I am pleased that the Trust for Public Land recently published a magazine article about Wilson Peak featuring one of my photos of this iconic mountain near Telluride. I am even more pleased that access to Wilson Peak has been secured by the Trust for Public Land after years of being blocked by a Texan developer.
Wilson Peak is one of Colorado’s most beautiful and most recognized peaks, and in 2007 a Texan real estate developer who owned some mining claims below the mountain closed access to the standard hiking route (all other routes involve much more dangerous mountaineering). After negotiations with the National Forest Service made no progress, The Trust for Public Land stepped in and was able to purchase critical portions of the property in order to reopen and protect public access.
You can read the online version of the article here.
One thing that strikes me about the article is how tactful and seemingly objective the writer is concerning Mr. Nichols, the Texan villain of the story. Like many Colorado residents, I’ve been following this issue for some time, and I certainly don’t have that kind of restraint with my opinions of this guy. No matter how I look at it, all I can conclude is that Mr. Nichols’ actions were greedy and selfish. Before closing access to the peak, Nichols tried to charge every hiker $100 to cross his property. After the controversy started brewing, he attempted to trade his obscure, relatively inaccessible property for prime real estate lower down in the valley – a truly ridiculous proposition that the forest service rightly rejected. He threatened to resume long-abandoned mining operations on the peak, most likely to scare the locals and leverage his negotiations. This is the kind of behavior that gives Texans such an awful reputation here in Colorado – no respect for the local community, no respect for the environment, just rapacious ploys to make a buck.
But I digress… the article is quite good, though it does gloss over much of the specifics and history of the controversy. The article weaves in a story about Erik Weihenmayer, a blind climber who recently hiked Wilson Peak, which was probably just a stroll for him since he has climbed the highest peak on every continent.
A big thanks is due to The Trust for Public Land for saving access to Wilson Peak, and protecting this beautiful mountain from further mining degradation. As for Mr. Nichols, well, I hope he’s in Texas enjoying the $3.25 million he extorted by holding our beloved mountain hostage.
You can read more about Wilson Peak as well as a little history of the access dispute at SummitPost.org.