Ski survivor shares harrowing tale

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Charles Horton, the man who survived eight days in the snow and cold last spring after breaking his leg on a solo cross-country ski outing, has already received spades of publicity, and he’s getting more.

His story will be related in upcoming issues ofMen’s Journaland National Geographic Adventure, and it was also told recently on the National Geographic television channel. The key question in all these is, why did he survive when the odds seemed to be against him?

The answer, he toldThe Steamboat Pilot, is “I didn’t panic.”

Still, there was a day during his ordeal when he thought it might be his last, and so he decided to be completely present. “If this is the last day of my life I thought, I wanted to experience everything,” he told the newspaper. “I felt the pain in my leg, I saw the birds and the sunlight. I felt the wind.”

Having read several books of near-death survivors since his excursion last April, he has discovered his experience was not unique. Most people who survived something similar describe being overwhelmed by the beauty of where they were.

Horton recommends that hikers and skiers always carry with them fire-starting tools, water and food – plus shelter. Had he been carrying a space blanket or bivy bag, he would have been dry and warm instead of on the brink of death. He also recommends a knife, a first-aid kit and homeopathic Arnica pills to keep from going into shock or passing out if injured.

A knife, of course, was the essential tool used by another ski town wilderness survivor, Aron Ralston, when his arm got caught between two boulders in the canyonlands of Utah. He sawed off his arm and hence evaded an even more gruesome death by dehydration.

Aspen may end its hybrid incentive

ASPEN –Two years ago, Aspen wanted to encourage more people to use cars that use both electricity and gas, which get improved mileage and emit fewer pollutants. As such, the town gave $100 to Aspen residents who owned hybrids, and it also gave them carte blanch to park in zones otherwise restricted to homeowners and carpoolers.

But with some 60 hybrids now in Aspen, Mayor Helen Klanderud believes no incentives are needed.The Aspen Times says that Klanderud also argues that the program runs counter to the city’s goal of encouraging use of mass transit. Moreover, if the only concern is emissions, other vehicles than just hybrids meet the city’s Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle standard. As well, commuters who carpool are annoyed that single-occupant hybrids edge them out for coveted free parking spaces.

Meanwhile, Vail town officials plan to get a hybrid bus next year, the first step in converting a third of its fleet to hybrids in the next decade.

The hybrid technology, which uses both electricity and diesel, almost doubles the cost of the buses, from $300,000 to $500,000 each. However, using the hybrid technology is expected to save 19,000 gallons of diesel fuel per bus per year and is ideal for the frequent stops and starts of the in-town shuttle. The buses are also quieter and reduce emissions by 90 percent.

“As technology comes along, everyone wants to take the high road,” transportation boss Mike Rose explained.The Vail Daily added that the town already has two Toyota Prius hybrid cars and plans to buy a hybrid SUV next year.

Bigger boxes show up in Glenwood

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Colorado’s I-70 corridor continues to look more like urban America in all its majestic boxy and bigger-box wonder. The latest shift is in Glenwood Springs, where a 405,000-square-foot shopping center has opened on the city’s west side.

Biggest among the boxes is a 125,000-square-foot Target that is described as a new prototype – not quite a Super Target and not quite a standard Target. That means groceries but no produce department.

Neither of the existing big boxes, Wal-Mart and K-Mart, appears to be fleeing with the arrival of Target, although theGlenwood Springs Post Independent suggests that K-Mart has troubles ahead.

Arriving later this autumn are Lowe’s, Petco, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Pier 1 Imports, plus a variety of smaller stores ranging from Allure Day Spa to Verizon Wireless. Several hundred housing units are also in the offing.

Also on the I-70 corridor in the mountains, a Target, a Home Depot, and two Wal-Mart Supercenters arrived last year, with a Costco thought to be in the soon-to-come mix.

Hurricane-ravaged city adopted

ASPEN – In September, the fire chief in Carbondale, a town about 30 miles down-valley from Aspen, reported that hurricane-ravaged Pearlington, Miss., had been given little attention.

Carbondale consequently “adopted” Pearlington, and in short order so had Aspen, Snowmass and other jurisdictions in the Roaring Fork Valley. Items were collected and trucked directly to Pearlington, bypassing other relief organizations.

Curious about the adoptee,The Aspen Times sent a team to Pearlington for a first-hand report. All the images that writer Scott Condon and photographer Paul Conrad had seen in the wake of Hurricane Katrina did not prepare them for what they encountered. Usually, a month after a natural disaster, visitors to such a town would expect to see things being tidied up, Condon said. Instead, they found a wasteland. “Pearlington was essentially a landfill laced with bulldozer paths through the refuse and debris.”

He described unseemly sights – golden arches on the ground providing the only evidence that a restaurant had once existed there, a yacht in a tree, everything of a Comfort Inn gone except the façade.

 In most cases, the residents were waiting – for insurance adjusters, for federal emergency workers or, in some cases, for someone to tell them how to proceed with their lives.

Vail redevelops 1970s shopping area

VAIL – The commercial complex in the West Vail component of Vail looks very much 70ish, which reflects when it was built. Seas, not oceans, of parking lots describe the theme in the Safeway-McDonalds area.

Now, city officials are dangling the idea of redevelopment to make it look New Urbanistic, with small, city-style blocks, a smattering of parking next to the buildings, retail on the ground floor with office and housing on the upper floors. A main street would run through it.

The closest prototype at hand is at Riverwalk, the project in Edwards, located about 10 miles west, which was constructed beginning in the mid-1990s. Jeff Winston, of Boulder, is a consultant on the project, as is Ian Thomas.The Vail Daily reports that businesses in the complex have not done well in the last several years as they have faced competition from new down-valley shopping complexes – including the Riverwalk.

Feng shui pitched for new town hall

GRANBY – Last year, the quietly seething owner of a muffler shop, Marvin Heemeyer, bulldozed his way down the main street of Granby, gutting or damaging a dozen or so buildings, including the town hall. Now, it’s rebuilding time, and town officials have instructed the contractor to incorporate the Chinese practice of feng shui in the design of the new town hall.

In feng shui, buildings are laid out based on principles that are supposed to cause people who use those buildings to lead healthier, happier and more prosperous lives. Granby’s town clerk, Debbie Hess, confided to theSky-Hi News that it was partly her idea. “I like it because it makes for a happier workplace,” she said.

Wildlife films attract Hollywood

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – It’s been a big year for films about wildlife, with the “March of the Penguins” and then “Grizzly Man” both making big splashes. With that kind of success for documentary and docudramas, the Warner Independent Pictures showed up this year at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival looking for projects. Winning awards at the festival puts filmmakers “on the radar” for production companies such as BBC and National Geographic, reports theJackson Hole News & Guide.

Mammoth airport expects first jets

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. – The Mammoth-Yosemite Airport now has permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to accommodate regional jets. Ski area officials expect to begin posting flight revenue guarantees for twice-daily flights on 70- to 80-passenger jets from Los Angeles beginning in the 2006-07 ski season, reportsThe Sheet, a newspaper in Mammoth Lakes.

However, the long-awaited environmental impact statement that would allow the sorts of commercial flights on larger jets that service Aspen, Vail and other destination resorts is on hold once more, pending resolution of several land use and legal matters.

– compiled by Allen Best