunteer leader and instructor, led a CMC Trip Leader School program for the CMC Aspen members. We are keeping that tradition alive and looking to build on it. The Denver Trip Leader School provided the resources for the latest CMC Trip Leader School in Aspen this past May. In addition to School in a Box programs, another potential tool is technology. The Internet, GoToMeeting, WebEx, YouTube, these all can be utilized to present ondemand knowledge classes for a variety of outdoor recreation subjects. We would have revolving field practicals around the state to complete the hands-on training and skill building required by the CMC schools. With the backing of our volunteers, we’d be able to build sustainable programs that

bring the same education opportunities our Front Range members enjoy to the rest of the CMC communities. When we start moving towards accomplishing these aggressive goals, we will find them tempered by money and resource capacity. It will take pilot programs, small successes, hard selling, and CMC community buy-in. It will take time, patience, and hard work. The outcome is well worth the effort. Think about it. Our members engage in high-risk activities. Our education and training programs are one of the best ways we can mitigate risk. It is our contribution to efforts to increase public safety in the Colorado outdoors. Through our schools, we are saving lives in the Colorado backcountry and creating lifelong advocates for preserving and protecting the Colorado outdoors. The next time you see your CMC school director or instructor, thank them for their effort, dedication, and passion. They just may have saved your life and played a role in your success. I can say with certainty they have done both for me. If you want to be one of the instructors or run a school, step up. The CMC needs you! △

Featured CMC Schools June through August June 7 June 10 June 10 June 10 June 11 June 16 June 23 June 24 June 28 July 23 August 6

Trip Leadership School Basic GPS, Compass, and Map Reading Workshop Rock Leading School Basic Rock School-Session B Basic Mounteering School-Colorado Wilderness Backpacking Teen Ventures! Outdoor Leadership Summit Rock Seconding School Backpacking School Astronomy for Educators Traditional Lead Climbing School Backpacking School

Find more classes and trips at

BMS rock climbing students.

CMC schools are your pathway to mountaineering success.

BMS students on a field practical.

AIARE 1 instructor John Morrone leads his team throught avalanche territory.

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The Best Aspen Hikes Exploring the Roaring Fork Valley and Beyond

By Christian Green

The Maroon Bells reflected in Maroon Lake. Photo by Rod Martinez

In early June, CMC Press will publish The Best Aspen Hikes, which includes 20 hikes within an hour or so drive of Aspen. The pack guide easily fits into your back pocket or daypack and not only features hikes within a short drive of town but also trails near Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, and Leadville. Casual hikers will be awed by the reflection of the iconic Maroon Bells in Maroon Lake, one of the prettiest and most photographed spots in North America, while they stroll along the Maroon Bells Scenic Loop. Conversely, experienced hikers will revel in the challenge presented by the twin-summited Mount Sopris, 22

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which rises more than 6,000 feet above the Roaring Fork Valley to serve as a stunning backdrop to the town of Carbondale. In addition, trailblazers will delight in the opportunity to hike to the top of the state’s highest named pass—Electric Pass—where they will be rewarded with stunning views of the fourteeners Capitol Peak (14,130 feet), North Maroon (14,014 feet) and Maroon (14,156 feet) peaks, Snowmass Mountain (14,092 feet), Pyramid Peak (14,018 feet), and Castle Peak (14,265 feet). Farther from town, near Glenwood Springs, awaits the enchanting Hanging Lake. Designated a National Natural Landmark in 2011, the

travertine lake is known for its crystal clear aquamarine water and alluring waterfalls. For outdoor enthusiasts who would rather stay in close proximity to Aspen, the Rio Grande Trail, a paved wheelchair-accessible path, allows for easy access to many of Aspen’s parks and provides a beautiful panorama of the surrounding mountains and Roaring Fork River. Another option, though much more strenuous, is Ute Trail, which climbs high above town and offers striking views of Aspen. In addition to detailed comments, route descriptions, and directions, each of the 20 hikes contains a map segment,

elevation gain, difficulty rating, estimated time of the hike, round-trip distance, and nearest landmark.

*** During my time as director of publishing for CMC Press, I have had the privilege to hike several of the trails in our pack guides. Taking into consideration that the project manager for the Aspen book, Rod Martinez, lives in Grand Junction, I decided that I would hike the two trails—Tim-

berline Lake and Native Lake—closest to the Front Range and spare him the longer drive to the Leadville area. Although Native Lake and Timberline Lake are within a few miles of each other and transport the hiker to serene and scenic mountain lakes, the former takes you above tree line, where you are exposed to the elements, while the latter is a short, fairly level hike. Only 10 miles west of Leadville—and less than an hour from Aspen when Independence Pass

is open—Timberline Lake makes for a pleasant family hike. It is also barely two hours from Denver, so when the temperatures begin to soar along the Front Range, a day trip to historic Leadville and Timberline Lake is a fantastic way to beat the summertime heat. What follows is the description of the Timberline Lake Trail from The Best Aspen Hikes:

The lake from the eastern shore. Photo by Christian Green

At the trailhead. The Colorado Trail and Timberline Lake Trail are the same trail for a brief stretch at the beginning of the hike. Photo by Christian Green

The poisonous Amanita muscaria is plentiful along the trail. Photo by Christian Green

Shortly after the hike begins, the trail crosses Lake Fork. Photo by Christian Green

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Timberline Lake Trail Maps:

Trails Illustrated, Holy Cross/Reudi Reservoir, Number 126; USGS, Homestake Reservoir 7.5 minute

Elevation Gain:


855 Feet Easy

Round-Trip Distance:

4.4 miles (more if you continue hiking along the western side of the lake)

Round-Trip Time:

3–4 hours (plus time to enjoy the lake)

Nearest Landmark:


Comment: If you’re looking for an easy hike near Leadville, Timberline Lake Trail is an excellent choice. A relatively level and short trail leads to a remarkably beautiful lake, which not only offers picturesque views of the lake’s placid waters, but also of the surrounding Holy Cross Wilderness Area. The lake also offers some good catch-andrelease fishing for Colorado’s state fish, the greenback cutthroat trout, which was reintroduced into the lake by the Division of Wildlife in the spring of 1999. During wet summers, the trail is also a prime location to spot wild mushrooms, such as the poisonous Amanita muscaria (a red-capped mushroom, with white or yellow warts), which grows in close proximity to the many coniferous trees that line the trail. Getting There: During the summer, when Independence Pass is open, take CO 82 east from Aspen over the pass to US 24 ( just under 40 miles). Make a left and head north on US 24 for approximately 14.0 miles to mile marker 177, which is just south of downtown Leadville. There you will make a left on McWethy Drive/County Road 4. Continue on CR 4 for 1.5 miles, then turn right onto CR 9, which you will follow for 1.5 miles. Turn left (staying on CR 9) across from the large parking area (Leadville Junction) and cross the railroad tracks and Tennessee Creek. At the T-intersection (less than 0.5 mile from Leadville Junction), take a right (north) onto Turquoise Lake Road (also CR 9) and drive 7.0 miles (Turquoise Lake will be on your left for a good portion of this section of the road) to 104E, which is a short dirt road (less than 0.1 mile) that takes you to a small parking area for both Timberline Lake and segments 9 and 10 of The Colorado Trail. If Independence Pass is closed, travel north on CO 82 fromAspen to I-70, where you will head east toward Denver. Take exit 171 (CO 24) and head south ( just over 30 miles) to Leadville. In Leadville, make a right onto 6th Avenue and follow it until it runs into McWethy Drive (less than 1.0 mile). Make a right onto McWethy Drive and follow the directions above. The Route: The trailhead is on the northwestern side of the small parking area, and both the Continental Divide and The Colorado Trails can be accessed from here. Shortly after starting the hike (less than 0.1 mile), you will cross a bridge that takes you over Lake Fork, a stream that flows out of Turquoise Lake. You will actually be on The Colorado Trail for about 0.25 mile when you come to a split in the trail. At this juncture, The Colorado Trail heads off to the left (south), while Timberline Lake Trail, which is marked by two large metal Xs (in the ground), heads west toward the lake. Within a few hundred feet


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of the split, you will see a sign for the Holy Cross Wilderness Area, which you are about to enter. The first two-thirds of the trail is fairly level, going in and out of stands of evergreens. In the shady, wooded areas, many varieties of mushrooms can be spotted near the trail. However, be aware that some of these mushrooms are poisonous and should not be eaten. While heading up to Timberline Lake, you will also pass through several small meadows, many of which contain wildflowers during midsummer. For the length of the trail, Lake Fork flows just off to the right and then the left, and a couple of times it crosses the trail; it can easily be forded during the summer and fall, via rock footpaths in the creek. At about 1.5 miles into the hike, the trail begins to ascend toward the lake, as you gain a few hundred feet in elevation. This is the only portion of the hike that gets the heart pumping. However, the trail quickly levels out again after only about 0.25 mile. Once you reach the lake, at approximately 2.2 miles, grab your camera and take a minute to savor the pristine views of the lake. You can then continue for a few tenths of a mile along the southern and western end of the lake, which takes you to a marshy area where a small stream enters Timberline Lake, on the north side. Be aware that the trail ends before you get to Lake Fork, although there are a couple of social trails on the east side of the lake. Timberline Lake Trail is a great hike for families, but it can often get crowded during summer weekends. It’s also a nice spot for a picnic and for trying your luck at catching greenback cutthroat trout. Once you spend some time admiring the beauty of Timberline Lake and enjoying some lunch, retrace your steps and head back down the path toward the parking area.

