Aspen Skiing markets high adventure

ASPEN – The Aspen Skiing Co. has decided to shift its advertising message this year. Instead of emphasizing the need to reduce greenhouse gases, a campaign called “Save Snow,” the company will be stressing the adventure of skiing.

In print advertisements, that translates into photographs showing people hiking up the double-black-diamond Highland Bowl, their skis and snowboards on their backs.

The Aspen Times reports that this isn’t a black-and-white switch. Aspen Skiing plans to continue its environmental emphasis in some sectors, including direct-mail pieces. But adventure, not climate, is now on center stage.

As well, Aspen plans to ramp up its marketing, although Jeanne Mackowski, the vice president of marketing, declined to disclose the budget increase at a recent community forum.

The company also plans some new products, including an offer for kids to ski and stay for free during March – if adults book a vacation by Jan. 15.

Travel industry expert Ralf Garrison has warned ski industry marketers that this coming winter will likely be rough, similar to March during last season. He reports that some ski area operators have been putting their very best offers out in the market early, while others may be waiting, saving their resources for the 11th hour in the booking cycle.

However, Aspen’s “kids in March” program appears to be well conceived, he says. “While historically a strong month, March underperformed last year, and with uncertain market conditions, they are taking nothing for granted,” Garrison says.


Energy panel tries to forecast future

ASPEN – Once the shouting about health-care reform subsides, the U.S. Senate will take up legislation aimed at curbing the enormous U.S. appetite for fossil fuels, a major constituent of accumulating greenhouse gas emissions.

At the Aspen Renewable Energy Day conference, that proposed legislation – called the Waxman-Markey bill – was dismissed as feeble. Still, conference speakers said it was at least a step in the right direction, reports the Aspen Daily News.

“If I were in Congress I would vote for what’s there – I would hold my nose and vote for it,” said Sam Wyly, a billionaire who founded Green Mountain Energy.

Others said that the message to the public from those concerned about greenhouse gases has to be about fear and jobs. “This country seems to respond to fear,” said Wesley Clark, the former supreme allied commander of NATO and briefly a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. “You can’t look at the facts on climate change without understanding and feeling profoundly that we are in a very dangerous situation. We need to get some of that fear out there.”

But the flip-side of fear has to be about optimism, specifically about the potential to create jobs in what an aide to Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter three years ago dubbed the New Energy Economy. President Barack Obama picked up the phrase from Ritter and has used it with great regularity.

In his talk at the same conference, Ritter cited Abound Solar as an example of job creation. Located north of Denver, the firm began with a $15 million federal research grant, which in turn helped produce $150 million in private investment. The company, which produces solar modules, has now created more than 200 research and manufacturing jobs.

Most greenhouse gases are created in generating electricity or heating buildings. Burning oil in cars and trucks is a lesser source. Still, Clark maintained that U.S. dependence on foreign oil sources is a national security threat.

“If we don’t do something to get ourselves off of foreign oil, we’re going to be stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq forever,” Clark said at the Aspen conference. He went onto say that the Gulf War, 9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq were all related to U.S. dependence on foreign oil. “A lot of people’s sons and daughters are out there fighting because we can’t create a New Energy Economy. We need to do it, and we need to do it quickly. It’s important for national security.”

Geoexchange popping up in the West

PARK CITY, Utah – Building experts say that whether old or new structures, the most economical way to reduce energy use – and hence lessen your own complicity in producing greenhouse gases – is to use energy wisely and efficiently. That mostly involves distinctly unglamorous work: caulking leaks in the building’s envelope, blowing cellulose insulation into your attic, and dozens of other tactics.

But, for tapping renewable energy, one of the quickest pay

backs on investments comes from ground-source heat pumps, also known as geoexchange. The idea is to use the residual heat of the ground 8 to 10 feet below the surface through winter months. In summer, if air conditioning is truly necessary, the reverse can be done.

The Park Record reports about 12 such geoexchange systems have been installed in the Park City area.

In Idaho, planners in Blaine County – home to Ketchum and Sun Valley – have been reviewing a proposed law that would govern the placement of wind turbines on exurban lots. The general proposition, reports theIdaho Mountain Express, is that the larger the lot, such as 5 or 10 acres, the taller the permitted tower. Towers need to be above surrounding trees and buildings, as that’s where the wind blows.

In Colorado, officials in Eagle County hope to get federal stimulus money to map potential for wind turbine power generation in Eagle County. County officials also have applied for federal aid to install solar thermal panels that can harvest heat from atop the county’s justice center in Eagle, located 30 miles downvalley from Vail. The county also hopes for another wad of cash for erection of photovoltaic panels at a community center in the Eagle Valley.

Streaker takes spotlight in Whistler

WHISTLER, B.C. – Whistler’s proud tradition of nudity continued at its Crankworx mountain bike races in August. Some 20,000 people were gathered for the festival’s premier race when a lone man, flashing skin and smiles, streaked down the track.

“The crowd went wild as his bare legs flew over rocks and skipped over dirt mounds,” reportsPique Newsmagazine. “Men, women and even children pounded their hands together and let loose howls as the anonymous man ran, his sandy blond hair bouncing uninhibited in the wind.”

The newspaper says that streak lasted but five minutes but stood as a defiant reminder that, amid the high-stakes professional biking and pre-Olympic hype, Whistler’s soul hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years.

“Sure, the totally naked days of the ‘70s have been put to rest, but this is still a town built on the smiles of 20-year-olds; a place where getting gritty in the name of fun will always reign supreme; and a place where pushing the boundaries of what is socially acceptable is downright celebrated.”

The newspaper chronicled a number of individuals and groups, a calendar and even postcards, as well as bars where it hasn’t been all that uncommon for somebody to take off a top – or a bottom – in the name of good fun.

One of those who did so for a famous photograph in the early 1970s was Terry “Toulouse” Spence. He cited a famous quote: “You’ll regret the things you don’t do more than the things you did do.

“But I don’t regret doing that. At the time, it was fun, and it continues to be a talking point for Whistler,” he said.

One Percent gives away free bullets

JACKSON, Wyo. – A group called One Percent for the Tetons was created three years ago in Jackson Hole with 30 members who had agreed to give 1 percent of total revenues to support environmental projects. Among the $125,000 given this year in grants was $20,000 to provide free bullets to all hunters in Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge during hunting season.

If that sounds paradoxical to you, take comfort. You’re not alone. TheJackson Hole News&Guide, however, explains the logic: the lead bullets used by most hunters pollute the environment and, possibly, hunters and their families. Better are the copper bullets that will be distributed.

The group also gave grants to encourage low-water landscaping, the planting of trees, an energy efficiency project, and installation of a residential wetland wastewater treatment system on an existing home.

Yvon Chouinard, who helped dream up the concept of One Percent for the Planet, noted that 6 percent of all members are in the Jackson Hole chapter. He attributed success of the local chapter to Jonathan Schechter, executive director of the Charture Institute.

Vail recruits fewer foreign workers

BROOMFIELD – Vail Resorts expects to hire 70 percent fewer workers from foreign countries this year. For a number of years it has arranged for H2B and other visas for workers to fill slots it can’t otherwise fill at the offered wages. But with more U.S. citizens unemployed or underemployed, it doesn’t need as many foreigners, company officials say.

– Allen Best



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows