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Total Eclipse Of The Moon Next Week Throughout North America


The moon seen from Manila, Philippines, during a total lunar eclipse in December 2012, as the Earth casts a shadow across the face of our nearest celestial neighbor.

If you’re willing to stay up late and the skies are clear early next week, you can catch the first total lunar eclipse in more than three years that’s visible throughout North America.

The total eclipse, the first visible throughout the U.S. since December 2012, will peak at about 3 a.m. EDT.

Earthsky.org says the April 14-15 eclipse “begins a lunar eclipse tetrad — a series of 4 consecutive total eclipses occurring at approximately six month intervals. The total eclipse of April 15, 2014, will be followed by another on Oct. 8, 2014, and another on April 4, 2015, and another on Sept. 28 2015.”

le2014-04-15t_custom-08fd729cae2f9ad98cbbc5226473d4cce13c1ab6-s3-c85Sky & Telescope says that in a total eclipse, “from the Moon’s perspective, the Sun remains completely hidden for 1 hour 18 minutes. From Earth’s perspective, the lunar disk isn’t completely blacked out but instead remains dimly lit by a deep orange or red glow.”

For further reading, below is a list of several eclipse-related resources:

— The U.S. Naval Observatory’s page allows you to input your city and get specific data on the exact time of the eclipse’s phases — penumbra, umbra and totality.

— NASA, which includes a complete catalog of lunar eclipses for 5,000 years, from 1999 B.C.E. to 3000 C.E.

— Timeanddate.com, which has some nice animations on the subject.



A chart showing the area in North America where the total lunar eclipse will

be visible late Monday and early Tuesday.


Following The Steps of Paul Bowles In Morocco –The Aesthetes


Top row, from left: Umberto Pasti, Mickey Raymond, Laure Welfing, “Gipi” de Richemont Salvy, Jonathan Dawson. Bottom row, from left: Lawrence Mynott, Anthea Mynott, Christopher Gibbs, Francisco de Corcuera Gandarillas, Blanca Hamri.


For the legendary expats of Tangier, a life devoted to beauty reaches full flower in this North African hothouse of history and hedonism.

In a shrinking world, Tangier is a place where eccentricity is celebrated, where fiscal nomads and expatriates thrive in the midday sun, where light filters through the palms and makes an atmosphere of dreaming. With its bright colors and whiff of old scandal, it is a place of the mind, stranded perfectly at a gathering point of sweet-scented opposites. It is a high meeting place of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, Europe and Africa, sanctity and sin, where men and women have long set out to find themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea.

It’s an old story — as old as sailing and sex — yet there is always something new coming over the strait. Indeed, it may be the hunt for newness in an old port that brought them here, adventurers and outsiders — from Mark Twain and Delacroix to Yves Saint Laurent and Tennessee Williams — who merely broke the path for the uprooted of today. Deep in the Casbah and high on the slopes of Vieille Montagne, you find these people, these elegant, exotic plants who fill their days with lunch parties and gossip. They may be the harmless denizens of an old idea, doing it with style, living beyond their means but strictly within their taste. It is a painted city where ripe vegetables and aged spies litter the souks, where men of hidden consequence can always find a drink. Most of all, Tangier is a city where attention to detail is undivided, a place where you meet people just crazy for beauty.

“It is alarming,” Truman Capote wrote, “the number of travelers who have landed here on a brief holiday, then settled down and let the years go by. Because Tangier is a basin that holds you, a timeless place; the days slide by less noticed than foam in a waterfall.” When Matisse came to the city in the winter of 1912, he was faced with another sort of deluge — the rain. He checked into the Hotel Villa de France and waited for it to stop. It took weeks. He was astonished by the colors and the “decorative force” that came out with the sun, painting a picture from a window at the hotel, the famous “La Fenêtre à Tanger,” which shows St. Andrew’s Church in a field of blue.


Paris-Roubaix’s Course Is Viciously Bumpy

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WALLERS, France — On one side, the rock was as flinty and jagged as a chipped tooth. On the other, its edge was caved in, so the surface sheared away sharply. Squatting in the dirt, Clement Huchez examined the stone, rolling it in his hands for a few moments. Then he slid it into the rubble puzzle in front of him and exclaimed, “It’s perfect!”

Perfect, of course, is a relative term. Huchez, 17, was hunched on the side of a narrow, dusty road about half an hour from the Belgium border. He, along with several classmates from a nearby school, was repairing a section of cobblestones that is part of the famed Paris-Roubaix cycling race — an event known traditionally, if not affectionately, as the Hell of the North.

To some, the nickname is actually an understatement. While casual fans may think of competitive cycling as a series of arduous mountain climbs, tricky descents and powerful sprints over smoothly paved surfaces, Paris-Roubaix (pronounced pa-REE-roo-BAY) includes about 31 miles of rough, rugged and raw cobblestones.

About 31 miles of the Paris-Roubaix, to be held Sunday, will be over cobblestones. Credit Michel Spingler/Associated Press
Yes, there are other sections of the race — this year’s edition, to be held Sunday, features a course about 160 miles long — but the heart of Paris-Roubaix is the pavé, or cobbles. They are quaint. They are charming. They are, mostly, murderous.

