Aspen Daily News Staff Report
Smoke to be visible in Roaring Fork Valley

Smoke may be visible in the Roaring Fork Valley as early as next week as fire crews begin burning slash piles from earlier fuel reduction projects.

Crews will be burning about 1,400 slash piles on Light Hill near Emma and north of Carbondale near the intersections of Garfield County roads 103 and 112.

“We need to have enough snow on the ground for safe pile burning operations combined with weather conditions favorable for lifting smoke out of the area,” said Rusty Stark, fuels specialist with the Bureau of Land Management’s Colorado River Valley Field Office.

Smoke will likely be seen for short periods near these areas and from Highway 82 on the days crews are working. Some drift smoke could affect homeowners for a short period of time. Anyone with health conditions that may be affected by short durations of smoke should contact Stark at 970 876-9030.

The slash piles resulted from BLM projects designed to help protect communities from wildfire and improve firefighter and public safety.

“A primary goal of these fuel reduction projects is to reduce the risk of a wildfire burning from public lands onto private land and threatening property in the area,” Stark said.

Over the past several summers, fire crews have reduced “ladder fuels” in these areas that can carry a fire into the canopy, by thinning trees and removing limbs lower than 3 to 4 feet from the ground. Dead and downed materials were cut as well. Cut material was piled for burning in winter months. Crews expect to complete the pile burning this winter.

Snow dance today before uphill event

Tonight’s annual uphill race on Aspen Mountain to support organ and tissue donation will kick off with a snow dance to send a message to Ullr that it’s time to let the white stuff rain down on the slopes.

The snow dance will take place at 4:45 p.m. at the gondola plaza’s west side, just before racers are to begin their ascent for the seventh annual Summit for Life. Giovanna DiRusso, fashion writer for Aspen Daily News and her girls will be leading the dance. DJ DC will mix Bruno Mars new hit “Locked Out of Heaven.” Chris Klug will be hosting the classic “Snow Plow” dance. Dancers are encouraged to wear vintage ski togs to encourage the ski gods of yore to send snow our way. It’s time all unlock our heaven.

Visit for a comprehensive schedule of the events taking place throughout the weekend.

For more information about the snow dance, contact DiRusso 618-5656.

Women and writing at the monastery

The deadline to register for a women’s writing and wellness retreat at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Old Snowmass to be held next month is approaching.

“Writing the Sacred: the Practice of Compassion” will be held by G.J. writer Sandra Dorr and yoga teacher Susan Crosby Jan. 3-6, 2013. The retreat, in its eighth year, offers adult women time for writing and contemplation, yoga and Vipassana meditation, massage, singing and services at the monastery, as well as hiking or skiing on the monastery grounds.

The deadline for registration is Dec. 17. Contact Destiny Breckenridge for information at 970 201-0303 or

— Aspen Daily News Staff