Another backcountry fatality… the 57-year-old woman from Westminster we told you had been reported missing by her adult children has been found to have fallen to her death. Rei Hwa Lee’s body has been discovered on the north face of North Maroon Peak, about 12 miles southwest of Aspen. The Pitkin County Sheriff’s office reports the children as saying Lee left home late Friday night/early Saturday morning, about 1 am, and got to the Maroon Bells parking area about 5:00 Saturday morning. After that, it was Sunday evening her family called the Sheriff’s Office to report Lee missing. Mountain Rescue Aspen searched a wide area of the Maroon Bells Wilderness by land and air Monday, several other hikers reported having seen her Saturday morning, heading up North Maroon. So Tuesday the rescuers narrowed their search and brought in a special high altitude helicopter, and that’s when they spotted Lee’s remains, near the 12,600 foot level. They say it wasn’t clear whether Lee had successfully summited North Maroon Peak. Her body’s been taken to the morgue at Aspen Valley Hospital.
2 men died in separate hiking/climbing falls last Sunday… one on Capitol Peak in the Elk Mountains near Aspen, the other on the First Flatiron near Boulder.
Aspen City Council’s backing a controversial proposal. This one would have voters decide this fall whether to hike the local tax on tobacco $3 to $4 per pack of cigarettes. Approval would reportedly put the price of cigarettes around $10 a pack in the city, where it’s currently between $5 and $6.50. According to the Aspen Daily News’ coverage of that work session, Councilman Adam Frisch suggests the potential new tax be high enough to discourage young people from starting to smoke, but not so high as to create a “black market” for cigarettes. This June, Aspen raised the legal age to buy tobacco in town from 18 to 21. The city first banned smoking in public places well before most others nationwide, back in 1985. Council’s expected to get more info and look more closely at its options on the 28th of this month.
More drama came up in the part of the mid-valley that’s in Eagle County last week. Basalt Town Council expressed dissatisfaction with the County Commissioners, for their recent 2 to 1 vote initially approving the so-called “Tree Farm” development proposed for El Jebel, across Highway 82 from the Willits Town Center. Council members had wanted a moratorium on further land-use application approvals for a year, so local regulations could be reviewed. The commissioners reportedly said no last Thursday, with the joint meeting becoming a little heated. Basalt wants what it’s calling a “collaborative process” to revise land-use rules, Councilman Auden Schendler saying he “demands” that. The demand reportedly fell on deaf ears. Basalt Council’s said not to be the only group having trouble with the Eagle Commissioners… their own planning commission for the Roaring Fork Valley is reported to have recently had a heated meeting of its own with the county panel.
While Garfield County will have no problem with folks riding e-bikes to get around during the coming Grand Avenue Bridge Detour, Pitkin’s going the opposite way. Its commissioners held a special Tuesday afternoon meeting, going over the possibility of imposing a moratorium, a temporary ban, on electric-assist bicycles on any Pitkin County trails. And they’re serious… what’s being considered is being called an “emergency resolution.” A new state law gives local jurisdictions the power to regulate e-bike use. Pitkin already doesn’t allow the high-tech bikes. Commissioners say they’re concerned that e-bikes might be a safety hazard to others on trails, including regular bicyclists, pedestrians, and those who are riding horses.
More county info– the Garfield Commssioners have declined an Ursa Operating Company offer of mediation, on the issue of oil & gas well pads, inside the residential boundaries of Battlement Mesa. County staffers say the special use permit process already in effect should be adequate to address any concerns.
And more coming up in our bridge update, but there are going to be all-night closures from 8:00 tonight til 7 tomorrow morning on several streets in Glenwood Springs that’ll make up the “squareabout” traffic pattern during the coming bridge detour. The squareabout’s needed, according to traffic engineers, because at a couple intersections there wouldn’t be any way for vehicles as big as 2 semis to turn at the same time without crashing into each other. Remember to finalize your transportation plans the next couple days– the existing Grand Avenue Bridge closes a minute after midnight Sunday, and will start getting taken down right away. The detour everyone’s preparing for is expected to last until about Thanksgiving.
If you missed some of our stories or just want to read them for yourself, they’re all posted at ksno dot net. I’m Jim Williams, KSNO News. There’s more of the Morning Roundabout, including Meteorologist Don Day’s complete extended forecast, on the way next.