Mount Lincoln: Happy Birthday, Mr. President
Colorado’s 8th Highest Peak Honors Abe
Judge Wilbur F. Stone is the man most notably connected with this Colorado peak which can be found in Park County on the other side of the Mosquito Mountain Range from Leadville Today. As a young man, Stone ventured west like many at the height of the big push, joining a wagon train headed for Denver which paved his path to the Rocky Mountains, ultimately landing him in the mining community of Tarryall located in South Park. It’s where he would spend the next five years as a prospector, miner, and a practicing lawyer. While Stone’s future endeavors would elevate him as far as the Colorado Supreme Court, as well as having a hand in the drafting of the state’s constitution, his early days of rugged high-alpine living carved out his love of mountaineering. And ultimately, gave a name to the lofty Presidential Peak: Mount Lincoln.
It was one June night in 1861 around the evening’s campfire when Stone recanted his first trek up the peak which towered above the remote mining camp. It would be one of several summits Stone would make which would eventually inspire him to submit the mighty 14er to be named after President Abraham Lincoln, who was in the midst of a Civil War at this point in American history.
In fact, it may very well have been the assassination of the beloved leader that inspired Wilbur Stone’s trek up the peak several years later in the summer of 1865 to officially record its altitude. The following was written by Judge Wilbur F. Stone reciting the history, not only of the ascent but in the naming of the peak: Mount Lincoln.
“One warm day in August, three summers ago, the writer of this, in company with a gentleman from Omaha, made an ascent of this peak for the purpose of taking its altitude. Starting early in the morning we slowly wound our way from the village up through the dense pine forests until we reached the limit of timber where the pines dwindled into dwarfs a foot in height, twisted into fantastic contortions by the storm blasts of winter. Then came the carpeting of grasses and flowers, of the vegetation which terminated at the snow-line in mosses and lichens.”
While Stone originally thought the peak to be over 15,000 feet in elevation, when all was said and done he calculated the mighty Rocky Mountain giant in at 14,286′, making it Colorado’s 8th in line. And directly after his official work was recorded, like many mountaineers, Stone also discovered first hand that the weather can move in quick at that altitude, and recorded the following:
“A the end of an hour after our arrival, a storm approached from the west and swept over the mountain. In less than 10 minutes and from the time the clouds struck us, the mercury fell from 50° to zero. Fierce blasts of wind roared and shrieked among the crags and snow darkened the air. In the midst of this, we commenced our slippery descent. We soon became charged with electricity so that the hair of our heads stood on end, sparks flew from the ends of our fingers and cracked at every step with a hissing sound that could be heard a distance of 100 feet. Forked lightnings leapt two from rock to rock, and played about our heads, almost blinding the sight, but as our bodies were charged equally with the clouds and mountain, there was of course, no danger. Black clouds rolled and tumbled over each other, a mile below us, like the uncouth with the gambols of terrible monsters in this upper ocean. Descending through the strata of clouds, we at last reached sunlight and entered the village at dark, the whole distance along the slope from the valley to the summit, being about 10 miles.”
He had quite a tale to tell, that night around the evening’s campfire. And a mission at hand.
“Let, then, other states and other peoples raise their monuments of patriotism and of art to guild the fame of the great dead; but Colorado can point, in all time, to this proud monumental mountain, which rears itself as the gigantic spine of this continental vertebrae – she can point it out, hundreds of miles away, to the traveler as he goes from ocean to ocean on the future continental railway, and exclaim with the old Latin poet, Horace:
“I have builded a monument more enduring than brass,
And loftier than the regal pile of the pyramids.”
Happy Birthday Mr. President, Cheers to Mount Lincoln!
Avalanche Conditions Moderate. . . for Now
By Matt Huber, CAIC
The following report was filed with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) on February 11, 2019 for the Sawatch Range which includes Leadville and Lake County:
The avalanche danger throughout the Central Mountains is Moderate (Level 2 of 5) except below treeline in the Sawatch Zone, which is Low ( 1 of 5). In the discussion yesterday we talked about using opportunities to individually calibrate to specific avalanche danger levels, and what they may look and feel like in the real world. At a Moderate (Level 2 of 5) human triggered avalanches are possible. A pair of experienced backcountry users helped reinforce this yesterday when they triggered an avalanche near Marble from a safe spot on a ridgeline. They made solid route finding decisions, reassessed after the avalanche broke and decided to keep skiing but on less dangerous slopes.
Most avalanches are breaking on the interface between the old snow surface and the storm layer from early February. The old snow surface was a mixed bag of facets and crusts, buried by heavy snow and continued wind-loading. This interface continues to be the most likely for you to trigger an avalanche on and remains the primary concern.
The deeply buried weak layers are becoming more stubborn, but are not out of the picture completely yet. Although most recent avalanches broke on the early February layer, many stepped down into deeper layers and even to depth hoar near the ground. You can trigger these types of avalanches where the snowpack is generally thinner, such as near the edge of a thicker wind-slab or rock outcroppings.
An Ounce of Prevention: Call to Action, Part 2
By Trooper Gary Cutler, Colorado State Patrol
Last month I talked about crashes over the 2018 holiday season which took 9 lives in 7 crashes over a 72 hour period. We now need to start looking at the causes of these crashes. Each of them had a different reason for the crash, but each one did have one thing in common; a lack of due care on the roadway. Let’s start with an obvious one today; mixing drinking, drugs, and driving. Safety is all about having a preventative mindset. By this, I mean why anyone would ever want to push the limit that could injure themselves or others is beyond me. I say it’s not worth it. If you are going out to drink, take the preventative measures to not push that limit, even if you only to plan to have one or two drinks. Option 1: Have someone in the group be the designated driver. This option has been around for decades, yet people still fail to realize, or choose to ignore, what the consequences are if you choose to drink and drive.
Option 2: plan for someone to pick you up. There are many options available today including sober friends or rideshare services. Again, not rocket science, but very effective. My question to those who do this type of careless behavior, is how many times does it have to be stated for it to become standard practice that no one will ever do it again? I have arrested plenty of people who went out to have a couple of drinks and ended up in jail. Their life is forever changed from that point on. I like to think I prevented them from making their life much worse because they killed someone prior to being stopped by law enforcement.
Marijuana impaired driving has been around a long time but is still relatively new as a legalized drug. The problem I am seeing with this drug is users don’t believe it is dangerous to drive while using it. It can cause your cognitive thinking to become skewed. If it wasn’t bad enough already with marijuana-impaired drivers, now there is an increased danger for the driving public. Some marijuana users combine it with alcohol, which can enhance impairment while driving.
Another issue we have is prescription drugs which are becoming a lot more prevalent on our roads. My years working the road have shown me that people on prescription drugs don’t look it the same as driving under the influence of alcohol. A prescription drug is regulated by doctors because the drugs change a person’s chemistry. This means they are going to make the user react differently, think differently, and judge situations differently than they normally would. Even if you don’t think you feel differently, you will be affected one way or the other. Prescriptions drugs can be just as dangerous as driving while drinking or using marijuana.
Think in these terms, if I told you I wanted you to do a task, but there was a 50 percent chance that while doing the task you would kill or severely injure yourself or a friend, would you do it? Now if that wasn’t enough to dissuade you, then I add that even if you don’t kill someone, you may go to jail, will you do it? Please keep in mind that it just isn’t worth it. I hope I have changed the mindset of at least one person that read this article to be preventative in their actions.
As always, safe travels!