reaches new heights at $71
Vail Valley – Vail Resorts will
charge $71 for lift tickets at its two flagship ski areas, Vail
and Beaver Creek, beginning at Christmas. That’s the highest
price ever charged by a ski area.
Close behind is Deer Valley at $69, Telluride and the four ski
areas operated by Aspen Skiing Co. at $68, Breckenridge at $65,
and then Snowbird-Alta, Keystone, and Steamboat, all at $64.
However, relatively few people pay the lift ticket price at
Vail or other resorts. “You kind of have to trip and fall
down and hit your head to pay $71,” Martin White, Vail’s
Resorts’s senior vice president of marketing and sales,
told the Associated Press. Vail estimates only 15 percent of
visitors pay the full fare.
White compares ski industry pricing to airline fares. Last-minute
purchasers will pay a premium, but those searching out deals
well in advance will find plenty of them. Christmas day lift
tickets can be had for $45.
Radar used to help slow
Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. –
Radar is being installed along a one-mile segment of highway
near Yellowstone National Park in an attempt to see if the real-time
reporting of wildlife along roadways will cause motorists to
During the last decade, 107 elk, 11 coyotes, seven mule deer,
three moose, two wolves and one bear have been killed on the
three-mile segment of Highway 191 in Montana.
The Jackson Hole Guide (Oct. 24-30) reports that an experimental
animal detection system will be erected in one of those three
miles. The continuous radar beam runs along the highway. When
wildlife approaches the road, the animals break the beam, which
activities flashing lights on warning signs posted along the
highway. The signs warn motorists of the possible presence of
Although 8-foot-tall fences, if properly maintained, minimize
roadkill, fences are expensive. Other techniques, including
sonic whistle-type devices and signs, do not work. In this case,
researchers hope that the flashing lights that indicate the
presence of animals will, over time, be taken more seriously.
Whistler endorses Olympics
Whistler, B.C. – In a four-to-one
vote, the Whistler municipal council has endorsed the bid to
host the 2010 Winter Olympics, reports Whistler Pique newsmagazine
(Oct. 24). But amid calls for a plebiscite, critics continue
to question how the Games will benefit Whistler as a sustainable
Whistler seems generally supportive but with reservations. A
poll conducted by the municipality revealed only 57 percent
of residents support hosting the games, with 35 percent opposed
and 8 percent undecided.
Ken Melamend, the council’s lone dissenter, said the legacy
package – the promises to the community if the bid is
landed – is lacking. “The Games legacy package seems
more like a business-as-usual approach to growth and investment
while those of us who are advocating for a paradigm shift look
for scraps of sustainability to fall off the table,” he
said at a meeting attended by 400 people.
Another critic, Eckhard Zeidler, conceded policies and guidelines
that will “moderate the considerable environmental impact
of the games” but said the main effect of hosting the
Olympics would be to spur construction of new buildings. That,
he said, is not an environmental legacy but just more development.
But supporters counter with talk about the cultural opportunities
of the Olympics. They also suggest that the legacies package
can be tinkered with.
Aspen sees housing vacancies
Aspen – Aspen’s publicly
subsidized stock of housing for seasonal employees is usually
spoken for by early November. Not this year.
Half the units remain available at the Marolt Ranch, which has
room for about 200 people. At Burlingame/MAA, 70 of the 82 two-bedroom
units were still available on Halloween. Both complexes fill
up with music students during summers and ski-season employees
in winters, explains The Aspen Times (Nov. 1).
“I don’t know what’s up. It’s weird,”
said Ed Sadler, assistant city manager. “Who isn’t
hiring, or are they hiring later?”
Prices of Aspen’s free-market condos and apartments have
dropped with the past year’s economic downturn but probably
not to the level of the subsidized housing, notes Mike Henry,
property manager of one of the two projects. Also, the Aspen
Skiing Co. hasn’t added housing stock in the past year,
which would have reduced demand for public housing. The ski
company is the valley’s largest employer, with 2,000 additional
winter employees, half of them new faces.
At the Hotel Jerome, general manager Tony DiLucia told the newspaper
that the hotel is no longer constantly searching for employees.
Races could spell fame
Fernie, B.C. – Fernie Alpine Resort
hopes to assume the title as being among the elite resorts of
the world as a result of hosting the World Cup Freestyle competition
in January. The precedent was set in Whistler, which in 1990
was modestly sized and relatively new, although already acclaimed.
Whistler hosted its first World Cup Freestyle event in 1990,
and in 1997 submitted a bid for the World Championships.
According to John Paone, president and director of the Canadian
Freestyle Ski Federation, that 1990 freestyle competition was
the first major event at Whistler, and it was a catalyst for
growth. He sees the same opportunity for Fernie, according to
the Fernie Free Press (Oct. 28).
