Court knocks Aspen Art Museum climber down a few notches | VailDaily.com

Court knocks Aspen Art Museum climber down a few notches

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times

What appears to be downtown Aspen's most popular illegal climbing wall continues to be a source of tomfoolery.

On Wednesday, an Aspen newcomer pleaded guilty to trespassing after police popped him for scaling the basket-like exterior of the Aspen Art Museum.

Ted Gardenswartz, sitting in for Aspen Municipal Court Judge Brooke Peterson, ordered Dillon Gross, 22, to perform 10 hours of public service and pay a probation fee of $150. The judge also gave Gross a six-month deferred judgment.

"What was the purpose?" Gardenswartz asked Gross.

"It just was a very out-of-character decision," responded Gross, who said he works at an Aspen pot shop. "Friends were in from out of town and I drank more than I typically do. I typically don't drink alcohol. It was a poor decision."

Aspen police records say that Gross was arrested at approximately 2:44 on the morning of April 4. Police also cited two other men, ages 24 and 26, but charges were dropped because they didn't attempt to climb the wall.

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"I was the only person that trespassed," Gross told the judge.

Prosecutor Debbie Quinn also noted that the museum had video surveillance that showed just Gross attempting the ascent.

Gardenswartz warned the young man, "Don't do it again. Don't come back here."

The 33,000-square-foot museum, which opened in August, has been popular with rogue climbers. The court has been issuing first-time offenders the same sentence Gross received: a $150 probation fee, 10 hours of public service and a deferred judgment. The court has warned those who violate the deferred judgment that they face jail time and a fine up to $2,600.

In other court news Wednesday:

• Gardenswartz gave Denver resident Robert Regan, 26, a six-month deferred judgment for urinating in public at the Aspen Highlands Closing Party, held April 12. Regan also was ordered to pay a $150 probation fee.

"Mr. Regan told me this was out of character," Quinn told the judge. "He was skiing that day and fell and didn't find out until a couple of days later that he had a concussion. He remembers nothing about the incident."

Regan was short on words at his sentencing hearing but agreed to a no-contest plea.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com