Aspen Center for Environmental Studies boasts impressive lineup for its 50th anniversary speaker series |

Aspen Center for Environmental Studies boasts impressive lineup for its 50th anniversary speaker series

Aspenite Neal Beidleman’s presentation on climbing two peaks above 8,000 meters in 23 days this year kicks off the winter speaker series at Aspen Center for Environmental Studies this year.

ACES presents two series — Potbelly Perspectives and Naturalist Nights. Potbelly Perspectives features inspiring accounts of world travel and adventure through visual media and storytelling. Potbelly Perspectives are typically held Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at Hallam Lake. The location for Beidleman’s presentation has been switched in anticipation of a large crowd. He will speak at Paepcke Auditorium at 7 p.m. The cost is $5 for non-members, free for members. Potbelly Perspectives will move back to Hallam Lake starting Jan. 9.

Naturalist Nights brings experts to explore current trends in science research, environmental policy, natural history and more. This lecture series is presented in partnership with Wilderness Workshop and Roaring Fork Audubon. The presentations are held Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at The Third Street Center in Carbondale and Thursdays at 6 p.m. at Hallam Lake. All Naturalist Nights presentations are free and open to the public.

For both events, cookies and tea are offered by Two Leaves and a Bud. Following are the speakers for both series.

January 2:

Neal Beidleman | Making the Most of a Himalayan Climbing Season: Everest & Cho Oyu

Beidleman will tell of this last spring’s climbs of both Cho Oyu (6th highest in the world) and Mount Everest.

January 9:

Elinor Fish | Travel: A Runner’s Quest for Growth & Happiness

When the Carbondale resident started running at age 15 in high school track meets, she had no idea that beyond competition on an oval, running could become a means to life-long adventure around the world. Almost 30 years later, Fish has run in some of the world’s most beautiful trail-running destinations, from Australia to Iceland, Patagonia to the Canadian Arctic. January 16:

Brandon Jones | Bikepacking the American Southwest: A Journey for our National Monuments

In spring of 2018, Jones caught a tailwind and rolled across the desert on a solo bikepacking expedition to soak up the goodness of three of the most threatened public landscapes in the nation: Gold Butte, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Bear’s Ears National Monuments. January 23:

Hillary Seminick | Misadventures in Kyrgyzstan: The Silk Road Mountain Race

When Seminick signed up for the inaugural Silk Mountain Road Race, a 1,000-ish mile race climbing over 88,000 feet in elevation through the Tien Shan Range of the Himalayas, all she really wanted to be able to say was that she finished. While she and about two-thirds of the 100-person field were not successful in finishing what has been dubbed the world’s most difficult mountain bike race, she did learn a lot about herself and the amazing country of Kyrgyzstan. January 30:

Nika Meyers & Greg Mauger | Big Miles & Raw Smiles: Endurance on America’s “Triple Crown” Hiking Trails

The Triple Crown of hiking is known to few outside the long-distance hiking community but is an incredible dream for those who love to walk far. It is comprised of walking the three longest National Scenic Trails in America: the 2,600+ mile Pacific Crest Trail; 3,000+mile Continental Divide Trail; and the 2,100+ mile Appalachian Trail. They’ll compare and contrast the logistical differences of the triple crown trails.

February 6:

Devin Pool | Finding Strength in Wild Places: A Photographer’s Guide to Resilience

The local photographer will discuss his work in the backcountry shooting landscapes and his passion for the wilderness.

February 13:

Ken Ransford | Traversing the High Sierras: Off Trail Adventures in One of the World’s Youngest Landscapes

Ransford retraces an off-trail route he took more than 40 years ago from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney in California’s High Sierra. Hugging the west side of the Sierra Nevada crest and camping at tree line nearly every night, he crested 30 passes in 38 days with one goal, to see the most beautiful lake basins in the range. February 20:

Kim Levin | An Eye-Opening Journey to Ethiopia: Modern Medicine in Ancient Lands

The local ER doctor will talk about her journey to Ethiopia last spring, when she volunteered with the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP) to help restore vision to over 1,000 Ethiopians.