104 pages, 4 x 7, rounded corners, 60 color photos, 21 color maps, paperbound, $12.95, ISBN 978-1-937052-08-9. GUIDEBOOK/COLORADO. AVAILABLE IN EARLY JUNE

Also from CMC Press: The Best Front Range Hikes for Children An easy-to-use guide to 46 of the best Front Range hikes for children * Kid-friendly trail ratings and symbols. * Detailed directions and full-color easily readable maps. * Sidebars on historical and educational information, as well as activities children can enjoy on the way home from each hike. Colorado’s Front Range is a wonderful place to introduce children to the outdoors and hiking. From Fort Collins and Rocky Mountain National Park, to Boulder and Denver, and south to Colorado Springs, trails abound for kids who love spending time outside. This essential guide helps parents select age- and ability-appropriate trails at a glance with a handy rating system. Choose trails that are fun and just challenging enough for children between the ages of 2 and 16. From wheelchair-accessible to more challenging trails, the 46 hikes that comprise The Best Front Range Hikes for Children were selected for their variety, ease of access, unique natural beauty, educational opportunities, and proximity to some of the best known attractions along the Front Range, including the Platte River, Pikes Peak, Mount Evans, and Rocky Mountain National Park. Children may spot wild turkeys while exploring the Boulder Creek Trail, near Colorado Springs; enjoy visiting two historic homesteads in the Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, near Fort Collins; or catch a glimpse of bighorn sheep along the Waterton Canyon Trail, south of Denver. Tony Parker is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast, who spent his early years hiking in the foothills near Colorado’s Pikes Peak. Years of hiking with his wife, Nancy, and their three kids, along with his love of teaching 7th–12th grade students, helped entice him to share some of his favorite Front Range hikes for children.

304 pages, 6x9, rounded corners, 120 color photos, 51 maps, paperbound, $24.95, ISBN 978-1937052-06-5. G U I D E B O O K / C O LO R A D O. AVAILABLE NOW

The trail is generally level; though there is a bit of an incline approximately 1.5 miles into the hike. Photo by Christian Green

Timberline Lake from the end of the trail. Photo by Christian Green

Trail & Timberline


12 Climbers, 8 Days, 4 Peaks, 1 Cleanup, and a Little Tequila‌ By Dave Covill with Roger Wendell Summit of La Malinche. Photo by Dave Covill

In mid-January the CMC sponsored an Adventure Travel trip to climb the Mexican volcanoes. This High Altitude Mountaineering Section (HAMS)-level trip was led by Dave Covill and Tom Chapel, from January 11–19, 2014. The group trained for this trip, climbing Pikes Peak, Grizzly and Torreys (from Loveland Pass), Quandary, and other winter routes. Most participants were graduates of HAMS classes taught by the CMC. The CMC was well represented with climbers form the Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs, and San Juan Groups. Leader Dave had been to Orizaba before, as had Lake City climber Patrick, but not to any of the other volcanoes, so this was to be a chance for all to visit some new ground. 26

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Our roster consisted of seven mountain men and five mountain women: James Graham, Patrick Kelley, Tom Chapel, Keir Hart, Dustin Steffenson, Jorge Gonzalez-Calvillo, Natalie Moran, Margaret Turner, Kelly Greaser, Laurance Desmaris, Daedra Pierce, and Dave Covill. About half had climbed high before, and the others were looking to establish new personal altitude records. We flew American Airlines through Dallas on a Saturday and on to Mexico City, where we were whisked away immediately by shuttle van drivers Antonio and Joel to Tlachichuca (Tlach), at the base of Orizaba, the 18,500-foot highpoint of Mexico, and third highest peak in North America. Our route provided great views of the Colorado Front Range peaks, then the Gulf Coast seashore in Texas, and finally the high volcanoes, our destination.

La Malinche cleanup during the March Mexico trip. Photo by Roger Wendell


We were hosted by the Canchola family in Tlach. Their bed and breakfast for climbers is a distinct contrast to the other outfit in town, operated by Senor Reyes, which is more European-styled, with platform bunks and cooking tables. The Cancholas have an eight bedroom motel-style compound, with a dining room where they serve breakfast and dinner. They are the only people who can supply canister gas for non-white gas stoves. We appreciated the hospitality of Joaquin Canchola, daughter Maribel, and the entire family, who made us feel right at home by immediately saying, “Help yourselves to the cerveza in the refrigerator….” Of course, we did so immediately upon arrival. It turns out they count the empty bottles to bill you later; what a concept! Maribel gave us cooking lessons during our time there, including mole for enchilada sauce, and salsa verde, her specialty. Sunday is Market Day in Tlach, so we all accompanied Maribel through the closed-off town streets where hundreds of vendors were plying their wares: clothing, music, food, and beverages. We stocked up on fresh fruit and veggies, cheese, and meat and tortillas, and soon we were headed up the long, rough road to Orizaba in 4WD trucks, all of them older than our youngest climber. Just when we thought we would have to beg for a potty break, we arrived at the Piedra Grande Hut at 14,000’, just above timberline. This hut has platform bunk space for maybe 60 climbers, but not us; we had brought our own tents. We set them up a hundred feet higher than the hut,

Atop Pyramid of the Sun. Photo by Dave Covill

and went off on an acclimation hike. I had originally thought we would be satisfied going to around 15,000’ (or lower), but not this group. No, the group kept going to the base of the Labyrinth, an icy steep section at about 15,500’ where the approach ends and the real mountain begins. Here the scree stops and the snow starts, and it’s time to crampon up if going higher. The next day we slept in, and then hiked to the top of the Labyrinth at about 16,200’. Natalie wanded the route downward, and we each brought group gear and water to stash in duffels at the base. Jorge, who lugged over three liters of water to cache, was our primary Spanish speaker, having grown up in Mexico. James and I were also reasonably fluent, so we had a very easy time communicating. It is possible to camp

here or even higher up top, but this is a cold, dark, desolate place, and the snow would be difficult to melt for water and would taste horrible. We were committed to a 4,500’ day hike from the hut, but making a cache helped on summit day. I had arranged for the Cancholas to drive up and create a dinner spread for us, unbeknownst to the gang. When we came down from our cache and acclimation run, the group was delighted to learn that freeze dried meals were not on the menu; Maribel had chicken soup, rice, bread, and other treats! We had made arrangements to hire local Mexican guides and tent guards, and met them at that point. Lead Guide Vicente Azpeitia has climbed Orizaba about 100 times, and Ixta about 300 times. (There Trail & Timberline


La Malinche cleanup. Photo by Dave Covill

aren’t a lot of different peaks down there that folks want to be led up, so Azpeitia tends to repeat a lot of climbs.) Our need for guides was almost entirely to escort slower climbers or help someone down who wasn’t on their A-game that day. We all decided that paying guides was well worth the minimal cost. The Cancholas took down a climber who was suffering from mild AMS, who recuperated immediately upon arrival in Tlach, and performed well on the other peaks. The 3am wakeup call seemed early, but we had clear skies with almost calm wind and about 25-degree temps at the hut. The headlights spread out naturally, as there was no way to herd cats on a dozen climbers with widely varying speeds. Tom, Dustin, Keir, and other faster climbers led us up. Soon we all gathered at the cache and divvied gear, and the faster climbers headed us up. Dawn broke with the sun rising on our left as we climbed southward up the north slopes of Orizaba. Once above the Labyrinth gully, we began to sense that the calm below did not translate into ideal conditions above. Once we were on the open snow at 16,200’, we were treated to temps closer to 20 degrees, with a steady 20-25 mph wind from the west, to our right. Once we were well up on the upper slopes, at about 17,500’, the faint trail became more well-used, and began to switchback left and right. We welcomed the zigs to the left, cursed the zags to the 28

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right into the wind, and broke onto the crater rim close to the summit into a relative calm. The crater itself is impressive, perhaps a half mile across, and about that deep. My summit shot has Kelly, Margaret, Laurence, and others sharing the warm south-facing ash in a sheltered nook with me. After a few group photos and lunch we headed down, content that we had made the summit of Orizaba, our primary goal of the trip. We passed by a steep narrow chute in the Labyrinth, and Vicente quietly noted that this was the spot where the young American climber had perished a week earlier in a fall.

