While we typically post stories in this blog about things to see and do in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, today’s post is a slight departure. We take time to recognize two heroes in the Estes-Rocky area who recently passed from this earth. These are individuals who made a huge difference in our community and in Rocky Mountain National Park. They were, and remain today, bigger than life. They are heroes who made the Estes-Rocky area a better place for our millions of annual visitors.
Jim Detterline was a giant in the local climbing community. He is affectionately known as “Mr. Longs Peak.” At 428 summits, Jim is the record holder for the most Longs Peak summits. Jim summited Longs Peak in every month of the year. Many of these summits came when Jim was the Longs Peak Ranger for Rocky Mountain National Park. Jim was a Ranger from 1987 to 2009. During that time, Jim led or was involved with more than 1,000 rescues on Longs Peak and in other areas of Rocky Mountain National Park. Jim Detterline saved many lives.
Two of those lives saved were at Alluvial Fan in 1995. Jim waded into the swift-flowing and frigid waters of the Roaring River to help two visitors hold on and avoid being swept over a waterfall. Other rangers set up rescue equipment and the two visitors were saved. Jim’s effort on this rescue earned him the U.S. Interior Department’s Valor Award. This award is reserved for those “demonstrating unusual courage involving a high degree of personal risk in the face of danger.” Jim traveled to Washington, D.C. to receive the award.
Jim Detterline was very generous with his time. He was always willing to teach new climbers the techniques and best practices of rock climbing and ice climbing. Jim was a volunteer firefighter in Allenspark and he played the trumpet in the Village Band in Estes Park. Jim had a Ph.D. in invertebrate zoology and was a professor at Front Range Community College.
Yes, Jim Detterline was a hero. But beyond the lives that Jim saved, above everything, Jim Detterline was an outstanding human being. He was kind, gentle, and compassionate. Jim’s good friend and climbing partner Lisa Foster said, “Jim always made it a point to spend extra time with the victim’s families and treated every person he met with honor and respect.”
Jim Detterline died in a climbing accident near Allenspark, Colorado on October 25, 2016. The Associated Press reported that the Boulder County Sheriff’s Department said Detterline was wearing climbing gear and had major injuries consistent with a fall. Jim’s Border Collie, Annie, stayed with him until he was found.
Jim was 60 years old. His wife, Rebecca Detterline, survives him.
While walking a beautiful trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, have you ever stopped to think how that trail got there? Or who takes care of it? Chances are, Rocky volunteer Madeline Framson had a hand in caring for your trail or, possibly, even building it.
Although Madeline Framson died October 13, 2016 at age 93, her legacy of volunteerism, trail work, and passionate support of public lands lives on. Her spirit of conservation and love for nature has already been passed on to countless friends and volunteers in Rocky Mountain National Park who will continue to make a difference.
Born in Houston, Texas in 1922, Madeline Bass was one of eight children. Madeline joined the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) during World War II. On D-Day+38, Madeline’s unit was the first WAC unit to land in Normandy. After the liberation of Paris, Madeline marched with the troops around the Arc de Triumph.
After the war, Madeline married Robert Framson. The couple had two sons and a daughter. As a child, Madeline and her family – like so many Texans – vacationed in Estes Park. Madeline had the bug. In 1979, Madeline and her family moved to Estes Park.
Madeline became involved with the Colorado Mountain Club and established the club’s Shining Mountain Group, which included the geographic areas of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Madeline quickly found she was really good at a critical skill the club needed – recruiting volunteers for trail work and other projects in Rocky. Madeline led volunteer groups in Rocky even into her 90’s.
Over the years, Madeline’s volunteer groups worked on hundreds of trail projects and other critical park activities such as fire mitigation. When on a work site, Madeline regularly took on the hardest projects such as dragging tree trunks and swinging a Pulaski. The volunteers Madeline worked with fully enjoyed her many stories of WWII and her commanding knowledge of Rocky’s wildlife and vegetation.
While Madeline was one of about 1,700 annual volunteers in Rocky Mountain National Park, Madeline Framson was definitely one of a kind. She made the park that we all love a better place. She was a hero in World War II and she was a hero to all of us who love our National Parks and public lands.
Written by Tony Bielat
Note: My EstesPark.com business partner, Bruce Grant, and I are especially saddened by the loss of these two dedicated and passionate individuals in our Estes-Rocky Community. Bruce has been on several ice climbs with Jim Detterline. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jim and his team on the 2015 Longs Peak Reunion. I’ve also been on a volunteer trail crew with Madeline Framson. Both of these individuals were significant contributors to Rocky Mountain National Park. They will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, Jim and Madeline.