Freestyle skiers and others have been asking: “Where is
Fernie?” But organizers there believe that if sufficient
pre-planning is done, 360 hours of international television
exposure in more than 30 nations should stifle that question.
Hunter S. puts in two cents
Aspen – Lengthen the runway of
the Pitkin County airport in order to accommodate 737 jets?
That idea was pushed in 1995, and in nearby Woody Creek the
reaction was caustic: “There is some shit we will not
Now, an airport master plan is being created, revising both
noise and expansion issues that have annoyed members of the
Woody Creek Caucus. But a recent meeting between those members
and airport representatives was relatively civil, reports The
Aspen Times (Oct. 31).
Woody Creek residents asked hard questions and imagined worse-case
scenarios, and Hunter S. Thompson, a neighborhood resident,
told the airport representatives he had seen their kind before.
“You people come close to being the oiliest group we’ve
seen,” he said.
Airport representatives acknowledged studying the possibility
of lengthening the runway by 1,000 feet, to allow commercial
jets to take off with heavier loads during hot summer afternoons.
However, they denied that the conclusions are foregone.
Caucus members grilled the airport representatives about the
prospects of noise restrictions being accepted by the Federal
Aviation Administration and whether it was possible to get more
private jets to voluntarily comply with noise restrictions.
Architecture mimics mining
Telluride – A theme of mountain
architecture in recent years has been an attempt to mimic the
mining era. That theme is particularly strong at Keystone’s
base area, River Run, where one of the several lodges has a
tin-type veneer, as if it had been hauled from a hillside above
Leadville. Even Vail adopted the theme for its lift-top buildings
in the new expansion area, Blue Sky Basin.
Now, at Telluride’s Mountain Village, there’s a
report of a $5.5 million house built with aspects of 19th century
industrial gold mining. It is, reports the Telluride Watch (Oct.
25), a “far stretch from the typical log-and-stone homes
most commonly found in the Mountain Village.”
The 5,425-square-foot home has a scoured timber frame, rusted
corrugated tin roof, heavy metal grating system, simple form
windows and four-story entry tower. All this whispers “industrial”
mining, notes the paper, while upholding a creative elegance.
“We looked at the project in the context of Telluride
being an older mining community and took into account a lot
of precedents that were set of how buildings were typically
built on steep sites in the area,” said Doug Reinhardt,
architect at Charles Cunniffe and Associates.
How do you instill weather-beaten character into brand-new wood?
One trick is fertilizer. A finish made primarily of fertilizer
(the kind of fertilizer was not specified) was scoured on the
home’s timber frame to give it a darker, weathered appearance.
New firm offers to recruit
seasonal foreign workers
Hailey – Kim Hayes previously
was director of human resources for Sun Valley Co. In that capacity,
she used specialty visa programs to recruit foreign workers
for between three and 18 months. Now, she has set up her own
business, offering to help local restaurants, shops and others
do the same.
Primarily two types of visas are available. J-1 visas are available
for students for up to 18 months. H2B visas are available for
shorter times, but only when employers vouch that they have
been unable to get qualified applicants by advertising in the
Colorado ski resorts began using the programs extensively in
the late 1990s. One whitewater rafting company near Vail, for
example, hired New Zealanders, claiming guides with Class V
boating experience could not be found. Ski companies have hired
hundreds of ski instructors from Croatia, Argentina and elsewhere.
Wendy’s firm routinely hires employees from Eastern Europe,
while one grocery store chain in Colorado has a large number
of employees from Africa. Newspapers have even used the program.
One Colorado newspaper hired employees from Canada and Switzerland
as reporters, claiming that U.S. citizens could not be found
to do the work.
First $1 million home being
built in town near Winter Park
Fraser – Construction of what
will be the first $1 million home in Fraser is now under way.
Located five miles from the Winter Park ski area, the town is
an old railroad and logging community that is now slated for
large-scale development by Koelbel & Co., a Denver-based
real estate firm.
In the words of Dennis Saffell, a local real-estate agent and
developer who is building that first $1 million home, a three-level
affair of 3,500 square feet, “The higher up, the higher
end the home.”
In Grand County, where Fraser is located, there is a nod to
local history at every turn. This house is no exception. It
will include a turret and one room encased entirely in stone,
unlike the log-and-stone construction of the rest of the home.
The stone is intended to make the room look like an addition,
as occurred in many original houses.
“Before we put anything on paper, we reflected about what
would have been built a hundred years ago, and how it could
have been constructed,” Saffell told the Winter Park Manifest
(Oct. 28). Even sheds built to accommodate water treatment equipment
in the subdivision have the appearance of log sheds assembled
a century ago by Swedish loggers.
– compiled by Allen Best