Art meets craft beer in Summit County
DILLON – A pairing of dams in Colorado has yielded a beer.

The catalyst in this alchemy of brewing is an exhibition of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, now on display at the Denver Art Museum, which is often referred to by its acronym, DAM.

In Summit County, the Dam Brewery – so named because of its location near the base of the Dillon Dam – issued a T-shirt featuring one of the artist’s self-portraits and a tag line that said: “I’d Give My Left Ear for a Dam Beer.”

Why not craft a commemorative beer? asked DAM, the museum, of Dam, the brewery.

Brewmaster Cory Forester told the Summit Daily News that he studied Van Gogh and that he might have imbibed while painting the French countryside. Thus, the Dam’s French farmhouse-style ale, known as “bier de garde.”

Forester explained to the newspaper that getting the yeast just right was a challenge. Unlike the highly sterilized environments in which most contemporary beers are brewed, the farmers who brewed bier de garde exposed the barrels to the open air, to catch stray yeast.

The brewmaster also added a touch more carbonation, to draw out the individual flavors and make them more easily distinguishable.

Dam Brewery invited nominations for a name, and got 240. The winner, by an election landslide: “Dam Gogh.”

Reflecting on 50 years of ski instructing
GEORGETOWN – Who is the oldest person ever to learn how to ski? That question comes to mind in reading about the 75th anniversary of the Loveland Ski Area.

For about two thirds of that time, Freddie and Rose Tronnier have worked at the ski area. Now in his 51st season at Loveland, Freddie supervises the ski school. Rose is in her 48th season and also works at the ski school.

Rose Tronnier tells the Summit Daily News that seven years ago she taught an 86-year-old bus driver from Baltimore how to ski.

“He said that before he died he wanted to learn how to ski,” she told the Daily News. “His entire family pitched in for his private lesson, and he stayed on the beginners’ hill. Tears were rolling down his face, he was so happy to learn.”

Who’s that nerdy guy in the back row?
GYPSUM – Teachers and students are accustomed to observers sitting in the classrooms of Eagle Valley High School, so many thought nothing of it when a middle-aged couple stopped by one day in October.

Having read the assigned essays about the Middle East, one student discussed the subject with the strangers for eight minutes. He didn’t recognize the man.

The student was floored when informed later that he had been discussing world affairs with Bill Gates. Gates and his wife, Melinda, visit one school per year. This year it was Eagle Valley, one of 13 school districts across Colorado to benefit from a $900,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The school is 37 miles down-valley from Vail.

The Vail Daily explains that the couple arrived at 8 a.m. and left just before the final bell, after finally identifying themselves through the school intercom to students and staff. Save for school personnel and local police, who were sworn to secrecy, none had been informed of the visit. But word soon leaked out via Facebook and other devices.

The system funded by the Gates measures how well teachers are presenting curriculum and how well students are absorbing it, measured through data from standardized testing, explains the Vail Daily.

Fingers itch at sight of elk herd
CRESTED BUTTE – Three Crested Butte men were charged with various offenses stemming from shooting into an elk herd across from a local golf course.

“When multiple animals are on the ground, it shows the hunters weren’t really paying attention to what they were shooting at,” said Joe Lewandowski, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.

 “Sometimes people get pumped up when they see a bunch of animals, but these guys all seem to be experienced hunters. They aren’t rookies. But they were shooting toward houses and toward (a highway).”

How to get sidewalk scofflaws to shovel
MISSOULA, Mont. – Why build sidewalks if homeowners let them fill up with snow and ice during winter? That is the question that has been asked by the city government in Missoula.

The current policy, reports the Missoulian, is to notify people who haven’t shoveled their walks. Three-quarters of people then get after it themselves. For scofflaws, the city dispatches its own crews to scoop the snow and sends out a bill of at least $62. Some elected officials would like to tack on fines, to up the rate of compliance.

Ice castle to rise at Steamboat base area
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – An ice castle will soon start rising in the base area of Mount Werner.

Brent Christiansen and Ryan Davis, who have a company called Ice Castles, had a castle in Silverthorne last winter, although repeated days of warm, sunny weather didn’t exactly help.

This year, they hoped to have a castle at Breckenridge, 1,000 feet higher, but that didn’t pan out. Instead, Steamboat solicited the pair to create something interesting, to round out the guest experience, a representative of the Steamboat Ski Corp told the Steamboat Today.

