Global warming: Winter at risk?

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Global warming means fewer powder days and shorter ski seasons. bberwyn photo.

Snow sports enthusiasts want limits on power plant greenhouse gas emissions

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Watching the snow in the Caucasus Mountains around Sochi melt away at an alarming rate during the middle of the Winter Olympics was a sobering reminder of what global warming could mean for the future of winter sports.

Already, winters in some parts of the world are several weeks shorter, with much higher average temperatures, than just a few decades ago. some ski areas in the lower elevations of the European Alps have already shut down, and in Scandinavia, where skiing is not just recreation but part of the cultural fabric, winters have warmed significantly.

“When it comes to the future of winter sports, global warming has us skating on thin ice,” said Anneli Berube, a field organizer with Environment Colorado, which teamed up with Snowriders International to release a summary of how climate change will affect winter, including increased rate of snow melt, shorter winters, drought, and a shrinking map of reliable sites for future winter Olympics. Continue reading

Arapahoe Basin moving ahead with Beavers expansion

Open house set for Dec. 3

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Arapahoe Basin is moving ahead with an expansion plan that would add more than 400 acres of terrain in the Beavers area.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Arapahoe Basin and the U.S. Forest Service are moving ahead with the first formal step in the review process for a significant expansion at Summit County’s oldest ski area.

Adding a lift the Beavers area, west of existing lift-served terrain at the area, would mitigate public safety issues and enhance A-Basin’s reputation as a destination for advanced skiers, the Forest Service said in its scoping notice for the plan. Altogether, the Beavers expansion would add about 430 acres, including 125 acres of tree skiing.

The ski area also wants to expand its reservoir for snowmaking water, add a short surface lift to ease access to Montezuma Bowl and replace the Molly Hogan lift in the beginner area, as well as remove the seldom-used Norway chair and plan for potential zip line installations to enhance summer recreation. Continue reading

Colorado ski season begins!

Arapahoe Basin opening Oct. 13

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Arapahoe Basin Ski Area from an overlook on U.S. Highway 6.

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After a few cold nights for snowmaking, Arapahoe Ski Area will open for the season on Sunday, Oct. 13.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The wait is over.

Arapahoe Basin will officially open for the 2013-2014 season this Sunday, Oct. 13 with skiing off the Black Mountain Express chair, serving the High Noon trail. The first chair will start up the mountain at 8:30 a.m.

The opening comes four days earlier than last year, after a series of winter-like storms rolled through the Colorado mountains in late September and early October.

“This is a very exciting time for us, and all of Colorado,” Arapahoe Basin Vice President and COO Alan Henceroth said in a statement. “We’ve had tremendous early season snowmaking and natural snow, and we can’t wait to kick off the 2013-14 ski and ride season.”

The ski area will offer rental services, and will open restaurant facilities at the base area A-frame and at Black Mountain Lodge. While wrapping up a $1 million renovation of the 6th Alley Bar & Grill, a temporary bar will be set up in the A-frame.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at  ArapahoeBasin.com and urrent lift ticket window pricing will run through December 20, 2013, with adult (ages 19-59) full-day tickets priced at $67, youth (ages 15-18) window tickets priced at $55 and child (ages 6-14) window tickets priced at $32. Children under age 5 ski free every day all season.

Public lands: Forest Service eyes new rules for summer activities at ski resorts

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The U.S. Forest Service is taking comments on new rules governing various uses on public lands under permit to the ski industry.

Agency may authorize fees for uphill skiing, snowshoe travel at resorts on national forests

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —Can you harmonize with the natural environment while speeding down a mountain zip line?

It may depend on exactly how fast you’re going, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which is rolling out a new set of rules to govern the permitting of summer recreational installations at ski areas operating on national forest lands.

In one of the biggest changes that would affect other private businesses near resorts, the agency would back away from a long-standing policy that precluded authorization for facilities that could be provided on nearby non-Forest Service lands. The proposed rules are posted at  http://www.fs.fed.us/specialuses. Continue reading

Skiing: A-Basin moving ahead with master plan

Ski area, Forest Service to host Oct. 3 field session to provide overview of planned improvements at Summit County’s oldest ski area

A map of A-Basin's proposed upgrades presented last year.

