new owner struggles
TELLURIDE – The falloff in destination skiers is reported
to be behind the decision of Hideo “Joe” Morita
to seek an investor for the Telluride Ski Area or even to sell
Johnnie Stevens, chief operating officer, said Morita prefers
to find a joint-venture partner, but it’s possible the
company could be recapitalized reports The Telluride Watch (March
Morita, the son of Sony Corp. founder Akio Morita, purchased
Telski’s last development real estate in Mountain Village
in May 1999, paying $12.4 million. A few months later he became
a joint partner with long-time Telski principals Ron Allred
and Jim Wells for an undisclosed price. He became the sole owner
in 2001, and that same year invested more than $10 million in
the ski area’s expansion into Prospect Bowl.
Although Telluride is expected to log 380,000 skier days, too
many of those skier days were logged by regional skiers, the
result of a successfully aggressive marketing of college, youth,
and 5- and 10- day passes in nearby communities like Durango.
“The trend of a falloff in destination guests is affecting
the entire ski industry, especially in Colorado,” Annie
Kuhles, communications director, said.
Doctor of gonzo getting hitched
ASPEN – Hunter S. Thompson, the author who commonly holes
up in the Woody Creek area north of Aspen, is getting married
again at the age of 66. He met his 30-year-old fiancE9e three
years ago through mutual friends in Aspen, and she volunteered
to help him with his latest book. The Rocky Mountain News reported
that the wedding is scheduled for this summer.
Mary of Nipple fame found
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – So Mary has been found, and she wasn’t
a redhead after all. Nor a waitress at the Grand Targhee ski
area. And certainly not a late-night streaker.
All of those ideas had been passed around in recent weeks after
the ski area, responding to a new flurry of visitor complaints,
scrapped the name “Mary’s Nipple” from two
signs referring to a promontory at the edge of the ski area.
Outraged locals saw this as sure evidence that Grand Targhee
had lost its soul. And it caused the Jackson Hole News &
Guide, which had reported all of this, to seek out the namesake.
Patrons of the ski resort’s Trap Bar supplied most of
the theories about the waitress from the 1970s. But a 67-year-old
woman from Idaho supplied a more authentic story. Mary, she
said, was her grandmother.
Mary Goodworth Beard was the mother of 13 children and was
married in the temple of the Church of Latter Day Saints in
Logan, Utah. Her granddaughter, Gloria Beard Kimball, described
her as “probably the most modest, self-effacing person
you’d ever see.”She was also probably the first
white woman to live in the area, where her family grazed cattle
As for the nipple, the granddaughter doesn’t believe
the word always had the hint of raciness to it. “I think
it was just an old custom to call a certain shaped peak a nipple,”
she said. She did allow, however, that her grandfather was something
of a rascal. He may have well supplied the name.
Tires slashed in war protest
CANMORE, Alberta – American climbers are the latest targets
in a growing number of crimes in the Bow River Valley believed
to be directly linked to U.S. foreign policy.
Tires were slashed on two vehicles, all displaying Washington
license plates, at two separate locations on March 29 while
the owners were ice climbing. One was a Ford Expedition, and
the other a Honda Civic. Ironically, both car owners opposed
the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Up the road in Banff, Mayor Dennis Shuler received threatening
e-mails because the tourist town had failed to denounce the
military action launched on Baghdad, reports Rocky Mountain
Outlook (April 30). Meanwhile, the Small Business Association
of Banff is providing decals for windows and up to 1,000 lapel
pins depicting the Canadian and U.S. flags to show support for
individual Americans who visit Banff. A spokesman said the goal
is to counteract the impression of widespread anti-American
BC avalanche deaths hit 26
WHISTLER, B.C. – With 26 avalanche fatalities as of April
1, British Columbia has had the most deadly avalanche season
since 1965. The deaths in Canada have pushed the total for North
America to 50 this season.
Of the Canadian deaths, 14 occurred in two separate accidents
near the town of Revelstoke. In late March, there was another
rash of avalanche deaths, mostly snowmobilers but also a heli-skier.
Evan Manners, operations manager at the Canadian Avalanche
Association, said the lesson is not to stay out of the mountains.
The lesson, he told Pique (April 4), is to take extra caution.
Most people in the recent fatal slides had taken all normal
precautions before heading into the backcountry. They were aware
of avalanche dangers and were wearing transceivers. However,
some may not have understood what the phrase “considerable
avalanche danger” means. It means natural avalanches are
possible and human-triggered avalanches are probable. And if
there is a big slide, all the avalanche gear in the world may
This year’s avalanche toll was set up by mediocre snows
in November, which left an unstable base. That base has not
supported the heavy dumps of March, and instability could continue
into spring even in the normally stable slopes of the coastal
With 10 avalanche fatalities in three years, Teton County,
Wyo., now has the dubious title of most leading the United States
in avalanche deaths.
Of the 10 deaths, 9 were men, and their average age was 31.3.
Most had ventured less than an hour from the trailhead. In most
cases, the fatalities occurred during times when avalanche danger
was rated as considerable, meaning human-triggered slides were
Avalanche forecaster Bob Comey told the Jackson Hole News &
Guide (April 3) this is becoming the norm, and not just in Wyoming.
It used to be that most people were caught in times of moderate
hazard. Now, people are pushing their luck further. He also
believes that equipment has contributed to easier access, as
it has become easier for an accomplished alpine skier to jump
into randonnE9e gear and access avalanche-prone terrain.
Mountain lion passes pool players
CANMORE, Alberta – A couple of girls who had just arrived
in the mountains were playing pool at the Creekside Pub late
one evening recently when a mountain lion, a.k.a. a cougar,
strolled down the street.
The bartender that night went to ask if they had seen it. “Yeah,
we saw a really large cat walking by,” they said. They
admitted to being somewhat concerned, but didn’t say anything.
They thought they were probably just overly paranoid girls from
But indeed, even in Canmore, located in the Bow River Valley
between Calgary and Banff, a cougar is a sight to remember.
A wildlife researcher told the Rocky Mountain Outlook (April
3) that he wished he had known about the sighting, as there
has been little snow this winter, making tracks hard to find
and making it impossible so far to attach radio-collars to the
cats in order to monitor their movements.
Vail gets more affordable housing
VAIL – In Vail, as in other ski towns, the unthinkable
is happening. Rents are declining slightly and this past winter
it was possible to find an apartment even after the lifts had
Still, Vail town officials are plunging ahead with investments
in affordable housing. Their latest action is to offer $20 million
to purchase a 198-unit apartment complex called Timber Ridge.
If the deal is consummated, they intend to redevelop the site
into something more modern, but also affordable. Located along
I-70, about midway through the town, the project constitutes
nearly half of the town’s dedicated, deed-restricted affordable
housing. The Vail Resorts ski company has about 350 employees
in the complex. For many years, the complex has been composed
primarily of Hispanic immigrants.
The complex had been deed restricted, but two years ago the
restriction came off, and the owner, John Marks, of Chicago,
talked about redeveloping the site for a higher-end market.
The $20 million offered by the town is $4 million less than
the appraised price.
This action comes only months after town officials approved
construction of Middle Cree, a town-subsidized 142-unit affordable