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Mountain News

Stars aligning for record winter in Colorado



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MINTURN, Colo. — In September, a woman who was hiking up 14,005-foot Mount of the Holy Cross disappeared when she parted with her climbing companion only a few minutes from the boulder-strewn summit.

Although some 700 searchers, a record for Colorado, later combed the mountain, none found evidence of the woman, a 35-year-old mother of four children. Nor, for that matter, do new police documents obtained by the Vail Daily and the Denver Post shed light on the mystery.

The story now told is of errors compounded: lunch left at the car, too little clothing for hiking that time of year, and of a path mistakenly taken that led them on a much longer, more difficult route up the mountain than she was suited for. For most of the day, the woman trailed her companion by 60 feet. Near the top, she reported she could just go no higher.

Searchers think that she may have wandered off the west side of the mountain, where she could have fallen on cliffs that were hidden from searchers dispatched in helicopters. They report no particular reason to suspect foul play.

Hikers have frequently gotten lost on the mountain, despite the fact that they’re above treeline in full view most of the time of the trail back to the parking lot. Too, the trail is by now exceedingly well marked. However, the landscape is so vast that those unfamiliar with the geography are easily confused.

Mine claims may become cabins

SILVERTON, Colo. — San Juan County has very little flat. It’s a place of vertical. So, even though it remains a place of only 600 year-round residents, most of the flat is already used up or contaminated by mining.

So reports the Silverton Standard in a story about a proposal to build on old mining parcels located in the rugged mountains that surround Silverton.

The newspaper notes that a majority of the private land in San Juan County is contained within the 3,000 mining properties that are scattered across hillsides, steep slopes and sometimes even cliffs.

"Most mining claims are long, narrow 10-acre strips, and each is considered an individual parcel, able to be sold or developed without going through a subdivision process," the newspaper says.

What this could yield is a 3,000-lot subdivision scattered willy-nilly across the landscape, with homes placed in locations not because that’s where it makes sense to have homes, but rather that’s because minerals had once been found.

In the current case, a developer is proposing to combine three parcels into one, still building three cabins but in the process making better use of the land than if the original land parcels were adhered to. The idea is drawing mixed reviews.