Mountain News 

John Denver Peak proposed

CARBONDALE, Colo. - Mt. Sopris, although far from the highest peak in Colorado, is one of its most sublime. There's a neat symmetry to its broad shoulders and the 2,000 metres of vertical relief from the valley floor makes it seem much higher than its 4,000-metre elevation, 668 th highest in Colorado.

College professor J.P. McDaniel thinks a portion of the twin-summited mountain should be named after the late singer John Denver. He died in 1997.

"I didn't want just any mountain," said J.P. McDaniel, a college professor who has a doctorate in ecopsychology, which seeks to link ecology and psychology. She told the Aspen Times that Sopris is a fitting mountain not just because of its beauty and magnificence, but also because it overlooks a 1,000-acre tract of land that Denver helped preserve.

Denver in 1972 composed his signature song "Rocky Mountain High" from a lake located on a shoulder of the mountain.

Sopris has two summits at identical elevations 800 metres apart. McDaniel proposes to name just the eastern summit after Denver. She has collected 1,000 names to submit to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, the ultimate arbiter. The agency sometimes accedes to such proposals, but almost never without support of local jurisdictions. The peak is located within Pitkin County, officials have not yet been consulted, the Times reports.

Ironically, Sopris is named after a mayor of Denver and Denver - the musician - took his name from the city. Richard Sopris was mayor from 1878 to 1881, but in 1860 had led a prospecting expedition to the Roaring Fork Valley, which led to the naming of the peak in his honour.

The website for proponents of the change is


What exactly constitutes a small mountain town?

SALIDA, Colo. - With a whole string of 4,000 metre peaks in the background and a ski area, Monarch, about 30 kilometres away, Salida certainly qualifies as a mountain town. It is, asserted Mayor Chuck Rose at a recent meeting, "the last great mountain town."

But what constitutes a small town?

That question was recently posed to council members, and the Mountain Mail reports varied responses.

"A small town comes out of people caring for other people," said Councilman Tom Yerkey.

No one is anonymous in a small town, said Councilman Jay Moore.

Most everything is within in walking or hiking distance, said another councilman.

Salida has 5,000 people, a figure that has not substantially changed in the last century, although the blue-collared enterprises that sustained the community for most of that time have now largely disappeared, replaced by art galleries and other elements of the recreation and leisure economy.

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