Letter: A plea for help to install son’s plaque

A plea for help to install son’s plaque

Remember Stirling! It’s been 15 years (Aug. 28) since my son died in an accident near Green River, Utah. He fell while trying to climb out of a canyon where he was river rafting — flash-flood conditions.

His family misses him greatly, of course, and tributes to him are still in the works. Recent actions include efforts to place a plaque on the “Stirling Cooper Open Space,” a 54-acre site on the back of Aspen Mountain that I sold to Pitkin County. Interest and help would be appreciated.

Also needed are suggestions in regard to where to place the plaque. It needs to be somewhere on the site, and a place which can be reached reasonably by the public. Unfortunately, Pitkin County officials and the county commissioners gave away the rights for the public to use the historic road which served the area. There is some talk of creating a new, long trail from the Little Annie Basin, but I can find no evidence of any “negotiations” for such access. Such a trail seems highly unlikely and basically impractical.

It’s been five years since Pitkin County bought my six patented claims which constitute this Stirling Cooper Open Space, and during that time I have been constructing makeshift, often very steep, trails. They start about a block up the Little Annie Road and go up to two areas — the Storm King cabin and the historic Quien Sabe (caved) mine. Only a few souls have been brave enough to hike the loop and branch trails, which total about 2.5 miles. This is truly “wilderness” territory, with great views of Mt. Hayden and of the Ashcroft valley from the end of the Quien Sabe trail branch (newly improved!).

Even my (temporary) trail work is apt to disappear, along with the public’s opportunities to hike the trails. There are political hurdles and problems with gaining new access from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Perhaps the errors of the county commissioners can be corrected. All of the needed efforts require the involvement of some young(er) persons. I am just about 83 years old, and each trip up my trails to repair and improve them (working at steep grades at high altitudes) is getting to be harder and harder.

Do I have any moral, political or physical support? Suggestions? Contact me at Or write to Box 201, Aspen 81612. In the summers I live in New Castle.

In any case, cheers and love to my son, Stirling! He would be 53 years old.

Buzz Cooper

New Castle