A noble recovery effort; strike one on Rep. Tipton | AspenTimes.com

A noble recovery effort; strike one on Rep. Tipton

Aspen, CO Colorado

The entire Aspen-Snowmass community aches when its outdoor enthusiasts die on the mountains. But at the risk of sounding trite, there’s something to be said about the local fabric during these tragic times.

On Feb. 22, Brandon Zukoff was killed by an avalanche in Sand’s Chute, located in the East Snowmass Creek Valley. The four-year local was just 26.

Relatives flew from Zukoff’s native Michigan to Aspen before his body was recovered. The father told Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, who oversees Mountain Rescue Aspen’s rescue and recovery efforts, that rescuers should not risk their lives to recover his son’s body.

Several times recovery efforts for Zukoff’s body, involving members of MRA and Snowmass Ski Patrol, were suspended because conditions were simply too treacherous. But a week later on Tuesday, the body was recovered, with the aid of three dogs, ski patrol, MRA, and a helicopter.

We hazard to assume the recovery was a small yet meaningful consolation for Zukoff’s relatives – it brought some sort of closure for a grieving family, and dignity to a man with a passion for backcountry skiing.

It’s easy to take for granted the work of MRA, ski patrol and our sheriff’s office, but their efforts to recover the body should make us all grateful.

• • • •

When freshman U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, is up for re-election in 2012, remember his vote from Feb. 18, 2011. On that date, Tipton voted to support the Pence Amendment, which denies federal funds to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of reproductive health services.

Many like to pigeon-hole this amendment as one that will strike a blow to abortion, but that’s not all.

What’s lost in this debate, and what Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards recently pointed out, is that Planned Parenthood is much more than a vehicle for abortions. The organization also provides advice on contraceptives, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, and research on public health policy.

The good thing, in all likelihood, is the House of Representatives’ support of the Pence Amendment is merely a symbolic vote. While we expect the measure to die in the Democrat-controlled Senate, we see the episode as evidence of a narrow mindset among House Republicans – including our own district’s Tipton – when it comes to women’s rights.