Real estate picks up in Whitefish
WHITEFISH, Mont. – Like other resort communities, Whitefish is seeing an uptick in real estate sales and construction. The Whitefish Pilot reports 45 permits for new homes, compared to 33 for the same period last year and 14 during the depths of the recession. Home prices are also rising, the median being $270,000 during the third quarter, a 7 percent gain from the same quarter last year. The market surge is attributed especially to visitors from Texas and Canada.

Banff biz up; new flights may help more
BANFF, Alberta – Tourism in Banff and in Banff National Park rose last summer, although not to the banner year of 2007-08. The number of guests visiting the park from April through September increased 2.3 percent compared to the previous year.

With the ski areas from Lake Louise to Norquay now open or soon to open, winter tourism boosters also remain hopeful. Buoying their hope, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook, is increased frequency of flights from Sydney to Vancouver and Tokyo to Calgary.

Ski companies move dispute to court
PARK CITY, Utah – Two of the three ski area operators at Park City, Talisker and Park City Mountain Resort, have taken their legal sniping into court.
Talisker, which operates Canyons, a ski resort down the road, owns at least a portion of the land under which Park City Mountain Resort, owned by the Powdr Corp., operates. Park City contends the leases were extended until 2015. Talisker says that Park City didn’t do it on time and hence could be booted from the property.

The disagreement has caused quite a stink in Park City. Talisker accuses its rival of using “scare tactics and spin,” according to a report in The Park Record. A lawyer for Park City Mountain Resort told the judge that the breach of contract by his company, if one occurred, was not significant.

No clear definition of ‘new normal’
SNOWMASS VILLAGE – What will be the new normal? That’s been the question since the real estate boom deflated.

The answer is still being decided in Snowmass Village in regards to a project called Base Village. Originally developed as a partnership between Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest, the project was to deliver 1million square feet of condos, hotels and other accommodations to compete with Beaver Creek, Whistler and Deer Valley. Snowmass is Aspen’s dominant skiing venue.

When the Great Recession occurred, the project declared financial insolvency. At length, the lenders – mostly banks from Europe – sold the half-completed development to Related Cos. for $90 million, taking a significant loss.

What comes next? Dwayne Romero, Related’s representative, tells the Aspen Daily News that he and his staff may go before the Snowmass Village Town Council early next year to talk about the immediate steps. The staff, he said, is talking about price points, the project’s residential and commercial composition, and visitor desires in the new economy, but gave no clear ideas.

Among the plans that vanished with the recession were a Little Nell, a companion to the five-star hotel that sits at the base of Aspen Mountain.
Romero told the Aspen Daily News that Related has staying power. But Related will have to earn the community trust through its deeds. “Right now, we’re not asking for people to turn and trust us implicitly. We’re asking for them to give us a little bit of time and elbow room to achieve some progress.”

Through all this, Snowmass town officials have been careful to say very little, lest it be interpreted as indicating the town is thinking of reneging. The shadow hanging over them is a case from California, where loose lips sunk the municipal ship of Mammoth Lakes.

Mammoth’s troubles stemmed from comments made about a previously entitled real estate project at the local airport. The comments were interpreted as repudiating the development deal, and a court issued a $43 million judgment against Mammoth Lakes. That’s three times the annual operating budget of the municipality.

Backcountry abuse debated in Whistler
WHISTLER, B.C. – With a proposal for three new backcountry huts helping frame the issue, Whistlerites recently debated the merits of expanded backcountry access.

Several speakers at a recent forum said no, that too many people disrespect what they have. One of the complaints is specifically against snowmobilers. One speaker mentioned that he used to see grizzly tracks at the Pemberton Ice Cap, but now finds abandoned snowmobiles, gas cans and belts, reports Pique Newsmagazine.

But it’s not just the motorheads. Granola types have done some trashing of their own: beer cans, food wrappers and bags of salt were noted in one sidecountry area adjacent to the Blackcomb ski area where skiers and riders build jumps.

“I feel that we’ve already given lots of access to the backcountry and people aren’t respecting that,” said veteran ski patroller Wayne Flann.
The flip argument is that providing more access, combined with “education,” will result in a greater appreciation for the specialness of the backcountry.

– Allen Best


In this week's issue...

May 14, 2020
The great re-awakening

Shrouded in unknowns, the timeline for re-opening some businesses in Colorado came into clearer view Tuesday.

May 15, 2020
The best defense

Pandemics often bring pandemonium. It is easy to be fearful about coronavirus. But we already possess the greatest weapon on Earth against it: our amazing body and its powerful immune system.

May 7, 2020
Yes! The Farmers Market is opening

It may be hard to imagine, but while us humans are shuttered away in our houses, or hiding behind facemasks and Zoom meetings, the natural world is going on without us.