Arestua goes solar!

August 8, 2014 by

Thanks to the persistence and dedication of a few local hut enthusiasts, on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 the Arestua Hut acquired a state of the art solar power generating system that will provide a safe and reliable lighting system for years to come. How did this remarkable development come to pass?

I was lucky enough to be part of this historic event because I read about it in the August 4 issue of the GPS stated that it was going to happen, and if you wanted to help call Ray Bly at  this number. So I did, and the next day found myself in Nederland, at Ray’s house, helping to pack in the last materials needed for the project. There I also met Mike, Ray’s partner and friend:

Ray & Mike

Ray (left) and Mike at Ray’s house

It had all started around last February when Ray began making inquiries to the Club about installing a solar panel at the hut.  Though initially Ray did experience some confused reactions to his proposal (“You want to do what again?”), he eventually made contact with the right people in the Boulder Group, namely Jason Kintzel, chair of the Cabins Committee. As their goal became clear to Jason, it was deemed a worthy addition to the cabin. One of the worries that the Cabins Committee has is the unauthorized use of candles for lighting in the hut, and starting a fire that burns it down. Fortunately, most users do have head lamps and battery powered lanterns, but the concern is still there. By adding this type of lighting system, that concern will now be greatly allayed.


Ray is one of the owners in OG Power Station, a Colorado company that sells stand-alone solar power station products suitable for small scale power needs — perfect for a remote alpine hut! Two other friends of Ray, Mike and Bryce, make up the rest of the OG Power Station team, also helped Ray in the effort. Although not members of the CMC, they had long been users of this beloved hut, and wanted to donate this system (worth about $4,000 retail) to the hut for the benefit of all.


Together, they had made three previous trips this year, carrying up the larger parts of the system: the large PVC pipe for the support post, the solar panel itself, the metal frame that connects the panel to the post, and, last but not least,  a 70 pound battery! On this fourth and final trip, we four drove in on the bumpy Rollins Pass road to Yankee Doodle Lake, which puts you within a mile and a half of the hut.



As we hiked across the bald that leads to the hut via this cross-country approach, the weather was clearly going to be a factor….

Hiking towards the hut

Hiking towards the hut with installation materials

And at the hut we were greeted by Steve Priem, a long time previous caretaker of the hut. Steve’s intimate knowledge of the hut and its history, plus his carpentry skills, were sought out by Ray. They had made contact, but today was the first time they got to meet in person. Steve had arrived separately in his usual style: putting his mountain bike on the bus up to Nederland, biking to the Hessie trailhead, and hiking up to the hut from there. (Now that’s a low carbon footprint of a trip!)



Between the five of us, the installation went pretty quickly; which was a good thing, as the rain did start to fall, just as Steve and Ray made the final adjustments to attaching the panel to pole….

Steve and Ray attaching the solar panel

Steve and Ray attaching the solar panel














Inside, Mike had been busy wiring the new lights:


Mike and the new lights!

Finally, here’s how the solar panel appears from the outside, discreetly position above the southwest corner:

Solar panel at Guinn Mountain hut

The new solar panel installed at corner of the hut

To acknowledge this generous gift to the hut, a plaque that commemorates this will be created and placed in the hut. Many thanks again to Ray, Mike and Bryce for this tremendous gift!

To see more pictures: photographs by Bryce Avallone, and photographs by Rick Casey

To learn more about the company whose product now powers the hut, see OG Power Station’s website:

(Photo credits: all photos taken by Bryce Avallone, except the first and fourth, taken by Rick Casey)

BRS class of Spring 2014 graduates 11 students!

June 17, 2014 by

The spring season of the Basic Rock School came to a successful close on the weekend of May 17, with the graduation climbs of the instructor groups led by senior instructors Eileen Monyok and Andy Cooke, with their assistants. A total of ten students graduated, although 12 students originally signed up, but two had to drop out. All students made it through the three field trips, where some had some close calls with precipitation rolling in during the afternoon. Thankfully, no epics were reported — which is always a relief the school director!

The following students graduated:

Alan Youngblood
Anhchi Ly
Bridget Sorrell
Conner Ford
Duane Lovato
Marcos Ripoll-Bunn
Norm Sydow
Pieter Bork
Scott Johnson
Van Smith

The senior instructors were ably assisted by the following assistants:

Aaron Nichols
Don Byington
Francesco Sangiori
James Hicks

On Belay Tower and Knot Test day, the following assistants helped out:

Brenda Leach
Jon Bork
Matthew Holiday
Vita Holiday

And there was an 11th student, Jen Stichman, who was the first person to graduate from BRS via the Test Out Option.

The BRS Test Out Option is an innovation I developed, with the Boulder Mountain School committee, as a way for experienced climbers to pass BRS without having to pay for the course, or spend time reviewing skills they already have. Jen, a climber who can lead 5.10, was certainly in that category, and passed the in-person field tests easily. More information  about the Test Out Option can be viewed on the Boulder CMC website at

Thanks to everyone who helped out! Congratulations to all the students, who now know how to climb safe and can share this knowledge with their future climbing partners. Climb safe everybody! A small sample of photos from spring BRS can be seen here.

We were hacked!

June 17, 2014 by

by Rick Casey

The website has come of age: we got hacked!

On March 14, 2014, I pulled up the website, but here’s what I saw on the homepage:

….A Hot Mess….

Fearing the worst, I immediately went to our ISP, and filed a report, hoping for help, and copying our webmaster, Wayne Densmore. I thought, OMG, our entire website has been taken over by some foreign hacker who now controls the entire site! Surely my ISP was going to help me?

However, better help came from Wayne Densmore, our webmaster. Within 45 minutes of receiving my email, he had fixed the problem, and was busy plugging holes where the attack could have come from. Turns out only our homepage was affected, which he quickly restored from backup. Our theory is that the hacker exploited a submission form that was not protected by a password. All of those are now protected by passwords, and all the important passwords on the website have been changed.

Whew! that was a close one….thanks for the help, Wayne!


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