Mountain News: Jurors will have to decide in pond-skimming case 

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JACKSON, Wyo.—A jury will be given the task of deciding whether an injury suffered at the "pond skim" in 2017 was the result of negligence by Snow King Mountain Resort, the in-town ski area in Jackson.

The skier, still a minor, had skied across the pond several times when he agreed with friends to be part of a "rowdy train," in which all ski down together.

"As he tried to exit the pond, another skier in the rowdy train skied across (the boy's) left leg," the lawsuit says. "The edge of that ski cut (the victim's) leg, severing muscle, tendon and nerve. He now suffers 'drop foot.'"

The parents of the boy, who filed the lawsuit, must prove that their son's risk was not an inherent one to skiing, explained the Jackson Hole News&Guide.

Some roads still buried deep in snow

TELLURIDE, Colo.—In the days before July 4, roads to some but not all of the high passes in the San Juan Mountains around Telluride were finally cleared of snow sufficient for use by motorized vehicles.

The Telluride Daily Planet reported Ophir Pass was opened but with cuts in the snowbank described by one outfitter as being nine to 11 metres deep. Those using the four-wheel drive road will be able to see close at hand the force of an avalanche that ran 305 metres wide and 600 to 900 vertical metres.

With that done, work began on the road over 13,114-foot-high (3,442 metre) Imogene Pass, between Telluride and Ouray. After that comes Black Bear Pass, which is below 4,000 metres but which is said to be one of the scariest Jeep roads in Christendom.

Searing memories a year after the fire in Colorado

BASALT, Colo.—Basalt and El Jebel are changed places a year after the scare of the Lake Christine Fire. Three houses were destroyed by the 12,500-acre (5,058 hectare) fire. Nobody died, although one firefighter was still being treated for injuries in May. It could have been much worse.

The fire began on the evening of July 3. Two mornings after, the Roaring Fork Valley was a "vision of hell," said Scott Condon, a resident of the area, writing in The Aspen Times.

"Smoke clogged the air and was lit orange by the flames. Ashes rained down. Sirens wailed and there was a constant popping from natural and man-made materials consumed by the flames."

Luck spared the community a much worse conflagration. Had conventional wind patterns prevailed, 100 homes could easily have been lost.

A mobile home at El Jebel was at particular risk. A vegetation reduction project on federal lands east of the trailer park undertaken several years before helped. And then the mobile home park was spared because of a somewhat risky strategy. Fire flares were used to create a fire line. There was no margin for error. No error occurred. This saved 200 homes.

The fire was started at a shooting range near El Jebel. A young woman shot a tracer round that burst through a paper target. Wikipedia explained that tracer rounds can have a mild incendiary effect, igniting flammable substances on contact. It had been a drought winter, and the brush was tinder dry. The brush exploded into wildfire.

The Aspen Daily News reported that the woman and her boyfriend were sentenced last week after hearing what some of those who suffered losses in the fire had to say. The words were hard, the anger and sorrow still fresh and deep.

"The Lake Christine Fire took my home and my security with a hellacious vengeance," said Andee McCauley. She and her husband Bill lost their home. She talked of the "sheer terror of evacuation" as the fire flowed "like molten lava" down the ridge to their home.

She said she continues to grieve for the loss of her grandfather's handwritten journals dating from the late 1800s, her grandmother's pearls, her father's violin, art, furniture, family photos, and a large collection of tools.

The Daily News's Chad Abraham reported the two defendants showed little emotion until they addressed the judge. Then they struggled to hold back tears.

Allison Marcus, 22, the woman who shot the rounds that started the fire, said she had not realized she was shooting tracer rounds. "I would not have done so if I had recognized the risk I had created."

Her boyfriend, Richard Miller, 23, haltingly told the judge that he also didn't know that the tracer rounds were in the ammunition tin. "I really wish I had looked and recognized tracer rounds were in the ammo tin. I am sorry."

The Daily News reported that each must perform 1,500 hours of community service, pay $100,000 in restitution, and spend 45 nights in jail.

"The two of you are now part of the history of this valley," Judge Paul Dunkelman said. "That's a huge responsibility to be part of the history of a valley like this. But you haven't written the last chapter."

That last chapter, he suggested, will be whether their actions in the future reflect their words of contrition at sentencing.

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