A map of A-Basin’s proposed upgrades presented last year.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — U.S. Forest Service officials say they’ve accepted Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s proposal to begin implementing pieces of a master plan that was updated last winter, including a new lift in the Beavers area, a short surface lift to improve access to Montezuma Bowl, and increased water storage for snowmaking.

The new lift in the Beavers area, to the west of the ski area’s current operational boundary, would serve about 400 acres of terrain.

“Two or so trails would be cleared while the majority would be gladed. The proposal calls for a four-person lift that would gain 1,500’ in elevation,” said Forest Service snow ranger Shelly Grail. “The proposed reservoir expansion is still being fine-tuned.  It’s final proposal location will  be determined after more wetland delineation work and feedback from the Army Corps of Engineers,” Grail said. 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

Colorado resorts report modest growth in skier visits

A strong spring season helped boost skier visits to Colorado ski areas.

A strong spring season helped boost skier visits to Colorado ski areas. Bob Berwyn photo.

Strong spring fuels rebound

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Visits to all Colorado ski areas recovered from another slow start, reversed last season’s downhill slide and rebounded 3.95 percent to pass last winter’s totals, according to figures released this week by Colorado Ski Country USA. Visits to all Colorado resorts totaled 11.44 million during the winter of 2012-2013.

For the 21 areas that are members of CSCUSA, visits totaled 6.4 million, up about 3.8 percent (about 235,000 skier visits) from the previous season.

Colorado resorts outperformed the rest of the Rocky Mountain region, which tallied a 1.9 percent increase, but fell short of the national overall increase of 11 percent. The biggest growth nationally was in the Pacific Southwest and Northeast regions, which showed increases of more than 20 percent as they rebounded from a horrible snow year the previous season. Continue reading

Colorado: Arapahoe Basin extends the season

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Summer fun at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. Bob Berwyn photo.

Bonus weekend set for June 7-9

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado skiers will get a bonus weekend at Arapahoe Basin, as the ski area extends the season for an extra weekend. Cool spring temperatures and big snows in April and May helped preserve a good base at the high-elevation ski area.

“With all the spring storms, our exceptional snow conditions, and our guests’ enthusiasm for skiing and riding, it only makes sense to open for another weekend,” said Alan Henceroth, Arapahoe Basin’s chief operating officer.

The last couple of winters have been a roller coaster for A-Basin and Colorado in general. The winter of 2010-2011 delivered near-record snow in many locations and A-Basin stayed open though the Fourth of July holiday. Continue reading

Summit County: Is Copper Mountain’s base village up for sale?

Ownership changes inevitable as real estate trust expires in 2015

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By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Along with a slew of other ski resort villages, Copper Mountain‘s commercial base-area properties (the Village at Copper) may be for sale as part of a “trophy resort village portfolio,” offered  for $142.5 million.

According to an online brochure making the rounds, the resort villages can also be bought separately, starting at about $9 million for the smallest and ranging up to about $30 million. The real estate investment services company Marcus & Millichap is offering the properties, which are owned by CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc..

The Florida-based real estate investment trust (REIT) that became a big player in the mountain resort business when it bought properties all over North America about the time the resort real estate boom fizzled. Continue reading

Colorado: Skier donations build forest conservation legacy

National Forest Foundation awards $650,000 for stewardship work

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Ski area visitors leave behind a year-round stewardship legacy when they contribute to the Ski Conservation Fund. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Thanks to voluntary contributions from ski resort visitors, the the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation will partner to invest about $650,000 in forest restoration and recreation projects. The donations are collected in a voluntary add-on to ticket and lodging sales, a dollar or two at a time.

The grants were awarded recently to organizations like the Blue River Watershed Group, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, the Colorado Mountain Club and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program for projects like trail improvements, wildlife habitat enhancement, tree planting and stream restoration. Continue reading

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