U.S. racers chase World Cup podium in Aspen

Mikaela Shiffrin rips some GS on the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational race hill during training. Photo courtesy Jeremy Swanson, Aspen/Snowmass.

Lindsey Vonn still a question mark for this weekend’s gate races

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The World Cup makes its annual early season stops in Colorado the next few weeks, beginning with a pair of women’s races in Aspen this weekend, followed by Beaver Creek races in early December.

The races won’t be hampered by a lack of early season snow thanks to prodigious, targeted snowmaking, but the TV cameras will have to zoom in tight on the race courses to avoid showing the snowless brown hills all around. Ironically, the early season races in Colorado were slotted into the World Cup schedule years ago because of concerns about snow conditions at other venues, but this is the second year in a row that Colorado is seeing an early season snow drought. Continue reading

Colorado: Snowmass Mountain, and our Lady of the Lake

Kim Fenske explores one of Colorado’s most spectacular peaks

The comb of Snowmass Peak viewed from about halfway along the Snowmass Creek trail.

Story and photos by Kim Fenske

As I kneeled at the side of Snowmass Creek and filtered water into my bottle, a tall, slender woman, hair flowing like golden sunlight over her shoulders and reflecting in the blue pools of her glacial eyes, rose up from the water. She was the personification of Snowmass Lake, sparkling glacial water at the base of two miles of mountain that rise above to the spiked comb that forms the summit of Snowmass Mountain.

Snowmass Mountain reflected in Snowmass Lake.

Continue reading

Breckenridge: Local USA Pro Cycling Challenge organizers host community info meeting for this year’s race

Forest Service details camping rules for Independence Pass spectators

The highest elevations of Independence Pass will be closed to camping, but the U.S. Forest Service will allow roadside camping in other areas along the road for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Olympics are winding down,but local sports enthusiasts are gearing up for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which returns to Breckenridge for the second year with an Aug. 24 stage start that will see riders heading up over Hoosier Pass and down the Front Range of the Rockies to Colorado Springs.

The local organizing committee for the race is hosting an Aug. 15 informational meeting to give detailed information on community impacts, including road closures, parking, transportation and a detailed event schedule. The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Breckenridge Town Hall, 150 Ski Hill Road. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

Meanwhile, fans hoping to get a close look at the racers as they traverse Independence Pass won’t be able to camp at the top of the pass like last year. U.S. Forest Service rangers say that last year’s crowd was rough on the fragile tundra in the area, leaving behind piles of human waste. As a result, they closed the area to campers for this year’s race, to the dismay of some fans who said the area was well policed and cleaned up after last year’s race. Continue reading

Colorado: Hungry bear forces Aspen camping restrictions

Some bears look cute and cuddly from afar, but they can cause trouble when habituated to humans and human food. PHOTO COURTESY USFSW.

Forest Service temporarily limits camping to hard-sided campers at Difficult campground

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — He might not be quite as smart as Yogi, but a black bear in the Aspen area seems to know that a campground might be an easy place to score a free meal.

Repeated sightings of the bear in the Difficult Campground, 6 miles east of the Aspen, have prompted Forest Service officials to enact camping restrictions, with to tents or soft-sided trailers or campers permitted for the time being. As per normal precautions, all unattended food and coolers must be contained in a bear box or locked vehicle and all garbage must be disposed of in trash containers. Continue reading

Opinion: High country businesses support wilderness

Economic benefits of quiet recreation are profound

Wilderness is good for business.

By Josh Lautenberg

Senator Mark Udall is right on target when he talks about the value of protected wilderness for our local economy.

Here in Vail, and in places like Aspen, Snowmass Village, Eagle and Breckenridge, our economy has prospered over the years in large part because of its location in the heart of the Colorado Rockies.

So how does wilderness support the economy?

Because of their famous majesty and beauty, the Rocky Mountains attract visitors from around the world. Think of all the people who can’t wait to leave behind the noise and pollution of the city to come here for their week or two in the mountains. To be able to smell the fresh air and stare at the perfect Colorado blue skies. Continue reading

Aspen hydropower plan triggers green v. green tussle

Hoover Dam it's not, but a proposed hydropower project in Aspen could provide 8 percent of the town's power.