“To be honest, I think if you want to go and race there, you have to be pretty stupid,” said Heinrich Haussler, a veteran rider whose best finish at Paris-Roubaix is seventh, in 2009. “Your hands are shaking, your wrists are throbbing, your shoulders are stiff, your back is aching, your neck is pounding, your. …”

His voice trailed off, and then he launched into a detailed description of what a rider’s most delicate area feels like after six or seven hours on a rattling bike seat.

“It’s like a war zone in there,” he concluded.

Some top riders avoid Paris-Roubaix altogether — Lance Armstrong never competed — but many embrace the unique challenge of the cobbles. Bradley Wiggins, who won the 2012 Tour de France and a gold medal at the London Olympics, has said that winning Paris-Roubaix is one of his main goals.



THE NEXT PITCH by Peter Lev~~~A Mountain Memoir~~~Part V

Today, Friday April 11, {early this week, it’s usually every Sunday} Rōbert Report will share Part V of The Next Pitch by Peter Lev & each subsequent Sunday morning, serialized just like the old pulp fiction novels of the 40′s or maybe getting the NYT on your weekend doorstep, until the story is told. Or you can read it all at once by simply going to the hyperlink at the bottom of each week’s posting. I look forward to sharing Lev’s mountain adventures with you and believe you’ll enjoy the ride, this very cool trip with a real mountain person.





by Peter Lev


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North Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock

It was time for a break from the big mountains and during this period I began to focus more on rock climbing. I started going to Yosemite, spending several autumns and springs in Camp Four. This 1967 photo is of George Lowe on the North Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock. George is another very, very careful and thoughtful climber who has done many extremely difficult climbs all over the world.

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This photo is on Half-Dome NW Face, near the summit.

(Man in audience) Who’s the climber? Yes, I don’t recognize him either, but I’m told it’s me. [Laughter] I had hair once!


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The Great Roof on El Capitan, Yosemite Valley; Cado (Peter) Avenali leading.

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May 1972, on the summit hump after the climb rests the crew; Eric Eliason, Cado, (a world adventurer, who died of a brain tumor in 2009, of all things), and me. We were 5 ½ days on the wall, using all pitons (nearly at the end of the piton era). I had the last lead which took me over an inverted staircase. The last step out of my aid slings onto a small foothold on the lip of the low-angle summit slabs would be the end of the climb. Standing on that one small step I could look down the entire 3000 foot overhanging wall. Then, after taking in the view, I made the move up and the great wall was gone and the climb was over, and I felt sad. This El Capitan climb of the Triple Direct route, of which we made the second ascent, rates for me as one of my best and most satisfying climbing experiences ever. However, I have not been back to Yosemite since. Perhaps I just wanted to keep that one memory pristine.

Next week’s installment, MOUNT ROBSON & DHAULAGI.  

Read Lev’s entire memoir by clicking HERE…..

Former Colorado ‘boy’ suffers through immigration drama in Sun Valley

Pioneer Skiing 2 copyPhoto taken years ago at the Sun Valley Pioneers ski day. Matt Wells far left, skiing in his old man’s Aluflex and Tina ‘his only reason for living’ on the right wearing  Aunt Dorothea’s 1940′s skis and boots

No Laptops, No Wi-Fi: How One Cafe Fired Up Sales


The August First Bakery in Burlington, Vt., bans laptops and tablets. Some customers were disappointed, but the owner says it has helped boost business and a sense of community.


Customers chat, read the paper and order sandwiches and espresso drinks at the counter of August First Bakery & Cafe in Burlington, Vt., but there’s something different here. Where there used to be the familiar glow of laptop screens and the clicking of keyboards, now the devices are banned.

Remember these? Some of you have gone back to — or stayed with — the flip phone to avoid getting too attached to smartphones and their capabilities.

“I was here working on my laptop when I looked over and saw that there’s a sign that says ‘laptop-free,’ ” says Luna Colt, a senior at the University of Vermont.

During a recent visit, Colt is shocked that using her computer is against the rules.

“My friend and I started talking about it because we’re both on screens,” Colt says. “Then I said, ‘Should I go up there and apologize?’ “

When owner Jodi Whalen first opened four years ago, she initially offered free Wi-Fi to customers. Students like Colt flocked to the business and started typing away — and staying. All day.

“We saw a lot of customers come in, look for a table, not be able to find one and leave,” Whalen says. “It was money flowing out the door for us.”

That’s why Whalen decided there’d be no more screens. It was a gradual move. She started by shutting down the Wi-Fi two years ago. Then, the cafe banned screens during lunch.

“A lot of people were disappointed,” Whalen says. “But we actually saw our sales increase.”

      ~~~   READ/LISTEN   ~~~

Rōbert on Colbert



Breaking news on CBS-TV’s Twitter feed:

“Stephen Colbert to be next host of ‘The Late Show’…press release coming”
David Letterman announced last week that he plans to retire in 2015. It was, as Monkey See blogger Linda Holmes wrote, a “meticulously unchoreographed exit” that came as something of a surprise.

That set off much speculation about a replacement, and much of the talk was about Colbert, who hosts Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. Now it appears there was some truthiness to those reports.

On Thursday, CBS CEO Les Moonves called Colbert “one of the most inventive and respected forces on television.”

