The heart of Summit County was on display as nonprofits and community-minded residents were honored at the 25th Annual Philanthropy Awards. The ceremony was held on Nov. 20 at the Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center.
The Summit Foundation bestows honors each year in ten different categories to recognize the contributions made by exceptional groups and individuals in the county. Wells Fargo Bank and Climax Molybdenum also sponsor the awards. The categories include outstanding: board member, citizen, community organization, educator, professional in nonprofit, philanthropists, volunteer, youth, youth mentor and business.
Phyllis Martinez, who was honored as the outstanding citizen, said she became involved with nonprofits starting nearly 40 years ago when she first landed in Summit County.
“It came as a complete surprise and I was a little embarrassed,” she said.
The former president of the film festival, Martinez said one thing that hasn’t changed during her four decades of working in the community is the welcoming and inclusive nature of Summit County.
Another Summit Foundation board of trustee member, Andy Lewis, was honored as the outstanding board member for 2015. The award was based on his work with a number of groups. Lewis said after relocating to the area 11 years ago, he partnered with his wife Sally to volunteer with the Breckenridge Music Festival and Applause. A few years later Lewis joined the board of CASA of the Continential Divide (Court Appointed Special Advocates) before being asked to join the Summit Foundation board in 2009.
“I think the whole evening is an affirmation of how generous and how compassionate this community is,” he said. “If you’re the least bit passionate for the organization then it isn’t work, it’ a true pleasure.”
Judge Ed Casias took home the David Olbright outstanding youth mentor award. Besides coaching youth lacrosse in Summit County, the judge has also worked with Mountain Mentors, which connects adult volunteers with youth ages 8 to 16. He is also active with the Summit-Lake Dillion Optimists.
“The application for the youth mentor award was a combined effort of people I’ve worked with on a lot of different projects,” he acknowledged.
Casias said one perk of his involvement over the years is crossing paths with kids he coached in the past.
“The kids I coached years ago in high school, it’s fun to see there’s that connection,” he shared. “It shows you had an impact.”
In fact, Casias said his entire family has maintained a nearly decade long relationship with a young man they became acquainted with through Mountain Mentors. Although mentorships officially end after the youth graduates high school, the family’s connection has maintained as the young man begins college of the University of Arizona.
“He’s like a son in our family,” he said. “We included him in last year’s family portrait.”
Representing the next generation of philanthropists was outstanding youth award winner Cait McCluskie, who credited a strong support system in her development.
“Getting recognized by my community was pretty amazing, especially considering all they’ve done for me already,” she said. “Growing up in such a tight-knit community like Summit County, I’ve always had so much support from everyone around me, especially teachers, coaches, and friends.”
Her claims of being passionate about extracurricular activities are evidenced by her involvement in hockey, rugby, dancing, speech, debate and theatre.
“I have learned incalculable lessons such as putting others before myself, listening and leading in equal balance, and never giving up,” she said. “I’ve tried to carry these lessons over to my community service activities, especially directing the Summit Middle School play.”
Burke & Riley’s Irish Pub took home the outstanding business honors. Co-owner Jack Riley said being recognized in a community that has an abundance of stellar people involved is no small feat. When the tavern began serving the pubic 11 years ago, Riley said he and partner Mark Burke wanted to make an impact.
“Right from the start we knew we were going to get involved with the town,” he said.
The pub began the Burke and Riley’s Golf Tournament their first year in operation. The event has donated proceeds to support high school athletic programs in the county.
“The first year we raised $15,000,” he said. “The last two or three years we’ve got over $30,000.”
The funds have helped support baseball and football camps where youngsters get to meet professional athletes, as well as purchase uniforms and equipment, Riley explained.
“We’ve also supported the homeless shelter in Denver and the Summit in Honduras,” he said.
Other honorees included: John Spierling as outstanding educator, Molly Lee as outstanding professional in a nonprofit organization, Dr. Wilson Strong as outstanding volunteer, Nancy and Tom Keltner as the Dr. Oliver Stonington outstanding philanthropists and the Education Foundation of the Summit as outstanding community organization.
ROB MILLISOR’S LEGACY
This year’s philanthropy awards were dedicated to the memory of Rob Millisor. Lewis said the recently departed community leader epitomized the idea of philanthropy. He hopes his example and the example of other community leaders will inspire the next genereation of philanthropists.
“All of us that are community minded are trying to get a younger generation to feel that,” he said. “I have never learned how to say no.”