*** Wednesday was a scheduled rest and recreation day, and a half dozen climbers headed with Maribel to tour the cathedral and markets of Puebla, a city of three million an hour to the west, Mexico’s fourth largest and noted for being the home of “mole,” a dark sauce that usually accompanies enchiladas. The rest chose to climb Sierra Negra, a 15,100-foot sub-peak of Orizaba, with a huge radar dish on the summit. This peak has well over a thousand feet of prominence, and is the fifth highest in Mexico. We regrouped back at the Canchola House to inflict damage upon livers and reputations. Many bottles were also harmed, or so I was told…. Thursday we travelled two hours northwest of Puebla to La Malinche, 14,600’, the sixth highest peak in Mexico. The trailhead

at 10,200’ is gated with rangers and a small store. We trudged up the usual dirt path straight uphill, crisscrossing with a road to a small radio tower. We were astonished to see all the trash, not present in such quantities at the more popular Orizaba and Ixta National Parks. Glass, plastic, wrappers, you name it, it was everywhere. We broke out of the trees and spread out to make our way to the summit ridge. A final 30-foot Class 3 section found nine on top at once, a real treat. I gathered the group and asked, “Who has any plastic bags, any size?” We came up with a half dozen Safeway bags, and I promptly dug deep into my pack to my seldom-used “10 Essentials” bag, and found two large black plastic leaf bags I keep for emergency bivy purposes. “Who wants to do a cleanup?!?” We had unanimous participation within seconds, and soon we were cleaning up every scrap on La Malinche as we descended, except the ubiquitous orange peels, and of course white TP. We were able to completely clean the mountain down to the 12,000’ level, and we carried all the bags to the rangers below for disposal. Guide Vicente was in tears, and said it was the coolest thing he had ever seen. He was astounded that Americans would take care of his playground, and expressed dismay for his fellow countrymen, who so often take the cleanliness of the land, water, and air for granted. It felt good to do something positive and make an impact, at the cost of an

Summit of Ixta. Photo by Dave Covill

La Malinche cleanup. Photo by Dave Covill

extra hour to the trucks. Ixta, a 17,100-foot peak and the third highest in Mexico, was next up. We camped at the trailhead the night prior (Friday) in a huge dirt parking lot, which we had almost to ourselves. Up and hiking by 4 a.m. again, this was a very long hike, requiring more physical effort than Orizaba, with lots of ups and downs. Ixta is known as the Sleeping Lady, and indeed if you observe her from Mexico City, you can easily imagine her: Up and over the Feet, the Knees, across the snows of the Belly, to the Chest. Ixta has maybe six thousand feet of total gain, over about seven miles one way. (Compare this to Orizaba,which has no ups and downs, and is maybe three to four miles one way, 4,500’ straight up.) Ixta has a nasty 1,000-foot-plus scree slope, and snow up high to cross. Ten of us summitted, and it was our most on top at one time. Ixta has some controversy as to which of three points on the flat summit crater rim is the actual highpoint. We determined the actual summit (there is some controversy on’s trip reports) to be the southeast spot; the southwest is 10 feet lower, and

the northeast is three feet lower and half a mile away. I had my trusty 5X power hand level along for this reason. It’s a cool climb; once up on the ridge you can look east to Puebla and west to Mexico City in the dark and see city lights, with Orizaba visible a hundred miles to the east once daylight comes. Mexico City air pollution is horrendous, and we were glad that it seemed we had climbed up out of the smog and we felt like we were above it. To look down ten thousand vertical feet westward into a city of 23 million was also a treat. It’s hard to imagine a similar view near any other city that size. We passed by about 300 Mexicans on their way up on Saturday, some in sneakers and clutching a single water bottle. Most seemed intent to spend a night halfway up, a real treat for city-folks, I am sure. Twenty miles south, Popo, at 17,400’ and Mexico’s second highest peak, puffed smoke at us the entire trip. It has been off-limits to climbing since 1994. Will it ever be visited by any of us? Stay tuned.… We spent the night in Amecameca, an eastern suburb of Mexico City, and enjoyed a fine dining experience at a nice restau-

rant. Sunday we drove across the metro area to the Pyramids, breakfasted there, and climbed the Pyramid of the Sun and the Moon, the third and fourth highest pyramids in the world after the Great Pyramids of Egypt. The Aztec culture was impressive to observe, and we learned a great deal about the ancient ones and their uses for obsidian and yucca plants.

*** Demand for this trip was sky-high, and the CMC Adventure Travel Committee authorized a second trip with an identical itinerary, led by Roger Wendell on March 1. He lined up another dozen participants, and they headed south with many garbage bags to finish the La Malinche cleanup. Their trip consisted of Mike Price, Matt Klimock, Mark Silas, Bruce Miskulin, Zach Randall, Bruce Randall, Matt DiPaolo, Charles Cummings, David Bower, Kevin Willey, Chris Kimmet, and Roger Wendell. The group had issues with transportation but overcame them to succeed on the four peaks. Most participants were able to summit at least two of the peaks. They enjoyed good weather and great food, like the first trip. △

Highlights from the January trip: • Five of 12 participants were women. • Five CMC groups were represented: Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and San Juan. • Four volcanoes were climbed, three people actually got to the top of all four, and nine of 12 climbed three. It was highly successful from a climbing standpoint. • Health: Only one person had mild AMS one night; no one else was sick at all. • Game plan: It couldn’t have gone much better; everyone was happy with how it went overall. Feedback from surveys will help to improve future trips to the Mexican volcanoes. Trail & Timberline


HOOKED ON FLY FIShING The Cast of the Rod, the Feel of the Strike, the Joy of Spending Time on the River By Judy Hildner Practicing casting technique. Photo by Frank Burzynski

A brilliant blue sky stretched overhead. The sun flashed on the rippling water. A bird’s call sounded across the low murmur of the river. Crash! A trout hit with violence, shattering the day’s calm.


erb Grotheer, Jonathan Walter, and Michelle Edwards, along with other members of the Fly Fishing Section of the Denver Group of the Colorado Mountain Club, have experienced the rush of adrenaline that comes with the hit of a trout countless times. It can be unforgettable and addictive, drawing them back to the state’s rivers and streams again and again. But casting a rod and feeling a strike is 30

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just a small part of the allure of the sport. The exquisite pleasure of spending time in the mountains or in the sweeping spaces of an open river is equally satisfying. So it’s no coincidence that fly fishing is a section within the CMC, offering schools in fly fishing and fly tying, as well as clinics, seminars, and trips. *** Grotheer said his wife gave him a fly-

tying kit for Christmas in the early 1970s, although he had been a reel fisherman for many years. He fashioned his first fly with a bit of peacock feather and decided to try it out on the South Platte River below Deckers at Trumble. “On my very first cast, a fish cashed into the fly. It startled the heck out of me,” Grotheer said. “I thought, ‘wow, maybe there is something to this fly fishing after all.’”

Herb Grotheer

Jonathan Walter

Fly Fishing School is designed for both experienced and novice anglers. Photo by Frank Burzynski Michelle Edwards

Walter had done some spin and bait fishing with his sister during summers in Maine but it wasn’t until he moved to Colorado in 1988 that he decided to try fly fishing. “I do better with instruction,” he said. “My nephew came out to visit and we took a class together in 1989.” Walter was already a member of the CMC and, within a few years, he went to the Denver Council to ask about starting a fly fishing section with friend Steve Grout, who has since moved to Missoula, Montana. “We had our first meeting in 1994 with 10 or so people,” Walter said. Grotheer was one of those in attendance at the first meeting. He said he learned more in a year with the section than in some 25 years on his own. Two decades later, the group has grown to some 120 members, including Edwards, who joined in 2008. “I took the fly fishing school. I pretty much ran with it, going on section trips when I could and just going out by myself once or twice a week yearround,” Edwards said. She also became an instructor herself.

The school and outings with other fly fishermen are obviously enjoyable, but one of the most rewarding aspects of fly fishing for this trio is the solitary time spent on a river, absorbing the rhythms of nature. *** A Los Angeles native, the 75-year-old Grotheer came to Colorado in 1967, and retired from Martin Marietta in 1994. That was when he decided to get serious about fly fishing. He and his wife recently moved to Jefferson County, where he can grab his gear and be on the water in half an hour or so. “For me, it’s getting out and enjoying the Rocky Mountains,” Grotheer said. “It’s not about catching fish. I just enjoy being on the river. It’s not so much about catching a fish. If someone is out there and they don’t catch anything, maybe they go away disappointed with the day. I never feel that way.” Walter is 57 years old and a native of Cleveland, living now in Wheat Ridge. He has a “fairly” busy medical practice as a general internist but has remained committed to fly

fishing and the CMC section and school. Walter has enjoyed many pleasurable hours and days fishing, but his most memorable was on a stream that will remain nameless. “I was on a solo backpacking trip and it was the first time I’ve ever got what’s called a grand slam. A brown, a rainbow, a cut-throat, and a brook trout—not big fish, but that wasn’t the point,” Walter said. “It was a smaller stream, but I don’t want to say where.” He released those fish but has savored the accomplishment for a number of years. Walter also recalled a CMC trip last summer to the Western Slope, saying he stayed for another day or two after the rest of the group returned home. “It was in a beautiful canyon, not too early in the morning, about 8:30 a.m. or so,” Walter said. “I hiked up into the canyon and I saw this large mass up in a tree.” It turned out to be a huge owl that flew up and away, out of the canyon. “It wasn't a fishing memory but it was unforgettable,” Walter said about watching the huge bird take flight. “It's also a nice diversion, nice to get Trail & Timberline