In a CBS press release, Colbert says:

“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career. I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead. … I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”
The network adds that “Colbert’s premiere date as host of The Late Show will be announced after Mr. Letterman determines a timetable for his final broadcasts in 2015.”


Colbert Will Host ‘Late Show,’ Playing Himself for a Change

CBS made its choice, quickly and definitively: Stephen Colbert will succeed David Letterman as the host of its late-night franchise, which Mr. Letterman created when he came to the network in 1993.

The network made the announcement on Thursday, exactly one week after Mr. Letterman said that he would be leaving the “Late Show With David Letterman” after one more year on the air.

Mr. Colbert, the star of Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report,” will be — in one way — an all-new talent for CBS because he will drop the broadly satirical blowhard conservative character he has played for nine years, and instead perform as himself.

Mr. Colbert became the immediate front-runner for the position both because of an increasing recognition of his talent — his show won two Emmy Awards last year — and because he clearly wanted the job. His representation had ensured that he would be available to CBS by syncing his recent contracts with Mr. Letterman’s.

Continue reading the main story

Stephen Colbert understands the power of online content, but in his new role as the host of Bits Blog: The Battle for Late Night Viewers on Screens of All SizesAPRIL 10, 2014
His current deal with Comedy Central will expire at the end of this year, making the timing ideal for him to leave for CBS. In a statement on Thursday, he said: “I won’t be doing the new show in character, so we’ll all get to find out how much of him was me. I’m looking forward to it.”


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Stephen Colbert: The End Of One Joke, The Start Of Many More

CBS just ended the longest-running joke in TV history by naming Stephen Colbert to succeed retiring late-night host David Letterman

That’s because Colbert, who has won all kinds of acclaim playing fictional right-wing cable TV news host “Stephen Colbert” on The Colbert Report, will now play a new character when he takes over Letterman’s Late Show:


New York Times reporter Bill Carter tweeted a quote from Colbert confirming that: “I won’t be doing the new show in character, so we’ll all get to find out how much of him was me. I’m looking forward to it.”

Colbert’s former boss, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, seemed to presage the news, telling New York magazine’s Vulture blog on Wednesday that Colbert would be “amazing” as Letterman’s successor.

“He’s done an amazing job with just that very narrow cast of character, but he’s got a lot more he can show,” Stewart said at an after party for Nicolas Cage’s new movie, Joe. “He’s got some skill sets that are really applicable, interviewing-wise, but also he’s a really, really good actor and also an excellent improvisational comedian. He’s also got great writing skills. He’s got a lot of the different capacities. Being able to expand upon [those] would be exciting.”

Letterman’s reaction, in a statement released by his Worldwide Pants production company, was predictably brief and droll: “Stephen has always been a real friend to me. I’m very excited for him, and I’m flattered that CBS chose him. I also happen to know they wanted another guy with glasses.”

Media writers have speculated for days on who could take Letterman’s mantle. The best successor had to be established enough to hold onto longtime Letterman fans but forward-thinking enough to compete with the two Jimmys — Fallon and Kimmel — for younger viewers prized by advertisers.

Colbert’s name jumped to the top of the list following news reports that the Comedy Central star had structured his own contracts to sync up with Letterman’s deals. As a host already popular with the cable channel’s younger audience and backed by a long history of attention-getting stunts, he is indeed a perfect choice.

In 2006, Colbert stunned attendees with a searing satire of George W. Bush at the White House Correspondents Dinner; six years and one president later, he formed his own superPAC during the 2012 election campaign. He’s also sung onstage with Neil Patrick Harris in a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company, written books and released his own Christmas album in character.


David Letterman’s Legacy

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       ~~~~    WATCH    ~~~~


For Letterman’s Job, Dueling 10-Best Lists

It is now officially the most coveted job in television: successor to David Letterman. Let the maneuvering begin.

Within hours of Mr. Letterman’s announcement on Thursday that he would end his 21-year run at CBS sometime next year, the names of potential candidates to replace him were flying like Frisbees across the television landscape. Some qualify as the usual suspects because they already have late-night jobs; others are outsiders who have demonstrated in other venues that they might have the talent to be funny four or five nights a week.

CBS’s choice is likely to boil down to several factors: Man or woman? New York or Los Angeles? Comic or broader performer?

Continue reading the main story

Chelsea Handler and Jimmy Fallon on his late-night NBC show last month.The TV Watch: Why That Sharp Wit Stood Out on Late NightAPRIL 4, 2014
If CBS wants to shake up the late-night format, it could install the first woman as a host of a traditional network late-night show since Joan Rivers gave it a go on Fox in 1986. If the network wants to match the fresh style that Jimmy Fallon has brought to NBC’s “The Tonight Show” and put more emphasis on song, dance and variety, it could look to Neil Patrick Harris, the sitcom star who has drawn critical praise as the host of awards shows for CBS.

If the idea is to match the more contemporary approach to late night, relying on comedy pieces that play well on the Internet and draw heavily on social media — as Mr. Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel on ABC do — an obvious choice is Stephen Colbert, from Comedy Central.

