Mountain Town News
By Allen Best
Employees to wear helmets
ASPEN, Colo. – The Aspen Skiing Co. has announced all of its employees must wear a helmet while on duty and clicked into skis or snowboards.
Last year, the company began requiring helmets of employees seen as “influencers.” Helmet use by guests and employees at the company’s marquee ski areas, Aspen and Snowmass, is currently more than 80 percent.
Tag-teaming to beat Vail
DENVER, Colo. – Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing have teamed up with a new pass targeting Front Range skiers and riders. The two companies, which operate six ski areas in Colorado, are offering a $299 pass for adults called the Colorado Trip Play Pass. For children, it’s $249. The pass has a black-out of five days during Christmas week.
Aspen operates Aspen, Snowmass and two other ski areas. Intrawest operates Winter Park and owns Steamboat.
This is the latest major pricing salvo since Winter Park fired the first shot across the bow in 1999. Emulating a resort in Idaho, it began discounting its season ski pass. Vail Resorts soon responded, creating various packages good at its four ski areas along Interstate 70 and a fifth, Arapahoe Basin. Vail’s most extensive offering, the Epic Local Pass, costs $519 with unlimited access to Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, and 10 restricted days at Vail or Beaver Creek.
Denver tooling Olympic bid
DENVER, Colo. – With little more than speculation, and a sparse amount of that, The Denver Post on Sunday front-paged a story about Denver’s play for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
But if the newspaper seemed to have little to report, it did suggest that plenty of people in Colorado are thinking hard about what it will take to put together a strong bid. Competition from Lake Tahoe and possibly Salt Lake City is likely, the newspaper said.
The newspaper, however, made one keen observation: If Denver is to go for the games, it will have to figure out everything from the figure skating venue to media headquarters by next year.
The newspaper reported it was unable to interview most people associated with the effort, but did get an impressive vote of confidence from former Gov. Dick Lamm. As a young legislator in 1972, Lamm had led a successful effort to ban state funding of the games. The backlash was partly a response to ineptitude on the part of Denver’s Olympic Organizing Committee.
But since 1984, Olympic hosts no longer end up getting stuck with huge costs – and the situation in Denver has changed, too. “The circumstances have changed,” he told the newspaper. “I have confidence in these organizers.”
Blixseth tells his story
BIG SKY, Mont. – Tim Blixseth, founder of the Yellowstone Club, Montana’s trove of exclusivity, is now living in Seattle and has written 250 pages in his autobiography. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, which interviewed Blixseth, reports he has a working title: “You Couldn’t Make This Up.”
A shrewd deal-maker, Blixseth rose from humble origins in Oregon’s timber country to billionaire status. Retired in Lake Tahoe, he ultimately grew bored and found an even better deal in Montana.
With two partners, he purchased 164,000 acres of land owned by a timber company in the Big Sky area. Splitting off portions, then achieving consolidated holdings through land exchanges with the U.S. Forest Service, he emerged with 15,000 acres of relatively cheap land that became the Yellowstone Club. Buyers included Bill Gates.
Things began souring in 2006 when he and his wife, Edra, divorced, and he lost control of the club. It later became bankrupt.
Blixseth told the Daily Chronicle that his father was an immigrant from Norway who had come here for the “American dream.”
“My father’s American dream never came to fruition, I don’t think, but mine sure has,” he told the Chronicle. “I’m thankful I was born in America.”
Uranium mill gets permit
TELLURIDE, Colo. – Sixty miles west of Telluride, near the Utah border, a company called Energy Fuels has secured another permit for a uranium processing mill. The company hopes to begin construction of the mill mid-way through 2012. Environmental advocates vow to continue their opposition. Hillary White, executive director of the Telluride-based Sheep Mountain Alliance, told The Telluride Watch that Energy Fuels “hasn’t demonstrated that they can prevent leaks and radioactive, toxic chemicals and heavy metal contamination of the watershed.
Hut, hut, hike!
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – Another hut has been completed along the Continental Divide in Colorado, and another is proposed.
The privately owned Breeze Point Cabin has opened near Tennessee Pass, between Vail and Leadville. It has an elevation of 10,500 feet. The 10th Mountain Hut Association is taking bookings.
A hut is also proposed east of Breckenridge, near Boreas Pass, and would be the fifth hut built and managed by the Summit Huts Association. The hut would be located at about 11,500 feet in elevation and proximate to a north-facing slope with excellent powder skiing, reports the Summit Daily News.