Hands-on instruction during a fly fishing field day. Photo by Frank Burzynski

away,” Walter said about taking day trips to Clear Creek above Golden and other nearby streams. “I can be on the water within 40 minutes.” He also ties his own flies and spent one blustery Sunday in March refilling his tackle box, tying a couple dozen before telling about his experiences on the water. Edwards, like Grotheer, was born in Los Angeles but moved to Frisco in 1993 as a high school freshman. She now lives in Lakewood and is a Veterans Administration program analyst for the CHAMPVA and Spina Bifida programs. Edwards also is an avid skier but is truly hooked on fly fishing. “The best thing is a perfect dry fly cast, perfect drift to that waiting fish and then them grabbing it,” she wrote in an email. “You get them in, get a good look, and let them go back out. It’s definitely like the perfect powder telemark turn, something that just makes you smile. If you’re crazy enough, you fish all the way through the winter.” Edwards has done day trips to the Yampa River that began at 4:30 a.m. and ended at 10:30 p.m., fishing all day in the sleet and snow. She also remembers, “doing a barrel roll in the South Platte in February to keep the fish I was trying to land. But it but went straight downstream through my legs while I was trying to net it.” She fishes Clear Creek, St. Vrain, and Bear Creek— “any of the little local rivers where I can go fish for a couple hours after work or on the weekends.” Grotheer has fished all across Colorado and checked in at countless fly fishing shops and marinas. He reported seeing a vending machine for flies at the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo on the Arkansas River. “I thought that was pretty enterprising,” Grotheer said, clearly tickled by the venture. “Imagine feeding some coins or a credit card into a vending machine and out comes an elk hair caddis or black ant fly. It’s just a few yards to the river and a cast.” Grotheer also has helped organize the fly fishing section along with Walter. “Currently, I'm chairman of the section,” Grotheer said, having taking over that leadership role fairly recently. “Jonathan is the fly-tying school director. Laurence Hoess is the fly-fishing school director.” 32

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An instructor demonstrates casting. Photo by Frank Burzynski

Grotheer said they all realize involving new people is critical for the section to survive and thrive. “There are people, maybe half or more of our members, interested in backpacking up to alpine lakes to fly fish,” he said. “I'm getting too old for stuff like that. . . . We have one guy who built his own rod, that's a little much for me, too.” Walter is also deeply committed to giving back to the sport. He has taught casting and is a certified casting instructor. *** The sport of fly fishing is rich in appeal for a broad spectrum of fishermen – men and

women, young and old. The rhythm of nature, from water flow and temperature to the hatch of insects in the spring, all plays into time spent fly fishing. Clearly, it has hooked these members of the CMC. △ For more information on the Fly Fishing Section of the Denver Group, go to

One of the most rewarding aspects of fly fishing is the solitary time spent on a river. Photo by Frank Burzynski

Trail & Timberline


Neptune Mountaineering: A Colorado Climbing Tradition and the End of an Era

An Interview with Gary Neptune, January 2014

By Rick Casey

As anyone who climbs or backcountry skis in Boulder knows, Neptune Mountaineering is no ordinary mountaineering shop. And if you spend enough time there – or happen to attend one of the Thursday night shows that both inform and entertain – you are likely to meet the person who is responsible for the vision that created this venerable institution that is so treasured by so many: none other than Gary Neptune, who can still be seen walking around the shop, tending to business, barefoot, as is his wont.

Gary (on the left) at his first shop on 30th Street, 1973. Photo by Gary Neptune

This article is based on an interview I recently conducted with Gary, which I wanted to do for a couple of reasons. The first reason was the fact that the shop had been sold at the end of 2012 to a Texas corporation, Backwoods Retail. That sale prompted me to wonder. What would this mean for the cultural aspects of this revered shop? Would the new owner recognize and value the social capital associated with its history? Secondly, would Gary’s strong support of the CMC over its history be recognized and preserved into the future? When I approached Gary with the idea, he was enthusiastic in wanting to do the interview and answer these questions. First and foremost, it needs to be stated that Gary’s support of the CMC has been generous and unstinting over the years. The store has given a 10 percent discount to CMC members since it opened on April 1, 1973; in addition, CMC instructors and trip leaders received even greater discounts. 34

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Just imagine how large an amount that has been over 41 years! How many mountaineering shops have offered that level of community support? I cannot think of one. It should also be noted that beyond the price discounts, the Boulder CMC group has subleased its space for its clubroom from Neptune Mountaineering since 2000. A spacious area (the current location of the Yoga Loft) was rented for years at well below market rates. The current clubroom location, when a smaller space was renegotiated and remodeled, was created in 2010. This sublease arrangement has continued with the new ownership of the shop and has worked out well. My first contact with Neptune Mountaineering was in 1981 when I moved to Colorado. I purchased some mountaineering sunglasses at the shop when it was on 30th Street. Gary had started this shop after working for Holubar, an early supplier of mountaineering equipment. The

Holubar managers cultivated a culture of customer loyalty based on employees who shared their passion for the outdoors. Gary brought that passion and loyalty to Neptune Mountaineering. My first question to Gary was if he had a real plan when he opened his shop. And he quickly replied, “Not really. I just desperately wanted to live close to mountains!” This tremendous zeal for climbing and the outdoors leaps out from the photographs of Gary’s early trips, such as when he and his climbing partner rode their motorcycles from Colorado to southern Utah to climb Shiprock, which was little known at the time. In the early years of the shop, when the climbing community was quite small, he focused on boot repair for the more steady income than what selling climbing gear brought in. The climbing community was very close knit, and another climbing shop was not seen as a competitive threat but

Gary with climbing partner at Shiprock, New Mexico, circa 1970s. Photo by Gary Neptune

Gary working on a boot repair, 1973. Photo by Gary Neptune

as a welcome addition to that community. There weren’t many climbers in those days, to be sure! Rock climbing and mountaineering were still a fringe sport back in the 1970s, and it was possible to actually get to know most of the climbers in the area. Back then, the CMC was the only place in Boulder to take classes in outdoor sports, and Gary was certainly part of that. He led trips and taught in the schools, mostly with rock climbing, cross country skiing, and later high altitude mountaineering. An important development that was happening as Neptune Mountaineering was growing was “clean climbing.” This began to take hold in the late 1970s, as the sport grew in popularity and technical equipment gradually started to make the sport safer and accessible to more people. “Clean climbing” refers to the type of equipment used to protect the leader. Here it meant not using pitons, which are basi-

cally metal spikes that were hammered into cracks in the rock. Pitons protect the lead climber and provide belay and rappel anchors. However, this practice becomes quite destructive to the rock over time, which had been recognized in other areas. Though the modern clean climbing phenomenon in America originated in Yosemite, clean climbing techniques have been practiced for over 100 years in places such as Saxony, Germany. By the 1970s, however, when the sport was poised to expand rapidly, the invention of hex centrics by Yvon Chouinard and Tom Frost marked a revolution in popular climbing. The Yosemite climbing community quickly switched to this new, more environmentally sustainable form of protection, and the rest of the climbing community eventually followed. The transition was not instantaneous. Climbers were used to the security of pitons and had to learn to use and trust this new, more difficult method of protection.

(The story of Roger Briggs’ first ascent of the difficult Death and Transfiguration route in the Flatirons is illustrative of this. Roger had intended to use pitons the day of his ascent of the route in 1972 but decided to see if hexentrics would work. They did, convincing Roger to start using them over pitons.) Fortunately for climbing shops, this meant a new line of equipment to sell. As Gary recalled, however, this did not have a big impact for his shop at the time.Though it was still a small market, the innovation of clean climbing technology had huge implications. It improved the sustainability of the sport, ensuring that climbers could enjoy the sport in perpetuity without degrading the environment. “We loved hexes when they first appeared. They greatly improved protecting large cracks. I remember finding pieces of 2x4 wood in the Ruper crack when I first did it in September of 1971.” Later, when camming devices were invented (known as “Friends” and “Aliens”), this would be another quantum leap in the technology, allowing climbers to climb more safely, and, of course, benefitting the mountaineering shops by selling more gear. Neptune Mountaineering was one of the first shops in Colorado to offer this kind of gear. When sport climbing, which uses bolts in the rock for protection, took off in the 1980s, this offered yet another line of equipment to sell. As the trends of climbing (and skiing) changed, Neptune Mountaineering changed with them and survived the years as other outdoor equipment shops in the town came and went. By 1983 Gary decided the shop needed more space and better access to customers. So he moved from 30th Street to the Table Mesa Shopping Center. This location was in the current location of the Southern Sun Brewpub. It gave Neptune more space to display product, the opportunity to offer rentals on ski equipment and climbing shoes, and to add a service shop for skis. It was around this period too that Neptune began to present its “Thursday night shows”. These steadily grew into a venue where world famous mountaineers coming through Boulder would make many memorable presentations. These had first been started by Gary as very informal affairs. It was kind of like, “This is how I spent my summer vacation,’” chuckled Gary, as he reTrail & Timberline


In 1993, the shop moved into the Table Mesa shopping center. Photo by Gary Neptune

Part of the Neptune museum in glass cases. Photo by Gary Neptune

Standing, moveable displays of the Neptune museum. Photo by Gary Neptune

called one of his first shows being about his ascent of Mt. McKinley in the 1970s. They became so much more. In 1993 the shop moved into its present location, anchoring the northern end of the Table Mesa shopping center. I have many pleasant memories of these Thursday night shows over the years. For a long time attendees simply sat on the floor. You learned quickly to bring your own chair, usually a Crazy Creek chair or some variant that was easily carried in. The current 36

