Grieving for the future ~ Abuelo Norte Scandal Sheet


“Only $4,195 to hike Baldy 5 times and camp in the Upper River Run parking lot”

el Abuelo Norte

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

With all the talk of a tent city springing up in Ketchum, the canvas tents that popped up in the Upper River Run parking lot and an empty lot at the base of Bald Mountain Monday might have given passersby a start. Are city fathers renting out tents to workers this summer? Is it just a way to determine what a tent city in the shadow of a world-class ski mountain would look like? Or are hotels so full proprietors are going to offer tent lodging for tourists, complete with the foot-thick mattresses and comforters in each? Actually, the tent city is part of 29029 everesting, a monumental challenge designed for those who believe challenging things change us. Loading
Participants will be greeted by a mattress, bed linen, lanterns and pillows. The four-day event is expected to bring more than a hundred competitors and their families to Sun Valley from Thursday through Monday, June 17-21. Competitors will leave base camp at 5,750 feet and race up the mountain about 15 times to climb the equivalent of Mount Everest which, at 29,029 feet, is the world’s tallest mountain. They will ride the gondola down after each summit.(The gondola will open to the public June 26.) Participants have all sorts of reasons for taking part. One woman told everesting that her husband passed away in January after being diagnosed with ALS. She signed up to give her something to focus on to work through the grief. Loading
Tents were erected in tidy fashion. Another woman said she is doing it to prove that she is stronger and more fit—and to have fun. A man said he was attempting to be the best he can be for the rest of his life after his father’s death by heart attack shook him to his core. And a woman who will be coming to Sun Valley from Atlanta is doing it as part of a pandemic health plan that included losing 45 pounds and reducing her elevated blood pressure. Additional 29029 events have been held in Vermont and Snowbasin, Utah. Split evenly between men and women, the average age of past events is well over 40, according to Bloomberg. Many participants are entrepreneurs or corporate managers for companies like Goldman Sachs and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. While some have a few marathons behind them, for most this is a new frontier. Loading
Some will spend their mountaineering experience at a slightly higher elevation in the River Run parking lot. But—no fear! Everesting provides them with a 20-week pre-climb program.


Fantastic / Memory Lane and accurate comment from The Fall Creek Monk
concerning : 29029 Everesting
Abuelo del norte


This is spooky !
Do all those tents look like spawn from an old tent camp in an aspen grove
near Marble Colorado years ago ?
“Those of you who want to go run a couple a miles and jump into a freezing stream
go with Matt. If you want to go look at some flowers and birds, come with me (Fred Wright)”.

Those old wall tents were rich with romance.  I hope the Everesters convening in SV
avoid love blisters and attain a glimpse of liberation !
(I am happy they are staying on the Baldy service roads).
Will there be time for Shopping ? Yoga ? Massage ?  Boinking your guide ?
Remember, Lycra is a privilege, not a right.

‘Be brave comrades’

PS…How do the residents in the nearby townhouse feel about looking out at a refugee camp ?

Fall Creek – Roaring Fork Monk



Want to know where a raindrop that falls in Glacier National Park eventually ends up? Would you like to follow the headwaters of the Missouri to the Gulf of Mexico? Or just see a 3D map of where the water in your local watershed flows on its way to the sea? 

Check out the River Runner website, our new favorite corner of the internet. 

Click anywhere on the map of the United States, and the website drops down to a terrain following view, tracking where water flows from that very spot. Incredible. 

It was made by a data analyst named Sam Learner with help from the US Geological Survey’s water team. He was inspired by thinking about the Continental Divide, and how it cleaves two massive watersheds in two. 

“I thought that journey would be really interesting,” he said. “If we start at the top of a mountain on the Continental Divide, just watching this split—one journey a few hundred miles to the Pacific, and another to the Gulf of Mexico. As I started digging into the data, I realized that the scope of it could be much bigger.”

