Snow King gets needed investment

JACKSON, Wyo. – Finally, some breathing room for Jackson Hole’s “other” ski area.

Snow King Mountain, unlike the bigger ski area with the couloirs and so forth, is within the town of Jackson. It’s respectably steep and within six blocks of the famous elk-antlered arches of town square.

For years the ski area has lost money during winter, $500,000 annually, according to the owners, who made their case public several years ago.

Nonprofit public ownership was one option. Bridger Bowl near Bozeman, Bogus Basin near Boise and Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs are all operated by nonprofits.

In Jackson Hole, public or nonprofit ownership didn’t look like viable options. Instead, new investors were recruited, and now they are putting $8 million toward paying off debt.

“The infusion of cash will clear the way for more investment and new development,” explains the Jackson Hole News&Guide.

Crucial to the investment was the decision by the town council to fast-track approval of an alpine coaster on land owned by the resort.

$50 million promised for Park City

PARK CITY, Utah – Vail Resorts announced Monday it will invest $50 million in capital improvements at Park City and Canyons in making it the largest ski resort in the United States as measured by acreage.

Assuming approval by local officials, the two ski areas will be connected by a high-speed gondola. In addition, two existing lifts will be upgraded and restaurants will be improved.

Not least, the Colorado-based company will invest $5 million in “catch up” maintenance and upgrades at Park City and improve snowmaking in a vital interconnect area.

Blaise Carrig, president of the mountain division of Vail resorts, called it “one of the most ambitious and impactful plans undertaken at any resort in industry history.”

With the interconnection, the two resorts can boast of 7,300 acres, pushing Park City/Canyons ahead of Big Sky’s 5,750 and Vail’s 5,289. Whistler Blackcomb, however, will remain numero uno in América del Norte at 8,171 acres.

What will this combined ski area be called? No word from Vail on that just yet.

Exec accused of embezzling $415,000

DILLON – Police recently arrested the chief executive of the real estate organization in Summit County and charged her with grubbing money from the cookie jar.

Prosecutors, according to the Summit Daily News, say that Sue Ann Frank, who headed the Summit Association of Realtors for 20 years, wrote checks and made unauthorized fund transfers for $415,000. She had been earning an annual salary of just under $100,000.

District Attorney Bruce Brown points to two other high-profile embezzlements along the I-70 corridor. One individual was convicted of attempting to steal from the Vail-based Eagle Valley Rotary Club, while the second individual stole from the Breckenridge Film Festival.

Air rights bought to preserve view

ASPEN – In a rare if not unique case, the buyers of a penthouse in downtown Aspen have also purchased the “air rights” above an adjacent building to ensure preservation of views of Aspen Mountain from their penthouse.

The purchase of the 5,053-square-foot condominium penthouse along Hyman Avenue had set a record for real estate in Aspen at $3,126 a square foot, or $15.8 million altogether.

The penthouse buyers also purchased air rights above an adjoining property that is home to a restaurant. No price of the air space was reported.

Chris Bendon, Aspen’s community development director, told the Aspen Daily News that he has heard of other easements of “view planes” being sold, but said “it’s not common.”

Klaus Obermeyer celebrates his 95th

ASPEN – With his own yodel and a little oom-pah from a Bavarian band, ski outerwear entrepreneur Klaus Obermeyer celebrated his 95th birthday last week.

Obermeyer, says The Aspen Times, greeted every guest with his signature smile and, usually, a quip. He said his health is good and he comes to the office every weekday.

Arriving in Aspen in 1947, Obermeyer went to work at the ski school. He guessed that he could retain business if he could ensure that skiers stayed warm and dry, so he set out to create a down ski parka from a goose-down comforter. The company bearing his name has been making innovations in the industry ever since.

Whitefish clergy stands up for love

WHITEFISH, Mont. – The Rev. Deborah B. Schmidt had a letter in the Whitefish Pilot recently, and it was full of both anguish and strength.

“Having lived in Whitefish for almost 14 years and witnessed several iterations of white supremacist vitriol, I wonder: what attracts these values to our valley? Take a look on the websites of the various media outlets in our valley. Anti-semitic and racist hatred is rampant,” she wrote.

“When people make ‘sophisticated’ hate-filled comments that urge ethnic-cleaning, advocate forced sterilizations of minorities, and disparage the right of all to participate in our democracy, we must present a bold repudiation of these values.”

Schmidt then explained that she was moved to write the letter by the experiences of her father, who is 94 and was a member the U.S. Army that invaded Germany in 1945 and freed prisoners from the death camps.

“My father’s witness to the horrors of the effects of attempts to create a ‘European white state’ causes me to refuse to remain silent,” she explained. She advocates a response of information, love and an alternative vision.

“Jesus embodied the revolutionary idea that love casts out fear. He knew that no one that professed to love God could fail to strive to love their neighbors – not just people who looked, sounded and lived like themselves – but all neighbors.”

Snow in Tahoe, but big picture bad

TRUCKEE, Calif. – December delivered snow to the Sierra Nevada, a sign of at least temporary relief after the three driest years in measured history.

“We’re far ahead of last year’s precipitation pace,” Jim Matthews, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told the Sacramento Bee.

The snow didn’t bless all ski resorts, though. Those lower in elevation got rain, not snow. Tahoe Basin resorts, however, had good reason to rejoice.

California is still not out of its drought hole. California state water officials tell the Associated Press that California would need 150 percent of its normal annual rainfall to recover from drought. Before the storms last week, the southern Sierra had just 47 percent of its normal rain and snow so far, and the northern Sierra 79 percent.

Meanwhile, Associated Press climate writer Seth Borenstein reports stark numbers since international climate discussions began several decades ago. “Carbon dioxide emissions: up 60 percent. Global temperature: up six-tenths of a degree. Population: up 1.7 billion people. Sea level: up 3 inches. U.S. extreme weather: up 30 percent. Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica: down 4.9 trillion tons.”

Ski pole company gets Kickstarter help

PARK CITY, Utah – A Kickstarter campaign by a Park City-based manufacturer of bamboo skiing and hiking poles yielded $26,000 with a week in the campaign to go, well above the $17,000 goal.

Bryon Friedman’s Soul Poles has made high-end customized bamboo poles for the last two years. They cost $129 and above and are marketed as environmentally friendly.

To create a line of lower-cost poles, starting at $69, he wants to cut down on production costs by using an injection mold, explains The Park Record. But for that, he needed financial investors.

– Allen Best For more, go to