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Monday, April 29, 2019

Weekly Post: The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get by Robert Glenn Ketchum (#101-200)

Continued. . .

by Robert Glenn Ketchum


Growing up my parents had a home near Sun Valley, Idaho. It was there that I learned to ski. Over many years I befriended members of the Decker Flats Climbing and Frisbee Club, with whom I had both life, and art-forming outdoor experiences. I had my camera, and these are my adventures.  Enjoy!!  ~Robert Glenn Ketchum



Monday, March 22020

The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get - Sun Valley and the DFC&FC, #200: DFCFC, #200: As edge my way along the lakeshore, Belle, my lab, keeps sticking her nose into the snow to investigate whatever she smells beneath it, and as a consequence, her snout is cutely decorated with powder. In fact, everything around me is decorated with powder, and as I draw closer to Schiestler Peak, there is much powder decoration to ponder. The light snowfall has etched the granite crags and terraces, making them more pronounced, and the blowing winds of the past night have knocked all the snow from the trees, so they stand in sharp contrast to the bedecked rocks. The weather is streaming through overhead, the clouds zooming across the skies, driven by high winds in the upper atmosphere. When breaks in the weather appear, pockets of sunlight flash blindingly across the landscape, which I work myself into a frenzy trying to capture on film, but it is COLD, I am still sleepy, and I have not yet hit my morning stride. The tripod legs are especially cold, even through my gloves, but hey! I’m havin’ some fun now. Actually, I am. It is a blustery, beautiful beginning of the day, but I am definitely going to want breakfast when I get back to camp, starting with something hot to drink.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, February 242020

The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get - Sun Valley and the DFC&FC, #199: DFCFC, #199: It did snow on and off all night, but not enough to bury us. When morning arrives, there are broken skies above, letting in some blinding sunlight, so Belle (my labbie), and I, arise quietly before my camp mates, and scurry around taking pictures. Gordon and Polly periodically whacked their tent fly during the night, causing it to shed any snow accumulation, and that worked out nicely because the snow piled higher on the sides of their tent, and insulated them. As a consequence, they are warm and unconscious. Belle, on the other hand, is wild! She likes this new white stuff and is busy running around in it. In the distance, at the far end of Clear Lake is Schiestler Peak, which is putting on a morning light show, so camera in hand, I begin to tread my way carefully in that direction. There IS enough snow to cover small rocks and stumps, and make them slippery, so I have to pick my way along the shoreline to avoid a faceplant. Behind me, East Temple and the Deep Lake basin are still storming away, but in front of me there is the promise of something else. Perhaps this spate of weather will end soon.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, February 172020

The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get - Sun Valley and the DFC&FC, #198: DFCFC, #198: About the time we finish our extended meal, the granular snowfall turns to true snowflakes, and it begins to snow seriously. Since there is no knowing how much snow we might get, winter campers know there are certain things that must be done, so your camp will be functional after the weather passes. The first of those is to collect everything that is laying about on the rocks. and put it under the tent fly, so that if it snows inches, or more, nothing gets buried, and you will be able to find it in the morning. Then the stoves get moved under cover as well, and lastly we re-pitch the tent fly itself, so that it is as taut as possible. Not only does that assure protection for all the stuff just stashed beneath it, but if there is an accumulation of snow, it will make it harder for the fly to sag in, onto the tent. With our duties accomplished, there is little else to do but to sit and watch the storm as it closes in on us. Besides, the one thing we have not yet put away is our liquor supply, so it is time to bedeck ourselves with all our cold weather clothing, grab our ensolites to sit on, and break out the after-dinner libations. Party on Garth! By the time we are finally ready for bed, it has snowed enough to cover the ground without melting off, and it is clear to all of us, that this storm is just getting started, so we finally retire to the warmth of our sleeping bags, and doze off to the sound of flakes tapping down on our rainflys, while we are all wondering how deeply we might be buried when we wake.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, February 102020

