Mountain Town News
By Allen Best
Can you have too much music?
JACKSON, Wyo. – Lovers of contemporary music were in heaven this summer in Jackson Hole. There were shows by up-and-coming bands and well-known performers like Emmylou Harris every third night during July and August. Many were free.
Too much of a good thing? Those who charge money for shows told the Jackson Hole News&Guide that the freebies hurt. “It’s hard to get that cover ($20) out of people, because they could see up-and-coming to big-name bands for free,” said promoter Dom Gagliardi.
How much will people pay? Concert-bar promoter Harper Hollis said he tries to keep the cover charge down to $5. At $10 to $15, customers turn around at the door.
Killing bad bears hard for law
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – In a moving, poignant essay published in the Crested Butte News, state wildlife officer Chris Parmeter tells about having to kill a three-year-old bear that he had come to know well.
“This is part of my job as a district wildlife manager, a part that I despise,” he wrote. He told of being summoned to a house in a rural subdivision where a bear had repeatedly tried to invade to get food. There was no choice but to kill the bear. But that did not make him feel good about what he had done.
Parmeter said he first encountered the bear in a Dumpster, when it was a cub, and then again several times more. “He’d pull down birdfeeders and I’d give out ‘Living with Bears’ brochures to the homeowners. A month later I’d see the birdfeeders out again, right against the picture window.”
For the bear, says Parmeter, the choice was easy: four hours of picking berries, one by one, versus four minutes munching down birdseed for the same caloric gain.
People whose behavior – leaving birdfeeders and other food accessible to bears – always wanted the animals kept remain alive, but taken elsewhere. But in the end, they created the circumstances that left wildlife officers with no choice but to kill it.
Slowing the growth gorillas
ASPEN, Colo. – Mayors of Aspen from 1973 to the present assembled recently to share notes in a public forum. The first of them, Stacy Standley, had initially arrived in Aspen in 1966, poor and a college drop-out, but taken with the town.
Over beers with other 20-somethings, he expressed his unhappiness with the direction he saw Aspen going. It was headed toward real estate development, with a gutting of everything about Aspen that had drawn them in the first place.
“To get that vision in Aspen, we had to have a vision, and the mission was to get control of the process in some way, and to do that you had to have passion,” he said at the forum, which was covered by the Aspen Daily News.
“To me, it really came down to that, a shared vision, a mission and a commitment, and a passion to see it through to the end. Really (Aspen) was just doing business as usual by the people who had lived here forever, and God bless ‘em, they didn’t see this bulldozer coming down Highway 82 that had nothing but growth gorillas in the cage on the back.”
Says the Daily News: “The rest is history, as Standley was elected mayor in 1973, served for six years, and the battle between members of the community and developers began that is still being waged to this day.”
Bill Stirling, mayor from 1983 to 1991, said it wasn’t until the 1980s that people began to view Aspen as a potential source of wealth, a commodity.
When he arrived in Aspen in the 1960s, 80 percent of the people lived and worked there. By the end of his mayoralty, about 45 percent of people lived and worked in town.
Snowmass now #2
SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo. – Come winter, Snowmass will be the second largest ski area in Colorado. The addition of 230 acres that has been in the works for about a decade will give Snowmass 3,362 skiable acres. Largest is Vail, which has 5,289 acres. The Aspen Daily News reports that a new $15 million restaurant is set to open this winter at Snowmass.
Wonders at Whistler
WHISTLER, B.C. – Looking back on a busy summer, people in Whistler are now thinking ahead to ski season.
The ski area operator is kicking off a promotional campaign called “Wonders at Whistler Blackcomb.” Skiers and snowboarders will be encouraged to “map” their wonders by uploading photos and video to the WB Wonderground website.
Season passes at Whistler Blackcomb this year are $1,489 if purchased by Oct. 8.
Locals want cheap passes
WHITEFISH, Mont. – Reading about all the swell, low-cost season passes now available in Colorado’s I-70 corridor and California’s Tahoe Basin., skiers at Whitefish Mountain Resort wonder why they have to pay so much.
The Whitefish Pilot reports discontent on the Internet after the resort announced it would charge $550 for a season pass. Compare that with Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass, which costs $639 and allows unlimited skiing at 10 resorts.
Deep discounts are possible when you do big numbers, responded Nick Polumbus, the marketing director at Whitefish Mountain. Whitefish does 290,000 skiers annually; Vail and Breckenridge about 1.6 million each.
More realistic comparisons are to Bozeman’s Bridger Bowl ($580) and Big Sky ($999), or Durango ($819) or Crested Butte ($999), he said.
Squaw Valley growing rapidly
SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. – The new owners of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows continue to pour money into the two ski areas, with another $24 million in capital improvements planned for this winter.
Topping the list: snowmaking. Worse than almost any other ski resort, Squaw was high and dry well into January this year.
A new high-speed six-pack chairlift is another planned improvement.
After buying first Squaw and then Alpine, Denver-based KSL Capital Partners announced plans for a five-year, $70 million upgrade to the two resorts. The company was founded by former executives of Vail Resorts.
Meanwhile, Squaw continues forward into government review with its plans to nearly double the bed-base and expand amenities. Included are plans for an aquatic center, an entertainment center and indoor zip lines, reports the Sierra Sun.
Chevis Hosea, the senior vice president of development for Squaw Valley Real Estate, said the improvements are designed to provide a better destination ski experience. Altogether, the upgrades are intended to provide a “critical mass of bed base for international financial stability and to compete with all the other great alpine ski resorts in the world.”