Birding in Arizona’s Sky Islands ~ NYT

The elegant trogon, befitting its name, is clever. One can perch in a tree 10 feet overhead and draw little attention, though it’s come dressed for it, with a striking yellow beak, blush red breast topped with a white collar and metallic green back tapering, like tuxedo tails, to finely barred tail feathers.

As a birding fan, I’d made its acquaintance on trips to Mexico. But during the pandemic, in my desire to find unexpected, wondrous and uncrowded places in the United States, I learned that the trogon comes north, often visiting a section of southeast Arizona that looks, from a bird’s point of view, a lot like the highlands of Mexico.

The elegant trogon migrates north, often visiting a section of southeast Arizona that looks, from a bird’s point of view, a lot like the highlands of Mexico.Credit…Francis Morgan/Tucson Audubon

These are “sky islands,” isolated mountain formations separated by seas of desert that are uniquely biodiverse, offering habitats from scrub and grasslands to pine and fir forests as they rise.

Between the Rocky Mountains and Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidentals lie nearly 60 sky islands, an “archipelago of mountains that are steppingstones between two big ranges,” said Peg Abbott, the owner of Naturalist Journeys, a birding and nature tour operator based in the region. Stretched apart some 15 million years ago and isolated by the development of arid grasslands and deserts between them, about 15 sky islands lie in Arizona’s Coronado National Forest; the rest are in Mexico.

I met Peg on a five-day trip in May to three of Arizona’s sky island ranges — the Santa Rita, Chiricahua and Huachuca mountains — on my first post-vaccination trip, designed to safely spend time hiking outdoors, but squarely in the path of potential encounters with Crayola-colored warblers, up to 15 species of hummingbirds and seasonal guests like the elegant trogon.

A view of the Santa Rita Mountains and Madera Canyon in southern Arizona.
A view of the Santa Rita Mountains and Madera Canyon in southern Arizona.Credit…John Burcham for The New York Times

From Tucson, I drove roughly 30 miles south to Green Valley and turned southeast for Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains where more than 250 bird species have been documented. The road ascended from cactus flats to grass and oak savannas into a narrowing canyon, a crease of shady oak and sycamore forest flanking a seasonal stream, bone dry in present drought conditions. At the Santa Rita Lodge in the largely undeveloped canyon, I checked into a creekside casita ($160) and was asked to keep my showers short because of the drought.

But the lack of rainfall hadn’t discouraged the birds, or the birders. On the weaving two-lane road that dead-ends at about 5,400 feet, with footpaths ascending another 4,000 feet to Mount Wrightson, a flock of wild Gould’s turkeys held up traffic. The males, with fully fanned tail feathers, dragged their wings audibly on the pavement. In front of the lodge, more than a dozen feeders were filled with bridled chickadees, cartoonish acorn woodpeckers, thick-billed, black-headed grosbeaks and gregarious pine siskinds.

An acorn woodpecker, spotted at the Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon.
An acorn woodpecker, spotted at the Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon.Credit…John Burcham for The New York Times

Hummingbird feeders, filled with sweetened water, were staked closer to the benches facing this bird theater, allowing one woman to train her binoculars on a broad-billed hummingbird just two feet away for a microscopic view of its red beak and darting tongue.

The staffer checking me in said that trogons hadn’t been seen yet this year, but directed me to the Carrie Nation Trail in the morning to look. Meanwhile, she suggested I head across the street at sunset to see the elf owl that burrows in a utility pole there.

“It’s like the littlest dog that has the biggest bark,” said Steve Holt, the lodge owner, speaking of the tiny elf owl that I and a dozen guests gathered to see, settling ultimately for the chirping, whistling and trilling that indicated it was nearby. As they left, one couple asked where they might listen for whiskered screech owls, and motored up the canyon for more night birding.

In the morning cool, the deserted mountain trails were alive with bird song and the brash antics of spotted towhees and yellow-eyed juncos, but no trogon — perhaps, said fellow birders, because of the dry creek.

