Top 5 stories on SummitDaily.com, week of June 30
Editor’s note: Stories in this list received the most page views on SummitDaily.com for the past week.
The record number of climbers crowding the world’s highest mountain this season has left a government cleanup crew grappling with how to clear away everything from abandoned tents to human waste that threatens drinking water. Mount Everest budget expedition companies charge as little as $30,000 per climber, cutting costs including waste removal. Everest has so much garbage — depleted oxygen cylinders, food packaging, rope — that climbers use the trash as a kind of signpost. But this year’s haul from an estimated 700 climbers, guides and porters on the mountain has been a shock to the ethnic Sherpas who worked on the government’s cleanup drive this spring. The trash is creating danger for future climbers and spurring calls for action now.
“When the snow melts the garbage surfaces. And when there is high wind, tents are blown and torn and the contents are scattered all over the mountain, which makes it even more dangerous for climbers already navigating a slippery, steep slope in snow and high winds,” said Ang Tshering, former president of Nepal Mountaineering Association.
— The Associated Press
Search and rescue teams combing the mountains in southern Colorado have found the body of a missing hiker. The Denver Post reports Tyler Cline was found dead in the mountains above Crestone. He was reported missing after he didn’t return from a hike in the area of Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point. Family and friends say he was an experienced hiker who was trying to climb all of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks, and Saguache County sheriff’s officials say they do not suspect foul play.
Friend Fawne Steigerwald tells KDVR-TV in Denver that Cline started getting serious about climbing Colorado’s 14ers sometime this past winter, and “everything seemed to be going well.”
Investigators have not released any details about the circumstances of the death.
— The Associated Press
On the eve of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s first Fourth of July skiing and riding day in eight years, the ski area’s operations director for lifts and slopes maintenance Louis Skowyra recapped the numerous variables that led to July skiing at the Continental Divide.
“There are so many things going on, so many things changing,” Skowyra said in a video shared by A-Basin. “But the transition periods are really the fun time of year up here, certainly for those of us in the slopes maintenance department. This is the slopes maintenance department’s time to shine out here.”
Skowyra, a Dillon resident, tipped his visor to Mother Nature and mentioned May’s lower-than-average temperatures as a primary reason A-Basin is able to spin its lifts for skiing and riding so late into the summer. Skowyra also credited A-Basin’s snowmaking crew for its work dating back 10 months, when A-Basin fired up its snowmaking guns for the season Sept. 21. Once the snow begins melting, Skowyra’s crew manages the runoff while keeping a rideable ribbon in mind. He said the ski area’s slopes maintenance crew likes to consolidate the snow with a focus on decreasing the surface area yet maintaining as much depth as possible.
— Antonio Olivero
As the last of the spring runoff trickles into the tributaries that feed Dillon Reservoir, Summit County emergency officials continue to watch outflows below Dillon Dam as the reservoir reaches full capacity. While there has been no major flooding in Summit thus far, heavy precipitation in late June and an extended winter led the National Weather Service to issue a river flooding advisory for the Blue River last week. The dam — which was built in 1963 for water storage and not flood mitigation— does not have a whole lot of control on how much water flows out of it through its morning glory spillway. As a result, residents in Silverthorne on or near the Lower Blue River below the dam face flooding risks every summer as the reservoir fills. On Friday, the reservoir was just under a foot from being full, with 2,600 acre-feet of storage space remaining.
— Deepan Dutta
Shortly after 8:30 a.m. on July 4th, the first skiers and riders hopped off the top of the Lenawee Mountain chairlift above 12,000 feet. They were here — where the country’s eastern slope meets it western slope — from all across the country, from Orlando to the east to San Francisco to the west. And whether they took one run or lapped all day, the thousands who made up the sea of skiers and snowboarders at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area were in search of a once-in-a-lifetime Fourth of July memory. Despite the monumental crowds — vehicle after vehicle was parked along U.S. Highway 6 around several switchbacks leading up to Loveland Pass — and despite the slushy, summer snow, these party people celebrated to the fullest what was the first Fourth of July ski day at A-Basin in almost a decade.
— Antonio Olivero
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