   ~~~~    READ/LISTEN    ~~~~

Why Do Some Clouds Drop Rain, While Others Don’t?

With little relief in sight for California’s record drought, scientists are trying to learn why some clouds rain and other don’t. As Lauren Sommer of KQED says, they’re finding surprising answers.

    ~~~   LISTEN TO THE STORY   ~~~




Recent storms in California haven’t been enough to save the state from a serious drought and now, the rainy season is winding down. Scientists are trying to understand why some storms unload lots of rain and snow in California and others don’t. As Lauren Sommer reports from member station KQED in San Francisco, there could be a link to dust storms thousands of miles away.

LAUREN SOMMER, BYLINE: The sky over the Pacific Ocean is looking pretty ominous – big dark gray clouds in the distance.

I think it feels like rain.

KIM PRATHER: It’s coming in. I think it’s the front. I think it’s what they call the cold front that’s coming.

SOMMER: Sure, everyone wants it to rain, but Kim Prather especially. She’s an atmospheric chemist at the University of California, San Diego who studies what makes it rain. We’re next to a large truck trailer full of scientific gear that’s parked on the coast about an hour north of San Francisco. You’d think it would be measuring water vapor. That’s what a cloud is, after all, millions of water droplets. But Prather is looking at tiny particles in the air.

PRATHER: Pollution, sea spray, dust, smoke.

SOMMER: They’re the seeds of a rainstorm. The water inside a cloud sticks to them, growing larger and larger until you get a raindrop or snowflake. Large pumps on the trailer next to us are pulling in millions of these particles so they can be examined one by one.

PRATHER: We didn’t expect there to be much dust here. But, in fact, there are parcels of dust continuously coming across the Pacific right now.

SOMMER: It starts as massive dust storms in the deserts of Asia and Africa that gain altitude over the ocean, taking about week to make it to California. Prather has seen this before when she flew through Sierra Nevada snowstorms in a small research plane.

PRATHER: So days with dust, we found, were days where you had the most snow on the ground consistently. And it’s not a lot of dust. It’s just the right amount of dust that comes in and seeds the very top of the clouds.

SOMMER: In one study, Prather found that the right kind of dust storm could boost snowfall in California’s mountains by 40 percent. It happens because dust helps ice crystals form.

PRATHER: Because ice is a very picky process. Ice only likes to form on certain surfaces. Dust seems to be very good. Bacteria, biological particles appear to be very good.

SOMMER: Yep, bacteria. Microbes that hitchhike on dust particles in the atmosphere.

PRATHER: Dust will come out of the ground with microbes on it. And so there are microbes that are still alive in those clouds.

SOMMER: But Prather says some particles have the opposite effect. Air pollution coming from California and coming over from Asia seems to reduce precipitation in the Sierra. Prather says she’s trying to tease out these effects because it could help weather forecasting.

PRATHER: You know, are we getting more precipitation? Are we getting less precipitation? The ultimate goal is to be able to feed this into weather forecast models and improve those models, where they actually take into account the seeds. Right now, they don’t.

BILL LAPENTA: From an operational perspective, we are giving that very serious consideration.

SOMMER: Bill Lapenta runs the weather forecasting division of the National Weather Service. He says today’s weather forecast models are giant simulations that run on supercomputers. Adding dust particles to those models adds cost.

LAPENTA: It adds an additional amount of complexity, which then requires more computational resources.

SOMMER: And they can’t get it wrong. The public relies on the forecast to prepare for extreme weather and floods. Still, Lapenta says they’re hoping to add the effects of dust storms to their models in the next five years. Given how important weather prediction is in times of drought, it could be a big help when the next one hits. For NPR News, I’m Lauren Sommer in San Francisco.

For Obama Presidency, Lyndon Johnson Looms Large


President Lyndon B. Johnson delivering a speech in the East Room of the White House in 1964 during the signing of the Civil Rights Act. Credit Keystone/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Two days before joining other presidents in Texas to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, President Obama tackled enduring inequality himself on Tuesday, in this case economic disparity based on gender.

His action? Signing an executive order barring federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay and a memo seeking statistics on contractor salaries.

If the photo-friendly ceremony in the East Room was not exactly the stuff of Mount Rushmore, it did reflect a broader question about the state of the presidency a half-century after Lyndon B. Johnson enacted monumental change in American society: Is it even possible for a president to do big things anymore?

Lilly M. Ledbetter, left, watched Tuesday as President Obama signed an executive order barring federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries.

President Obama, speaking in the Rose Garden on Tuesday, said that his health law “is helping millions of Americans.” video Video: Obama on Health Care Enrollment NumbersAPRIL 1, 2014
President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Fifty years later, his relatives and admirers are working hard to highlight his initiatives. video Video: Legacy of L.B.J.FEB. 15, 2014

President Obama with female members of Congress at the White House on Tuesday. Democrats tried to highlight pay equity.Democrats Use Pay Issue in Bid for Women’s VoteAPRIL 8, 2014

For better or worse, Johnson represented the high-water mark for American presidents pushing through sweeping legislation — not just the Civil Rights Act, but the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, the Fair Housing Act and major measures on immigration, education, gun control and clean air and water. No president since has approached that level of legislative success, although there are people who argue that is a good thing because government should not be so intrusive.