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arrangement, with dozens of folding chairs and a complete audio/visual system on a big screen, is quite luxurious by comparison. Many famous names have presented at these gatherings, certainly more than I can recall. But Lynn Hill, Chris Bonington, Layton Kor, Peter Habler, Ed Webster, Todd Skinner, Paul Piana, Marko Prezelj, Stefan Glowacz, Steph Davis, and Jonny Copp come to mind. Even Edmund Hillary once came, so I hear, though I did not attend that show. The other less famous, but

no less memorable, shows over the years have created an enduring legacy associated with Neptune Mountaineering and have made it a true center of the mountaineering culture in the American West. These inspiring talks have helped many pursue their own dreams of big trips, fantastic adventures, and personal development. When you visit the shop you cannot help but notice the amazing amount of paraphernalia that covers the walls throughout the store. Much of it is climbing- related,

Gary Neptune in the foyer of Neptune Mountaineering. Photo by Janine Fugere

and all of it is interesting and often quite humorous. Many are clearly from personal friends of Gary with an endearing note. Some are bittersweet as well. Some are pictures of climbers who perished in pursuing their love for these great but dangerous sports. Such is the amount of material in the “Neptune museum” that after the sale of the shop to Backwoods in 2012, there was a conscious effort to organize it better. Much of it now is in the auditorium area. Some of it is mounted in movable displays, allowing for quick rearrangement to create floor space for the Thursday night shows. The transfer of ownership to an outof-state corporation came as shock to the community. Neptune Mountaineering had become an institution to the local climbing and backcountry skiing culture. However, Gary reassures that the new owners recog-

nize the cultural value of the shop and is part of the reason he decided to sell to them. Backwoods Retail is a family-owned business and currently run by the daughter of the founder, who started his first store just one month earlier then Neptune’s. Their support of the culture around the shop was publicly acknowledged by the new owner from the start: “Neptune is a very big part of the Boulder community. We want to add to its prosperity.…” said new owner Jennifer Mull, CEO of Backwoods Retail, in an article which appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera on January 7, 2013. The CMC wishes every success to the new owner of Neptune Mountaineering and looks forward to continuing to work with this wonderful institution that has meant so much to the Club and the Boulder outdoor community over the years. △

Trail & Timberline


Revenge of the Trip Leader! By Woody Smith

Did you ever watch the Leader set the pace for forty folks, And wondered why he spent half an hour cracking jokes? Take the job yourself and make the “fire-eaters” quite content, While slow ones keep their courage up although their wind is spent, Perhaps you wonder why the trail he picks goes north instead of west, Just be patient; time will show you that the Leader's way is best.... (“The Leader,” Anonymous, T&T, January 1920)

The Trip Leader: a position of exaltation and scorn, and all that lies between. If you do it well, you can become a minor legend in the Colorado Mountain Club and your pack will ride high on your shoulders. If you lead poorly, everyone will know. While most CMC trips go well, and a majority of members seem to get along okay, given the sheer number of hikes per year, a few duds on both fronts are inevitable. Either way, rain or shine, the trip leader is supposed to be in control of the situation. But, as in politics, success often depends on the character of those to be led. Are they self-reliant or difficult? Do they buoy the party or drain its energy? Are they supportive or is there grumbling? For the most part, trip reports from the early days portray CMC hiking parties as cohesive and happy. Details were usually confined to the number of men and women in the party, directions to the trailhead, trail conditions, miles “tramped,” and elevation gained. Entertaining details, such as who made a pit stop three feet from the trail—and in front of the ladies—are decorously omitted. One incident of trying behavior was recalled by Al Ossinger, past CMC President and leader of at least 150 trips between 1972 and 1990. Back in the ‘70s, while leading a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, Ossinger was dogged the entire day, step for step by a female member of the 38

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party, her breathing almost always on the back of his neck: a Close Walker. Said Ossinger, “She was sort of a strange person, and hardly said a word the whole day... And she was right behind me the whole time. It was a bit unnerving.” Among the most common complaints voiced by the trip leaders with whom we spoke was a lack of preparation: either the hiker brings inadequate gear, or none at all, or the hiker overestimates their own ability. Mollie Graves, a CMCer since 1957, and leader of at least 100 trips said, “I got really aggravated when someone would show up without rain gear, or no lunch, or not enough water. They would wear sneakers instead of boots. They would wear jeans on a snowshoe hike. People just don't think. So, I would give them a lecture.” Sherri Durman, a member since 1979 and leader of at least 126 trips, also recalled lack of instruction being a problem. “People were supposed to bring wind gear, but apparently I hadn't specified that it should fit,” she said. Similarly, hikers who aren't as fit as they claimed have also posed a problem for leaders trying to achieve a balanced party. Marilyn Choske, who has led at least 200 trips since 1989, told the story of a twopeak, “D” hike that was shortened by one summit when one of the party kept needing to rest. It prolonged the trip by an hour. Said Choske, “Make sure you're conditioned.” Mollie Graves concurs, “You can't always trust what people say.” She recalled a selfdescribed peak bagger, who claimed to have been “all over the mountains.” The trouble was, he hadn't been out for 20 years. “He was out there wheezing away.... eventually we had to turn around.” Remember that the leaders are in command of the party and are responsible for the safe conduct of the trip. LET THE LEADER LEAD AND SET THE PACE

is the motto for all outings. Do not leave the party without permission of the leader. (CMC Schedule of Outings, 1935)

The most troublesome and inexplicable act for trip leaders is that of people who wander off without notice. Every leader seems to have at least one episode, with varying degrees of fallout. Mollie Graves was taken aback when one member of her party “ran screaming down the trail.” It turned out she was diabetic and needed insulin, which she, thankfully, did retrieve in time. Paul Stewart related an incident that occurred on a 14er climb. One member of the party wandered off as the party returned to the trailhead. Despite an impromptu search he was not found. Mountain rescue was called in, only to have the hiker turn up just as they assembled at the trailhead. On a similar note, Al Ossinger remembered when a dog attended a trip to Mt. Bierstadt. Though generally prohibited on Club trips, the “good dog” was allowed to go. Once unleashed, however, the dog chased a mountain goat over a cliff. Weather is always an unpredictable factor. Most leaders respect it. Marilyn Choske tells of a non-club trip to Mt. Elbert. When lightning moved in, Marilyn's husband had sparks dancing on his arm. They quickly retreated. Some leaders have required evidence of inclement weather. Mollie Graves recalls a particular incident of being chased off a peak: “Al Ossinger was struck by lightning. [After that] he was super cautious.” Sherri Durman's policy is more common and more democratic, as she lets the group decide. If the group wants to turn back, she'll abide, even prior to dancing sparks or lightning strikes. But the outcome of some trips, despite the leader's best efforts, can still be beyond their control. Paul Stewart, a CMC member since

1954, and leader of at least 126 hikes from 1965-1990, usually had trouble-free trips. This was not the case on a 1960s-era trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, which he calls “a decent ‘A’ hike.” Unfortunately, along was a woman who “had no business on a club trip.” She had to rest every 20 minutes or so, which held the party up. With the infinite patience of an experienced leader, Stewart managed to keep the group together and, he thought, relatively happy. But another hiker finally boiled over, complaining about the pace and “lack of leadership.” “I think the leader can exercise a little judgment,” said Stewart. The woman snapped, “No, he can't!” The same hike was also marred by a married couple's running argument, which caused them to lag behind, mostly and mercifully out of earshot. However, at a difficult spot of about ten feet where the party had lent each other a hand, the man refused to help his wife, whereupon she sat down and refused to move. Despite the drama the party did reach the summit. But on the way down both husband and wife separately raced ahead, met up at the parking lot, and took off in their car, presumably still arguing. This left the party one vehicle short, and the leftover hikers had to “be crammed onto each others’ laps” in the remaining cars. The bickering couple finally reappeared in Estes Park, where the rest of the party had stopped for refreshments. But the winner of this article's Nightmare Hike Award goes to Roger Fuehrer, a 40 Year member, who started leading hikes with the Denver Juniors. Over the years he estimates leading 300 hikes and trips, including four month-long excursions to the Himalayas. Though Fuehrer has obviously enjoyed leading hikes, he did relate a few incidents from the early days which were not so fun. One episode from the 1970s involved a hiker who joined the CMC shortly after moving to Colorado. She was a capable hiker, and signed up for several trips, including some led by Fuehrer. However, she had the unhelpful habit of disappearing near the summit, inexplicably deciding to return to the trailhead on her own. Often as not she went the wrong way, causing delay and alarm for the rest of the party, though she would eventually turn up safe and sound. Despite warnings from Fuehrer, she continued her disappearing act on subsequent hikes, seemingly oblivious to the consterna-

tion she was causing her fellow hikers.

