In the Rearview: This week in The Taos News' archives

A thrilling mountain rescue, an investigation into the 'Taos Hum' and reactions to the Tijerina raid

By Harrison Blackman
The Taos News
Posted 6/21/17

The Taos News is launching a new weekly feature, digging into the newspaper's archives to uncover the top stories of each week from 10, 25 and 50 years ago. What we found was a thrilling Mount Everest rescue, an …

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In the Rearview: This week in The Taos News' archives

A thrilling mountain rescue, an investigation into the 'Taos Hum' and reactions to the Tijerina raid

Posted

The Taos News is launching a new weekly feature, digging into the newspaper's archives to uncover the top stories of each week from 10, 25 and 50 years ago. What we found was a thrilling Mount Everest rescue, an investigation into the mysterious "Taos Hum" and the newspaper's historical reaction to the Reies López Tijerina raid on the courthouse in Tierra Amarilla.

2007 - 10 years ago: "Taos climber helps save a life in Everest's 'death zone'", By Eric J. Hedlund, June 14-20, 2007.

Dave Hahn, a mountain climber from Taos, summited Mount Everest and while descending helped rescue a 22-year-old Nepalese climber named Usha Bista. The rescue climber had been abandoned by her own team after suffering cerebral edema, the swelling of the brain caused by high altitudes.

Bista was picked up by Hahn, other members of his team, as well as Canadian and British climbers, at a point on Everest called the "Balcony," 1,300 feet from the peak, where climbers rest before making the final push to the summit.

The Balcony is in a region of Everest called the "death zone," the area above 26,250 feet at which the air is too thin to sustain human life. During the rescue process, Hahn witnessed a climber on the route above them fall 3,000 feet to her death. Bista was ultimately brought back to base camp and survived, however.

1992 - 25 years ago: "The hills are alive … with the sound of something", By Jess Williams, June 18, 1992.

In 1992, many Taos residents were complaining of a mysterious sound that resonated in the chests of some people and gave others a low electronic pulse in their ears. After Taoseño couple Catanya and Bob Saltzman offered a $500 reward for the successful identification of "The Sound," as it was so dubbed (nowadays, it's been more often referred to as "The Hum"). Dana Hougland, an acoustic engineer from the Denver firm David L. Adams Associates, arrived on the scene with sound equipment.

Following two days of study, Hougland proclaimed "The Sound" was real, with a frequency of 17 hertz that was low enough to explain that some people could hear it and others could not.

In relation to theories that "The Sound" was coming from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Hougland dismissed them because for a sound of that frequency to travel the 56 miles to Los Alamos, it would have to be a world record. She claimed it was more likely that it was coming from the local sewage treatment plant, a type of facility that, in other regions of the country, had been associated with similar effects.

As for the $500 reward? Hougland said she was only paid for her expenses.

1967 - 50 years ago: "As We See It … Self-Determination", June 22, 1967.

In this editorial, The Taos News commented on the significant event of June 5, 1967: Reies López Tijerina's armed raid on the Río Arriba County Courthouse in Tierra Amarilla to free the imprisoned members of La Alianza, a Chicano activist group. After holding the courthouse for a brief period, members of the group fled to the mountains as they were pursued by the National Guard. Some participants in the raid were arrested and faced assault and kidnapping charges.

The Taos News responded to these events by suggesting that "orderly self-determination," a process of community activism, communication and coordination, rather than the deployment of outside experts from state and national programs, showed the most sensible directions for public action to heal the divide between poorer Northern New Mexico communities and the wealthier cities in the rest of the state.

The policy of top-down administration via President Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty," The Taos News argued, was one that reinforced the historical "patron" system of inequality that had existed since the Spanish conquest, suggesting that these policies apparently encouraged the violent tactics used by charismatic activists, such as Tijerina.

For the state to be successful in improving the welfare of Northern New Mexico, The Taos News concluded by suggesting that federal and state programs work to build and improve the road system and then "let time and curiosity do its work" in what appears today as a prelude to the neoliberal economics that began in the Ronald Reagan administration and live on today, for better or worse.

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