The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get - Sun Valley and the DFC&FC, #197: DFCFC, #197: Finally back at camp, night has not fallen, but as the clouds roll in, it grows considerably darker. Expecting it to be really cold tonight, we decide on having a big meal, so food prep begins with a nice fire and some hot soup. Then, on to A LOT of carbo-loading, and some freeze-dried sausages that are surprisingly tasty. Doggo, Belle Star was hoping for some trout, but the lake at which we have camped gets fished frequently, so they are wary, and the constant wind makes the effort pointless. She did, however, find some sausage a decent substitute. About midway through our sumptuous repast, little white things began to fall out of the sky, and East Temple Peak, in our distant view, grows hazy through the screen of a light snow that is beginning to fall. The question in camp is whether this will remain a “light” snow, or are we going to get hammered. We know we are risking the wrath of the weather gods, by daring to be camping here so late in the season, so now it appears that tonight we will discover our fate.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, February 32020

The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get - Sun Valley and the DFC&FC, #196: DFCFC, #196: After Gordon William’s little rock dance part way up the summit approach to Haystack Mountain, we all find a wind protected, sunlit meadow for some relief from the chilling breeze and a bit of snacking. Labbie doggo, Belle Star, is especially happy about all of this, and her black fur warms immediately, putting her into a heavenly doze. The weather is broken, and streaming over us, so it is hard to tell what the future might hold, but for the moment we are happily toasty. Vicki Golden, my partner (left), and Gordon are smiling for the camera, and Gordon’s campmate, Polly, is still pondering the sheer walls of granite that spill down from Haystack. The day remains kind to us for some time, so we hold ground, and bask in it, while Gordon enjoys some stinky canned sardines. Eventually we work our way leisurely down, and back to camp. En route, it seems we picked the exact moments to enjoy the sun, because as we descend, the weather is doing so as well. The wind grows colder, and the clouds close out the blue sky with what looks like it could be an incoming snowstorm.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, January 272020

The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get - Sun Valley and the DFC&FC, #195: DFCFC, #195: If you read the last few posts, you know that Gordon Williams ascended a non-technical crack in the ridge above us on Haystack Mountain, although none of us really wanted him to attempt it. Vicki Golden, Polly, and I, thought there was too much snow and clear ice to risk exposure, and in fact Gordon eventually came to that conclusion as well, once he got into the cleft that might have led him to the summit. Recognizing the danger he is finally down-climbing to all of our relief, but I thought I might put that into better perspective for those of you who are following. Where Gordon went is virtually vertical, and there is ice and snow everywhere in patches. Vicki, Polly, and I, remained at the highest point of our ascent, which has the appearance (last post) of being for more benign, perhaps even flat. While there are some patches of grass and gravel, at our position on this ridge, in fact, even those are very steep platforms, and the granite rolls off sheerly, on both sides of our position. In the image above, Gordon is back with us, but look at the slope of the rock he is negotiating. He is angling towards a larger terrace below where we have been sitting while we watched him, and where Vicki is still ensconced. Polly has dropped down a bit and is crossing over to meet Gordon. If I back up any further for this shot, I go over the sheer side into Black Joe Lake. Doggo, Belle Star thinks we are all nuts, and just wants to find a flatter place lower down, and behind some form of wind protection, so she can lie in the warmth of the increasing amount of sunlight that seems to be coming our way, as the passing weather breaks off.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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Monday, April 22, 2019

HELP WANTED: Hypothetical Partner for the Pebble Mine by Joel Reynolds, NRDC

HELP WANTED: Hypothetical Partner for the Pebble Mine


April 22, 2019

Joel Reynolds, Natural Resources Defense Council

Canadian owner of widely condemned Bristol Bay mine desperately seeks new partner with a few billion to spare. Financial, social, and environmental indifference required. No need to apply if you’re fazed by economic infeasibility, relentless local opposition, pervasive risk, and potentially catastrophic social and environmental impacts.

