The 2016 Annual Dinner is coming up…can you help?

August 8, 2016 by

Greetings to all members of the Boulder Colorado Mountain Club, from the chair of the Boulder Group. I hope you have been able to get outside to enjoy this wonderful Colorado summer.

As another sublime summer slips by, we have been blessed with enough snow for a good spring ski season, a wet enough spring to fill the resevoirs, and a benign forest fire season (at least from most naturally caused fires, the Walden fire being an exception) …life is good for outdoor trips in Colorado this summer! So there may be little reason to think of the fall season just yet; but fall always bring a special event for the Boulder group: namely, the Club’s Annual Dinner. The 2016 Annual Dinner will be held Saturday, November 12, 2016 at St John’s Episcopal Church in Boulder.

This is an important annual event, because it serves as the “fiscal year” for the Boulder Group, is when Council members for the coming year are voted on, when other significant announcements are communicated, and offers one of the few times during the year when Boulder members can gather and meet in person as a group. There are many long time CMC members whom I only see at this annual, and can well understand how much it must mean to them.

Some Dinner History

In times past, when the Boulder group was a much larger organization and had more of a profile in the community, the annual dinner was quite special — in ways we can scarcely imagine today. It was a ‘black tie event’, meaning tuxedos for the men, evening gowns for the women, and was catered for ease of service, and took place in no less a venue than the Glenn Miller Ballroom on the CU Boulder campus, accompanied by a prominent speaker. Can you imagine how different the event must have been back then? I have really wondered about that, so I am trying to find surviving Boulder CMC members who remember those days, and get them to share their stories and photographs of those times. It is an ongoing search, and our current Compass editor, Sarah Nelson, has been helping me in this effort. Sarah has had some success in making contact with some of those past members, so look for those results in a future issue.

But the decline in membership and popularity of the CMC due to the increase in social networking on the Internet during the early 2000’s, the Annual Dinner could no longer be a catered affair. Around 2003, I believe, the Boulder Council decided to go with a pot luck approach, and rent the Avalon ballroom as the venue. I assisted with that for several years,   which met considerable success.

However, our membership, and the attendance of the Annual Dinner, continued to decline. It was evident by 2013 that the cavernous Avalon was much larger, and much more expensive, than what was needed for what had become a rather modest event. So it was in 2014 that it was suggested that we approach St John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Boulder, because they rented out their Parish Hall. This turned out beautifully, as it was more economical, the size was just right, it had wonderful kitchen, and we found a great speaker: Gary Neptune! (To see more pictures from the 2014 dinner, see this gallery of photos taken by professional photographer and past Council chair, Janine Fugere.)



Gary Neptune speaking at the “2014” Annual Dinner

However, the event was bittersweet, because it had to be held January 17, 2015, which was due to the fact that the Boulder Council did not plan sufficiently ahead during the summer of 2015 and were not ready by November 2014.

Then, the story of the 2015 Annual Dinner is a saga I am rather embarrassed to recall; but it must be done, as it was a lesson in reality that the Boulder Council learned the hard way.  For those interested, I wrote a full story on our Compass blog in the article, The 2015 Annual Dinner that almost wasn’t. Basically, we got locked out of the St John’s Parish Hall, and held the dinner in our comparatively tiny CMC Clubroom (with no kitchen!). Again, the lesson here was two-fold: plan ahead, get enough volunteers, and, in particular, have an Annual Dinner committee chair — in other words, someone needs to be in charge.

Though somewhat embarrassing, that night was still a remarkable display of resourcefulness and pluck by both the Council members who pulled together to make it happen, as well as all the CMC members who attended, and did not complain about the mixup, but kept up a good cheer through the night:

2015-11-07 18.00.31

Though it was a little crowded, everybody squeezed in to the Boulder Clubroom, and made the best of it!


The Need for Volunteers

But to get back to the matter at hand: as the above lessons imply, the annual dinner requires a significant amount of preparation in order for event to transpire on the appointed day, at the appointed hour, in a smooth and orderly fashion.

So I am writing this little essay in this special newsletter article to solicit volunteers from the entire Boulder CMC volunteer community — a new direction for how the Annual Dinner is conducted which we have never tried before. Basically, the Boulder Council is asking for help from all Boulder Group CMC members who would like to volunteer for any they are willing to provide, but in particular the following roles need to be filled:

The Annual Dinner Chair, who directs the overall coordination, assigns tasks to other volunteers on the day of the event beyond the co-ordinators below.  The Annual Dinner chair will also work closely with Council members in the search for a compelling and appropriate speaker that will serve as an attraction. Gary Johnston, current Vice-Chair of the Boulder Council has volunteered to take this role.

Servers co-ordinator, who directs the servers who assist with the serving of food and handling of the dishes used to serve the food. This role also needs to find the servers. In the past, we have had success in paying young people wishing to earn some money for a few hours of work.

Greetings co-ordinator, who greets and meets at the door, handling any walk-in’s, issuing pre-printed name labels.

Waste & Recycle co-ordinator, who manages the waste and recycle bins, rented from Eco-Cycle.

