Girls Education International's Fundraiser at the Hangar Restaurant in Estes Park

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COVER: An Eye at the Top of the World: The Terrifying Legacy of the Cold War’s Most Daring CIA Operation.


On Thursday, June 26, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the Hangar Restaurant in Estes Park is hosting a benefit for Girls Education International, a nonprofit organization founded by North Face athlete Heidi Wirtz and writerLizzy Scully. The fundraiser will feature tunes by local musician Justin Faye and a slide show by author and mountaineer Pete Takeda. The $35 ticket includes a BBQ, unlimited New Belgium Brewery beer, and raffle tickets for dozens of items. There will also be a silent auction.

Takeda recently published a book entitled, “An Eye at the Top of the World: The Terrifying Legacy of the Cold War’s Most Daring CIA Operation.” In the early 1980s, the CIA decided to put a nuclear-powered spy device on the top of Nanda Devi—one of the Himalayas’ most remote and forbidding peaks. The goal was to gather information on Chinese troop movements. Some time later, the apparatus stopped sending signals; it was as though it had completely disappeared. The device was never recovered, and now, nearly four pounds of plutonium, locked in the glacier beneath the mountain are moving ever closer to the source of the Ganges River.

“That’s enough manmade poison to kill every human on earth, or to produce a bomb capable of flattening a city,” explained Takeda.

For this book, Takeda not only interviewed surviving members of the original expedition—during which the climbers huddled around the spy device for warmth given off by the decay of radioactive elements—he retraced their steps to the peak itself. While en route, Takeda has his own harrowing experience with the violent forces of the mountain, and was almost swept away in an avalanche. To learn more, come to the Hangar Restaurant and check out Takeda’s exciting show.

Girls Education International (GEI) is a 501(c)3 operating under the umbrella of The Mountain Fund. GEI currently has two operational programs and two additional programs that they hope to launch by 2009. The profits from this fundraiser will go toward their Liberia Scholarship program, which provides scholarships to 42 girls in the mountainous regions of Liberia, and also to one of their Nepal scholarship programs, which provides scholarships to two girls in Kathmandu. For more information, please visit:, or call 303-903-2768.

All donations, including the $35 dinner ticket, are tax deductible. Raffle and silent auction items provided by: Glassworks of Estes, The Meadow Mountain Café, Evolv shoes, The North Face, SkirtSports, La Sportiva shoes, and many others. There will also be jewelry by Suspended Stone Designs; framed photography by Topher Donahue; signed copies of “Vertical Ethiopia,” a book by Majka Burhardt; and signed copies of Takeda’s book, and many other items.

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