Noting the abundance of positivity in Summit County, Martinez feels fortunate to reside in the mountains. She singled out the Family Intercultural Resource Center and the Summit Community Care Clinic as two groups doing exemplary work in the county. With new people always moving into the area, she recommends getting involved as the best way to meet folks.
“Getting involved in a non-profit is a quick way to get connected to the community,” she said.
Summing up her vision of volunteerism, Martinez mentioned a Gandhi quote to explain what many gain from giving of their time and energy.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” she quoted.
October real estate sales in Summit County took a 26 percent leap over the previous October. Total real estate sales in the county topped $157 million for the month, which improved significantly on the previous October’s sales number of more than $124 million. Total sales transactions, 283 this October, increased from 263 last October.
The average home sale price for October was just over $555,000, improving on last October’s average home sale price of more than $475,000. No doubt helping to drive up the average price was the number of homes sold for over a million dollars. This October, there were 29 seven-figure sales, which tops the 22 similar sales last October.
The top five most expensive home sales all were residences in Breckenridge, with the top figure of $3.5 million in the Westridge subdivision.
Jeff Moore, managing broker with Slifer Smith & Frampton Real estate, said that trend might change next month. Moore has just completed a sale on what he described as a very exclusive and rare property in Frisco for a whopping $2.75 million.
“The seller of this lakefront home wanted a real estate brokerage that had cohesive synergy, marketing power, mountain connections and a proven track record of sales,” Moore said.
As we enter the heart of the holiday season, Moore doesn’t foresee record-breaking sales in abundance.
“Typically, September and October are the busiest months for closings and sales activity slows down around the holidays,” he noted.
Last December, sales were stronger than expected, Moore said. He also noted that, based upon market indicators, he doesn’t anticipate a significant drop off this year either.
“Last December and January, sales were extremely strong, and there was great momentum all year,” he said. “I expect the pace of sales to continue at above average levels to close out 2015 as buyers try to get into mountain properties before the height of the ski season.”
Kirk Dice, partner at Breckenridge Associates Real Estate, said steady sales have been assisted by the reduced number of units for sale.
“The real estate market (in Summit County) is the lowest its been on inventory in many years,” he said.
The diminished number of homes available in the area has been a major contributor to continually increasing prices, Dice noted.
As the year in real estate winds down, Moore said the year began with a boom and never really took a major dip.
“2015 started off with a strong first quarter that transitioned into an extremely busy summer that was reflected in record setting closings in September and October,” he said.
He noted that the robust activity of this year shows no indications of slowing down as we cross into the new year.
“As for 2016, I expect the market will continue to experience higher sales volume with upward pressure on pricing given the fact Summit County’s inventory is at an eight-year low,” he said. “Today’s mountain buyers are coming out of very healthy real estate markets around the country and wanting to invest in the high country lifestyle to enjoy everything the county has to offer.”
Copper wants everyone to get on skis or a snowboard this season — and stay there.
Just in time to welcome the U.S. Ski Team, Copper Mountain announced the return of the Ski and Ride School University program.
Ski and Ride U., as it’s known, offers newbies a hassle-free way to give skiing or snowboarding a try and provides plenty of incentive to stay with the sport. For $199 per student, the package includes: three ski or snowboard lessons, lift tickets, equipment rentals, close-in parking and lunch. That’s about the price of a single day on the hill if you headed out to learn on your own.
Upon graduation and completion of the third lesson, Copper will toss in a free season pass, so guests can continue to progress for remainder of the 2015/2016 winter season. Additionally after graduation, guests will also receive 50-percent off their 2016/2017 Copper Mountain Season Pass.
While enrolled in Ski and Ride School U, guests will take advantage of Copper’s newly-created, terrain-based teaching area. This beginner-friendly section is located in Green Acres, a small learning area between Center and East villages. This non-intimidating area highlights entry-level, manmade features, such as banked turns and a gentle mini-pipe, teamed with progressive teaching principles from ski and ride school instructors.
Guests must be 18 years or older and completely new to the sports of skiing and snowboarding to participate. It’s the honors system — don’t abuse the system by signing up to get a season pass. To be eligible for both pass discounts (complimentary 2015/2016 Copper Mountain Season Pass and discounted 2016/2017 Season Pass), the third lesson must be completed on or before April 10, 2016.
If you’re here for vacation and plan on returning, remember that Ski and Ride University lessons will not be available between the dates of Dec. 27, 2015 and Jan. 3, 2016 over the New Year’s holiday.
The product must be purchased in person at Copper Mountain guest services or the Mountain Sports Sales Center located in the Copper One building in Copper’s Center Village. There are no online sales.
The program is limited, and registration won’t last the entire season. For more information on Copper’s Ski and Ride U., see www.CopperColorado.com/SRSU.
Early storms have dropped more than 50 inches of snow on the Vail Valley so far in November, and powder-hungry skiers and riders have taken advantage, hiking up the mountain to enjoy fresh tracks.
“It has been really good so far this year,” said Delya Schock, a local telemark skier who has been touring nearby mountains for the past eight years. “The snow has motivated a lot of people to get up on the mountain early this season.”
This uphill action, called randonnee, but also known as skinning or touring, is in full swing at local resorts and popular backcountry areas. Randonnee utilizes equipment specially designed for going uphill and downhill. The activity extends to telemark skiing, alpine skiing and snowboarding.
“It’s a different attitude — you have to be laid back about it a little bit,” Schock said. “People are in it for the adventure and the conversation and the stories of all the things that happen along the way.”
The rapid evolution of randonnee equipment, the promise of powder and a group mentality have caused the activity to become more popular over recent years, said Sean Glackin, owner of Alpine Quest Sports, a retailer in Edwards that specializes in alpine touring, telemark and backcountry gear throughout the winter.
“People have been wanting to get out as soon as the snow started falling,” he said. “The equipment has gotten much better for alpine skiers, telemarkers and even snowboarders with split boards. There are suddenly a lot of people to go with and the right equipment to get you out there.”
UPHILL AT LOCAL RESORTS
Before Vail opened Friday, uphillers enjoyed full access to the mountain, day and night. Skin tracks, the trails uphill traffic follows, were set all over the mountain.
At Vail, a popular skin track left out of the Golden Peak base area and followed the Tourist Trap and Riva ski runs to the top of the mountain. The track was just more than 2 miles long and gained 2,400 vertical feet, opening access to ski down Riva and Prima. Other tracks were set up Lindsey’s and catwalks out of Lionshead.
At Beaver Creek, popular skin tracks aimed toward the top of Larkspur Bowl or the top of Centennial, gaining nearly 2,600 feet over 2 or 3 miles of hiking. The track opened up access to ski Larkspur or any run serviced by Beaver Creek’s main Chair 6.
“We were up at Beaver Creek after the first big storm three weeks ago,” Schock said. “We’d skin up to Spruce Lodge and then past there to ski some of the upper pitches on Cinch (Chair 8). At Vail, Riva and Prima have been the most popular spot, but there have been some tracks out at Chair 10, even though it is a little more of a hike.”
However, with Vail operational and Beaver Creek soon to follow, the policy toward uphill traffic shifts out of respect for mountain operations and skier safety. Due to early-season work on the mountain, uphill travel on Vail Mountain is currently limited to Simba on the west end of the mountain, which can be accessed from Lionshead. Those climbing up the mountain must obey all signage and should expect to encounter snowcats, including winch cats, snowmobiles, snowmaking equipment and other traffic both day and night.
Right now, uphill travel at Vail is not permitted between the operating hours of 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. As the season progresses and more of the mountain opens, uphill travelers will once again be free to go up during operating hours, but you may only bring your dog along once the mountain closes for the day.
“There is some summer construction that is wrapping up, groomers out on the mountain and snow making,” said Sally Gunter, senior communications manager at Vail Mountain. “We encourage everyone to read the policy on our website, call the hotline and know their responsibilities on the mountain, really so everyone can be safe.” The uphill policies can be found at www.vail.com orwww.beavercreek.com (Find the uphill access rules for Breck, Keystone and A-Basin atwww.summitdaily.com) and include information on use of ski-area facilities, year-round mountain operations, vehicles, snowmobiles, mountain bikes, winter camping, hiking and uphill etiquette.
During daytime operation, uphillers are encouraged to call the trails hotline for updates on mountain operations. Stay toward the side of the trail, position yourself so you are visible from above, wear bright colors, obey signage and avoid areas where machinery is in operation. Also, dogs are not allowed.
Evening uphill access etiquette includes calling the trails hotline for evening mountain operations, abiding by daytime recommendations and wearing reflective material. All dogs must be on a leash, and you must carry a light or headlamp and be aware that ski-area emergency services are not available.
Vail, Beaver Creek and all Summit County resorts do operate on public land and have a permit to do so, which raises questions of whether or not the resort can restrict access. Therein lies a gray area where regulations are substituted for mutual respect and common sense.
“A lot of situations are conditional,” said Max Forgensi, mountain sports administrator for the Eagle Holy Cross Ranger District, the section of the U.S. Forest Service that oversees the land upon which local resorts operate. “It is your land, it is my land, it is everyone’s land. People can access the resorts uphill, but they have to abide by certain terms and conditions in the resort operation plan.”
