News in Brief | AspenTimes.com

News in Brief

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Rescuers were called to the aid of two individuals who skied out of bounds at Aspen Highlands Monday and became stranded.

The Highlands Ski Patrol notified authorities of the incident at about 11:30 a.m. Three patrollers left the ski area in search of the skiers, focusing their efforts on the eastern slope of the Maroon Creek Valley, about a mile up Maroon Creek Road from T-Lazy 7 Ranch.

The patrol headquarters received a phone call from one of the stranded individuals after he and his wife became stranded. The couple had left the ski area from a location just above No Name catwalk, the patrol said. They were reportedly “cliffed out” – unable to ski down or hike up from their location on the hillside.

The team of three patrollers reached the skiers by skiing down from above. With their assistance, both parties were able to make their way down the steep terrain. The group was met by three members of Mountain Rescue Aspen, who helped them cross the creek. Everyone was out of the field by 4 p.m., according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

CARBONDALE – The U.S. Forest Service’s review of the White Banks Mine in the Crystal River Valley will include a field trip Wednesday for the public. Members of the Forest Service’s analysis team and representatives of Elbram Stone Co. will participate in the tour, scheduled from 1-3 p.m.

Elbram Stone Co. applied to renew its operating plan. It wants to continue mining alabaster and start mining marble and gypsum, according to a press release from the Forest Service. The company also wants to change to a year-round operation, which would require plowing Forest Road 310, and it wants to relocate a short stretch of the road away from the mine portal. The operators also want to drill a well to provide an estimated 1,000 gallons of water per day.

The mine is located along Avalanche Creek, about 11.5 miles south of Carbondale. It was staked by Mystic Eagle Quarry LLC on the White Banks claims, then leased to Elbram Stone Co. The Forest Service is reviewing the proposal to ensure that surface operations affiliated with the mine are conducted to minimize adverse environmental impacts on the national forest.

The mine has proved controversial in the past for a couple of reasons: On one hand, former operator Robert Congdon claimed at times that federal and county regulators were overstepping their bounds and creating too much red tape for him to operate a profitable business. On the other hand, homeowners in the adjacent Swiss Village subdivision object to noise and environmental impacts.

“The Forest Service recognizes Elbram Stone Company’s rights under the General Mining Law of 1872,” said Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Scott Snelson in a recent press release. “However, the Forest Service also has a responsibility to manage and protect the resources of the National Forest. We will document and disclose the environmental consequences of this proposal through the appropriate environmental document. Public feedback on the plan of operations is an integral part of our environmental analysis. We will provide the public ample opportunity to participate in this process.”

Public comments are being accepted until Friday, March 18. Written comments can be addressed to: White Banks Project, c/o Skye Sieber, Project Leader, 0094 County Road 244, Rifle, CO 81650 or they can be e-mailed to wrnf_scoping_comments@fs.fed.us. Persons commenting should include: name, address, telephone number, and organization represented, if any; and specific facts and supporting reasons for Snelson to consider.

Anyone interested in Wednesday’s field trip should contact Patrick Thrasher at 945-3237 or pthrasher@fs.fed.us for directions.

ASPEN – It’s never too early to start thinking of spring cycling.

Registration opened Monday for the 2011 Ride for the Pass, the annual fundraiser for the Independence Pass Foundation. The ride up the pass will be Saturday, May 21. It is part of the Aspen Cycling Festival, which also includes the Aspen Cycling Criterium, a race around a nearly 1-mile course with 10 curves in the heart of Aspen. The criterium race will be on Sunday.

Ride for the Pass is in its 17th year. It’s popular because bicyclists get to use the road before it opens to vehicles, and because it raises funds for a good cause. The Independence Pass Foundation is undertaking various rehabilitation and re-vegetation efforts on the landscape at and near the summit.

The ride starts at the winter gate east of Aspen on Highway 82 and ascends 10 miles to the Independence ghost town. The cost is $40 for individuals and $70 for families. The prices go up on May 1 to $50 and $70, respectively.

Competitive cyclists will launch at 9 a.m. while the start for recreational riders is at 9:15 a.m. A post-ride party will be held at Sky Hotel at 1 p.m.

Online registration is available at http://www.Active.com or via a link at http://www.independencepass.org. The registration will be limited to 600 participants, so it is advised to sign up in advance.

Mark Fuller, Independence Pass Foundation executive director, said the ride started with about 100 participants and grew slowly until the tenth anniversary, when it was heavily promoted. Participation soared from about 300 to 500-plus riders that year, and stayed at a high level, Fuller said. Ridership hasn’t hit 600 yet, but it will if recent trends continue.

ASPEN – A man who broke his leg while skiing near the Warren Lakes area above Smuggler Mountain, near Aspen, was rescued and is recovering.

At about 4:50 p.m. Sunday the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office was notified about a skier in the Warren Lakes area who was injured, the sheriff’s office said in a media release.

Four members of Mountain Rescue Aspen on snowmobiles reached the injured skier at about 7 p.m. and the 35-year-old Denver man was taken to an ambulance, which was waiting on Smuggler Mountain Road, and on to Aspen Valley Hospital.

The injured man was part of a group that had been using the Benedict Hut.

He’s being treated for a broken left leg. Further details on his condition were not available. (The Denver Post)

MEEKER, Colo. – Sheriff’s officials say a search dog has found the body of a 19-year-old snowmobiler who was caught in an avalanche in northwest Colorado.

Rio Blanco County Undersheriff Michael Joos says James Sizemore’s body was found Monday under 15 feet of snow near his snowmobile.

Joos says Sizemore, of Meeker, was snowmobiling Sunday in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, about 130 miles west of Denver, but got stuck. A companion, who was ahead of him, circled back to help, but an avalanche hit and buried Sizemore.

The companion called for help and spent about 45 minutes trying to find him. Rescuers suspended their search Sunday due to avalanche danger. (The Associated Press)


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