Aspen requires helmets of employees
ASPEN – The Aspen Skiing Co. has announced all of its employees must wear a helmet while on duty and clicked into skis or snowboards. Last year, the company began requiring helmets of employees seen as “influencers.” Helmet use by guests and employees at the company’s marquee ski areas, Aspen and Snowmass, is currently more than 80 percent.

Resorts tag-team to compete with Vail
DENVER – Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing Co. have teamed up with a new pass targeting Front Range skiers and riders. The two companies, who operate six ski areas in Colorado, are offering a $299 pass for adults called the Colorado Trip Play. For children, it’s $249. The pass has a black-out of five days during Christmas week.

Aspen operates Aspen, Snowmass and two other ski areas. Intrawest operates Winter Park and owns Steamboat.

This is the latest major pricing salvo since Winter Park fired the first shot across its bow in 1999. Emulating a resort in Idaho, it began discounting its season ski pass. Vail Resorts soon responded, creating various packages good at its four ski areas along Interstate 70 and a fifth, Arapahoe Basin.

Vail’s most extensive offering, the Epic Local Pass, costs $519 and provides unlimited access to Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, along with 10 restricted days at Vail or Beaver Creek.

Prehistoric site dated to 11,000 B.C.
BANFF, B.C. – An underwater diving team in October probed the remains of a prehistoric site now covered by a reservoir. The prehistoric people had camped on the shores of the original Lake Minnewanka. Successive dams have now inundated the prehistoric site, although the waters sometimes recede to expose a portion.

Projectile points found at the site have established that the site was used at about 13,000, as glaciers were receding. The oldest human habitation in the Americas has been established only to a little more than 14,000 years, although some archaeologists are convinced humans arrived several tens of thousands of years earlier.

The Rocky Mountain Outlook reports that the divers found burnt bones, stone flakes and other evidence that pointed to human habitation 9,000 years ago. “These were prehistoric hunters that were adapted to hunting, primarily sheep,” said Bill Perry, an archaeologist with Parks Canada.

Whistler Olympic expansion challenged
WHISTLER, B.C. – Did Whistler overbuild for the Olympics? That’s at least one of the charges in the wake of a report that the municipality is coming up short on money for transportation. Pique Newsmagazine says one councilor, Eckhard Zeidler, points out that the bus garage can hold 50 buses, about twice what is now necessary. But others on the council respond that while Whistler has a limit on residential growth, it hopes to expand use of its lodging infrastructure, requiring expansion of its bus fleet.

Denver tooling 2022 Olympics bid
DENVER – With little more than speculation, and a sparse amount of that, The Denver Post on Sunday front-paged a story about Denver’s play for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

But if the newspaper seemed to have little to report, it did suggest that plenty of people in Colorado are thinking hard about what it will take to put together a strong bid. Competition from Lake Tahoe and possibly Salt Lake City is likely, the newspaper said.

The newspaper, however, made one keen observation: If Denver is to go for the games, it will have to figure out everything from the figure skating venue to media headquarters by next year.

The newspaper reported it was unable to interview most people associated with the effort, but did get an impressive vote of confidence from former Gov. Dick Lamm. As a young legislator in 1972, Lamm had led a successful effort to ban state funding of the games. The backlash was partly a response to ineptitude on the part of Denver’s Olympic Organizing Committee.

But since 1984, Olympic hosts no longer end up getting stuck with huge costs – and the situation in Denver has changed, too. “The circumstances have changed,” he told the newspaper. “I have confidence in these organizers.”

Yellowstone founder pens autobiography
BIG SKY, Mont. – Tim Blixseth, the storied founder of the Yellowstone Club, Montana’s trove of exclusivity, is now living in Seattle and has written 250 pages in his autobiography. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, which interviewed Blixseth, reports he has a working title: You Couldn’t Make This Up.

A shrewd deal-maker, Blixseth rose from humble origins in Oregon’s timber country to billionaire status. Retired, he grew bored and found an even better deal in Montana.

With two partners, he purchased 164,000 acres of land owned by a timber company in the Big Sky area. Splitting off portions, then achieving consolidated holdings through land exchanges with the U.S. Forest Service, he emerged with 15,000 acres of relatively cheap land that became the Yellowstone Club. Buyers included Bill Gates.

Things began souring in 2006 when he and his wife, Edra, divorced, and he lost control of the club. It later went bankrupt.

Blixseth told the Daily Chronicle that he has remarried and wakes up with a smile on his face every day. His father, he related, was an immigrant from Norway who had come here for the “American dream.”

“My father’s American dream never came to fruition, I don’t think, but mine sure has,” he told the Chronicle. “I’m thankful I was born in America.”

Lindsey Vonn says ‘yes’ to homecoming
VAIL – She’s married, sure, but when a 16-year-old student at the Vail Ski and School Board Academy asked Lindsey Vonn whether she would be his date to the school’s homecoming, she said yes.

“I asked her because she’s awesome!” Parker McDonald told the Vail Daily.
The newspaper, which describes Vonn as “your all-time Homecoming Queen,” says that Vonn was visiting the academy when Parker bucked up his courage and dangled the proposition.

On her Facebook page, Vonn described her date as “cute, nervous and very polite.” She added: “All through school, growing up I never got the chance to go to a school dance, so I’m excited for tonight!”

Vonn, who trained in Vail while in high school, had returned to her roots for a training session.

Snow lingers through summer
GRANBY – It was a huge snow year at the headwaters of the Colorado River and a good many other places of the West. Did the snow make it through the summer?

The Associated Press reports that here and there, the snow remains through what was an uncommonly dry and warm September. At Arikaree Glacier, located on the Continental Divide between Granby and Boulder, a scientist found 2 to 3 feet of snow from last winter remaining as of late September. But against that gain must be countered with the shrinkage during the hot, dry summer of 2002, when the glacier lost 9 feet.

More backcountry huts in Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE – Another hut has been completed along the Continental Divide in Colorado, and another is proposed.
The privately owned Breeze Point Cabin has opened near Tennessee Pass, between Vail and Leadville. It has an elevation of 10,500 feet. The 10th Mountain Hut Association is taking bookings.
A hut is also proposed east of Breckenridge, near Boreas Pass, and would be the fifth hut built and managed by the Summit Huts Association. The hut would be located at about 11,500 feet in elevation and proximate to a north-facing slope with excellent powder skiing, reports the Summit Daily News.
– Allen Best