The visitors’ center in Cave Creek, Ariz.
The visitors’ center in Cave Creek, Ariz.Credit…John Burcham for The New York Times

Posted outside Cave Creek Ranch in the Chiricahua Mountains, about 150 miles southeast of Tucson, a schedule of the expected arrival dates of migrating and seasonal birds anticipated the elegant trogon on April 6.

“This year, almost everything’s been late,” said Reed Peters, the owner of the 13-cabin retreat where I joined the tour operator Peg Abbott and her group of about a dozen travelers on a nine-day birding trip in the sky islands. They were paging through a binder of listings, checking off the day’s sightings, including the northern beardless tyrannulet and greater pewee.52 Places to Love in 2021We asked readers to tell us about the spots that have delighted, inspired and comforted them in a dark year. Here, 52 of the more than 2,000 suggestions we received, to remind us that the world still awaits.

“Sky islands are a concept of geography that not a lot of people in the U.S. know,” said Peg, explaining the similarities between the Galápagos Islands and the sky islands to the group over drinks. “Part of diversity is how close are you to the big mama ship that has all the species, and part is being in the path of things that move on currents and wind. The principles of island biogeography play out in these sky islands.”

Rock walls tower above the South Fork Trail in Cave Creek Canyon in Arizona.
Rock walls tower above the South Fork Trail in Cave Creek Canyon in Arizona.Credit…John Burcham for The New York Times

In Arizona, breeding trogons tend to nest in the cavities of big trees like sycamores that grow in riparian zones, which have streams or rivers. Fortunately, the next day, the water was flowing in Cave Creek Canyon, just a few miles beyond the ranch where I joined a loose confederation of birders on a three-hour trek along the road and the South Fork Trail that continues along the creek. Ears trained for the trogon, we delighted in flamboyant warblers and a family of grosbeaks bathing in a rock pool. At an inviting swimming hole known as “The Bathtub,” I heard something between a bark, a gobble and a chortle, possibly a trogon, but I never saw it.

