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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

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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

Vail, Breckenridge and Copper extend the season

Late-season snow spurs limited re-opening April 19-21

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Fine spring skiing conditions at Breckenridge.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado skiers will get a bonus weekend at Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Vail, with all three areas firing up some of their lifts for a final spring fling.

“After skiing some amazing powder turns on closing day and more heavy snow in the forecast this week, we just don’t have the heart to shut down Breck’s lifts just yet,” said Pat Campbell, chief operating officer for the Summit County resort.

“Mother Nature is a fickle business partner and apparently she wasn’t ready for the ski season to be over. We can’t think of a better way to thank our loyal guests for celebrating our 40th Anniversary season with us,” said Gary Rodgers, president and general manager of Copper Mountain Resort.

Copper Mountain will open American Flyer, Sierra and Timberline lifts this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 19-21, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day. Skier services including food and beverage offerings and rental and retail options will be limited to Center Village.

Breckenridge will open 1180 acres, lifts and terrain on Peak 8 only this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 19-21, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day after picking up 60 inches of snow in April. Lifts open will include:  The BreckConnect Gondola, Colorado SuperChair, Rip’s Ride, 6 Chair, T-Bar and the Imperial Express SuperChair; Park Lane and Trygve’s Terrain Parks will also be open. Continue reading

Colorado: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges lynx mistakes in Breckenridge Ski Area’s Peak 6 expansion plan

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A transplanted Canada lynx watches a Colorado Division of Wildlife biologist. Photo courtesy Tanya Shenk/ Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Federal approval missed a key step in addressing requirements of Endangered Species Act

Click here to read all Summit Voice Peak 6 stories

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Federal biologists have acknowledged that they left out a key step in their approval of the proposed Peak 6 ski area expansion at Breckenridge, a project that would degrade a patch of lynx habitat in the Tenmile Range.

“We reviewed the … biological opinion, and we agree that our incidental take statement lacks a meaningful mechanism to reinitiate consultation if the project exceeds the anticipated incidental take,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Western Colorado Supervisor Patricia Gelatt wrote in a March 6 letter responding to a formal legal notice from Rocky Mountain Wild and the Blue River Group of the Sierra Club.

Gelatt said her agency plans to meet with the Forest Service and modify its biological opinion to address the deficiencies before the Notice of Intent expires on April 19, but she didn’t explain how agency biologists missed including the required regulatory mechanisms after discussing the expansion with the Forest Service for several years. Continue reading

Vail Ski Area revamps management of Prima Cornice terrain after last winter’s deadly inbounds avalanche

Resort says it will use more ropes and signage when needed to discourage uphill traffic and warn of potential hazards

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A diagram prepared by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center shows the approximate locations of various gates used to access Prima Cornice at Vail Ski Area.

*Read more Summit Voice coverage of the inbounds avalanche deaths at Vail and Winter Park here.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — With the discovery phase of a trial over last year’s inbounds avalanche death of a teenage skier under way, Vail Resorts this week announced that it has changed the way ski patrollers manage the Vail Ski Area terrain where the deadly incident occurred.

Based on its own review of the avalanche on Prima Cornice, Vail officials said there may be times when patrollers use more ropes and signage to indicate closures and potential danger. The changes were instituted at the start of this season, according to a statement from Vail Resorts.

“Vail Resorts takes safety as its highest priority, and we continually re-evaluate and adapt based on new information or changing skier behavior. The Company remains a defendant in a lawsuit concerning this incident and will not be making additional comments. We remain incredibly saddened by the events of that day, and our deepest sympathy continues to go out to the family of Taft Conlin,” the company said in it statement. Continue reading

Colorado: Vail Resorts says mid-winter business rebounded

Major capital investments announced for upcoming seasons

Vail Resorts is talking up the Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge as part of its capital investment plan for the coming season.

Vail Resorts is talking up the Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge as part of its capital investment plan for the coming season.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Vail Resorts said business bounced back after a slow start to the season, with some of the company’s resorts posting record business during the Christmas holiday period. VR’s net income climbed 30.5 percent, to $60.5 million in the second fiscal quarter compared to last season, with skier visits up 2.9 percent and mountain net revenue up by 9.5 percent.

“We are very pleased with our performance in the second quarter of fiscal 2013, which was notable for two distinct dynamics we experienced in the quarter,” VR CEO Rob Katz said this week during a call announcing the company’s second quarter earnings. “The first was our results through the middle of December, which were marked by unusually warm and dry weather in Colorado that limited the terrain we could open, leading to lower than expected results for our four Colorado resorts.  Continue reading

Skiing: Vail, Beaver Creek plan lift upgrades

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The U.S. Forest Service is taking public comments on planned infrastructure improvements at Vail and Beaver Creek.

Eagle County resorts to add some six-seater lifts

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Vail Resorts is looking to boost uphill capacity at its Eagle County resorts by replacing a few aging quad chairlifts with six-seaters, as well as making a few other on-mountain infrastructure improvements. The upgrades are consistent with previously approved master plans for Vail and Beaver Creek, but the U.S. Forest Service is taking  public input on the projects before approving them. Continue reading

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