Thursday, January 27, 2022

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 1/27/22


--Mark Ashworth, an Oregon-based climber and one of the developers of the Flagstone Climbing Area. To read a tribute from his daughter, click here.

--The Everett Herald is reporting that, "Snohomish County’s Glacier Peak, classified as one of America’s deadliest volcanoes, is a step closer to getting adequate seismometers to detect future eruptions. On Friday, the U.S. Forest Service announced it completed an environmental assessment and a draft decision for installing four new monitors and upgrading an old one, as part of a 30-year special use permit. Government officials estimate the GPS stations could detect and locate eight times as many earthquakes. With a severely lacking early warning system at the volcano, new monitors have been discussed for years. But progress has been paused again and again while agencies worked on other projects, and because of the global pandemic." To read more, click here.

--This doesn't seem like a very good thing for Vail Resorts or Stevens Pass:

--Snowbrains is reporting that, "In an attempt to quell the rising anger amongst customers, Stevens Pass ski area interim General Manager Tom Fortune yesterday sent a letter to passholders informing them that Vail Resorts would be discounting next season’s ski pass by a further $150. The 2022-23 Stevens Pass season pass will be available to current passholders for $385. Customers with an Epic Pass will receive the equivalent $150 in credit to use at Stevens Pass ski area." To read more, click here.

--Snowbrains is reporting that Vail wants you to put away your phone to expedite loading on chairlifts. We're not sure what that's going to do.

--Speaking of ski resorts and financial weirdness. Mission Ridge is suing Chelan County. From Unofficail Networks: "In 2014, Indy Pass partner Mission Ridge bought eight hundred acres of private land next to the ski resort. Since 2015, a comprehensive plan has been created to expand into this territory. According to the Seattle Times, the past couple of years has become a full-on feud between the resort and the county.  After initial positive steps on the development between the two sides, the county initially said the project could proceed as proposed. In 2020, the county did a 180. Then-interim Community Development Director Deanna Walter told the resort that a lengthy and costly review process is needed for its official approval. No further details have been given by the county, and the resort has responded by issuing a $6.4 million dollar lawsuit against the county in September of 2020. General Manager Larry Jorgensen accused the county approval process of being 'disjointed, exceedingly costly and time-consuming.'" To read more, click here.

--A pair of climbers made a rare winter ascent of the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak last week. To read about it, click here.


--Backpacker is reporting that, "Yosemite National Park’s largest campground, the Tuolumne Meadows Campground, is closed until 2024, or possibly 2025 for a massive rehabilitation project. Thanks to the Great American Outdoors Act, this $20 million dollar project will be targeting roads, restrooms, campsites, and the campgrounds water and sewer system. But the closure might throw a wrench in some hikers’ plans." To read more, click here.

--Vail Daily is reporting that, "Vail Resorts has extended a $13.1 million offer to settle five wage and labor lawsuits filed in California, a step that could have implications for a similar lawsuit filed in Colorado and for anyone who has worked on mountains owned by Vail Resorts in recent years. The California lawsuits are similar in many ways to a putative — or proposed — class action lawsuit filed in Colorado District Court back in Dec. of 2020. Both allege that Vail Resorts violated state and federal labor laws in failing to pay reimbursements for equipment, as well as compensation for time staff spent training, in meetings or on meal breaks, getting on the mountain and gearing up before shifts." To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--A free solo climber died after falling off Illusion Dweller (5.10b) in Joshua Tree National Park last week. From Deseret News: "A friend of the man who was found dead in Joshua Tree National Park on Monday said Michael Spitz, 35, of San Diego died while free-solo climbing.  Spitz was found dead on Monday after the National Park Service responded to a report of a body at the base of the Sentinel Wall near the Hidden Valley Nature Trail at around 9:50 a.m." To read more, click here.

