By Allen Best
Girlfriend makes long-distance save
WINTER PARK, Colo. – Frantic and repeated phone calls of a girlfriend were probably the reason that a man lived through his vacation in Winter Park to ski another day.
The Sky-Hi Daily News reports that police got a phone call from a woman who said her boyfriend was at Winter Park to participate in the National Brotherhood of Skiers gathering.
The woman said she hadn’t heard form her boyfriend, so two cops went to the condominium where she said he was registered. No one answered when they knocked, so they left.
That might have been the end of it except she called again, this time frantic. The cops got a door key this time and found found the man, near death, suffering from a severe case of acute mountain sickness. He was given oxygen and taken to Denver, almost 4,000 feet lower.
Glenn Trainor, the police chief of Winter Park and Fraser, said he was told that the man would have died in a few more hours if not for the discovery.
“Going into somebody’s room after receiving a call like that from a girlfriend isn’t something we would normally do,” Trainor told the Sky-Hi Daily News. “But the girlfriend was insistent that someone was wrong.
Acute mountain sickness afflicts those who rapidly gain elevation without acclimating for the reduced oxygen content of the air. It’s estimated that 15 to 40 percent of visitors sleeping at 8,000 feet or higher get it, according to a survey reported by Dr. Peter Hackett at the Institute for Altitude Mountain in Telluride.
The value of prime-time
WHISTLER, B.C. – Not surprisingly, Whistler has gained in name recognition among those off-shore countries it considers its primary markets. Tourism Whistler and Tourism B.C. commissioned polling in November, January and – after the Olympics – in March.
The results? Little change until the Olympics, after which Whistler had gained 12 percent in the United Kingdom, 23 percent in Germany, and 14 percent in Australia.
Tourism Whistler plants to leverage this increased name recognition with a 20 percent boost in marketing through the summer and into next winter.
Crested Butte looks for lifeline
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Crested Butte continues to reel economically, not quite sure how to right itself.
The local economy depends upon people willing to deliver pots of money. Getting there isn’t the easiest thing, though, a four-hour drive from Denver or, for that matter, a four-hour drive from Aspen, just 30 miles away but hundreds of miles away by mostly two-lane road during winter.
Next winter, getting to Crested Butte will become more difficult yet. The community intends to bankroll fewer direct flights from Houston and other cities and connecting flights from Denver.
To induce the airlines to offer flights, the local community guarantees revenues. Part of that money comes from sales tax revenues. With the economy already depressed, revenues have decreased, and the Gunnison Valley Regional Transit Authority assumes 15 percent further declines in coming months.
The impact of fewer airline seats? Joe Fitzpatrick, town manager of Mr. Crested Butte, imagines the opposite of Kevin Costner’s build-it-and-they-will come baseball field.
“If we continue to reduce airline seats, I guarantee Mt. Crested Butte sales tax revenues will continue to decline. It becomes a spiral.”
The Crested Butte News reports that the local agency is crimping more on local bus service, but still plans to contribute only $325,000 next winter to direct flights, as compared to $600,000 this winter.
Aspen tourism seeks lodging tax
ASPEN, Colo.—The Aspen Chamber Resort Association plans to ask for a 1 percent lodging tax that would be devoted to primarily summer marketing. The city council would have to accept the proposal to take the vote before voters, which it has not yet done, although Mayor Mick Ireland has agreed to carry to lead the community campaign.
The Aspen Skiing Co. bankrolls winter marketing efforts. But summer marketing is more restrained. The existing lodging tax generates $450,000 annually for marketing. The additional tax would bring the total to nearly $1.5 million, explains The Aspen Times.
Love to hate Chapman
TELLURIDE, Colo. – Tom Chapman is back. An attorney based on Colorado’s Western Slope, he has become the guy that wilderness lovers love to hate. His latest arena for theatrics and commercial is Telluride.
Chapman last week announced that he has purchased old mining claims in the Bear Creek Valley, which is located next to the Telluride ski area. Henceforth, he said, skiers would be barred from the property. He even contacted San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters.
Skiers for many years have delighted in bailing off the lifts at Telluride to access the steep-and-deep treasures of Bear Creek. Last year, the ski area manager, Dave Riley, began talking about the potential for expanding ski area operations into the valley.
Chapman’s strategy has by now become well known. He typically buys private parcels located within wilderness areas, national parks or other sensitive places and then announces plans to develop them. His goal all along is to get the U.S. Forest Service to swap land that can more readily be developed.
His strategy succeeded grandly in the early 1990s. Chapman bought a private parcel deep within Colorado’s West Elk Wilderness . Then when his desired land exchange was not forthcoming, he had materials helicoptered to the parcel and hired crews to begin assembling a house.
The Forest Service in that case blinked, giving him 110 acres of more easily developed land above the Telluride ski area for the wilderness parcel. Critics said the Forest Service caved in too quickly and gave him land that was rapidly escalating in price.
For the record, Chapman paid $246,000 for the mining claims in Bear Creek, according to public records cited by The Telluride Watch. The general sentiment seemed to be that the parcels can be avoided by skiers, but they present an inconvenience.
Dave Reilly, the ski area manager, whose expansion plans would seem to be the target of this new concern about private property rights, told the local papers that he was trying to digest the news. Just the same, one blogger on the Telluride Planet website seemed to see a conspiracy, with Reilly in cahoots with Chapman.