Telluride announces Bluegrass lineup, Aspen locals debate pass prices and Scottish skiers set a record for kilt (not kite) skiing …
Swiss debate avalanche penalties
We start our weekly mountain news roundup with a trio of stories from PlanetSki, a Euro-based web site reporting with excellent reporting from the Alps. A PlanetSki correspondent based in Zermatt reported that Swiss authorities are considering pressing charges against off-piste skiers who triggered avalanches that subsequently ran across marked ski trails. According to the story, Swiss law already includes provisions for prosecuting skiers in those situations.
Two recent avalanche incidents prompted renewed discussion about the measures in the Swiss media. The first was at Anzere, near Crans Montana, where a party of three off-piste skiers triggered a slide that hit two other skiers on a marked trail. They were unhurt. Most recently, a group of snowboarders in Zermatt triggered a slide that ran from outside the ski area boundary back on to a marked trail. In both cases, the off-piste skiers have been questioned by police.
Kilted at Cairgorn
PlanetSki is also reporting that a group of 235 kilt-wearing skiers at Scotland’s Cairngorn resort set a new record for the largest number kilted skiers and snowboarders to gather together for a run. Check out the post, which includes some great pictures and video. The gathering was to help celebrate the best conditions Scotland ski areas have seen in quite some time, and to raise money for charity and school ski program.
Read the rest of our roundup after the break.
And finally, PlanetSki also reported on melting permafrost in the Alps, which not only has been increasing the frequency of dangerous rockfall, but could also have implications for lift and gondola installations at many ski resorts. Swiss university researchers have installed a network of electronic sensors to measure temperatures deep within the rock and ice. Many ski facilities are built atop a rocks that — up to now — have been cemented together with ice. If the permafrost melts quickly, it could force ski companies to make costly renovations or even rebuild some of the mountain-top lift terminals and lodges.
$8.5 million loan for Purgatory
The Durango Herald is reporting that Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort has taken out an $8.85 million loan to refinance existing debt and make improvements on the ski mountain. Ski area officials said they will use the money to make improvements to a terrain park that will enable the resort to open the popular features earlier in the season. Read the story here.
Snodgrass appeal to be decided
The Crested Butte News is reporting that regional Forest Service officials will soon issue a decision on a controversial expansion proposal at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. The ski area has long sought to add intermediate terrain on adjacent Snodgrass Mountain, but a forest supervisor rejected the plan before it reached a full-blown environmental study phase.
Ski area owners appealed the decision to the regional office of the Forest Service, and other interested parties — including Colorado Ski Country USA, Friends of Snodgrass Mountain and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory — sought to be included as interveners in the appeal process. Last week, the agency said those entities did not meet the requirements for standing in the case. More details on the expansion appeal process are online here.
Steamboat base area hurting
Steamboat Today reports that businesses around the base area of the mountain have taken another big hit this year, with January 2010 sales tax revenues dropping 10 percent from 2009. An urban renewal advisory group recently delayed issuing bonds for a base area renovation project because of a challenging lending environment, and redevelopment plans by a big private property owner at the base may also be on hold for a few years. City council officials were quoted as saying that the base area is “in shambles” as they discussed budget matters during a recent council meeting. Read the full story here.
Big spending on annexation referendum
Steamboat Today is also reporting that the campaign around a controversial annexation proposal has spurred some big spending on advertising in local media outlets. The so-called Steamboat 700 plan would add 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space on a 487-acre site just west of current city limits. Steamboat voters are deciding on the plan via mail-in balloting that ends this week. Supporters of the plan spent $25,000 between Feb. 12 and 28, while opponents plowed about $5,600 into their campaign.
Supporters and opponents of the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation continued their heavy campaign spending in February, pouring thousands of dollars into local media outlets and businesses in an effort to spread their messages leading into the final days of the election on Referendum A. The majority of that spending came from Steamboat 700 developers. Campaign finance reports filed Friday with Steamboat Springs City Clerk Julie Franklin show that the Good For Steamboat committee, supporting the annexation, spent more than $25,000 on its campaign from Feb. 12 to 28. The pro-development interests have spent more than $100,000 so far.
Telluride airport gets upgrade
$17 million in federal funds will help the Telluride Regional Airport overhaul its runway, which had a big dip in the center. The make-over will help make for safer take-offs and landings, according to the Telluride Daily Planet. The airport was closed most of last summer for construction. The latest work will This latest phase will widen the remaining safety areas and add an engineered material arresting system.
Telluride announces bluegrass lineup
Lyle Lovett and the Dixie Chicks will be among the headliners at this summer’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival, according to a story in the Telluride Watch. The Dixie Chicks are returning to Telluride after a 20-year absence. They won the band contest during their inaugural appearance and have since sold 30 million records and won 13 Grammys. More artists: Alison Krauss & Union Station, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon, the Sam Bush Band; Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain & Edgar Meyer; Jerry Douglas; Punch Brothers; Dave Rawlings Machine; Josh Ritter; Tim O’Brien Band; Imelda May; Mumford & Sons; Edward Sharpe; Carolina Chocolate Drops; Hot Rize; Del McCoury Band; Peter Rowan.
Spring hours at Telluride
Telluride ski area will adjust its hours to match the switch to daylight savings time this coming weekend, according to the Telluride Watch. The lifts will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to take advantage of the daylight and snow conditions, according to a ski area spokesman quoted in the story, who said guests enjoy the extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day. Read more.
Aspen passes debated
The Aspen Daily News reports that some vocal locals are starting a letter-writing campaign to bring back two-day-per-week passes, the Highlander pass and the seven-day Classic Pass. The locals say a new pass structure adopted this season. Aspen SkiCo officials were quoted as saying that the previous pass structure gave the best deals to people who spent the least amount of money at the areas.