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LBJ Legacy: Vietnam War Often Overshadows Civil Rights Feat

The 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act offers fans of Lyndon Baines Johnson a chance to reassess the 36th president. This law is obscured by his escalation of a failed war in Vietnam.

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Seen in Telluride recently…..Daily Show then CNN should run this….


Don Bachman working a data pit on RMP in the old days…?..?…

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The photo was taken in about ’78 up along I-80 west of Laramie in a snow fence wind drift, probably in April. The Bureau of Standards was testing their FMCW radar which can remotely determine snow water content. I first did a ram profile then pulled the tube so that a backhoe could back in and do the pit wall’ about 15’. I then inserted the density tubes to verify SWE. The densities were so high that it was more comfortable to use an electric chainsaw that hacking away at the pit wall with a shovel.   Don Bachman

San Juan Mountains 24 hr. snow/H20 totals~~Sunday, April 6, 2014~~11:00

New snow totals this morning:

Monument 3.5″/.35″
RMP 3″/.2″
Molas no accumulation
CB no accumulation
Light snowfall continues on RMP and north.


Peter Matthiessen, Co-Founder Of The Paris Review, Dies At 86


Peter Matthiessen, shown here at his New York house in 2004, was a Zen Buddhist priest, a spy, an activist and a well-respected writer of both fiction and nonfiction.


Author Peter Matthiessen has died in New York at the age of 86 from acute myeloid leukemia. Matthiessen, a novelist and naturalist, wrote 33 books; among his best-known works are The Snow Leopard and the novels Far Tortuga and At Play in the Fields of the Lord, which was made into a Hollywood film.

He is the only writer to ever win the National Book Award in the categories of Fiction (for Shadow Country) and General Nonfiction (for The Snow Leopard, which also won for Contemporary Thought). He was also a political activist, a Buddhist teacher, co-founder of The Paris Review and, briefly, a spy.

In his first nonfiction book, Matthiessen staked out the territory he would revisit the rest of his life — the destruction of nature and natural peoples at the hands of mankind. Wilderness in America, published in 1959, is a history of the extinction of animal and bird species in North America:

Species appear, and left behind by a changing earth, they disappear forever, and there is a certain solace in the inexorable. But until man, the highest predator, evolved, the process of extinction was a slow one. No species but man, so far as is known, unaided by circumstance or climactic change, has ever extinguished another.
Wilderness in America led to a series of assignments from The New Yorker that in turn led to a series of books.

Matthiessen traveled to New Guinea in 1961 with Michael Rockefeller, who disappeared and may have been the victim of headhunters. He wrote about trips to Africa, The Himalayas, South America and Antarctica.

“ Fiction is my first love, and that’s the way I began. And frankly, when I began non-fiction, I did it for money.
- Peter Matthiessen
But he said he never intended to write nonfiction. “Fiction is my first love, and that’s the way I began,” he said. “And frankly, when I began nonfiction, I did it for money.”


       ~~~~    READ OR LISTEN    ~~~~




Peter Matthiessen, Lyrical Writer and Naturalist, Is Dead at 86


Peter Matthiessen, a roving author and naturalist whose impassioned nonfiction explored the remote endangered wilds of the world and whose prizewinning fiction often placed his mysterious protagonists in the heart of them, died on Saturday at his home in Sagaponack, N.Y. He was 86.

His son Alex said the cause was leukemia, which was diagnosed more than a year ago. “He continued to fight gallantly to the end and was surrounded by his family,” Alex said. “He was terrifically brave.”

Mr. Matthiessen’s final novel, “In Paradise,” is to be published on Tuesday by Riverhead Books.

Mr. Matthiessen was one of the last survivors of a generation of American writers who came of age after World War II and who all seemed to know one another, socializing in New York and on Long Island’s East End as a kind of movable literary salon peopled by the likes of William Styron, James Jones, Kurt Vonnegut and E. L. Doctorow.

Peter Matthiessen, at home in March.Peter Matthiessen’s HomegoingAPRIL 3, 2014
In the early 1950s, he shared a sojourn in Paris with fellow literary expatriates and helped found The Paris Review, a magazine devoted largely to new fiction and poetry. His childhood friend George Plimpton became its editor.

A1-Mattheissen-obit-master180A rugged, weather-beaten figure who was reared and educated in privilege — an advantage that left him uneasy, he said — Mr. Matthiessen was a man of many parts: littérateur, journalist, environmentalist, explorer, Zen Buddhist, professional fisherman and, in the early 1950s, undercover agent for the Central Intelligence Agency inParis. Only years later did Mr. Plimpton discover, to his anger and dismay, that Mr. Matthiessen had helped found The Review as a cover for his spying on Americans in France.

       ~~~~    READ MORE    ~~~~

THE NEXT PITCH~~by Peter Lev~~~A Mountain Memoir~~~Part IV

Today, Sunday, April, 6, 2014 the Rōbert Report will share Part IV of The Next Pitch by Peter Lev & each subsequent Sunday morning, serialized just like the old pulp fiction novels of the 50′s or getting the NYT on your weekend doorstep, until the story is told. Or you can read it all at once by simply going to the hyperlink at the bottom of each week’s posting. I look forward to sharing Lev’s mountain adventures with you and believe you’ll enjoy the ride, this very cool trip with a real mountain person.




by Peter Lev


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Denali, and the East Buttress (center right) from the Ruth Gorge.