On the trail see that the timid and tired are not neglected. Mix with your crowd and keep their minds off themselves. Try especially to help any who happen to be “green” or who have improper equipment. A cheery word here and there—even a smile—will work wonders on a flagging spirit. (“The Social Side of Trips”, CMC Leaders Manual, 1935)

Fuehrer's nightmare hike was a three-day backpack in the 1970s to some backcountry hot springs. Despite a difficulty rating specifying “No Beginners,” the trip quickly turned sour with the antics of those who knew little, and at least one of whom should have known better. The bad trip started at the trailhead when one fella convinced the party, out of Fuehrer's earshot, that the best way to proceed the nine miles up to the springs was to run—with full backpacks! By the time Fuehrer realized what was happening, and sought to catch the running rascals, the party was a mile up the trail. Eventually, with a few sharp words, Fuehrer slowed the party to a sustainable pace. Another surprise awaited him at the first stream crossing. One hiker in the party had decided that, as leader, Fuehrer was responsible for carrying her pack across all bodies of water, and she had convinced several others in the party of this responsibility as well. When informed of this expectation, Fuehrer, as leader, disagreed and decreed, “Let them carry their own packs.” Fuehrer later discovered, with little surprise, that this trouble-making woman, in defiance of the trip requirements, was a novice backpacker. Where there were logs to cross, the tenderfeet were intimidated. They attempted to convince Fuehrer that, again as leader, it was his responsibility to “wade” the fast moving, seven-foot deep creek with a rope and tie it to the other side so they could get across more safely. Not wanting to drown, Feuhrer refused. At an impasse, the party argued. After an hour delay, Feuhrer eventually executed a safe crossing for all across the log bridge. The last nerve was an exposed one: A member of the party disappeared from camp for a day or so, causing much worry. Upon the man's return, it was revealed he was a nudist who wanted to enjoy the hot springs au natural!

All in all, the trip was so traumatic that Fuehrer considered resigning from the CMC. “It took all summer to get over,” Fuehrer recalled. In the interest of fairness, it can also be said that not all trip leaders reach the mark of perfection. Mollie Graves says she particularly disliked those who would either set too fast a pace or take off ahead of the group. “It’s like they have something to prove and rush on ahead,” she said. Leaders, like their charges, could also be unprepared. Roger Fuehrer recalled one leader who became lost on Longs Peak. “He was so lost, he gave up the leadership on the way down.” Fuehrer took over. “I just told them I knew the way.” Graves also recalled would-be leaders getting lost on the way to the trailhead, arriving thirty minutes late, blushing in embarrassment. Sherry Richardson, CMC president (1999, 2004) and leader of at least 50 trips, can relate, admitting, “I've taken groups to the wrong trailhead—more than once.” But all is not woe, and if the CMC were that bad a trip, nobody would show up. Despite the problems, even formerly traumatized leaders keep coming back; they find they benefit from leading. Mollie Graves concludes, “It’s well worth learning how to lead. Even if you're not leading, you're giving back to the group. When you're not leading you tend to forget that accidents happen. Leaders know how to prepare better.” When leading, she says, “Theoretically, I'm in control, and it will come out how I want.” When asked why she liked leading trips, Graves said, “I want to give someone else a chance to get out, and I can go to my favorite hiking places.” Paul Stewart summarizes, “You get a lot of satisfaction from leading trips. When you lead a trip, no matter what kind of trip it is, you never know what to expect. The simplest trips can have problems, just like the harder ones, and a fella has to be on his toes.” When asked why he led hikes, Stewart said, “I wanted to serve the Club. I wanted to make a contribution.” To all the trip leaders, thank you!△

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End of the Trail Cathy D. McKeen ▶ 1946-2014 By Denise Snow

Longtime Pikes Peak Group member, rock climber, mountaineer, ice climber, cross-country skier, backpacker, cyclist, hiker, paddler, wife, mother, grandmother, and a great friend passed away from cancer on March 7 at her home in Buena Vista. Cathy was a CMC member since 1993 and was very active in instructing BMS as well as leading mountaineering, hiking, biking, backpacking, and crosscountry skiing trips. Born in Seattle, Washington on October 17, Cathy would go on to earn her BS in Microbiology, an MS in Biology, and an MBA from Georgia College and have a career as a research biologist. She married, raised two children, and was always interested in being outdoors, whether it was hiking in her home state, paddling a canoe in Georgia, or hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing in the Sierras. She was lucky to retire at an early age in Colorado, where she pursued her passion for the outdoors with a vengeance. Cathy was an adventurer extraordinaire. I first met Cathy on a CMC cross-country ski trip where we swapped leads, breaking trail through knee deep snow. She had boundless energy and enthusiasm for almost anything outdoors. She was not easily intimidated and many times she challenged my limits on climbs such as the First

Flatiron, the Cable Route on Longs Peak, the Holy Cross Couloir, on routes in the Swiss Alps and Mont Blanc, on numerous Via Ferrata routes in the Dolomites, and countless others. Cathy loved to share her knowledge and love of the outdoors with others through the CMC. She did this by instructing and leading trips. She insisted that her students and participants be tough and she had little tolerance for whining. Often while teaching rock climbing, if a student became too timid while climbing on belay, she would break the ice by threatening to give them five feet of slack if they didn't push through it. Cathy was also a talented cross-country skier. In 2002 we participated as a team in the women's 46+ age category in the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse. The Grand Traverse is a backcountry ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen and is raced in teams of two for safety reasons. Teams are required to carry enough gear to support oneself for 24 hours. At this time no other teams in this category had entered, much less finished, and we were the first to do so at the combined age of 103. Cathy loved cycling, both mountain and road, and participated in many bicycle tours across the U.S., Tuscany, Sardinia, and the Czech Republic. She completed the Triple Bypass, a 121-mile route from Evergreen to Vail, over three mountain passes, during a year when many dropped out because of rain and cold temperatures. She stuck it out another year in the Ride the Rockies when half the field quit on Trail Ridge Road amidst snow, sleet, and frigid temperatures. At age 61 she made a self-supported bicycle trip with a friend from her home in Buena Vista to her father's home near Seattle, about 1,800 miles. Because Cathy often couldn't find persons interested, capable, or available to accompany her on many of her adventures, she set out on them alone. She hiked, climbed, and backpacked alone and often would call me at work from the top of some peak on a beautiful day just to rub it in. At age 64 she made a solo, self-supported bicycle trip from Minneapolis to Maine, pulling a trailer with all of her camping gear. That one trip alone says a lot about who she was. Her legacy lives on through her two children. Both are also very active in the outdoors. Her daughter is also a hiker, rock climber, cyclist, and mother of two future outdoorsmen who are following in their parents’ footsteps. Her son loves to compete in mountain biking, trail running, and especially adventure races with his brother-in-law, which they often win. Cathy is survived by Jim, her husband of 39 years; her daughter, Lauren Buehler; her son, Tom McKeen; her sister, Jane Lewis; her brother, John Andrews; and two grandsons, Owen and Wyatt Buehler. She will be greatly missed by the many people she taught, encouraged, inspired, and challenged. She will especially be missed by me, who had planned to have her as a friend and outdoor partner for many more years. ◀ Cathy in Peru. Courtesy Denise Snow.


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CMC Adventure Travel For your benefit and enjoyment, the following trips have been reviewed and approved by the Adventure Travel Committee and are officially sanctioned by the Colorado Mountain Club. Visit for more detailed itineraries and registration forms.

Iceland 2014: Landmannalauger to Skogar July 7–18, 2014 CMC members: $2,968 Welcome to the land of the early Vikings, also known as the land of ice and fire! This Iceland trip is your opportunity to step into a totally different world of breathtaking, sometimes surreal-looking scenery; cultural diversity; Icelandic peoples, language, and settlement history; and at times, a sense of contented remoteness from the rest of the civilized world! Join us for seven days hiking hut-to-hut with our experienced Icelandic mountain guide through multi-colored hills and gullies containing hundreds of steaming hot springs and mud pools; the black deserts of Maelifellssandur; a magnificent canyon cut 600 feet down; arctic birch forests; a climb up and through a high pass dividing two glaciers. Descend the last day along the Skogaa River, enjoying the gorges and 29 waterfalls along the way to the seacoast town of Skogar. Also explore Iceland’s crown city, Reykjavik, and its surrounding attractions. It’s your once-in-a-lifetime trip! This 7-day trek requires that you be in good physical condition for hiking 6–10 miles/ day with 1,000–3,000’ elevation gain/loss. Denver Group B hiking level or equivalent ability is required. The first two and last two nights in Reykjavik will be spent in a guesthouse close to the town center and within short walking distance of the bus terminal. Included are breakfasts and double-room accommodations with shared facilities (bath, shower). We are staying in mountain huts during the seven days that we hike. Our guide and another staff person will cook breakfast and dinner for us each day on the trek. You’ll prepare your own lunch with provisions laid out each morning. The trip will have 10 to 12 participants 42

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plus the CMC leader, guide, and guide’s assistant. The cost of trip for CMC members includes transport to and from airport, 4 nights’ lodging with breakfasts in Reykjavik, and all outfitter’s services. Not covered: airfare (approx. $1,200), lunches/dinners in Reykjavik, guide tips, travel insurance (recommended), and personal expenses. Contact trip leader Peter Hunkar at Peter629@ or by phone at 303-323-5775.