“He likes to hang out there,” confirmed Peg that afternoon as she drove me to the top of the Chiricahuas on a tour that took in campgrounds where visitors erected their own hummingbird feeders, and the Southwestern Research Station, a wilderness campus managed by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where scientists have conducted long-term studies on Mexican jay breeding, hummingbird physiology and the social behavior of ants.

~~~ CONTINUE ~~~



The records of past fires preserved in the sediment of 20 lakes in the central Rocky Mountains showed that areas that used to burn once every 230 years now can be expected to burn every 117 years.

A firefighter battles the East Troublesome fire, one of the largest fires in recorded Colorado history, crossed the Continental Divide well above treeline. (Handout)

By Philip Higuera, The University of MontanaBryan Shuman, University of Wyoming; and Kyra WolfThe University of Montana

The exceptional drought in the U.S. West has people across the region on edge after the record-setting fires of 2020. Last year, Colorado alone saw its three largest fires in recorded state history, one burning late in October and crossing the barren Continental Divide well above the tree line.

Those fires didn’t just feel extreme. Evidence now shows the 2020 fire season pushed these ecosystems to levels of burning unprecedented for at least 2,000 years.

That evidence, which we describe in a study published June 14, 2021, serves as a sobering example of how climate change is altering the ecosystems on which lives and economies depend. A previous study nearly a decade ago warned that by the mid-21st century, climate warming could increase burning past historical levels and transform some Rocky Mountain forests. Our results show such changes in fire activity are now underway.

Graphs show fire activity rising with temperature over time
Historically, fires burned in the subalpine central Rockies every 230 years, on average. That has increased significantly in the 21st century. Philip Higuera

Entering uncharted territory

As paleoecologists – scientists who study how and why ecosystems changed in the past – we’ve spent decades researching how wildfiresclimate and forests change over time.

We used to be able to look to the past when rare events like large wildfires occurred and say “we’ve seen this before and our ecosystems have generally bounced back.” In the last few years, however, it’s become increasingly clear that many ecosystems are entering uncharted territory.

Witnessing the exceptionally large fires burning in high-elevation forests in 2020, unusually late in the season, we wondered if we were experiencing something truly unprecedented.

In Colorado and Wyoming, the largest fires of 2020 were burning in a region where our research teams have spent over 15 years developing records of fire history and ecosystem change from materials preserved in the bottom of lakes. This work has centered on understanding how climate change might one day affect wildfires. We looked to those records for an answer.

Evidence of past fires preserved in lake sediments

When a fire burns a forest, it sends tiny bits of charcoal into the air. If a lake is nearby, some of that charcoal will settle to the bottom, adding to the layers that build up each year. By plunging a long tube into the mud and extracting a core, we can examine the history of the surrounding landscape – revealed in the layers of everything that sank to the bottom over thousands of years.

Carbon dating of tree needles and twigs helps us determine the age of each layer in a core. Pollen preserved in the sediments can tell us what grew nearby. And dense charcoal layers tell us when fires burned.

Scientists on a raft examining a sediment core
Philip Higuera (right) and his team examine a sediment core from Chickaree Lake, in Rocky Mountain National Park, used to reconstruct fire and vegetation history over thousands of years. (Grace Carter)

We used such records of past fires preserved in the sediments of 20 lakes in the central Rocky Mountains. In total, the dozens of researchers who helped analyze these cores counted over 100,000 tiny charcoal pieces, within the thousands of 0.5-centimeter layers of lake sediments examined. Identifying distinct increases in charcoal accumulation within the cores allows us to estimate when fires burned around a lake, and compare today’s patterns to those of the distant past.

The result: The extensive burning over the 21st century is unprecedented in this region in the past 2,000 years.

Burning nearly twice as often as in the past

We estimated that fires burned the forests around each lake once every 230 years, on average, over the past 2,000 years. Over just the 21st century, the rate of burning has nearly doubled, with a fire now expected to burn a given spot once every 117 years.

A female scientist holds a small container with tiny flecks of charcoal in it.
Kyra Wolf holds up a vial containing charcoal and other organic material from a half-centimeter slice of a lake sediment core. University of Montana
Two long, thin cores of mud marked with a line every half-centimeter for analysis.
In the lab, the sediment cores are split open and examined in detail. The color variation reflects differences in the material the fell into the lake at different times over the centuries. University of Montana

