Vail ditches ‘Epic Pass’ as of April 1

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Front Range skiers may have to get lift tickets for Breckenridge through a statewide lottery.

Resort officials discuss best way to allocate tickets to powder-crazed Front Rangers

Staff Report

FRISCO — Vail Resorts announced Tuesday that it’s curtailing sales of the so-called Epic Pass effective April 1 due to overcrowding on the slopes of Breckenridge, Keystone and Vail.

The move came as part of a rebranding effort that will see Vail Resorts focus on quality rather than quantity, chairman and CEO Bob Slatz said in a prepared statement.

“This spring break, we’ve come to realize that enough is enough,” Slatz said. “We’ve listened to our customers and we’ve heard them loud and clear. Starting April 1, the Epic Pass will be history.”

The announcement came after a busy weekend at Breckenridge, when the lift line for the Colorado SuperChair extended from the base of the lift to within about 100 feet of the top.

“It was kind of ridiculous,” said Aurora skier Charles “Tazzie” Wayright. “We got on the lift, side-slipped down to the end of the line and then rode back up again. By the time we got to the top it was time to head back to Denver to try and beat the I-70 jam,” Wayright said, adding that the drive back to the Front Range “only” took five hours.

“A couple of weeks ago, it took us four hours just to get from Breck to the tunnel,” he said, wondering whether Vail will replace the Epic Pass with some other product.

Breckenridge Ski Area chief Cat Rambell said the resort is thinking about using a lottery system to allocate precious day passes among Front Range skiers who flock to the slopes on snowy weekends.

Another option is to direct skiers according to their vehicles, Slatz added, quickly saying that it wouldn’t be a case of vehicular profiling.

“If you think about it, it makes sense. Hummers and Escalades will be directed to Beaver Creek; all other giant SUVs go to Vail, and, oh yeah, Volvos, too,” Slatz said. Minivans will be steered toward Keystone, while Subarus showing the slightest bit of rust will have to make the trek up to A-Basin.

*Bwah-hah-hah-haaaa … APRIL FOOLS! I’m actually a big fan of Vail’s pass products. I think it makes skiing much more accessible and attractive. It’s absurd to blame Vail Resorts for I-70 traffic jams because it sells a product that people want.

That said, they could probably optimize their pricing to incentivize off-peak travel and skiing. In my mind, that would include a higher-priced unrestricted pass and deeper discounts for mid-week skiing.

And what about, finally once again, a locals pass that includes ALL local resorts, specifically Copper and Loveland.

Skiing: Breckenridge extends season by a week

It's deep at Breckenridge, Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY VAIL RESORTS.

It’s deep at Breckenridge, Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY VAIL RESORTS.

Peaks 6, 7 and 8 will stay open through April 27

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado skiers will get a few bonus days this year, as Breckenridge Ski Resort announced that it will extend the season by a week, keeping Peaks 6, 7 and 8 open through April 27.

The resort has tacked on extra days the past few seasons, but generally only on weekends. Due to plentiful snow and the timing of Easter, Breckenridge execs said they made the decision early this year. Continue reading

Op-Ed: Plan for vastly expanded summer recreation at Breckenridge Ski Area deserve close scrutiny

Proposal includes zip lines, high alpine 4WD tours and summer operations of the Imperial Chair

Vail Resorts wants to ramp up summer recreation at Breckenridge Ski Area.

Vail Resorts wants to ramp up summer recreation at Breckenridge Ski Area.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Vail Resorts wants to significantly expand the scope of summer activities at Breckenridge Ski Resort on lands used under permit from the U.S. Forest Service. That means more chairlifts could soon be humming all year long at what is already one of the busiest ski mountains in the world.

The proposal includes zip lines, tree canopy tours and even four-wheel drive tours to remote sections of the Tenmile Range — along with plenty of new construction at the summit of Peak 8 and around the Peak 7 warming hut.

According to the proposal, the resort currently lacks “adventure or thrill-based experiences,” and “interpretive programs that offer an educational experience for users seeking to learn more about the environment.”

The summer improvements plan also includes restoration activities at the ski area that would be incorporated into the plan after the public has had a chance to offer initial comments during a formal scoping phase for the project, the first step in an in-depth Environmental Impact Study that will evaluate impacts. Continue reading

Summit County eyes winter road closures

New rules would mesh with management of national forest lands

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Summit County officials are considering a request to close parts of several local roads, including Baldy Mountain Road, to winter motorized recreational traffic. Maps of the other roads are online at the Summit County planning department website.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Summit County officials will take input on a request to ban winter motorized recreation on three county roads:

  • Gold Run Gulch Road/CR 300 (from the Gold Run Trailhead on the north to the intersection with CR 456 on the south)
  • Baldy Road/CR 520 (from the Baldy Trailhead at Emmet Lode/CR 536 to the road’s terminus on Baldy Mountain)
  • Boreas Pass Road/CR 10 (from the Boreas Pass Trailhead to Boreas Pass)

An open house on the request is set for Nov. 19, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. in the BOCC Hearing Room at the County Courthouse in Breckenridge. More detailed project information and maps will be available at the open house and can also be found on the Special Projects section of the Summit County Community Development website at: http://www.co.summit.co.us/index.aspx?NID=837. Continue reading

Forest Service close to releasing environmental study for proposed new backcountry ski hut near Breckenridge

Public review session set for Aug. 22 at Breckenridge ice rink

Weber Gulch Hut

The Weber Gulch Hut is proposed for the north flank of Baldy Mountain, near Breckenridge, Colorado. Map courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The long range vision for encircling Summit County with a network of backcountry ski huts may come into a little more focus this month.