Peru: Ausangate (20,945’) July 12–25, 2014 SOLD OUT! CMC members: $1,130 Climb the highest peak in southern Peru. The trip will feature a climb of 20,945’ Ausangate, a technically challenging mountain in the Cordillera Vilcanota of southern Peru. The climb includes roped glacier travel, and a spectacular 200-meter, 60–70degree snow climb at 19,000’. Before and after the climb, there will be time to explore the ancient Incan capitol of Cuzco, with its many archaeological sites and museums. Accommodations include hotels in town and tents on the climb. Participants should be HAMS graduates and have previous experience with glacier travel at high altitude. Preference will be given to those with advanced ice and snow climbing skills. There is a mandatory pre-trip meeting (date TBD) and at least four training climbs, two of which will be mandatory rope travel/crevasse rescue practice. Round-trip air from Lima to Cuzco, hotels, airport transfers, transfers to and from trailhead, cook, food (climbers will bring own food on summit bid), horses, and arierro on climb are included, along with group kitchen tent, leader reimbursement. International airfare Denver to Lima, excess baggage fees, taxes, gratuities, meals while in Cuzco, tickets to tourist attractions are not included, along with personal tents on climbing portion

of trip; personal meals, stoves, and fuel on summit day; personal snacks, souvenirs, medications/shots, travel, and/or evacuation insurance. ITINERARY: Day 1: Depart Denver. Day 2: Arrive Cuzco. Day 3: In Cuzco—hike to ruins above town. Day 4: In Cuzco—tour museums, churches, etc. Pack and organize. Day 5: Transfer to Tinqui/Pacchanta—Hot Springs! Day 6: Trek from Pacchanta to base camp (15,750’). Day 7: Carry load to high camp. Day 8: Transfer to high camp (18,000’). Day 9: Summit— option to remain at high camp or return to base camp. Day 10: Alternate summit/ rest at Base camp. Possibly trek halfway to Upis. Day 11: base camp to Upis. For more information, contact trip leader Greg Long at Greg is a HAMS instructor and has multiple international climbs up to 8,000 meter, including previous experience on this peak.

Mount Kilimanjaro and Safari July 21–August 4, 2014 SOLD OUT! CMC members: $3,738 Climb one of the Seven Summits and best known mountains in the world during a 6-day climb of Kilimanjaro (9,340’) on the normal Machame Route. Then Safari to one of the prime wildlife viewing areas of Africa during a 4-day budget safari to Lake Manyara, the Serengeti National Parks, and the Ngorongoro Crater. Accommodations will be tents during trek, double hotel rooms. Prior to the trip, participants should submit a trip application and signed liability statement. Optional training outings began in February and climbers not known to the trip leader will be asked to attend a minimum of one pre-trip outing for evaluation of their physical conditioning. The trip includes climb package, Kili park fees, double occupancy lodging, safari, all ground trans-

portation and airport transfers, most meals (half board at hotel and on safari, all meals on mountain), Tanzanian visa & service fee, contingency, gratuities, leader expenses. The trip does not include a few meals, international air fare, indicated shots and medications, travel insurance, bar tab, souvenirs, airport transfers, and gratuities not within the trip package, baggage fees of any kind, single supplement for lodging. Depending on flight arrangements, an overnight in Amsterdam or London may be needed on the return. ITINERARY: Day 1: Leave Denver. Day 2: Arrive in Tanzania. Day 3: Rest day—organize gear and prepare for climb. Day 4–9: 6-day climb of Kilimanjaro via Machame Route. Day 10–14: 4-day budget safari. Day 15: Transport to airport for late evening flight to Amsterdam. Day 16: Return to Denver. For more information contact trip leader Vernon E. Bass at or 303-458-5250, 303-9022905. Vern is a current CMC Leader and has held a number of leadership positions in CMC schools, including: director of HAMS School, 2008 and 2009; director of HAMS Advanced Crevasse Rescue Seminar (ACRS), 2002 to 2006; organizer and co-director of the CMC Ski Mountaineering School.

Wind Rivers Wyoming Llama Trek August 4–10, 2014 CMC members: $2,300 This trip is a classic Wind River Range trip and covers a large portion of the northern Popo Agie Wilderness, with glacial cirques and many high alpine lakes with plentiful trout fishing. Typical wildlife seen is moose, deer, and elk. We will move camps each day except for two layover days. Participants will carry day packs and the llamas will carry all of the camp gear. Our guides will do all of the cooking. We will see the remote Wind River Range and learn how to travel with llama support. We will explore hiking in this range and feel the wilderness experience. Participants can even do some fishing if they wish. The trip begins at the North Fork Trailhead. Starting at approximately 9,300 feet elevation, we will hike down to the North Fork of the Popo Agie River and follow the river to an open, meandering high alpine meadow just below tree-line (7 miles hiking distance). On days 2 and 3 we will hike to the Cirque of the Towers area in

Lizard Head meadows, gaining about 600 feet elevation and camping at approximately 10,100 feet. Here we will lay over for 2 nights. On the layover day we may split the group, if we choose, to take various day hikes at different levels of difficulty. Participants may enjoy the Cirque of Towers scrambling up Jack Ass Pass or Texas Pass, or simply fishing the headwaters of the North Fork out of Lonesome Lake, enjoying some of the best views of the Wind River Range. On day 4 we will hike up Lizard Head Trail and merge with Bears Ears Trail, climbing a steep 6 miles and traversing past Cathedral Peak at 11,800 feet with grand views. Then we will descend and merge with Moss Lake Trail, a distance of 4 miles, to Ranger Park at the confluence of Little Wind River at 10,200 feet, for a total day’s hiking distance of approximately 10 miles. On days 5 and 6 we will day-hike to Washakie and/or South Fork Lakes, viewing spectacular cirque walls and experiencing the remote solitude. Day 7 has us hiking back up to Bears Ears and descending to Adams Pass to Bears Ears trailhead, a distance of 12 miles. You should be in good shape and able to hike in elevations between 9,000 and 11,800 feet, covering distances of up to 12 miles per day. Tent camping with tent, sleeping bag, and pad provided. Llamas will carry camp gear, so hiking will be with a day pack. The cost covers all meals from lunch on August 4 through lunch on August 10, llamas to carry the gear guides, cooks, camp gear, tips for the guides, tents, sleeping bag, and pad. Not included are travel expenses to and from Lander, Wyoming; a $55 required fishing permit for Wind River Indian Reservation access (purchased over-the-counter in Lander); and hotel costs for the nights before and after the trip. Contact trip leader Carol Kurt at or 970-925-6648

Trek the Haute Route in Switzerland August 8–24, 2014 CMC members: $2,409 Hike the famous Swiss Haute Route and witness one of the greatest collection of 4,000-meter peaks in all of the Swiss alps, visit some of the area’s most spectacular valleys, wander through tiny villages and hamlets, skirt hanging glaciers, traverse lonely passes and fill your days with wonder. Hik-

ing is ingrained in the Swiss culture and you will trek for 11 days from Champex, near the French border, to the Matterhorn region without carrying a tent, sleeping bag, or stove because all nights will be spent in Swiss Alpine Club huts, private mountain refuges or small hotels, mainly in remote locations, and most with hot showers. Participants should have excellent physical conditioning, experience hiking in an alpine environment, and the ability to hike 11 consecutive days with an average of 2,400 feet of vertical gain per day and one day of 5,366 feet. Participants should also be comfortable with a certain amount of exposed hiking using chains, rungs, or ladders as aids. All accommodations will be a shared room or dormitory. There will be a limited opportunity for private accommodations at the participant’s expense. Cost depends on number of participants sharing rooms, 2014 prices, and exchange rate. This covers transport to and from Geneva, cable-car fare on the last day of the trek, transport to and from Zermatt, all lodging and breakfast, and all dinners except the last night in Geneva. Participants should expect to spend several hundred dollars for all lunches and snacks, showers with fees, dinner the last night in Geneva, bar tabs, souvenirs, and any museum entrance fees. Estimated air fare to Geneva is $1,600. Contact trip leader Denise Snow at denisedansnow@q. com or phone 719-687-9576.

Mount Ararat, Turkey, 16,854’/Mount Musala, Bulgaria, 9,596’ August 15–26, 2014 CMC members: $2,420 This is the first CMC trip to Turkey in many years and our first ever CMC trip to beautiful Bulgaria. The trip will offer a combination of hiking, cultural experiences, and a limited amount of technical mountaineering. The outing will offer the opportunity to climb the highest peak in both Turkey (Ararat) and Bulgaria (Musala), which is also the highest peak in the Balkans. The educational value of the trip is immense, with numerous historic sites from pre-Roman times; through the empires of Byzantium, Bulgaria, the Ottomans; to modern times. Mount Ararat is comparable to a “D” hike. The top of Ararat is a snow climb requiring ice axe, crampons, roped travel skills; Trail & Timberline


however, trekkers can skip the peak and enjoy the views from the high camp hut while the climbers do the summit. Musala is a difficult Class “B.” Note: the Denver Group hiker classification system does not apply to this trip. Prospective participants will be asked to provide a hiking resume. Accommodations range from 3-star hotels to tent camping on Ararat. All ground transport, including airport transfers, in both countries is included, as well as lodging in Turkey, including hotels, camping; tents provided on Ararat. Also included: all meals on Turkey part of trip, excepting a lunch or two; guiding and mule transport on Ararat; all lodging and ground transport in Bulgaria; breakfasts at hotels and one dinner; also gratuities, some CMC leader reimbursement, contingency, CMC fee. All lodging is double occupancy. Not covered: International airfare (coach fare approx. $1,250 to $1,850); bag fees; travel/evacuation insurance; cost for any medical exams or medications; bar tab, including soft drinks; souvenir purchases; technical climbing gear; sleeping gear on Ararat; snacks; three lunches and two dinners in Bulgaria; museum entry fees in both countries; gondola cost on Musala; single supplement at any hotel. Ararat summit climbers must have ice axe, crampons, and roped travel skills. All participants must have excellent physical conditioning with screening by the trip leader. Required attendance at pre-trip meeting in March. Attendance at a majority of training hikes and climbs beginning in April (exception may be made for outof-state participants at the discretion of the trip leader). Note: Leader must forward copies of participant passports in early June to the Turkish outfitter in order to secure Ararat climbing permits. Contact trip leader Steve Bonowski at climbersteveb@gmail. com. He will send a participant packet with detailed information and a trip application. The trip leader will provide approval in writing, after receiving the completed and signed trip application and personal risk statement.