Even more surprising, fires in the 21st century are now burning 22% more often than the highest rate of burning reached in the previous 2,000 years.

That previous record was established around 1,100 years ago, during what’s known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly. The Northern Hemisphere at that time was 0.3 C (0.5 F) warmer then than the 20th century average. Subalpine forests in the central Rockies during the early Medieval Climate Anomaly burned on average once every 150 years. To put that period’s temperature into perspective, the Northern Hemisphere in 2020 was 1.28 C (2.3 F) above the 20th century average.

In an earlier study based on a subset of the same records, the Medieval Climate Anomaly stood out as a harbinger of what could happen as Rocky Mountain forests warmed. Research in the boreal forest of central Alaska has also documented unprecedented burning in recent decades.

Climate change is the culprit, with accomplices

Research clearly links recent increases in fire activity across the West to increasingly warm, dry summers and human-caused climate change. Our evidence shows that the rate of burning over the past 2,000 years also tracked smaller variations in the climate in the central Rockies.

Warmer, drier conditions make vegetation more flammable, loading the dice for the possibility of large fires. Human activities, a history of suppressing most fires and insect-killed trees all affect when, where and how fires burn. These influences vary across the West and each is layered on top of the warmer, drier conditions of the 21st century.

Adapting to a future unlike the past will be a significant challenge for land managers, policy makers and communities. Reducing the threats of increasing wildfires requires both combating climate change and learning to live in ways that help make our communities more resilient to our fire-prone future.

Philip Higuera, professor of fire ecology and paleoecology, The University of MontanaBryan Shuman, professor of paleoclimatology and paleoecology, University of Wyoming; and Kyra Wolf, Ph.D. student in systems ecology, The University of Montana

John Nichols

Illistrtion by John Nichols

Had forgotten how well the Nichols novel was put together. Right up there, maybe better than his first of the New Mexico trilogy, The Milagro Beanfield War. A great summer read or any season …


Nichols and rŌbert at the Brodksy Book Store in Taos awhile back

Peter Jamieson, climber (and old friend) recounts Everest ascent ~ Durango Herald


Peter Jamieson reached the world’s highest point twice in the 1980s (fake news, Peter climbed Everest only once which was enough) ~ rŌbert



For Durango resident Peter Jamieson, standing at the top of Mount Everest was like looking out of a jet plane with his feet on the ground.

“At 29,000 feet without oxygen, you’re kind of in a bit of a haze. But it really had spectacular views to the north and all around,” Jamieson said.

Sitting between Nepal and Tibet, Everest tugged at Western explorers’ interests for decades before a mountaineering team launched the first recorded reconnaissance mission 100 years ago. The team marked a possible approach to the summit. Each decade after, mountaineers worked their waycloser to the summit, pulled by the thought of standing on the tallest peak in the world.

Jamieson, 65, first felt the pull of Everest after reading “Americans on Everest” when he was 12 years old.

See EVEREST, 8A “It wasn’t elation really, it was more just like, ‘Huh, how about that? I’ve done something I’ve always wanted to do.’”



Peter Jamieson, a La Plata County resident, displays some of the gear he wore during his Mount Everest climbing expeditions. Jamieson said he first became intrigued with the world’s tallest mountain at age 12 when reading about others who had done the climb.

JERRY MCBRIDE/ Durango Herald

Everest: To reach top, climbers must ascend more than 11,500 feet from base camp 

Peter Jamieson in the Khumbu Ice fall in 1983. Jamieson summited Mount Everest on the expedition.

“Everest has always had this mystique. Part of it is, what’s up there? Do you find nirvana up there? Do the heavens open?” said Jamieson, a Fort Lewis College graduate. “I got up there, and I was going, ‘Yeah, it’s just snow and rock. Kind of looks like every other mountain to me.’” The mountain, on the crest of the Great Himalayas of southern Asia, rises to an elevation of 29,031 feet, according to a 2020 consensus between Nepal and China that settled years of international debate.

It has multiple names: Everest, after George Everest, a former surveyor general of India; Chomolungma in Tibet, which means “mother goddess of the world”; and Sagarmatha, or “peak of heaven,” in Sanskrit, according to the “Encyclopedia Britannica.”

The Sherpas, an ethnic group in Nepal, traditionally treated the Himalayas as sacred and did not climb Everest before mountaineering expeditions became a source of income.

To reach the top, climbers must ascend more than 11,500 feet from base camp, passing through treacherous landscape with a shifting icefall, avalanches and swiftly changing weather.

Above 26,000 feet, the “death zone,” where there is not enough oxygen to sustain human life for a prolonged period of time, climbers experience confusion, poor decisions, brain swelling and drowning as blood leaks into the lungs.

