Colorado outdoorsmen support Hidden Gems wilderness project around Vail Valley

Posted By: The Ski Channel on October 27, 2009 8:53 am

The Hidden Gems project in Colorado, which will preserve more than 400,000 acres in Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties, is getting the backing it deserves.

Famous mountain climber Aron Ralston believes that this proposal will protect the land where he has had some of the best memories of his adult life. Ralston also got the backing from a local hunter and an avid mountain biker.

Ralston, who fell into the national spotlight in 2003 when he was forced to cut off the lower part of his arm because it was trapped under a boulder during a moutain trip in Utah, was the first person to climb all of Colorado’s 14ers solo in winter.

The plan would also close those lands to snowmobiles, ATVs, mountain bikes, and other motorized and mechanized vehicles. Ralston lamented the damage he says motorized vehicles have made to wilderness.

“That happens everywhere, and the longer we wait to protect the places that we have left, the less there is to protect,” he said.

He remembered spotting wolves on the west side of Mount Massive.

“Here come three full-sized wolves down the hillside within less than 100 feet of me as I’m emerging into a willow flat,” he said. “Looking over, they don’t even see me yet. They’re charging, playing, they’re romping down the hillside. It’s totally out of ‘Where the Wild Things Are.”

Hidden Gems also got support from longtime hunter Jim Gonzalez, a Minturn resident and former chairman of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.