Audio-visual co-ordinator, who manages the set up and testing of the sound and projection systems prior to the day of the dinner, and then assists the day of the dinner.

Finally, there is simply manual labor help needed in setting up the tables and chairs before hand, and then storing them away afterwards.

Rest assured, anyone who volunteers will be receive abundant directions and training. We have been diligent in maintaining documentation of how to plan and execute the dinner, and have spreadsheets and detailed descriptions of how to do the Annual Dinner; we just need volunteers willing to help!

Of course, there will be some of the Boulder Council members who will attend the dinner, and working alongside you. I intend to be there myself, but do not have sufficient time to attend to my other CMC volunteer duties to be the Dinner Chair as well. If you are curious as to who is on the Council, please see this webpage on our website.

How You Can Help

If you would like to help the Boulder Council in putting on the 2016 Annual Dinner, please send an email to: You can also call the Clubroom and leave a message at 303-554-7688.  If you have a confidential question that you need to ask, you can send it to me, Rick Casey, the Council chair, at, or Gary Johnston at We look forward to working with you!



Tough Day on the Arapaho Traverse

July 9, 2016 by

For a classic alpine scramble with a minimal approach, the North-South Arapaho Peak traverse is hard to beat. I habr done this enjoyable route several times over the years, and when it was suggested by Jordan Holquist, an up-and-coming leader in training in the Boulder Group, as a trip to satisfy a trip leader requirement for his requirements to become a CMC trip leader, I readily agreed. He had done the route a few years back himself, which was a good trip leader practice to follow.  I was game, we set a date, and got the trip posted on the state website for June 18, 2016. The available four tickets filled in no time; the trip needed to be kept small due to the semi-technical nature of the route. I knew each of the participants — Chris Marotta, Neil Purrett and Chris Bamat — and each were well experienced for this trip. This was also a co-lead for Chris Bamat, who had also completed the Leadership Seminar and the Wilderness First Aid course offered through the CMC earlier this year.

Though rated of only moderate difficulty in Dave Cooper’s Colorado Scrambles, and in Gary Roach’s Colorado Indian Peaks, there are several Class 3 sections (and one I would call Class 4), so some rock climbing experience is almost a required skill. And due to presence of snow on the route at this time in the season, we took ice axes and even microspikes; of course, helmets were a must as well. Otherwise the 8.3 miles roundtrip length, and 3,600 foot elevation gain, does require a certain effort and level of conditioning; still, this is likely the most popular scramble in the Indian Peaks, so one must expect to encounter others on the route. Finally, the weather must be good, due to the prolonged exposure above tree line. To our delight, the forecast for Saturday, was perfect, with zero chance of precipitaion. We met in Boulder at 6AM, and carpooled up to the Fourth of July road to the Arapaho Pass trailhead. I was pleased to see that there were available parking spots at the upper parking lot at that time of the morning, though most of the camping spots in the surrounding Buckingham campground seemed full.


Photo: Neil Purrett


Still chilly enough to nip at your ears and fingers when we started around 7:30AM, we quickly made our way in the morning light. Fortunately, there no ice at the stream crossings across the trail, which were gushing at the maximum during the spring runoff.





Due to the snow cover, staying on the exact trail became problematic as we neared the old mine sight, where the main branch of the South Arapaho Peak trail takes off from the Arapaho Pass trail; but we tried our best, and basically it was easy to see where the trail needed to do:

The next stage of the route is the long slog up to the saddle on ridge line, visible in the photo to the right, and then beginning the ascent up the ridge to South Arapaho Peak. At this point in the trip, it was apparent to me, as trip leader, that I needed to hand over leadership of the trip to Jordan, because I was hiking too slow due to a persistent cold I’d had for the past few weeks.  We met as a group about , where I explained this and handed over a radio to Jordan around 830am, , agreeing to stay in touch at an agreed time of 11am, with a turnaround time of 1pm. (In other words, if the the team had not reached North Arapaho Peak by that time, Jordan would direct the team to turn around and head back, in order to return to the trailhead by a safe time.) With that, the rest of the group took off ahead of me, but I felt I had done my part to remain responsible for the safety of the group due to the radio contact. I had used these radios ( Cobra CXR725) for some time, and was confident in their ability to operate in the alpine environment.

Reaching treeline below South Arapaho...Skywalker Couloir visible to the left.

Reaching treeline below South Arapaho…Skywalker Couloir visible to the left.


Now that the team took off ahead of me, I proceeded at my own pace…which was definitely slower. When I received the scheduled radio call at 11am, Jordan reported the team was just short of the summit of South Arapaho Peak, but going strong.  I acknowledged, but reported I was not going to make the South Arapaho Peak. I was feeling a strong sense of “lassitude from the altitude”, meaning I was feeling a loss of will, both physically and mentally, to continue upward. In hindsight, I believe my cold symptoms created an increased vulnerability to the effects of altitude. I had not experienced this before this day, but believe that is what was happening.