Town files preliminary paperwork with FERC for Castle Creek project

By Bob Berwyn

ASPEN — Taking another significant step toward reducing the town’s carbon footprint, Aspen officials this week filed the required pre-application papers for the Castle Creek hydroelectric project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The filing is the first step in a formal review process that eventually could enable the town to produce about 8 percent of its needed electricity from a clean and local source — but the project is not without controversy, as some critics claim that the power generated by the facility isn’t worth the potential harm it could cause to Castle and Maroon creeks by reducing stream flows. Continue reading

Colorado: A fall hike on Castle Peak

Guidebook author Kim Fenske shares trail beta and photos from a Colorado classic

Aspen's famed Maroon Bells, seen from the Castle Peak area.

Story and photos by Kim Fenske

Castle Peak is a majestic fortress, diminished only by the magnificent company it keeps. Since the more renowned peaks of Maroon, North Maroon, Pyramid, and Snowmass lie close at hand, Castle Peak rests in relative peace.

From Summit County, Castle Peak Trailhead is a hundred miles away. Climb over Independence Pass, drop through Aspen, and turn from the roundabout to Castle Creek Road. Castle Creek Road leads to a jeep road that is the beginning of a six-mile ascent to the summit of Castle Peak. The abandoned silver mining town of Ashcroft is nestled among aspen meadows on Castle Creek Road, ten miles below the remains of the Montezuma-Tam O’Shanter Mine. Continue reading

Colorado: Wildlife officers kill problem bear near Aspen

Wildlife officers have tracked and killed a bear that attacked two campers in the Aspen area.

Two backcountry campers injured in bear attack

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Wildlife officials successfully tracked and killed a bear in the Aspen area that had attacked and injured two campers at separate campsites this past weekend.

The bear was killed about 7 a.m. Sunday morning by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers, with the assistance of a specialist with the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program and employees of the U. S. Forest Service.

Based the location, behavior and description of the black bear given by campers involved in the incidents, wildlife officers are confident that they tracked down the bear responsible for attacking two campers while they slept in their tents at the Maroon Bells – Snowmass wilderness area. The bear bit both victims, causing minor injuries to the leg of one camper at Crater Lakes and substantial injuries to the leg of another camper in the nearby Minnehaha Gulch area. Continue reading

Forest Service wants input on Aspen ranger station plans

Meeting Information

Arrive anytime between 5 p.m.  and 7 p.m.

Rio Grande Meeting Room

455 Rio Grande Place, Aspen, CO

Call 970-945-3205 for more information

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service wants input on the redevelopment of its three-acre parcel in downtown Aspen, surrounded by some of the priciest real estate in the country.

According to the Forest Service, the current  facilities on the site have outlived their useful life. All the buildings on have numerous and severe deferred maintenance and accessibility issues that cannot be easily corrected. Repairs and remodeling of the existing structures is neither an economic or feasible option. The agency estimates the new buildings will use about the same amount of land as the existing facilities.

The desire is for the site to continue to be compatible with the surrounding residential neighborhood and to become a center for interpretation, education and community interaction, according to a press release announcing a March 22 open house on the redevelopment.

“The Forest Service is committed to having a presence in Aspen well into the future,” said White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams. “To this end, we are seeking to develop a site plan and facility design that will provide quality public service, that is readily accessible to the public and that is energy and operationally efficient.” Continue reading

‘Canadian approach’ protects forest around Aspen

Dead and dying lodgepole pines in Frisco, Colorado.

Summit Forest Health Task Force gets update on beetle battle in Aspen; preview of next week’s Forests At Risk symposium

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — An intensive — and expensive — treatment option for protecting lodgepole pines from beetles is showing some promise on a small test plot near Aspen, said For the Forest director John Bennet, speaking Thursday at a luncheon meeting of the Summit forest health task force.

“I’d call it a classic Canadian approach,” Bennett said, describing how groups are trying to preserve some live trees on Smuggler Mountain by removing brood trees and scattering verbenone to try and disrupt the breeding cycle of the pesky bugs that are tearing up huge swaths of Colorado forests. Continue reading

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