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Morning photo: Sunday smorgasbord

Cold ice, fiery sunsets …

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Even the birds stop to watch the sunrise sometimes.

FRISCO —Looking at the set I put together, it’s almost hard to believe that all these shots were taken on the same day, all within a 30 mile radius of Summit Voice headquarters here in Frisco. What a great spring/early summer day, starting with a stroll along the Snake River near Keystone, where I went to revisit one of the spots where I took some awesome winter ice-scapes. Around mid-day, we headed over the pass to Vail and did a quick tour of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. If you’ve never been, and you have interest in flowers at all, it’s well worth a visit to see alpine flowers from all around the world growing next to each other. For sunset, we stuck close to home, wandering the shore of Dillon Reservoir, which is rising fast. If you like our Summit snapshot series, be sure to visit our online gallery at FineArt America for a full selection of Summit County landscapes, available as prints and greeting cards. Continue reading

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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

Colorado: Judge rejects Vail Resorts’ claim that avalanches are an inherent risk of inbounds, lift-served resort skiing

Vail will have to produce avalanche safety documents for trial

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A jury trial may determine whether Vail Resorts has any liability for the Jan. 22 avalanche death of 13-year-old Taft Conlin on Prima Cornice.

By Bob Berwyn

* some discusssion of this story on the Telemark Tips forum.

FRISCO — Vail Resorts failed last week to convince a judge that avalanches are an inherent risk of skiing on the company’s flagship mountain. Broomfield District Court Judge Patrick Murphy declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the family of Taft Conlin, who was killed by a snowslide on Prima Cornice in January 2012.

The company’s argument that avalanches are an inherent risk of skiing inbounds at ski areas may surprise a great many skiers, most of whom probably assume that they won’t be exposed to avalanche danger when they’re riding resort lifts and skiing on marked trails. Read Vail’s motion to dismiss here.

Advocating on behalf of Conlin’s family and for all skiers, attorney Jim Heckbert urged the court to reject Vail Resorts’ claims.

“If one is to accept the Defendant’s arguments, a ski area operator is permitted to negligently or knowingly expose skiers to the danger of death by avalanches with impunity. Because the risk of avalanche on January 22. 2012, could have been eliminated through the use of reasonable safety measures, the risk was not an inherent danger of skiing,” Heckbert wrote in the response to the the Vail Resorts motion to dismiss. Read the entire response here. Continue reading

Vail, Winter Park sued over inbounds avalanche deaths

Lawsuits allege resorts were negligent in managing terrain

A Google Earth view shows the location of the two gates on Prima Cornice. IMAGE COURTESY GOOGLE EARTH/CAIC.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Steamboat Springs-based attorney Jim Heckbert says Vail and Winter Park ski areas were negligent last winter when they failed to close or adequately sign avalanche-prone terrain within their operational boundaries — and that their negligence resulted in the death of Taft Conlin at Vail and Christopher Norris at Winter Park.

The lawsuits may hinge on very specific legal language in the Colorado Ski Safety Act, but the outcome could have larger implications for the sport, as a verdict favoring the plaintiffs could affect the way ski resorts manage internal closures, which, in turn, could affect access to public lands.

In the Winter Park lawsuit, filed in Grand County District Court, Heckbert alleges that Intrawest Winter Park Operations Corporation, through its employees,was negligent in disregarding forecasts and warnings regarding high avalanche danger existing within the boundaries of the ski area, and negligent in not closing the area or warning skiers of the danger. 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

Vail opens small Nordic center atop the Eagle Bahn

New Nordic trails available high on Vail Mountain.

5K trail system features beginner, intermediate trails
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —With the snow cover still thin at valley elevations along the I-70 corridor, Nordic skiers have a new high-altitude option. Vail Resorts last week announced the opening of a 5K crosscountry ski track at the top of the Eagle Bahn gondola on Vail Mountain, with views to the spectacular Holy Cross Wilderness.
“This is a great opportunity for us to introduce our guests to the basics of classic track skiing in a stunning environment that offers beautiful views and the Gore Range as a backdrop,” said Joe Schmitt, supervisor of the Vail Mountain Nordic School. “It also offers guests the opportunity to learn the art of cross-country skiing before venturing out on a wilderness tour with the Nordic School.” Continue reading
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