(Note: This piece was written for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and published on Jun 22, 2006 along with a companion article by Cara Eastwood. Shortly following its publication, for unknown reasons, Mr. Broe thankfully ended his long effort to acquire the mountain. It’s yours! Enjoy the wildest place in Southeast Wyoming!)
Reese Mountain belongs to the people of America.
Pat Broe, a Colorado rancher and real-estate mogul, wants to make it his own. He also is seeking three other peaks – Britannia, Green and Collins – as well as 5,081 acres of the Laramie Range north of Cheyenne.
These are prominent landmarks on the horizon west of Wheatland.
Broe has tried to broker a swap with the U.S. Forest Service for five years, ever since he bought the Notch Peak Ranch nearby and built a 7,000-square-foot vacation home there.
At first he wanted to buy the mountains. Then he proposed to swap a Cheyenne office building for them. Most recently he offered to trade acreage north of Lovell for the public lands on Reese Mountain.
Since those proposals failed to win support from Wyoming’s congressional representatives, he is trying again.
According to Bill Bookout, a member of a local task force that is negotiating with the rancher, Broe is looking at other private land in the region to offer in trade.
What does this Forest Service real estate contain that Broe is seeking?
It is wild, rugged and wonderful country. Also known as Notch Peak, Reese Mountain and Collins Mountain border the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s sizeable Laramie Peak Wildlife Habitat Management Area.
These mountains are prime range for elk, mule deer and serve as home to the area’s most successful herds of bighorn sheep. Mountain lions and black bears den in the rocks.
Reese Mountain is a monumental massif of pink granite, twisted and tortured like a towering mound of bubble gum that has been squirted from the earth.
Its rock is bare to the sky, spotted with junipers and pines. Steep canyons surround Reese. They were cut 500 feet deep into the earth by Duck and Ashley creeks.
While the rocks are stark, the canyons are lush, green oases of life that burst with berries and song birds. Above them towers the mountain, its three summits pushing 2,000 feet into the sky.
Hikers find adventure and excitement there unlike any area around. The barren country gives long scenic views. Ridge tops claw at the sky with sharp rocky fingers.
The chance of spotting the abundant wildlife keeps the senses sharp. From the granite walls the delicate blooms of diminutive Laramie Columbine grow, a flower found in the Laramie Range and no other place.
There are no real trails to or up Reese, just paths worn by hooves and boots.
Hikers have found several routes to the 8,150-foot summits: up rock-strewn slopes, over meadows and ascending rock pavements to the open sky. On top, potholes have eroded into the granite, forming pools that water sheep and raptors all year long.
Expert climbers discovered Reese nearly 20 years ago. Vertical faces towering 320 feet offer just enough hand holds to make ascent possible. Anchors have been bolted and routes named.
Laramie climber Dennis Horning pioneered many of the routes – he says there are more than 150 pitches. There is nothing like it within 150 miles.
A forest fire burned over Reese in 2002. Although that may have reduced the scenic value, the fire opened the forest floor to sunlight and brought forth a profusion of forage.
Water that was taken by the pines now has come to the surface in seeps and springs. Elk and sheep have flourished. Hunters and wildlife watchers now can see through the trees.
If a new land swap proposal is developed, Broe promises public meetings will be held and comments considered.
Perhaps something can be offered for Britannia and Green Mountain that truly will benefit the public more than those two mountains do.
But those who have seen Reese and Collins know that there is nothing in the region comparable. They are priceless, an untamed, rugged habitat and a source of stirring adventure to the intrepid.
Philanthropists in love with Wyoming’s grandeur have done many good things for the public.
Perhaps Mr. Broe will too.
For Cara Eastwood’s companion article go to: http://www.wyomingnews.com/news/the-battle-for-reese-mountain/article_39dc4063-edac-5d4a-af85-3cf43643c584.html
If you’d like to go to Reese a topo map is included in the pictures that follow.
From Cheyenne go north on I-25 toward Wheatland about 60 miles, taking exit 73, Hwy 34 toward Laramie. At 15.6 miles turn right on Tunnel Road. After 15.7 miles on Tunnel turn right into the Laramie Peak Wildlife Habitat Management Area. This is where the adventure begins. Now you are onto the start of the topo map. Make you way to the Reese Mountain trailhead.