It’s no secret that Northern Dynasty Minerals (aka the Pebble Partnership)—the sole remaining partner in the embattled Pebble Mine proposed for the headwaters of Alaska’s Bristol Bay—is in urgent need of a new financial partner. To be sure, after four of the world’s major mining companies (Mitsubishi Corporation, Anglo American, Rio Tinto, and First Quantum Minerals) have walked away from the project since 2011, it’s a tough sell.

At last year’s general meeting of shareholders, Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen expressed confidence they can make a deal. The only question, he told me, is “what deal”—that is, what terms will be required to entice a buy-out or at least a new major partner. With the company’s history of failed partnerships in mind, I began to speculate about what the profile of such a partner, if indeed there is one to be found, might look like.

Here, in no particular order, are some essential characteristics:

(1) Unconcerned by financial risk
Contrary to industry practice—and despite repeated requests—Pebble has refused to release an economic feasibility analysis for its latest mine plan, now under permit review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. When asked by the Army Corps’ consultant AECOM to produce information on Pebble’s “cost/feasibility,” the company refused, citing a Canadian securities regulation whose purpose is to prevent securities fraud relating to mining properties. When pressed by the Bristol Bay Native Corporation (“BBNC”) last December, Pebble’s CEO Tom Collier, too, declined, explaining that such an analysis “remains on our to-do list.” Just this month, pressed by E&E News, he demurred once again because “an economic analysis is not a required piece of the permitting puzzle.”

But there is a more likely, more compelling explanation:

Based on publicly available information and Northern Dynasty’s own assumptions in a 2011 feasibility analysis of potential mine scenarios, a former longtime Rio Tinto mining expert submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers his own analysis of the project’s economics, concluding that the project is “almost certainly not economically feasible,” with a strongly negative net present value of -$3 billion.

(2) Unconcerned by relentless opposition in Alaska
As each of the major mining companies that abandoned the project learned the hard way, the people who live in the region don’t want the Pebble Mine. There is overwhelming local opposition, registered for years, by Yup’ik, Dena’ina , Alutiiq and other indigenous peoples, and a survey released by BBNC found that 81 percent of its native shareholders strongly oppose the mine. In addition, more than 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents and 85 percent of commercial fishermen in Bristol Bay oppose the mine.

In addition to tribal governments, the list of regional organizations actively opposing the mine includes BBNC (a multi-billion dollar native-owned development corporation representing more than 10,000 native shareholders), the Bristol Bay Native Association (representing all 31 tribes in Bristol Bay), the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, Salmon State, Katmai Service Providers, and many more.

The latest state-wide poll, undertaken by the Alaska State Senate, found continuing state opposition at 61 percent, following closely the 65 percent statewide opposition reflected by support for the 2014 Bristol Bay Forever Initiative.

(3) Unconcerned by harm to the greatest wild salmon fishery on Earth and the region’s economic engine
After three years of twice peer-reviewed scientific study, as well as public comment that supported EPA’s process by a staggering 98 percent (and 84 percent from Alaskans state-wide), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) concluded in 2014 that the proposed mine would result in “significant and unacceptable adverse effects” to important fishery areas in the Bristol Bay watershed, that the Pebble Mine would have "significant" impacts on fish populations and streams surrounding the mine site, and that a tailings dam failure would have "catastrophic" effects on the region.

Against this scientific record and all common sense, Pebble disagrees, suggesting to its captured investors and credulous federal regulator that gouging a massive open pit mine into the tundra at the top of Bristol Bay’s watershed may be good for the fishery (from Pebble’s Collier to BBNC in December—citing “our sophisticated models”—the project will have a “potentially positive impact on fish habitat . . .”; and from Northern Dynasty’s Thiessen at last year’s Annual General Meeting of shareholders, the value of the Bristol Bay fishery will “actually be enhanced” by development of the Pebble Mine).

