Popular climbing areas offered to Pitkin County
August 5, 2009
ASPEN – A pair of popular climbing spots along the Rio Grande Trail outside of Aspen have been offered to Pitkin County by a property owner who’s hoping to win approval to redraw lot lines on his McLain Flats ranch.
Pitkin County commissioners agreed Tuesday to pay a visit to the sites on Monday.
Bob Hurst owns about 13.5 acres in two parcels on the north side of the Rio Grande Trail. The land encompasses the lower piece of the popular Sunnyside Trail, below McLain Flats Road, as well as a once-popular rock-climbing area known as Gold Hill and the waterfall used in the winter by ice climbers farther down the trail, said planning consultant Alan Richman, representing Hurst.
The property along the trail and extending up the ridge to McLain Flats is a small part of what was once the Stein Ranch, now known as Red Butte Ranch. Other land along the trail was previously deeded to the county by the Steins.
Commissioners were previously cool to a proposal to relocate three unbuilt lots on the main part of the ranch, on McLain Flats, but a revised application is scheduled for their review on Sept. 9. The application has not yet come to the county.
The landowner has requested commissioners visit the climbing areas along the trail before the next review, county senior planner Suzanne Wolff told commissioners Tuesday. The Steins had closed off public access to Gold Hill out of liability concerns, she said, and Commissioner Jack Hatfield said he shares that concern.
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“I’m not sure I’m interested in owning rock climbing and ice climbing areas,” he said. “I’m not sure we as a county would be doing the appropriate thing by taking that liability on.”
Commissioners said they want an opinion from the county attorney on the liability issues.