Letters to the editor
The issue of land access on fourteeners is not a new subject to me, as I have been participating in several discussions on the topic with other members of an on-line climbing forum. The issue of “safety” being a concern to the landowners is something that I think can easily be solved. The fact that all of these peaks have been privately owned for over a hundred years has not affected anyone’s ability to hike on them in the past. I just don’t see any logical reason why this should all of a sudden be a problem now. All of the regulars who climb and hike these peaks all say the same thing: safety is the climber’s responsibility. In particular the mountains in the Mosquito Range highlighted in the article are all “walk-ups.” None of the standard routes are technical. A fall on any of these peaks’ standard routes would result in minor injuries. Most severe would probably be a twisted ankle. Any climber who would even think of suing someone for tripping on a trail should probably just stay home and not hike at all. In general, the responsibility to maintain access falls to the climbing community and our ability to be stewards for the environment, and to be responsible for our own actions. It is a shame that this is even an issue, and an even bigger shame that vandalism and theft are occurring as well. If we follow the guidelines of “leave no trace,” stick to the trails and do not disturb mining prospects, there should be no problems for access in the future. If lawsuits are really that big of a problem, however, the solution seems to be that there needs to be a legislation drafted and enacted that removes the burden of liability from private landowners that allow the public to access their land. In the meantime, hike responsibly so as not to encourage other landowners to take the same measures. “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”Michael RodenakAvonThe foundationSteve Fossett is probably best known as one of the greatest living adventurers of the world. On March 4, he became the first person to complete a solo non-stop airplane flight around the world. Although an astounding achievement in itself, Steve has set many other records and firsts. He holds the world record in hot air ballooning, airships, gliders, around-the-world sailing, and fastest circumnavigation of the 2000-mile trip around the British Isles. In addition to these records, he has participated in iron man competitions, the Iditarod, he races cars, climbs mountains, sails catamarans and has swum the English Channel. Essentially, Steve Fossett can be counted on to perform any adventure that requires physical strength and stamina in addition to remarkable character. This man’s visions have inspired the imaginations of those of us who dream but do not dare to go on such fantastic journeys. It has been said that if sports are a measure of character, then Steve Fossett’s character is the blueprint for something as immaculate and massive as the Empire State Building.While Fossett has been famously adventuring around our world, he has been quietly giving generously to our community. As a founding member of The Youth Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the positive development of local youth, Steve has contributed since our inception. An important pillar in the philosophy of the Youth Foundation is that “Everything we do teaches.” Steve Fossett, through the achievement of his dreams, is teaching children that their dreams are within reach. Steve Fossett is the foundation for which we want our youth and community to build upon. His fortitude throughout his many attempts indicates that setbacks are like camps on the climb to Everest: times to rest and recuperate before reaching the summit. Every attempt that he made to circumnavigate the world and has failed at doing so not only brought him a step closer, but has provided him with the knowledge of how to further better his mission, and eventually reach his goal.While we live in an era in which terrorism, war, murders and kidnapping are all that encompasses the evening edition of CNN, it’s relieving and even reviving to hear of a local hero that has reminded this troubled world that our dreams are real, and can be realized, if the dreamer is willing to hold tight with the grip of belief. Steve Fossett embodies strength of character, determination, generosity and faith in possibility. I think actor Cliff Robertson spoke for us all on behalf of The Youth Foundation and the rest of the world when he wrote: “Thank you, Steve, for doing your part in helping this weakened world to hang in there, to tighten its grip on hope, and to never give up.”As a recipient of the many benefits and opportunities that The Youth Foundation has had to offer, as well as an active volunteer for their many outstanding and innovative programs, it kindles my soul to know that they are on top of their game. The Youth Foundation board consists of some of the greatest people you will ever meet. Each member brings a unique gift to the valley; each of them holds amazing virtues and personalities that could circumnavigate the world in themselves. The fact that the Youth Foundation has such a powerful lead in our community, with such a powerful cast, only goes to show that a pack of sheep led by wolves would defeat a pack of wolves led by sheep any day. The Youth Foundation has defeated the notion of “small town, small mind” with its big ideas and expansion of our minds through education and generosity. Once again I’d like to personally thank all of you for the amount of love you bring to this valley. Brittany TaggartReaching outRichard Carnes: I’m sure you’re receiving many e-mails today as you had hoped. I debated whether to write but decided to give it a shot. First, I totally agree with you about Cindy Sheehan. Second, Lance Armstrong has never tested positive. Lastly, I want to briefly speak about Christianity. There is no way I could adequately defend my faith to you. I would like to try, but you are obviously very opinionated and feel strongly about your beliefs, as I do about mine. I held many of same beliefs as you for much of my life until I actually started exploring and researching the Bible. If you truly believe we’re the ignorant faithful, then I am disappointed in you. Please note how many Christians are beginning to reach out to you. At some point, I would love for you to take one of us up on our offers and actually start dialoguing about it. I know Bob Brandon from Vail Bible Church has e-mailed you in the past and I would really encourage you to seek him out. He’s an intelligent man like yourself. He leads a men’s group that meets at 6:30 a.m. on Friday that is just incredible. Feel free to stop by. You have a right to your opinions as long as they don’t go to the extremes that you’re railing against. Not all Christians are Nike wearing Kool-Aide drinkers. I actually wear Adidas and enjoy Kool-Aide with a lot of sugar, and no poison.Heath TalbotAvonVail, Colorado
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