The White River National Forest is preparing to release a draft environmental study for the proposed Weber Gulch hut during the next few weeks, with a public review of the document set for Aug. 22 (5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m) at the Breckenridge ice rink. Continue reading

Morning photo: Mountain love

Epic …

Another stunning Peak 1 sunset in Summit County, Colorado.

Another stunning Peak 1 sunset in Summit County, Colorado.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —I’m still super-annoyed that Vail Resorts has tried to hijack the word “epic,” but I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me. It was such a great mountain slang word at one time — you’d ask a skier or snowboarder how their day was and they’d reply, with a powder-glazed look in their eyes, “Epic, dude.” Used like that, the word conjures up echoes of Homer and the Iliad. But when it’s debased by the advertising culture and mentality of Vail Resorts, well, it seems to lose all its class — epic pass, epic burger … how NOT classy is that?

Hmm, not sure how I got off on that tangent. Oh, I know, I was in Breck today watching clouds of dust rise off the new clearcuts on Peak 6 — you could just about see the lynx scurrying for safety up there. Yes, seeing that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and reminded once again how greed and the lust for money are at the root of so much misery, and it’s made all the worse when it’s cloaked in a hypocritical green mantle. I prefer my greed pure and naked, thank you very much, that way I know what I’m dealing with.

But in any case, I had the chance to see a couple of “epic” sunsets recently … If you like our snapshots here on the blog, check out the hi-rez versions available for sale at our online FineArt America gallery, and feel free to leave a comment on by rant in the box at the end of the post! Continue reading

USFS to clean up mine debris near Breckenridge

Agency to remove abandoned buildings and old mining gear

Old mining scars are visible all along French Gulch Road, east of Breckenridge.

Old mining scars are visible all along French Gulch Road, east of Breckenridge, where the U.S. Forest Service is planning a cleanup at the Lincoln Townsite.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service will begin a careful cleanup of mining debris around the historic Lincoln Townsite, near Breckenridge. As part of the agency’s abandoned mine lands safety program, crews will demolish and remove abandoned buildings, sheds and equipment — but five buildings will be left standing at the site after local stakeholders commented on the potential historical value of the structures. Continue reading

Colorado: Breckenridge bans 4th of July sparklers

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It’s lights-out for handheld sparklers and other small ground-based fireworks in Breckenridge.

Fire concerns cited as reason for zero-tolerance policy on illegal pyrotechnics

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Fireworks enthusiasts are feeling the squeeze in Breckenridge, where the town recently banned all previously permissible ground-based fireworks, including sparklers, ground spinners and small fountain and Roman candle-type fireworks.

The ban is based on wildfire concerns, as town officials said that even the smallest spark could lead to a wildfire in the dry forest surrounding the community. Fireworks are suspected as the possible cause of a small wildfire last weekend in the lower French Gulch area. Continue reading

Colorado: USA Pro Challenge route announced

7-day stage race set for late August

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Stage 2 of the USA Pro Challenge leads from Aspen over Independence Pass to Breckenridge.

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USA Pro Challenge racers will once again visit Breckenridge as part of the seven-day stage race through Colorado.

By Summit Voice

The 2013 USA Pro Challenge features two new host cities and the return of the popular Vail time trial, race organizers said this week, announcing details of seven-day stage race through Colorado (Aug. 19-25).

“The most important thing to us in creating the route for the 2013 USA Pro Challenge was to find a course that would be safe and challenging for the riders, while providing ideal viewing locations for the crowds of spectators,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge.

The two new cities, Loveland and Fort Collins, will be featured in the penultimate stage of the race on Aug. 24, when contenders will have to make a move before the final time trial stage in Denver. Stage 6 will start on the plains, but aggressive climbers will have a chance to amp it up when the race heads up Big Thompson Canyon and into Devils Gulch before hitting Estes Park. Continue reading

Skiing: Backcountry snowpack touchy in Colorado

Monthly Breckenridge ski patrol talk to focus on backcountry travel techniques and terrain choices

There's plenty of good backcountry powder skiing in Summit County, but it's best to stay on low-angle terrain right now, like this 28-degree slope on Baldy, Photo courtesy Matt Krane.

There’s plenty of good backcountry powder skiing in Summit County, but it’s best to stay on low-angle terrain right now, like this 28-degree slope on Baldy, Photo courtesy Matt Krane.

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CAIC forecaster Tim Brown examines the crown face of a large avalanche in Montezuma Bowl, at Arapahoe Basin. Photo courtesy CAIC.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With forecasters warily eying backcountry avalanche hazards and more snow on the way this week, Breckenridge ski patrollers will focus on safe backcountry travel techniques, route-finding and terrain selection during their monthly talk this Thursday evening (Village at Breckenridge, Tenmile Room, 6 p.m.).

The topic is especially timely following recent close calls and a cycle of natural slides in the backcountry, said Breckenridge ski patroller Matt Krane. Last week, a party of four backcountry travelers were involved with a sizable slide on Peak 6. Continue reading

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