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Summit County: Keystone plans major upgrades

A map of proposed improvements at Keystone, including new or improved smowmaking on the front side of the mountain marked in blue. Click for the full-size map.

Resort wants to replace Summit House, boost snowmaking, expand family adventure areas

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Keystone ski area’s old-school summit lodge could soon be replaced with a modern energy efficient facility. The

The proposed replacement of the Summit House is part of a slate of improvements aimed at improving the quality of the on-mountain experience at the resort, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The improvements were initially outlined in the 2009 Keystone Ski Area master plan, online at this White River NF web page (loads slowly).

which last week started accepting scoping comments on the plan. Click here to comment.

The scoping notice is online at this White River National Forest website.

Other improvements include replacing outdated snowmaking equipment on the front side of the mountain, expansion of the Adventure Point tubing area, an egress trail from the cat-served terrain in Bergman Bowl and improvements to learning terrain on the mountain. Continue reading

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Morning photo: Colorado powder

Fresh snow graces the Colorado Rockies

Powder at Monarch Mountain. PHOTO COURTESY CSCUSA/ERIC RAMSAY.

SUMMIT COUNTY — After several frustrating weeks of mostly mild and dry weather, the weather pattern changed for the better, bringing fresh snow to Colorado ski country, with more in the forecast for the next few days. Thanks to Colorado Ski Country USA and resorts around the state for providing the visuals to go along with the forecast.

There was snow in the early part of the winter, but it was tightly focused on the northern Front Range mountains, where the highest totals accumulated between September and November 2011.

Continue reading

OSHA finds ‘serious’ alleged violations during investigation of Wolf Creek ski patrol director’s avalanche death

An explosives-triggered avalanche streams down a steep mountain face in Colorado.

Scott Kay died Nov. 22 while doing avalanche control work alone at the southwestern Colorado ski area

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Wolf Creek Ski Area could be facing $12,000 in fines related to the death of Scott Kay, the area’s ski patrol director. Kay died Nov. 22 while doing avalanche control work alone at the ski area in southwestern Colorado.

John Healy, OSHA‘s regional area director, said the agency found three serious alleged violations during its inspection at Wolf Creek.

“Employees were exposed to unnecessary avalanche danger,” Healy said. The ski area did not follow state laws requiring a minimum of two individuals in each avalanche control blasting crew, according to the formal citation documents.

Additionally, the ski area was cited for failing to require ski patrollers to wear helmets while doing work with a risk for head injuries

.”OSHA was very understanding when they first came down here,” said Wolf Creek owner Davey Pitcher. “They’re trying to show due diligence … to get at the bottom of what happened,” he said, adding that the agency took an even-handed approach to the investigation. For now, the documents have been referred to the ski area’s attorney, and Pitcher said it’s too early to say how the settlement might be handled.

Continue reading

Breckenridge ski area expansion: Peak 6-lite?

An early map of the Breckenridge Ski Area Peak 6 expansion plan, released with the scopng notice in 2008, shows one possible version of a planned terrain pod.

Forest Service says draft study on plan is due in September; agency will publish a newsletter on project in the next few weeks to update stakeholders

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A pending proposal to expand lift-served skiing at Breckenridge will include a “Peak 6-Light” option, including in-fill development within the resort’s existing footprint, as well as gladed Peak 6 terrain. The scaled-back version includes a shorter lift than envisioned in the initial version of the plan, which includes a lift extending well above treeline, to near the summit of Peak 6.

The U.S. Forest Service now hopes to release a draft environmental impact study for the Peak 6 plan in September. In the next couple of weeks, the agency will be sending out a newsletter to update interested parties on the Peak 6 mailing, said Roger Poirer, the winter sports program administrator for the White River National Forest.

Vail Resorts officials said last week via e-mail that they had no comment on the expansion proposal at this time.

“We wanted to develop a realistic alternative proposal … not just a straw-man alternative that we’d never pick,” Poirer said. The draft study will also show various options for mitigating impacts from tree-clearing and development on Peak 6, especially as those activities relate to threatened lynx, Poirer said. Continue reading

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