rule Summit County
SUMMIT COUNTY – Landlords are king in Summit County during
fall. But these are different times. This year they’ve
even resorted to cutting rent. Renters, says the Summit Daily
News (Dec. 19) now rule the housing market.
“It’s as soft as I’ve seen it in years,”
said Chris Eby, a broker for Buyer’s Resource Real Estate.
“It just stinks,” said Julie Krumme, a rental manager
who reported dropping rent from $1,200 for two-bedroom condominiums
down to $975.
Theories abound. Take your pick: Overbuilding of homes has
forced owners into renting long term, because the short-term
rental revenue they planned on didn’t materialize; lower
interest rates are causing former renters to become homeowners;
and increased employee housing at resorts has decreased the
need for private rentals.
Earlier this year Intrawest bought the Club Med building, converting
it into 500 employee beds. Keystone Resort opened new Tenderfoot
employee housing buildings two years ago.
Gypsum becoming gentrified
GYPSUM – Remember the old jingo, “cows not condos?”
At Gypsum, located in the Vail-Glenwood Springs-Aspen triangle,
the story is houses, not Herefords, as town officials massage
plans to convert the former Albertson Ranch into a project with
27 holes of golf and 535 residential units. The expected market
is grandparent-aged baby boomers.
For Gypsum, the essential question is how much will new residents
transform the town? It is currently a place with a blue-collar
feel and a factory smokestack as its most visible landmark,
even if a golf course community opened there in the mid-1990s.
The developer, Russ Hatle, of Palm Desert, Calif., told the
Eagle Valley Enterprise that he envisions home buyers as being
people interested in Gypsum’s small-town feel, a place
projected to grow to 10,000 residents or more during the next
As always, the ranch is portrayed as having the best of both
worlds – a small-town atmosphere with big-city attributes,
including Vail Valley cultural attractions and restaurants,
as well as a nearby airport that is becoming one of Colorado’s
With that development, nearly all ranches in the I-70 corridor
between Denver and Glenwood Springs will have been carved up.
Electronic ticket checker used
SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Technology that will eliminate the
need for ticket scanners is being tried in the ski school maze
at one lift at Snowmass.
Lift tickets or ski passes are to be inserted into a scanner,
and then the turnstile opens. Used in Europe for a decade and
now elsewhere in the United States, this is a first for Colorado,
reports the Aspen Daily News (Dec. 13).
Aspen won’t take Iraq stance
ASPEN – The Aspen City Council had been asked by several
former council members to adopt a resolution against an attack
on Iraq. With one exception, council members declined. Most
said that regardless of their own thoughts about Iraq, they
were elected to govern Aspen, not make foreign policy.
The Aspen Daily News (Dec. 13) said the council had no backbone.
“The mayor and her crew seem adept at watching over the
city’s day-to-day affairs; it’s those pesky controversial
issues that get them unraveled, causing them to turn to the
nearest election for guidance. Yes, this council has demonstrated
an uncanny ability to waffle on issues of substance.”
That jab alluded to the recent election in which the town let
town voters decide the fate of the entrance and also fate of
the trolley cars.
The newspaper also pointed out that in past years, Aspen councils
have often taken positions regarding matters directly relevant
to Aspen – they supported the Central American Peace Plan
in 1988, talked about global warming, even adopting a resolution
about cable television.
“If the City Council could weigh in on the merits of
cable television then, surely the City Council can weigh in
on the possibility of a war with Iraq now,” said the paper.
Device to track avalanches
JACKSON HOLE, WYO. – A device invented for Cold War purposes
is being adapted to better track avalanches at ski areas and
At the heart of the device is a microphone-like sensor used
by U.S. military and intelligence agencies to detect the detonation
of nuclear bombs. A scientist in the Boulder-based National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency obtained one of the sensors
and began experimenting with it. It detected something, and
the scientist at length concluded the cause was avalanches along
the Continental Divide, about 50 miles away. Now, spurred by
a government grant, a pair of engineers based in Sheridan, Wyo.,
are adapting the device to commercial use.
The Jackson Hole News & Guide (Dec. 11) compared the device
to an octopus living under the snow. The basketball-sized microphone
has eight noise filters that stretch from it, resembling 100-yard
porous garden hoses. Low-frequency sound waves carry far, and
hence the detector can be put in a safe location, away from
In Wyoming, Mark Weitz and his partner are figuring out how
the device can be used to detect the sliding of snow at Glory
Bowl, a well-known avalanche path that often blocks the highway
that crosses Teton Pass. It could, they believe, be used to
trigger an alarm as well as gates across the highway.
Another application could be at ski areas, where avalanche
artillery is sometimes fired in bad weather or in the dark to
reduce slide hazards. The instrument could tell ski patrollers
which slide paths released as a result of the shooting, something
they couldn’t detect by sight from the gun station. Yet
another application could be to monitor the backcountry, allowing
more immediate reports of destabilizing snow conditions.
Fight night opens season
CRESTED BUTTE – Crested Butte Mountain opened Dec. 14,
and the Crested Butte News (Dec. 20) says the opening was celebrated
like no other opening day at any resort has ever been celebrated.
The newspaper’s Than Acuff reported: “This is not
Vail. You can tell because these people spent opening night
at the resort watching a man in his 20s pummel a man in his
40s. It was a star-studded gala event. Close to 60 fight fans
filled the Rafters Conference Center for the ‘Rumble at
Rafters.’ Everyone from members of the Friends of the
Library to international adventure photographers to world-famous
filmmaker to attorneys to EMTs to real estate agents and even
the former heavyweight champion were on hand to kick off the
ski season with a night at the fights.”
The newspaper apparently had front-row seats to the event.
“In round two, Payson’s blows sent random droplets
of blood from Selkirk’s face into the crowd, onto the
referee, onto my note pad, and who knows where else. It was
ugly, but Selkirk stood strong, refusing to buckle.”
Selkirk was the 40-year-old mentioned at the outset.
And now boxing between women is part of such events that, in
older days, were called “smokers.” The Crested Butte
affair had Kyleena Falzone bloodying Maya Fulton who, in turn,
seemed not to mind all that much. She chased Falzone around
the ring, landing some blows of her own, although apparently
not firm enough to draw blood or win the favor of judges.
The evening took an unpleasant turn when a man and a woman
fought each other. That alone seems not to have fazed the crowd.
But when the man taunted the woman, he was showered with plastic
cups and crushed beer cans. The woman lasted three rounds, and
the fight ended in a draw.
A rematch is coming in January.
Primal Quest moves to Tahoe
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CALIF. – Subaru Primal Quest, a backcountry
team competition event created last year in the mold of the
better known Eco-Challenge, is moving to the Lake Tahoe backcountry
in September. The race pits 100 coed teams in groups of four
in a race that includes caving, mountain biking, hiking, rappelling,
whitewater and flatwater paddling, night navigation, orienteering,
and road biking.
After a storm of controversy, in which some local residents
and environmental groups accused Subaru of turning the backcountry
into a commodity, the first Primal Quest was held last September
on a 300-mile course in the area around Silverton and Telluride.
Jenny McCargo was among those who participated, although she
had to drop out after getting sick. Just the same, she told
the Tahoe Daily Tribune (Dec. 20) that it was “one of
the coolest things I’ve ever done.”