Tour of Mont Blanc August 31– September 15, 2014 SOLD OUT! The TMB is one of the classic world hikes with the perfect mix of awe-inspiring mountain views and vibrant influence of three distinct European cultures. Our jour-


Trail & Timberline

ney begins in Milan, Italy, but the trek starts and ends in Courmayeur, Italy, and circumnavigates Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe at over 15,770 feet. We will cross the Alps in Italy, Switzerland, and France enjoying the views, interactions with locals, and hearty foods. The trek covers approximately 105 miles over 11 days plus a rest day in Chamonix, France. On most days, we carry only a day pack with our luggage transported from hotel to hotel. For our three nights in mountain huts, we will carry only slightly more weight, because the huts provide food and bedding. Excellent physical conditioning is required. We will hike at a moderate pace up to 12 miles per day on consecutive days with daily elevation gain of approximately 4,000 feet per day. Lodging includes 10 nights in small hotels or inns and 3 in mountain huts. Generally, accommodations are double occupancy rooms, although huts are dormitory style. Most meals are provided at the accommodations and sack lunches will be provided on hiking days. A few meals are not included (i.e., on travel days and the rest day). The trip price is $3,600, excluding airfare (estimated to be $1,000 to $1,200), trip and personal insurance, souvenirs, personal expenses, some meals, bar tab. Non-members pay an additional 3% administrative fee. To get on waiting list, contact trip leader Cynthia Saer at

Best Hikes of Italy September 14–26, 2014 SOLD OUT! Explore three distinctly different areas of Italy as we hike in the Italian Dolomites, trek in the hills above Lake Garda, and experience the trails connecting the Cinque Terre, five beautiful villages on the Italian Riviera. Starting in Milan, Italy, we transfer to Balzano to tour the (Reinhold) Messner Museum, followed by three days of hiking in the towering Dolomites. Next, we transfer to beautiful Riva del Garda on Lake Garda. In addition to two day hikes, there will be opportunities for recreation, including beautiful beaches, boat rides, formal gardens, and more. One evening we will enjoy an Italian cooking class. We will transfer by train to Cinque Terre and stay at a charming 4-star inn. We will hike the trails that connect these villages. On our return to Milan, we will visit Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Throughout the trip, we

will enjoy the delights of Italian cuisine in charming restaurants and pubs. Hiking level will be B and C level over 6–7 days. The trip includes 12 nights’ accommodation in small elegant hotels in Bolzano, Lake Garda, and Monterosso, Italy. The maximum number of participants is 12, plus leaders Terri Morrow and Linda Ditchkus, for a total of 14. Trip cost covers all ground transportation, guided hiking in the Dolomites, 12 nights’ accommodation, 11 breakfasts and 11 dinners, and lunch on hiking days, along with cultural events—Messner Museum, cooking class, and The Last Supper. International airfare (estimated at $1,000–1,200) is not included. Also, expect to spend a few hundred dollars on trip insurance, souvenirs, bar tabs. Non-members pay an additional 3% administrative fee. The trip is currently full, but please inquire with Terri at about being added to the wait list.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park SOLD OUT! October 18–26, 2014 CMC members: $1,000 Please join us for another epic adventure in the Southern Appalachians! Experience one of the most biodiverse regions in the United States and discover its incredible beauty. If your bucket list includes visiting Great Smoky Mountain National Park, then wait no longer! Your trip leader has lived and hiked in these mountains for over a decade and will take you to some of the coolest places in the park at one of the prettiest times of the year: Mid-October is prime fall foliage season in the Southern Appalachians. The planned itinerary is to spend six or seven days exploring Great Smoky Mountains Park, including touring, a lot of hiking, and an optional bicycle tour around Cades Cove one morning. We will do day hikes throughout the western half of the park (some hikes will be on the Appalachian Trail) and will take the weather into consideration to try to pick a good destination every day. While participants are expected to be in shape to participate in all hikes, the trip is designed to allow individuals to stay at the cabin for a leisure day if needed or desired. If possible, we will spend our last night at Charit Creek Lodge in Big South Fork National Recreation Area near the Kentucky border. Charit Creek is

a historic and very rustic hike-in lodge with one-room log cabins that sleep 12, a solarpowered bathhouse, and a historic dining room for dinner and breakfast (included). Charit Creek Lodge requires full payment up front and does not offer refunds. Whether we will be able to get a reservation depends on how soon this trip fills up! From the lodge, we will do an afternoon loop hike to the impressive twin arches (6 miles, 450 feet). Our base in the Smokies is a cabin in Townsend, Tennessee, just yards from the national park boundary. Townsend touts itself as the quiet side of the Smokies. As the old timers continue to turn over the reins to the younger generation, Townsend is becoming less “quiet” and more commercial every year. But, as you will see when we visit Gatlinburg one evening, Townsend still is a fabulously quiet place! Our cabin has five bedrooms and three bathrooms, a screened-in porch overlooking the creek, a deck with a hot tub, a wood stove, a full kitchen, washer and dryer, etc. While at the cabin, we will be responsible for preparing ALL our meals—breakfast, sack lunches and dinners—unless we decide to go out to eat. The trip fee includes funds for the group meals. Every participant will be required to actively participate in meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning up. If we can get a reservation for Charit Creek Lodge for our last night, we will say goodbye to our luxurious cabin on day eight and drive about 150 miles to the trailhead for our 1-mile hike to the lodge. Otherwise, we will stay at our cabin one more night and find something fun to do in the Smokies. The trip starts and ends at the airport in Nashville. Airfare to and from Nashville is not included in the trip cost. Your trip cost includes all ground transportation in Tennessee, all overnight stays, as well as group meals at the cabin and Charit Creek Lodge. Any meals we choose to eat out are on your own. If interested, contact Chris Dohmen at

Grand Canyon Raft and Hike, 2015 April 25–May 7, 2015 CMC members: $4,465 This unique trip to the Grand Canyon offers participants the opportunity to experience this World Heritage Site on a motorized raft for 188 miles through the best of the canyon, departing from the historic

Lee’s Ferry and ending with a helicopter ride from Whitmore Wash and a plane flight back to the start. It is especially ideal for those who would like to hike in areas that can be reached only from the river, and those who have always wanted to experience the canyon but who do not wish to make the 7 mile, 4,500’ trek in and out. The Grand Canyon, designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1979, is among the Earth’s greatest ongoing geological spectacles. About 65 million years ago in Earth’s shifting, a huge area of land was lifted a mile and a half above sea level, forming what is now the Colorado Plateau. For the last 6 to 10 million years, the Colorado River has been slowly carving its way down through the center, exposing 2 billion years of geological history. There are also prehistoric traces of human adaptation to a particularly harsh environment. Our outfitter, Hatch River Expeditions, has been guiding river trips through the canyon for over 75 years. We will have 4 guides and 20 participants on two 35’ S-rig boats running 30 hp 4stroke outboard engines (fuel efficient and quiet). Each boat holds 18, so for this trip we will have plenty of room. An average motorized raft trip through the Grand Canyon is for 7 days with short daily hikes. Hatch is adding 5 days to the trip with over 100 possible hikes, depending on the group’s interest and the weather. They offer us daily guided hikes at different hiking levels, or one may choose to rest in camp. There are several opportunities for point-to-point hikes where we may hike from one drainage to the next and the raft will pick us up later in the day. For maximum enjoyment, one may wish to participate in several CMC hikes prior to the trip. The hikes will vary in difficulty from levels B and C. In general, a couple hiking levels will be available on most days. There is always the option to take the day off and rest in camp or at the river. All of our hiking will take place below the altitude of Denver (the river is at about 2,500 feet). Because this is the desert, one must be able to adapt to the heat and cold. Some of the hikes offered will be full day hikes of significant distance and altitude gain. Many hikes may follow a social trail or are off trail. Hatch provides all meals, snacks, eating utensils, life jackets, tents, cots, camp kit, camp chairs, and arranges the helicopter and plane rides back to the put-in. The camp kit includes a sleeping bag, pillow, sleeping pad, ground cloth, and waterproof bag. The park entrance fee

is included. The cost of the trip also includes all tips and one night (double occupancy) at the Cliff Dweller’s Lodge near the put-in on Saturday (4/25/15). Trip deposit of $500 is payable to the CMC at time of registration ($300 of this deposit is non-refundable). Final payment is due November 14, 2014. For cancellation on or before November 14, 2014, there will be a refund of $200 ($500 less the $300 non-refundable fee). Any refunds for cancellations after November 14, 2014, will be made only if a qualified replacement is accepted. Travel insurance is recommended. Please contact leaders for availability and/or wait list at 303-8710379 or

Trail & Timberline



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Trail & Timberline

Our Mountain Classroom  

June 1, 2014 Trail & Timberline

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