In 1963, Barry Corbett and Jake Breitenbach, two of the Exum senior guides, were going to Everest on the big national expedition. We wanted to go to the big mountains too, so Al Read, Rod Newcomb, Jed Williamson, Fred Wright, and Warren Blesser (not from Exum) and I decided that we would go to Mt. McKinley, or better known among natives as Denali, ‘The Great One.’ Jed knew Brad Washburn and consulted with him, and Brad said, “You boys climb this route here, it’s called the East Buttress, and it has not been climbed.” And we dutifully said, “Okay.”

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On the lower East Buttress.

(Man in audience) This is the one that took 63 days? Fifty-two days. We were slow. But also, I didn’t have anything else to do! (Laughter) For one thing, we’d never done this sort of thing before and every move was given due consideration. We supplied ourselves well, so this was not a modern lightweight expedition. The moves up to Camp III required three load carries— carrying high and sleeping low. I found being on the mountain and being a climber much more appealing than ordinary life, so I wasn’t in a rush to get back.

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Fred Wright leading the ice cliff just below Camp III.

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We have just arrived at the site of our Camp Three. Jed has his arms outstretched, declaring, like Brigham Young: ‘This is the place!’, with Warren to Jed’s left and Al left of Warren. It was, indeed, a fabulous place.

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Rod Newcomb working on the route above Camp III. We are dragging and fixing lines preparing for the final heavy load carry.

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Leaving for first summit attempt from 17,450ft High Camp. Mount Huntington rises in the early sun below.

Our Camp IV was at 17,450 feet near the crest of the Thayer Ridge and very exposed to the weather. On May 22 we got up at 2:30 a.m. and made a summit attempt during which the weather turned and Fred became dangerously ill from altitude, so at Denali Gap, Al and I brought him back to camp. Warren, Rod, and Jed kept going for the summit in very high winds and deteriorating conditions and made it back to camp about 7:30 p.m. A foot of snow fell that night and we all rested the next day as the blizzard raged. On the later successful summit climb Rod noted in his diary evidence they had made it to a hump about 100 vertical feet from the summit on the May 22nd attempt.

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The Great One casts a huge shadow as we began our climb and Alpenglow sheds light on us both going and coming back.

On May 24, after a huge meal of macaroni and cheese drenched in butter, Al, Rod, and I departed for the summit about 9:00 p.m. – at sunset – and climbed all night in the crystal clear arctic half-light of late May, reaching the summit at 3am on the 25th of May, 1963, 15 minutes after sunrise. I can remember thinking this was all extremely satisfying, including the day and half of the collapsed tent flapping on our noses! Of course, by now we were as Spartans and in great physical condition. To this day, Rod Newcomb and Jed Williamson and I have remained steadfast friends, for which I am grateful.

               ~~~  PLEASE READ MORE OF LEV’S ADVENTURES  ~~~




Aspen Mountain Ski Pros/Bicameral Synchronicity~~Bernie Arndt

Asp Mtn Misc Mk iii-0695-Edit


Mt. Hayden from Aspen Mtn 1v4.14~~Bernie Arndt

Asp Mtn Misc Mk iii-0661-Edit

Waters Will Flood Part Of Colorado River, For Just A Few Weeks


Thanks to an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, water is flowing to 35 million people in both countries along the Colorado River Delta. At least for now.

Millions of gallons of water used to flow every day from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California. Now, the Colorado River ends at Morelos Dam on the U.S.-Mexico border. Below it, one of North America’s largest wetlands is dry.

Karl Flessa, a geoscientist at the University of Arizona, began researching the damage two decades ago. Then he started asking how much water it would take to bring back some of the habitats.

That push for restoration paid off. Mexico is releasing part of its river allotment for eight weeks — the first time ever that water has been released to benefit the environment. It’s called a pulse flow because it mimics a spring flood: a one-time event, before possible drought restrictions.

Wearing sunscreen and a cowboy hat, Flessa gets behind the wheel of an SUV and heads south to see how far the water has reached.

“We’re chasing the river,” he explains.

What was once the Colorado River is now a mile-wide river bed filled with shrubs and salt cedar. Just as in the U.S., Mexico normally uses the water only for cities and farms.

“We’re driving through an agricultural country,” Flessa says. “There are some date palms here on the left. That looks like wheat over there on the right.”

As co-chief scientist for the pulse flow, Flessa is coordinating dozens of other scientists studying the flow. Francisco Zamora of the Sonoran Institute wants to know how far the water goes. If it reaches the Gulf of California, fresh water and seawater can mix to nourish natural fish and shrimp hatcheries.

“Marine species will be able to then travel upstream,” Zamora says. “The river will again be connected with the ocean.”

    ~~~~    READ/LISTEN    ~~~~

Hall of Mountaineering Excellence – Inductees Trophies by Kiitella


Kiitella’s recognition awards for the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum are to be presented at the 5th Annual Hall of Mountaineering Excellence Gala tomorrow eve. “Designing trophies for the inductees conjured thoughts of mountain characteristics – solid, impervious, unadorned yet rich with variable surface texture.” – Lisa Issenberg

See more by Kiitella

Peter Matthiessen’s Homegoing by JEFF HIMMELMAN APRIL 3, 2014


Out the Montauk Highway, south toward the water, then a quick right before the beach and you’re there, at the Sagaponack house where the author and Zen teacher Peter Matthiessen has lived for the last 60 years. The home used to be the garage and outbuildings of a larger estate, and there is an improvised, of-the-earth sprawl to the place. One side of the main house is grown over with ivy, and under the portico, in between two piles of chopped firewood, an immense finback whale skull balances on blocks. Just to the left of the front door sits a tree stump covered stupalike with shells and other found objects. After I ring the doorbell and rap a few times on the glass, Matthiessen emerges from his living room and waves me in.