In 1921, George Mallory and other mountaineers made it to the North Col before turning back because of weather. In 1953, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first men known to summit the mountain.

On May 7, 1983, Jamieson became the 14th American and 129th person to reach the summit.

His path to Everest, he said, started at FLC. In the 1970s, he joined the Outward Bound program with well-known mountaineers Gerry Roach, who wrote the guidebooks to the Colorado Fourteeners; Wally Berg, who summited Everest four times in the 1990s; and a slew of other accomplished outdoorsmen.

Roach invited Jamieson to join an expedition funded by Frank Wells, former president of the Walt Disney Co., and Dick Bass, owner of Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah and the first man to climb the Seven Summits, the tallest peak on each continent. ABC American Sportsmen came along to film the event.

They were the only crew on the mountain. Jamieson spent 10 days laying the route in the Khumbu Icefall. At one point, the ice started collapsing around him. He grabbed a rope, holding on for his life until things settled down – then he realized neither end of the rope was attached to anything.

“It’s an extremely dangerous place, always shifting and collapsing,” Jamieson said.

They worked their way to Camp 4 on the South Col, and started their push to summit at 5 a.m. Jamieson got to the south summit and through the Hillary Step, turning up his oxygen as he went.

“All of the sudden, I couldn’t keep up at all. I was just exhausted, hyperventilating,” Jamieson said. His oxygen ran out. He plodded on as best he could, stopping every few steps to breathe. “Then it started getting steeper. ‘Phew, I don’t know about this.’ Then all the sudden it was less steep and I was on top.”

On the way down, it was getting dark and the clouds came in – he had left his headlamp in the tent that morning, he said. He fell 10 feet into a crevasse filled with snow. Everything was white – the clouds and the snow – giving him a sense of vertigo.

About 11:30 p.m., they crawled into camp. That’s when he realized he had his headlamp in his parka the whole time, he said.

“It wasn’t elation really, it was more just like, ‘Huh, how about that? I’ve done somethingI’ve always wanted to do,’” Jamieson said.

Jamieson summited again in 1989, this time on an expedition with professional climbersBerg and Scott Fischer.

Fischer later died in 1996 on another Everest expedition when a sudden storm swept over the mountain, resulting in the deaths of eight climbers. The disaster was recounted in multiple books and films.

The 100 years since the 1921 expedition have been marked by other tragedies.

In 2012, an unprecedented 234 climbers made it to the top, becoming dangerously backed up at the Hillary Step. Four people died then. In 2019, 11 climbers died when long lines prevented several climbers from ascending and descending quickly enough to replenish their oxygen, according to “Britannica.”

A deadly avalanche struck in 2014, then a fatal earthquake in 2015. Most of the bodies of more than 280 climbers that have died on the mountain have not been removed, according to “Britannica.”

Berg, also a FLC graduate, has known members of the 1953 ascents – his roots

on the mountain go far back, he said.

Berg said he could not comment about crowding or expeditions in recent years, but he said some efforts to remove the bodies of those who died on the mountain were dangerous.

“I have strongly and vocally opposed dangerous efforts to remove (Scott Fischer) from where he lay,” Berg said. “You have to understand the culture of the area. Just north of there, people are given sky burials. In Nepal, people are cremated. It’s more appropriate to leave the climbers where they lie.”

Heavy traffic has also led to habitat damage for wildlife and an accumulation of litter on the mountain – oxygen containers, human waste, discarded gear. Recent cleanup efforts in some areas have helped remove the buildup.

“This spring 500 people summited Everest, so it’s just crazy how it’s changed,” Jamieson said.

Berg said the mountain seemed busy even in the 1980s, but for him, it hasn’t lost its mystique.

Even with the changes, Jamieson speaks animatedly about his time on Everest and the accomplished mountaineers he met along the way.

He remembers being on the mountain alone – stringing the ropes, picking the route, doing the climbing – “kicking our own steps in the thigh-deep snow,” he said.

Jamieson says he went because he had the chance to do it. For many mountaineers, the mountain’s mystique draws them in, as does the appeal of touching the highest place on Earth.

One hundred years ago, George Mallory uttered a now-famous response when asked why he wanted to summit the mountain. “Because it’s there.”

A summit team who did the South Col Route in 1983. Left to right, Sherpa Ang Rita, Larry Neilson, Gerry Roach and Peter Jamieson preparing to leave advanced basecamp at about 21,000 feet in elevation.

Courtesy of Peter Jamieson

A pair of boots and crampons Peter Jamieson wore during his Mount Everest adventures. A mountaineering team launched the first recorded reconnaissance mission of Everest 100 years ago.

JERRY MCBRIDE/ Durango Herald

Courtesy of Peter Jamieson

Former Durangoan Wally Berg in yellow and Scott Fischer on Everest in 1989. Pumori, a 23,494-foot peak, is in the background.

Courtesy of Peter Jamieson