February 27:

Ben Barron | The Spine of the Mother: Seeking Harmony and Common Ground in the Colorado River Basin

On the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service, the four members of the indie folk band The Infamous Flapjack Affair (IFA) set out on a journey through the public lands of the Colorado River Basin. Their goal: to meet people who have crafted their lives in the Basin; to hear their stories about the places they love and the challenges that face those places; and to write music inspired by those encounters. March 6:

Hawk Greenway | Eyewitness to climate change: An Aerial Perspective of Denali National Park


Jan. 2 & 3

Creating an American Nile: The Colorado River’s Forgotten Global History

Sara Porterfield, PhD

Porterfield will explore the history of a global exchange of information, technology, and ideology between the Colorado River Basin and international river basins in the late 19th century — an exchange that continues to the present day.

Jan. 9 & 10

Closeup Stories from the Trinidad Rainforest

Ray Mendez, Asa Wright Nature Center

A photographer, naturalist and entomologist, Mendez talks of his journey of exploration into the recesses of one of his favorite places: Trinidad’s rainforest. Jan. 16 & 17

The White Tailed Ptarmigan: An Alpine Icon

Kathryn Bernier, Colorado Parks & Wildlife

Learn about this phantom bird and gain an appreciation of how it survives and thrives in the harsh alpine tundra of Colorado that they call home.

Jan. 23 & 24

Greater Sandhill Cranes in Colorado’s High Country

Van K. Graham, Colorado Parks & Wildlife

Graham will discuss the annual cycle of crane migration in the fall and their return to our high country nesting habitats in the spring. His presentation will reveal knowledge of how cranes interact with other forces in the West.

Jan. 30 & 31

Wildfire: From CATCH-ment, to Water-SHED to CATCH-ment

Liz Schnackenberg, U.S. Forest Service

Learn from the Lake Christine Fire hydrologist how changes in watershed conditions immediately after a wildfire can result in increased erosion, flooding and debris flow potential. Changes in vegetation and soil properties following a wildfire can result in precipitation being shed, causing increased erosion, flood flows, and debris flow potential.

Feb. 6 & 7

What is the Future of Colorado’s Aspen Forests with Climate Change?

Bill Anderegg, Ph.D. University of Utah

A western Colorado native, Anderegg has studied western U.S. forests for over a decade and his research seeks to shed light on how trees, particularly aspen, will respond to climate change. The aim of his research is to develop predictive tools to help forecast and manage the fate of Earth’s forests this century.

Feb. 13 & 14

Innovative Tools for Securing Water for People & Nature

Aaron Derwingson, The Nature Conservancy

The river that carved the Grand Canyon no longer reaches the sea, and the state of Colorado is facing an estimated shortfall of over 162 billion gallons to meet its future needs. Join Derwingson from The Nature Conservancy’s Colorado River Program to learn how innovative tools can meet these challenges in ways that protect and restore the health of the rivers that we all depend on.

Feb. 20 & 21

The Deep History of Pueblo People

Mark Varien, Ph.D, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

Varien will present the results of 35 years of research by the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, research conducted in partnership with Pueblo Indian Nations.

Feb. 27 & 28

Colorado’s Snowpack: Adventures in Monitoring & What it Means for our Water Supply

Gigi A. Richard, Ph.D.

Understanding how snowpack accumulates at different elevations in Colorado’s mountains, and how the snow becomes streamflow in the spring is critical to efficient management of our water resources. Richard will share some of the challenges of hydrologic monitoring in a mountain environment and will explore the preliminary results from this ongoing study.

March 6 & 7

How the Changing Climate is Affecting Wildflowers & Pollinators in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

David W. Inouye, Ph.D.. Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory

Snowpack and snowmelt dates influence the timing and abundance of wildflowers. As climate change influences these variables, wildflower communities are changing. These effects influence the bumblebees, hummingbirds, butterflies, ants, flies, and other animals that rely on and pollinate wildflowers. Inouye has studied these interactions for 45 years.

The end of ACES Winter Lecture Series will culminate with the Wild & Scenic Film Festival on March 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wheeler Opera House. The evening will showcase the best and brightest in environmental and adventure films that inform and inspire attendees to take action. Proceeds from the event will benefit ACES’ Tomorrow’s Voices program, which provides civics and environmental leadership education to regional high school students.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to show a new location for Neal Beidleman’s presentation on Wednesday.

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