I’m high up in the Gore Range with America’s most inspiring left-handed climber Aron Ralston. We have a fantastic view of dawn through the silvery underleaves of the dewy underbrush as we breathe in the crisp mountain air. Eagle’s Nest Wilderness area, where we are climbing now, is the topic of conversation as we round out 11,000′ around 7 am.
Much of this wilderness conservation area is front and center of the policy debates going on right now. The pristine area we are in now is protected but only 2% of Colorado’s public lands are protected from private development. One of Aron’s missions is to talk about how to handle that 2% so that our younger generations can experience the wilderness as well.
What is being looked at now is not just Colorado’s wilderness gemstones, but its mid-elevation lands between 9-10,000′ that are now being looked at by conservationists, recreationalists and drilling companies alike. Who gets rights to what? Which places are too special to be touched? Where do we draw the line?
Perhaps it is okay to have places to go ATV-riding and snowmobiling, but let’s leave the wildlife to reign supreme in other pristine landscapes. “Places where man is just a visitor,” Ralston explains, “leaving no mark, only footprints, even if that.”
Right now that debate is heating up with oil and gas drilling exploding all over the state with over 10,000 new wells up in last 10 years. Aron has been very active in the wilderness protection project in Colorado, if you appreciate these lands yourself, please get involved! www.wildernessworkshop.org
- By Jon Heinrich