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Colorado: U.S. Forest Service rejects appeal of Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski Area

Opponents of controversial expansion considering legal action

The Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski area would add about 550 acres of new terrain.

*Read all Summit Voice Peak 6 stories

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Barring legal action, Breckenridge Ski Area could start implementing the controversial Peak 6 expansion as soon as early December after regional Forest Service officials rejected an appeal filed by a coalition of conservation groups, skiers and local residents. Read the appeal here.

Scott Armentrout, Supervisor of the Gunnison, Uncompahgre and Grand Mesa National Forests, the appeal reviewing officer, wrote Nov. 14 that he found that the approval for the project did not violate any federal laws, regulations or policies and recommended upholding White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams’ decision to approve the 550-acre expansion.

The formal decision was made by appeals deciding officer Brian Ferebee, a deputy regional forester for resources. Read the full appeal decision here, and a summary of the appeal decision here.

“I agree with the ARO’s analysis as presented in the enclosed letter. All appeal issues raised have been considered and the record is adequate to support the Forest Supervisor’s decision,” Ferebee wrote in his Nov. 19 decision letter. “I affirm the Forest Supervisor’s decision to approve the Breckenridge Ski Area Peak 6 Project. I deny requested relief to set aside the decision or complete additional analysis.” Continue reading

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Skiing: Summit County areas rev up for the season

Snowmaking the key to Thanksgiving skiing

U.S. Ski Team racers have been training at Copper Mountain the past few weeks; Friday, the Super Bee chair opens to the public. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After a few weeks of exclusively serving top ski racers, Copper’s Super Bee chair opens to the public today (Nov. 23), boosting the total number of operating lifts to eight, including the American Flyer, Gem Lift, Super Bee, Timberline Express and American Eagle, serving about 175 acres of terrain spread across 15 trails.

Saturday evening, Woodward at Copper presents the 12th Annual Yam Jam Rail Jam, an after-hours competition under the lights held in Copper’s Lower Bouncer Terrain Park. Skiers and snowboarders compete for tons of prizes, and entry is only $10. Registration is at the Cage from noon to 3:30 p.m., and practice begins at 4 p.m.

Saturday also marks the first En Fuego of the season, ringing in the holidays with a Snow Cat Parade and tree lighting, accompanied by cozy bonfires and tunes from DJ Kris Kringle. Festivities begin at 5 p.m. in the Burning Stones Plaza.

On the east side of the county, Keystone has nine lifts open, serving 170 acres spread across nine runs. Open lifts include the River Run Gondola, the Summit Express chair, the Ranger lift and the Peru Express. Open runs include Spring Dipper, River Run, Schoolmarm and Silverspoon.

A-Basin opened Lenawee Chair last week for top-to-bottom skiing on Lenawee Face, Dercum’s Gulch, Ramrod and High Noon.

Breckenridge is 6 percent open, with five lifts operating, serving 145 acres on seven trails, including Springmeier, Trygves, Crosscut and the Park Lane terrain park.

 

Skiing: Winter reservations up in Breckenridge

Lodging community recaps strong summer performance

Winter reservations in Breckenridge are pacing ahead of last winter.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Tourism in the high country continues to climb back from the deep  recession, with the Breckenridge Chamber reporting that 2012 summer occupancy and average room rates both climbed in tandem for the first time since 2008.

For now, Breckenridge is outpacing some other resorts in terms of winter reservations, 16 percent ahead of last year at this time, according to Scott Fortner, marketing director for the Breckenridge Resort Chamber.

Fortner said the encouraging trend can partly be attributed to the town’s status as a mature resort that offers plenty of activities along with skiing and snowboarding. Group business has also been increasing, which helps push occupancy rates up, he said. Continue reading

Skiing: Colorado areas dominate SKI mag poll again

Breckenridge remains the top-ranked Summit County resort

Breckenridge Ski Area ranked 13th in this year’s SKI magazine reader poll.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado ski areas once again dominated the annual SKI magazine reader polls, but only two Summit County resorts cracked the top 20 — not surprising, given that most of the local areas — with the exception of A-Basin — emphasize quantity over quality.

After a five-year run in the number one spot, Deer Valley yielded to Whistler-Blackcomb, which won on the overall strength of its many attributes, including terrain variety, snow quantity and, of course, its vibrant nightlife. But readers of the magazine, who rate resorts annually in detailed surveys, recognized that the somewhat unpredictable weather in the Pacific Northwest can sometimes be a damper.

The poll is a fall publishing ritual that spurs plenty of water-cooler discussions and helps set the mood for the impending ski season. Continue reading

2012 water year ends with another dry month

A few wet days in September weren’t enough to make up the year-long moisture deficit.

September precipitation below average at Breckenridge and Dillon; temps slightly above average

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — September precipitation dipped back down below average in Summit County, with Breckenridge weather watcher Rick Bly reporting a total of 1.07 inches for the month, compared to the average 1.47 inches.

The weather year also ends Sept. 30, and in Breckenridge — perhaps surprisingly, given all the drought talk — precipitation ended up at 18.56 inches of rain and melted snow combined, just about 89 percent of average (20.67 inches).

Meteorologists use and Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 year because it matches up better with seasonal hydrological cycles than the calendar year. Continue reading

Vail Resorts 2012 earnings, revenue and skier visits down

Company reports increases in season pass sales and advance bookings

Breckenridge ski resort peaks seen from Dillon, Colorado.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After one of the toughest seasons in memory, Vail Resorts wrapped up its fiscal year 2012 with earnings down about 7.5 percent from 2011, according to the company’s earnings statement released today (Sept. 25).

Total net revenue was $1,024.4 million in 2012 compared to $1,167.0 million in the prior year, a 12.2 percent decrease.

For 2012, VR reported a net income of $16.5 million, down from $34.5 million in 2011, as skier visits dropped steeply at the company’s California and Colorado ski areas. In Colorado (Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge) visits dropped 8.9 percent, from 5.2 million in 2011 to 4.8 million in 2012.

Overall VR skier visits dropped by 12.1 percent, from 7 million in 2011 to 6.1 million in 2012. Continue reading

Breckenridge: Riverwalk Center ski swap benefits Team Summit

Bigger and better than ever in its 32d year

Get ready! Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s never too early to start thinking about the upcoming season, and for a lot of people, that means upgrading gear, whether it’s the big stuff, like boards or boots, or just a few new accessories.

In any case, the Team Summit Ski Swap in Breckenridge, now in its 32d year, is always one of the best places to start. The swap is on again this weekend at the Riverwalk Center, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and again from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, offering some of the sweetest deals of the  year on ski and snowboard gear. Continue reading

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