(4) Unconcerned by political risk that Trump Administration approval would be reversed by a future Administration
It is undeniable that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt threw the Pebble Mine a life-line when, in May 2017, after a one hour meeting with the project’s CEO, he announced, in disregard of the multi-year scientific process described above, that the agency would abandon its efforts to limit the size, scope, and risk associated with the Pebble Mine. Science and advice from agency technical staff had nothing to do with his decision, since he apparently consulted neither.

By contrast, in December 2017, former EPA Administrators for Presidents Nixon, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush joined with former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in condemning the Pebble Mine as “fundamentally flawed” and the “wrong mine in the wrong place.”

The previous year, in September 2016, the World Conservation Congress, including representatives from over 120 nations, virtually unanimously urged the U.S. government to deny a permit for the Pebble Mine.

(5) Unconcerned by partnering with a company that has a long history of failed partnerships
Northern Dynasty was created to develop the Pebble Mine, and it has no other assets. In 2010, it had a formidable list of partners and major mining company investors. All have left the project—Mitsubishi in 2011, Anglo American in 2013, Rio Tinto in 2014, and First Quantum Minerals in 2018. Since 2011, Northern Dynasty has itself been trying unsuccessfully to sell its own interest in the project.

(6) Unconcerned by generous compensation levels of Pebble’s corporate leadership despite consistently poor corporate performance
While Northern Dynasty’s stock has declined steadily in value from over $21.00 per share in 2011 to less than $0.60 per share today, Pebble’s corporate leadership continues to be very well compensated, especially Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier. In 2017, for example, Collier received total compensation of CAN $2,357,744 and stands to gain a US $12.5 million bonus upon early completion of the Army Corps permitting process. That same year, Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen received total compensation of CAN $2,118,486, and the company’s Chairman of the Board Robert Dickinson was compensated CAN $339,570.

(7) Unconcerned by a wide range of significant reputational and other risks, including the risk of protracted litigation
For over a decade, the Pebble Mine has been the focus of relentless opposition led by the people of Bristol Bay, supported by a wide range of state-wide, national, and even international stakeholders that includes the commercial and sport fishing industries, conservation groups, sportsmen, hunters, and businesses.

This diverse opposition has steadily increased public awareness and state, national, and international condemnation of Pebble, and it has committed to pursue all administrative and legal challenges for as long as it takes to defeat this uniquely reckless and irresponsible mining project.

(8) Unconcerned by operational risks and remediation costs
The multi-billion-dollar cost to construct the massive open pit and operate the mine – still undefined by Pebble for its current mine plan – has almost certainly been underestimated. But without question the technical challenges of construction and operation in the remote, hydrologically complex, and seismically active upper Bristol Bay watershed would be enormous.

In addition, to transport gold and copper from the mine site to market, Pebble will have to construct and operate massive infrastructure, including a marine terminal in Cook Inlet, roads, pipelines and even infrastructure in Lake Iliamna to support a preposterous southern all-season ferry route across the lake through pristine wilderness to Amakdedori Beach on Kamishak Bay in Cook Inlet. To construct roads, Northern Dynasty Minerals must acquire access rights from area landowners—access rights that some of these very landowners have vowed to oppose, including BBNC.

The list could go on. But the range of significant obstacles to, and risks of association with, the Pebble Mine is unprecedented – financial, social, environmental, political, reputational, regulatory, legal, and operational.

And while, as Northern Dynasty’s Thiessen has said, there may indeed be a financial “deal” to be made to perpetuate this international pariah of a mining project, there can be no doubt that any new partner or major investor will inevitably and deservedly be tarred with the global condemnation that, more than any other mining project anywhere, has justifiably been focused on the Pebble Mine.

We will never relent in our support for the people of Bristol Bay in defense of their way of life, their children, and their future.

Take action now.

Orvis Supports No Pebble Mine

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