He has spent much of his career going back in time — up to ancient villages in the remote reaches of the Himalayas, out to the vast plains of Africa in search of the roots of man — but now time has caught up to him. He’s 86, and for the last 15 months he has been countering leukemia with courses of chemotherapy. You can still see the intensity in his long, serious face and clear blue eyes, but there is an unexpected softness to him as he pads back toward the living room in an old sweater and stockinged feet. His latest novel, “In Paradise,” is being promoted by his publisher as his “final word,” but Matthiessen doesn’t want to talk about the book or his career in those terms. He has no desire for sympathy points. Though he did not want to dwell on it, he acknowledged that his medical situation was “precarious,” and a few weeks after our two days together his health would decline to the point that he had to be admitted to a hospital, with family standing by. It gave our conversations the feeling of stolen time.

       ~~~~    READ THE STORY    ~~~~

‘In Paradise,’ Matthiessen Considers Our Capacity For Cruelty

At age 86, Peter Matthiessen has written what he says “may be his last word” — a novel due out Tuesday about a visit to a Nazi extermination camp. It’s called In Paradise, and it caps a career spanning six decades and 33 books.

Matthiessen is the only writer to ever win a National Book Award in both fiction — for his last book, Shadow Country, and adult nonfiction for his 1978 travel journal, The Snow Leopard.

Matthiessen is filled with the vitality of past adventures as he leads a tour of his country-style home on the East End of Long Island. I visited him in March, on the day before he was to begin a round of experimental chemotherapy for cancer.

On the living room wall are a dozen large black-and-white photographs of New Guinea tribal warriors. The pictures were taken in 1961 — half by the author, the others by his traveling companion, Michael Rockefeller, who disappeared on that expedition, and may have been the victim of cannibals. Matthiessen wrote a book about that journey called Under the Mountain Wall — one of his many nonfiction chronicles of man and his relation to the natural world.

His new novel, In Paradise, is based on a different kind of journey — a trek into the Heart of Darkness. In 1996, Matthiessen, who is a Zen Buddhist, traveled to Poland on a meditation retreat. It took place at the former Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz. What he saw floored him — he recalls the barbed wire, the watch towers, and the crematoriums.

     ~~~~    READ OR LISTEN    ~~~~

Remembering an Old Friend, Ronald Maurice Funk, 1934-2013~~By Dick Dorworth


Ron Funk, right, and Dick Dorworth, left, in 2012. Photo courtesy of Dick Dorworth.

“Peaks and Valleys” is a Ketchum Keystone commentary column by Dick Dorworth.


Ron Funk lived his life with a fierce, incandescent spirit that touched everyone who knew him and with an insistence on his own terms that those same people adapted to according to personal taste and flexibility. Ron, as they say, did his own thing. And what a thing it was!

In 1952, he moved to Sun Valley from Portland, Oregon, to ski, work, play, grow, learn and create an unconventional life of following his passions. He left behind the painful chaos of a broken home and divorced parents with whom he never made complete peace; a paternal grandmother he loved deeply, who raised, supported and encouraged him in all his pursuits; and Mt. Hood, where he learned the skiing that defined much of his life.

He pursued alpine ski racing with venerable courage, flair and determination, and by the summer of 1955 had earned an alternate spot on the 1956 Olympic team. That summer, he went to Portillo, Chile to train and be ready in case an opening appeared by the time of the Olympics.

Along with Olympic team members Bud Werner, Ralph Miller and Marvin Melville, as an unconventional adjunct to training, Ron attempted to break the world speed skiing record. He fell at 96 mph in that effort while wearing long thongs and bear trap bindings and suffered a seriously broken leg. For several years Ron was known as having the fastest fall in skiing history, a part of his daredevil reputation he did not enjoy because it implied a recklessness he did not embrace.

After the appropriate surgeries and rehabilitation he returned to a noteworthy competitive skiing career marked and marred by numerous injuries. Despite them, he became the first American to win the prestigious (and longest) downhill race in Europe, Switzerland’s Parsenn Derby, and became one of only 19 men and 6 women to earn Sun Valley’s Diamond Sun pin, likely the fastest standard race ever held.


Ron Funk, right, with friends at Lo Curro Drive In Boîte in Santiago, Chile, in 1963. Image courtesy of Dick Dorworth.


But it was in the world of ski films that Ron gained the most notoriety and is best remembered by the skiing public. Starring in Dick Barrymore’s “The Last of the Ski Bums” garnered him a review in the New York Times. Barrymore’s description of Ron in the semi-fictitious story line included “Ron Funk would rather ski than just about anything, and he hates to work.”

True enough, but Ron’s lack of a work ethic was not due to laziness or lack of energy, but, rather, his spirit and grand, if informally trained, intellect were soon bored by repetitious drudgery or selling people things they don’t really need. As mentioned, his spirit was incandescent, his terms passionate. He held many jobs: ski instructor, ski coach, ski school director, bartender, hod carrier, crafts fair art dealer, tile setter, laborer, bus driver and EST trainer—and he was notably passionate about and engaged with every effort…until he moved on to the next endeavor, which inevitably happened. He lived in Sun Valley, Bear Valley, Aspen, Donner Summit, Fresno, Battle Mountain, South Shore Tahoe, Seattle, Chile, Philippines and, in the end, Thailand.

