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Joe Purtell

Special to The Colorado Sun

Climbing gyms used to only offer dead-end jobs. Now, they’re a foothold for a route through the industry.

As the rock gym industry has grown -- there were 507 in the U.S. last year -- and become more sophisticated, so has work keeping climbing routes fresh


For farmers in a mental health crisis, it’s often tough to seek help. A Colorado program aims to begin conversations.

Amid uncertainties over tariffs and declining income, suicides are increasing in Colorado and rates are higher in rural areas than in urban environments


Pueblo saw hemp as an economic opportunity, so it pounced with taxpayer dollars and hopes of growing big business

Pueblo Economic Development Corp. sees hemp as a natural extension of southern Colorado’s ag and industrial heritage, and is laying down cash and tax credits to lure companies that agree to meet job-creation goals


Colorado mountain biking program teaches girls to conquer trails, with an eye toward helping in other parts of life

The Cycle Effect brings the recreation and competition of affluent mountain communities to traditionally underserved residents -- with payoff for perseverance


As metro Denver grows, another caller wants to tap the vast aquifer under the San Luis Valley

Politically well-connected Renewable Water Resources has Gov. Bill Owens in its court, but a coalition of water warriors has fended off two other attempts


Rural Colorado struggles to find foster homes as new federal law seeks to keep more kids out of group settings

Only 13 families volunteer in the vast, six-county San Luis Valley, where poverty presents one of several obstacles to placement


Whenever crews move dirt in the Garden of the Gods, an archaeologist helps link the present to the past

Colorado Springs reaches out to Native American tribes to give them a voice in preserving artifacts and their cultural heritage


Can rangeland apprenticeships stem the exodus of Colorado ranchers and keep America fed?

The average American farmer is 58 years old. Many inherited their generations-old operations from parents and grandparents, but now find they don't have anyone who wants to take over.


Acres of destruction left by Colorado’s historic avalanche season are also delivering climate change evidence

Researchers think secrets hidden in the rings of millions of felled trees may reveal the relationship between climate and avalanche cycles


Acres of barren Boulder soil are headed to rehab (and that might just help fight climate change)

Project to make depleted open space owned by the city healthy again could be a blueprint for carbon capture and land management


50,000 old photos in Golden are helping scientists answer new questions about climate change

American Alpine Club library's archive of images by early mountaineers holds clues for researchers documenting the retreat of glaciers worldwide


Lutes and language: How Colorado’s Tibetan families fight to retain their culture from half a world away

Families from across the state, some generations removed from exile, converge every Sunday in Boulder to share Tibetan traditions. Some drive hours to preserve their past.


Bluebird Backcountry hopes to tap the uphill skiing movement for a new resort model

The backcountry resort business plan aims to “revolutionize the culture of skiing here in Colorado by giving people more options"


When people die in the outdoors, help for their loved ones is scarce. The climbing community aims to change that.

With climbing comes death. And survivors guilt. Now it’s time to talk about it.


As climbing skyrockets, so has its environmental impact. “We really have to step up.”

Climbing coalitions have popped up around the U.S. and are working to manage the impact on trails while lobbying local and national governments to keep public lands accessible


To help students improve inside the classroom, Manitou Springs Middle School is taking them outside

The Growth-based Alternative Learning and Leadership Opportunity Program -- or GALLOP -- uses work with animals and gardening to help students build skills


Climbing gyms are hot, but longtime climbers worry gym rats aren’t learning basic real-world safety

Traditional mentorships that have passed down safety tips for generations are fading, even as the number of climbers is growing