Not long after receiving the 11am radio report, I decided I should not continue upwards, which was about half way up South Arapaho Peak. I snapped a selfie to document my high point:

By now, 10am, I had earliier turned over leadership of the trip to my co-leader Jordan Holquist because I still had a cold, and was moving slow; at this point they were far ahead. This was near my high point on S Arapaho, near 12,700. But I was feeling the "lassitude from the altitude", and turned around. Fortunately, I had a pair of radios, and gave one to Jordan. Chris Marotta also had a radio, tuned to our channel. These worked quite well despite the alpine environment, and were key to coordinating during a mishap on the return leg of the trip.

My high point, near 12,700

Having turned over leadership to Jordan, and due to my weakened condition, I had to trust to the established protocol. It was a relief to turn back, and return to the saddle to rest.

I found a sheltered windbreak, rested a while, then continued down the trail.






Meanwhile, the team was making good progress towards North Arapaho Peak:





















I hope you enjoy this sequence of photos, taken by team member Neil Purrett.





Meanwhile, I had headed back to the trailhead, assuming all was well. My main concern had been the weather, but now that that had proven not to be a concern on this day, I thought we were in the clear for a safe return.

That was until I received an unexpected radio call from Jordan around 3pm, when I was within a mile of returning to the trailhead, “Rick, we’ve had an accident…”

To my alarm, Jordan went on to relate that Neil Purrett had experienced a severe tumble in a boulderfield during the return from North Arapaho to South Arapaho, due to a large rock he was standing on dislodged. This had resulted in a somersaulting fall, wherein Neil suffered a significant injury to his left hand. The exact extent of his injuries were unknown, but the obvious injury was severe, possibly broken bones in his left hand. But the wound had been cleaned and first aid applied. Most significant, was the news was that Neil was ambulatory, and able to continue on back on the return trip, albeit with some pain in his left hand. On this day alone, having this pair of radios, capable of communicating over an elevation change of a couple of thosand feet and over a mile in horizontal distance.

Furthermore, Jordan informed me that due to Neil’s injury, the team would be delayed returning to the trailhead. I continued on to the trailhead, and judging the time interval involved, concluded that a  “beverage refreshment run” back into Nederland could be easily accommodated. So I informed Jordan via another radio call of this, and made the trip out and back with time to spare.

When the team finally made it back to the trailhead, I was glad that Neil was still in good spirits despite his obvious painful injury.

Poor Neil! He got banged up but kept going...kudos to the team for making it back without me.

Poor Neil! He got banged up but kept going…kudos to the team for making it back without me.

The rest of the group were all well, and I was proud that the team had really pulled together, and used their training to support their injured partner, and make it back on their own. It was a good example of the benefits of the leadership training that the CMC provides.

The team made it back around 5:30, and Neil was in good spirits, despite the pain of his injury.

The team made it back around 5:30, and Neil was in good spirits, despite the pain of his injury.


The Chopsticks Fix

July 2, 2016 by

As anyone who is a regular user of the Ärestua Hut knows, Steve Priem was the hutmeister for many years, and still enjoys getting up there on occasion. But something strange happened when he arrived there one day back in March 2016:


A pair of chopsticks sticking out of the front door where the thumb latch should be! Why was this, he wondered? Looking inside, he saw this:


Apparently, the thumblatch had disappeared (for some vandalous reason), and this was the fix someone had volunteered. Well, Steve thought he could do better, and came up with this:


Which looked like this from the outside:


Not bad…more durable than chopsticks…but on a subsequent visit, Steve then remembered where a spare thumblatch was, and so….


Got it back into working order:


Yet another story in how the Guinn Mountain hut keeps surviving over the years, based on constant care and nurturing from the community of users that keep it going….thanks Steve!

Got gear?

May 15, 2016 by

2016-05-14 15.09.14The Boulder equipment room has gear – lots of it. In fact, so much that it needs to get better organized.

Much of the gear is rock climbing oriented, and we’ve received some recent donations of gear. It would be great if the rock climbing gear could be better organized. One of the best ways I’ve seen is to arrange it on a peg board, like this:

2016-05-15 12.10.17

If you’d like to help work on this project, please send email to We could use your help!

Boulder Group awards 2016 conservation grants

May 13, 2016 by







The Boulder Group has awarded $4,000 in funds to support three conservation projects in 2016. The awards were distributed as follows:

  • $1,000 to the Boulder Climbing Community/Front Range Climbing Stewards (BCC)
  • $1,500 to the Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance (IPWA)
  • $1,500 to the Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV)

The BCC project will be improving the approach trails at the Plotinus Wall in Dream Canyon, which is off Sugarload Road in Boulder Canyon. The IPWA project will improve a trail to Mitchell Lake, which is accessed from the Brainard Lake area. The WRV project will work on the Diamond Lake trail, which is accessed from the Fourth of July trailhead.

Though these awards are a small fraction of the overall budgets of these organizations (for example, BCC’s total 2016 budget will be $120,000), the awards are still deeply appreciated. We are sure every dollar will be well spent, and represents a sound investment in helping preserve the environmental quality of these heavily used trails.

The Boulder Group’s conservation funds come from a $5 charge built into our member’s annual renewal fee. It is the only group in the CMC to do so. I do not know when this was started, but it has been practiced for some time.