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March 23, 2010

Mt. Chipotle reels under heat wave, UVA team watches helplessly


As if driving by the once magic mountain several times a week, watching it gradually dwindle from its winter storm magnificence, weren't enough, the Charlottesville Daily Progress's Ted Strong featured the sad diminution of my Podunk town's greatest claim to fame (being World Headquarters©™® of bookofjoe currently running a close second) in a story in this past Sunday's paper.

Above, a photo that accompanied the piece, featuring research scientists David Seakell (left) and Luke Cole atop the then 25-foot-high peak.

From the article:


As Central Virginia glides into spring on balmy breezes, a reminder of cold, harsh winter looms over Charlottesville — Mount Chipotle, staunch bastion of icy grandeur and goofball science.

As of Friday, the tongue-in-cheek Mount Chipotle National Research Observatory was showing the rugged, snow-capped (and snow-bottomed) mountain at roughly 25 feet tall.

At the foot of the mountain, below its north face, runoff created by the sun’s energy has formed what hydrologists term a "braided" stream — relatively wide and exceedingly shallow, with a fine crisscross of currents.

The Mount Chipotle research effort began around an informal betting pool: Participants guessed which day the snow would disappear, and proceeds went to help the Graduate Student Association of the University of Virginia’s Department of Environ-mental Sciences bring in academic speakers and host receptions afterward. As the project gained traction, Chipotle’s corporate offices kicked in gift certificates to sweeten the pot.

But what was once a snowy wonder is now tarnished. A dark coat of grime now coats the outside of the mountain — much of it dirt, garbage and grit that was picked up as the parking lot at Barracks Road Shopping Center was plowed, and which has remained as the snow around it melted away.
Leading researchers at the Mount Chipotle NRO said that the pollution likely is speeding the demise of the icy giant.




the unnatural wonder


as it appeared




five weeks ago.

March 23, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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