Ski areas diversifying their slopes

BROOMFIELD – Vail Resorts is stepping up its commitment to introduce skiing and snowboarding to minorities at its four ski areas in Colorado. But numbers issued by one of the ski industry’s loyal critics points out that Vail lags Aspen and several other resorts in commitment if commitment is measured by pure numbers.

For the last several years Vail Resorts has provided scholarships to local youngsters and also those in the urban Front Range corridor, altogether 2,500 scholarship days. This year, it is upping it to 3,000. In most cases, the company is providing not only free lift tickets but also lessons and other items necessary to complete the ski experience.

Vail also announced it would administer its program in-house. The scholarships were previously administered by a Denver-based group called Alpino, the creation of Roberto Moreno, a former ski instructor. The company, in a press release, did not explain the reason for the move.

Moreno then issued a press release announcing that it would continue its relationships with Eldora, Loveland and Echo Mountain ski areas, and that each would contribute 1,000 scholarship days. Furthermore, he noted, the Aspen Skiing Co. has been a “leader in promoting ethnic diversity on the slopes, making available more than 9,200 visits at Aspen’s four areas to underserved youth in the Roaring Fork Valley last year.”

Moreno has been critical of ski areas, whose customers remain mostly white. And while skiing itself is no longer strictly expensive in Colorado, because of low-cost ski passes, he contends that skiing constitutes something of a country club type use of public lands.

He further points out that the ski industry has essentially plateaued in user days even as the general population has been growing vigorously. To grow proportionate to the general population, he says, the industry must more aggressively reach out to minorities, particularly Hispanics. Part of that strategy is to install Hispanics and blacks in front-line positions, to make the skiing experience less intimidating to novice customers.

Grizzly bears seen in Sawatch Range

LEADVILLE – Two hunters believe they saw grizzly bears near Independence Pass, located in the Sawatch Range between Aspen and Leadville. Because the hunters have had past experience with both black bears and grizzly bears while in Alaska, the Colorado Division of Wildlife considers the two hunters credible.

However, neither the hunters, who studied the bears from a distance of 80 yards using field glasses and rifle scopes, nor wildlife biologists who later scoured the area, could find tracks or scat to confirm the sightings, reportsThe Aspen Times. This was during Colorado’s first big snowfall of the season.

Grizzly bears were mostly gone from Colorado by the early 1940s and were thought extinct until 1979, when a hunting guide killed a grizzly in the San Juan Mountains near the New Mexico border.

Ghost Grizzlies, a 1994 book by Durango author David Petersen, narrated a search for remaining grizzly bears and found strong evidence in support of a small population of grizzlies in the Sawatch Range area, one of Colorado’s most remote. It remains remote partly because much of access is across private land, and partly because it is so distant from major population centers.

Park City tidies up its mining messes

PARK CITY, Utah – In Park City, as in so many other former mining districts of the West, the resort boom continues to remediate the mining boom of the last century.

There, a former mining claim where silver was mined from 1920 to 1935 is being cleaned up by a development firm, called King Development Group, and also the city government. There was no cost estimate for the cleanup.

“We have a thin veneer of resort over 100 years of heavily industrial mining activity,” observed Myles Rademan, Park City’s director of public affairs.

Active mining continued until midway through the 20th century at Park City, whose silver lode was said to be second in the United States only to the Comstoke Lodge of the Sierra Nevada, and limited mining even persisted within the last 20 years, says Rademan.

Today, Park City gets 40 percent of its water from abandoned mining tunnels, although the water has high concentrations of heavy metals, and hence must be cleaned up at great expense.

Also involved in cleanup operations in Park City is Colorado-based East West Partners, which has removed hundreds of thousands of yards of polluted soil and other material to make an area at Empire Pass developable.

Vail rethinks affordable housing

VAIL – Vail municipal officials during the last decade have steadily erected ever-more deed-restricted housing in an effort to ensure that it does not become a de facto gated community. The town now has 624 deed-restricted homes, 9 percent of all the housing stock. Town officials believe that 30 percent of the town’s workforce lives in town, which is considered something of a minimum.

But that may not be enough. First, the number of jobs is expanding. The town is redeveloping. That construction has added 1,500 new jobs. When the bigger, bulkier buildings are complete, according to projections by the town government, the businesses and lodging in them are expected to generate an increase of 2,115 jobs.

Meanwhile, plenty is happening outside of Vail’s borders that may well draw workers from the same labor pool farther down the Eagle Valley or in Leadville. About 8,300 jobs are predicted during the next two decades in the Minturn, Avon and Edwards areas.

On the other side of the equation, town officials are predicting that two-thirds of homes occupied by people employed in the local economy could be sold to people not engaged in the local economy.

All of this has Vail town officials again looking at ways to boost the housing stock for the work force in a narrow valley where nearly all the land has already been developed.

Hemingway fans buy $1,000 dinners

KETCHUM, Idaho – The second annual Ernest Hemingway Festival was held in Ketchum and Sun Valley in late September. Hemingway, a novelist, was a second-home owner in Ketchum in the 1940s and 1950s and committed suicide at his house there in 1961.

The house is still very much as it was the day he died, with issues ofLookandLife magazines from 1961 still in place. Hemingway’s wife, Mary, donated the house to The Nature Conservancy. That group has kept it as something of a museum, except that due to opposition from neighbors, it’s not really open to the public. But the upkeep is costing money, an estimated $50,000 so far.

To help recoup the costs, a sit-down dinner at a cost of $1,000 was held at the house. Elsewhere during the weekend, the daughter of Gary Cooper, an actor and a close friend of Hemingway’s, was to give a talk, some movies based on his novels were to be shown, and there were to be tours of his favorite haunts.

Mammoth aims for 2 million skiers

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. – Back in the day Mammoth Mountain led the nation in skier days. Then Vail surged, Mammoth slipped a few notches, and that’s been the story pretty much ever since. Vail has been No. 1, Breckenridge No. 2, and somewhere down the list was Mammoth.

But in the last several years Mammoth has been surging again. It has been aggressively reaching out for mid-week business, and the efforts are starting to show. While Vail has held more-or-less steady at about 1.6 million skiers, Mammoth is now at 1.5 million skier days – and hopes to hit 2 million skier days annually, the ski area’s marketing director, Lynn Carpenter, toldThe Sheet.

One strategy is a mid-week season pass offered at a cost of $700. The ski company hopes to see 9,000 to 13,000 skiers a day.


Website named top outdoor retailer

PARK CITY, Utah – A small Internet-based business based in Park City has been named one of the top small, online businesses in the country byPC Magazine. The magazine was looking for innovative use of technology, and has an Internet site that makes it easy to buy outdoor gear.

Jim Holland, chief executive officer of, said one of the reasons for his company’s success has been the ingenuity of its online forums. is the parent site of four others: (snowboarding specialty), (“all things skiing”), (spotty sizes, but the best prices) and (“The QVC model for gear”).

– compiled by Allen Best

In this week's issue...

July 18, 2024
Rebuilding Craig

Agreement helps carve a path forward for town long dependent on coal

July 11, 2024
Reining it in

Amid rise in complaints, City embarks on renewed campaign to educate dog owners

July 11, 2024
Rolling retro

Vintage bikes get their day to shine with upcoming swap and sale