A lifetime of injuries forced Ron to quit skiing several years ago. The last time he skied (in Sun Valley) he came off Baldy and announced that it was just too painful, and he spent most of the rest of his life living in warmer climes and riding his bicycle some 50 miles a day.

Next to skiing, Ron’s greatest love was for the female sex, and he pursued this passion with a libidinous spirit, intelligence, humor and tenacity that many (including some reading this) found irresistible. He was also smart, funny and tenacious. He was twice married, and somewhere in the world is a daughter he never knew.

Ron lived on his own terms and he died on his own terms, as he had told his close friends he would do when the pain became heavier than the joy of life. When he heard of Ron’s death, C.B. Vaughan spoke for many when he wrote: “Funk, what can we all say? We loved you, your spirit, who you were and the impact you made on all of us. You have touched so many of us and we all have fond memories of an individual bigger than life.

“Ron will live on with all of as his zest for life was contagious!! Until we all meet again, Ron, we love your spirit, your persona and you!!!!”

Another (lady) friend wrote: “My gosh. He will always be in my heart What memories. What laughs!”

Ron was my friend, brother, mentor and comrade in the adventure(s) of life for nearly 60 years. His influence on my life is incalculable. I’m glad and grateful he was here and sorry and sad he is gone, but his spirit lives in everyone who knew him.


Two Colorado State workers injured during avalanche mitigation on Loveland Pass…..



Two Colorado Department of Transportation workers were injured Monday morning when an explosive round blew up in the barrel of an avalanche-mitigation mortar in Loveland Pass.

The two, a CDOT explosives expert and a Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster, were airlifted to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver. At 11 a.m., CDOT reported they were in fair condition.

“They were doing avalanche mitigation in Loveland Pass. They were very experienced crews doing the work,” said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford.

The workers were firing the projectiles at about 7 a.m. into snow in the Seven Sisters area that is known for steep chasms on the east side of the pass, Ford said.

The workers, who were conscious when loaded into the helicopter, suffered head and facial injuries. The CAIC forecaster also had leg injuries, said CDOT maintenance supervisor John David. The men’s families were notified, Ford said.

The names of the injured men were not released. There also was a third crew member who was not injured when the device, which CDOT said has fired over 800 rounds this avalanche season, exploded.

David said he has been with CDOT since 1985 and had never known of even a close call when such mortars were being used. He added that the men were heeding protocol by moving behind their vehicle before the launch and that if they hadn’t, there “probably would have” been fatalities.

“We are taking this situation very seriously and will be looking into how to improve the safety of our crew members during avalanche reduction practices,” said Regional Transportation director Tony DeVito in a news release. “The safety of our crews and the traveling public are our top priority and we ask you keep these gentlemen in your thoughts today.”

The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Department was investigating the scene, CDOT said.


An email from John Brennan producer of the Falcon GT Avalauncher that was involved in the accident.


There was an in-bore detonation in a Falcon GT Avalauncher today while the Colorado Department of Transportation was doing control work. I was close to the site so I spent about four hour there. I just got back home. Two gunners were injured. They had a truck bed mounted launcher and were using a second truck as their blast shield. I don’t believe it is my place release information before the Department of Transportation releases it, but from internet information the injuries are serious. Our prayers and best wishes are with the injured. The investigation is only in its rudimentary stages so not much information can be gleaned currently. I was unable to get close to the Avalauncher. The Avalauncher fired when they triggered it and the projectile detonated near the Breech end of the machine. They were using CIL Orion Classics. I was told they were the current version with deeper cap wells to accommodate the #12 caps that were being used. I understand that CIL Orion will be sending a representative to Colorado shortly. They were shooting well under 200 psi. In my opinion ALL Avalauncher operations should be suspended while this investigation continues. By this I mean any brand of Avalauncher so as to see what comes out of the investigation of the projectile system as well as the Falcon GT Avalauncher. I will update as soon as possible. Forward this info to all it may help. John Brennan


The avalanche folks at Alta are saying sub-standard explosives,

including avalancher rounds, have been a problem lately. Apparently

these explosives are manufactured in South America. 

From a friend in Utah.  J.R.


jerry avalauncher round

avalauncher work









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Photos by Jerry Roberts & Noel Peterson





old school launchers

San Juan Mountains Weather Forecast~~Friday, April 4, 2014~~08:00



There’s a building ridge of high pressure over Colorado today with warming temps and clearing skies. Later in the day, clouds will begin moving into the forecast area just ahead of the next large trough of low pressure on the west coast as it pushes into the Great Basin then later into the San Juans on SW flow.

We should see the beginnings of the storm tonight in the San Juans then it picks up Saturday when the trough moves overhead. Elevations above 11,000′ should see between 4-8″ of new snow favoring southwest aspects.  As the trough moves east the flow shifts to the north (back side of the trough) favoring the northern Colorado mountains and the north side of the San Juans. By early week a large high pressure ridge builds lasting late into next week.