By Keith Liggett
The wildness of the mountains defines my life and the person I am today. Let’s take one little anecdote.
Several years ago Rich and I were up in the Teton’s to climb the Grand. Our planned route was a moderate climb by any standard. As so often happens, we woke in the morning to an evil mix of rain and snow. The snow was sticking only a couple hundred feet above our bivouac and after a quick breakfast we bolted down from the Lower Saddle. This involves a descent down a sloppy slab with a thick rope to hang on to and then a tenuous descent through a massive boulder field to the main Garnet Canyon trail. It’s a controlled slip and slide affair in a light rain just above freezing. Two-thirds of the way down are the “Caves”. Not really caves, but the massive overhangs of a couple boulders, for years the Caves have been a meeting place for retreating climbers, ascending climbers and those not making the hump all the way to the Lower Saddle. We huddled in the Caves for an hour trading stories with a group that bivy’d just below the Lower Saddle, compared intended routes, commented on the rain and the unique ability of the Teton to turn to shit with no warning and eventually made plans to get together for dinner that night at their place.
Such are the friendships made in the rain in the mountains.
At dinner that night, a woman mentioned she’d taken some photos on a ranch during haying the fall before. The ranch lay near my home in Colorado. Pulling out an 11 by 17 box of black and white prints, she started spreading them out on the dining room table. The second print showed a man on a tractor pulling a hayrack being stacked by the elevator. He was a close friend. A friend I skied with half my days with that year.
Such are the connections found in the Caves of the mountains.
Today we live mired in the quagmire of a cyber world. Between Tweets, texts, email and Facebook, there remains little actual or even forced face-to-face connections. The norm becomes the impersonal digital. Yet, off the road, in a cave on a mountain, we meet, we make immediate evaluations and find camaraderie that last beyond 140 characters.
This is the loss that will happen with the building of Jumbo. Yes we lose a wild section of land. A huge basin that will never again recover its essential being. We will lose grizzly bears and an intact ecosystem. Beyond the loss of the wild, we will lose the people populating that wild land. We will lose the connections. The community fostered by that land. We will lose a human ecosystem that will be scattered and dispersed in the winds of a digital world in a manner that cannot be reconfigured.
Jumbo is a loss on all levels. Natural. Cultural. Social. Spiritual.
There is no reason for this to go forward.
There is every reason to stop the project.
In the next weeks and months as they attempt to move the project forward with BC Provincial approvals, I hope everyone will do their utmost to toss at least one pebble in the path of the project. Or trundle a boulder or two down on their path.
Remember, Hayduke lives. Keep Jumbo Wild.