Congress moves a step closer to naming peaks after Norwood climbers

Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 9:25 PM
A bill would name two 13,000-foot peaks in the Wilson Range after Charlie Fowler and Christine Boskoff.
A proposal to name Boskoff (left) and Fowler peaks in honor of two Norwood Climbers has passed the House.
A topo map shows where two peaks would be named after local climbers who were killed in an avalanche in Tibet in 2006.

A bill to name two 13,000-foot peaks in the Wilson Range in memory of two mountaineers from Norwood has passed the U.S. House by a vote of 409-0.

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) the Fowler and Boskoff Peaks Designation Act honors climbers Charlie Fowler and Christine Boskoff, who were killed in an avalanche in 2006.

They were attempting to summit Genyen Peak in Tibet.

The Senate companion bill, SB 1271, was introduced by U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet on May 30, and has received a legislative hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining.

“Charlie and Christine were celebrated mountaineers, but they were also known for their tireless advocacy for human rights, dedication to philanthropy, and stewardship of the environment,” said Tipton. “Through the designation of these peaks, their legacy and life’s work will live on for generations to come.”

Bennet added, “Not only were Charlie and Christine two of the most accomplished climbers in the world, but they also were integral members of our southwest Colorado community. Throughout their careers, they were always giving back, mentoring students and introducing people to their love of climbing.”

Steve Johnson, Fowler’s good friend and climbing partner, told The Journal he has been working toward naming the peaks after the well-known local climbers for years. After running into the bureaucracy of naming the peaks through the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, he decided to give Tipton a call to see if he could make it happen through federal legislation, and found a key partner.

Johnson and Fowler worked on access issues together, including for Wilson Peak around a private mine, put up first ascents on local crags, and served on San Miguel Search and Rescue together.

“Charlie and Chris supported wild areas and climbing adventures, and these peaks represent that,” said Johnson, a Telluride attorney. “The bill highlights the growing role of recreation in our public lands and adventurous spirit of Western Colorado.”

Fowler was a well-loved, ultimate dirt-bag climber who eventually reached the pinnacle of the sport, Johnson said. He traveled the world on mountaineering adventures with Boskoff, returning home to climb with locals and promote the sport.

“He built the first climbing walls in Norwood, Ridgway and Telluride, and developed new climbing routes in the area,” Johnson said. “He was really inspiring and treated local climbing partners like equals. He also had a real affinity for people and would come back with amazing photographs of locals from faraway mountain regions.”

The peaks are located in the Uncompahgre National Forest near Navajo and Elk Basins, about 10 miles southwest of Telluride. They are partly in the Lizard Head Wilderness Area.

The mountains offer many opportunities for non-technical recreational climbing and hiking.