--The Santa Fe New Mexican is reporting that, "Petroglyphs in La Cienega dating back thousands of years were vandalized last week, launching a Bureau of Land Management investigation into the defacement. A news release from the agency said the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs west of Santa Fe, some up to 8,000 years old, suffered damage. The area had been graffitied. BLM spokeswoman Jillian Aragon said it’s believed the petroglyphs were defaced." To read more, click here.

--A Las Vegas climber has launched a not-for-profit to get at risk youth onto the rocks. To read about it, click here.

--Somebody randomly shot a mule at the Red Rock Canyon trail riding business across the street from the Conservation Area.

Colorado and Utah:

--An ice climber died at the Secret Falls (WI 3) in Clear Creek Canyon near Boulder last week. As of this writing, it does appear that this was another solo climber accident. To read more, click here.

--A well known Salt Lake City climber died last Wednesday while skiing. It appears that he may have inadvertently skied too close to a cliff in difficult visibility. From Climbing: "The climbing world is mourning the loss of the man who originally brought 5.12 to the climbing areas around Salt Lake City. Merrill Bitter, who was “the” area hard rock climber in the early 1980s, stayed with the sport for over 40 years. Friends had just seen Bitter, age 68, at the climbing gym days before he was found in the side country of the Alta Ski Area, the Wasatch Mountains, after a ski-touring accident." To read more, click here.

--Denver is currently the home to the Outdoor Retailer, the premiere event for the outdoor industry. Salt Lake City previously hosted the event and wants it back. To read about the politics of this, click here.

--The Denver Post is reporting on more Vail shenegans: "Vermont regulators this month issued a cease-and-desist order to Vail Resorts, alleging that the Colorado-based ski giant is reneging on an agreement with roughly 30 immigrant investors that could lead to their deportation. These foreign investors came to the United States under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program — created by Congress in 1990 to facilitate economic development in exchange for the chance to receive a green card, or permanent U.S. residency status." To read more, click here.

--Winners of the Ouray Ice Competition can be found, here!

Notes from All Over:

--From Snow Brains: "Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call at approximately 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, January 22, about an injured skier involved in an avalanche in the Sliver Couloir on Nez Perce in Grand Teton National Park, WY. Park rangers and Teton County Search and Rescue jointly responded. Two skiers were ascending the Sliver Couloir on Saturday when a snowboarder above them triggered a small avalanche. The slide caused one of the skiers to be washed down the couloir. During the fall the skier sustained an ankle injury." To read more, click here.

--A new not-for-profit has launched that promotes diversity, sustainability and inclusivity in the outdoors. The Outdoorist Oath was cofounded by photographer Wyn Wiley, Latino Outdoors founder José González, and Teresa Baker, creator of the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge. The group will address these issues through online trainings. To read more, click here.

--The BLM is reporting that, "taking historic action that will benefit the nation’s public lands for generations to come, the Foundation for America’s Public Lands launched today at a virtual event featuring remarks by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Department leaders. This congressionally-chartered, non-profit foundation authorized by Congress in 2017 will help leverage public and private dollars to conserve, protect and restore lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management for the benefit of the American people." To read more, click here.

--Alaska Public Radio is reporting that, "About half the mostly gravel road that runs through Denali National Park and Preserve — home to North America’s tallest peak — was closed to buses and other recreational traffic in late August, and such traffic will remain restricted to mile 43 again this year. Without a bridge, that section would remain closed indefinitely, the National Park Service said. The park service released an environmental review last week that outlined two phases of proposed work. The first would include construction of a 400-foot bridge spanning the Pretty Rocks landslide area, retaining walls and a “slight road alignment” on the west side of the bridge." To read more, click here.

--The American Alpine Club has several open grants right now for both those who want to go big and explore the wildest of places, as well as for those who just want to get into the mountains. Check it out, here.

--This is a good article on ski patrollers and unions...

--An REI store in New York looks like it's set to unionize. It seems like REI is anti-union though. Check out this email they sent out after learning that their employees were considering a union.

--And finally, here's a nice little piece on the avalanche dogs of Jackson Hole Ski Resort...

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