While it is public land, if someone traveling uphill interferes with operations of the ski area, then the resort has the authority to do something about it, he said.
This includes trying to board a lift without a pass, which is considered “theft of services” and opens that individual up to legal prosecution. However, the resorts do not have exclusive use of the land and, therefore, the land is open for all to enjoy.
Forgensi said the uphill policies that are recommended by the resort allow the individual traveling uphill, the skiers traveling downhill and mountain operations to all exist alongside one another.
“We do encourage the use of public land,” Gunter said. “But we want users to be aware of the areas they are entering, their responsibilities and abide by the rules that are in place.”
Local extreme sports photographer Bjorn Bauer has already made runs on Vail and Beaver Creek, but also on Vail Pass and back in Lake Creek near Edwards. Backcountry spots, such as Vail Pass, reflect the origins of randonnee, as skiers look to conquer peaks and explore terrain not served by lifts.
“Hiking at a resort is usually much shorter, much safer and much cleaner,” he said. “In the backcountry, there are obstacles and rewards you don’t find in a resort.”
These obstacles and untamed nature of unmaintained terrain deter the crowds that hike the resorts. He sees this as a benefit — in the backcountry, you likely won’t run into many other skiers and obviously no mountain operations.
There is etiquette to backcountry skinning and skiing, as well. It, too, centers on skier safety.
“You need to be prepared,” he said. “You can be out there for much longer than if you were going to a resort. Avalanches are a real possibility, and you have to be able to recognize a situation and act appropriately if something happens.”
He also said it’s important to ski with the right partner. When it comes to hiking and skiing, the people you set out with need to be good skiers and in good shape. If you are going to the backcountry or skiing dangerous terrain, then the entire group needs to be trained and capable in an avalanche or emergency situation.
Despite being early in the season, when avalanche conditions should be calm, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center has already posted videos about how the early-season snow has set up in a dangerous way in certain areas.
Popular backcountry destinations include Vail Pass, Loveland Pass, Mayflower Gulch and areas around Summit County and Leadville.
“There are risks, and there are rewards. I would pretty much always choose to hike or ski in the backcountry,” Bauer said. “You can escape the crowds. You can find fresh snow, and that snow doesn’t get skied out.”
On July 23, 1887, Tom Groves and Harry Lytton struck it rich — they found the largest piece of gold ever discovered in Colorado, a record that stands to this day. The discovery happened in the Farncomb Hill area, outside of Breckenridge, and after finding the piece of irregular massive gold, Groves wrapped the 13 ½ pound hunk of glory in a blanket, parading it around Breckenridge — thus earning it the nickname of Tom’s Baby.
There are two stories to the tale of Tom’s Baby, according to local Rick Hague, a mining historian and member of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance and Summit Historical Society boards. The first story tells the tale of the discovery of Tom’s Baby, the second — its re-discovery.
Groves and his partner Lytton were contract miners in the late 1800s. Contract miners did not own the land they were working on, but paid a royalty for their finds, usually around 25 percent of the gross. Farncomb Hill is an area that is a bit peculiar geologically, Hague said, and for that reason it’s very famous amongst mineral collectors even today for its spectacular specimens of wire gold.
“Wire gold is very fine crystalline gold, very unusual — it sort of looks like a Brillo pad — it formed up in that area in underground cavities called vugs,” Hague said. “These vugs initially were gas bubbles that occurred during the geological formation of that area. Over time, what happened was that fluids — very hot, high-pressured fluids — forced their way into these underground cavities and deposited mineralization. That’s what caused this area to become famous, was they had these vugs, and fluids would come into the cavities underground. They wouldn’t completely fill the cavities with solid material, they would deposit some of this wire gold on the surfaces of the cavity, and the rest of it would be empty.”
Groves and Lytton were mining away one day underground — drilling and blasting their way through the area. They were most likely hand drilling, Hague said, with hand steels and heavy hammers. After blasting, they went back in to see what had happened, and they discovered in the remaining solid rock one of these types of cavities they had blasted into.
When they looked inside, the cavity was covered with crystal and gold.
“Understandably, they were ecstatic,” Hague said. “We don’t know precisely what happened, but in the bottom of this cavity was a great big chunk of gold, which originally weighed about 13 ½ pounds.”
The trip to Breckenridge was a decent horseback ride or walk from the area they were at in Farncomb Hill, and the two were afraid of being robbed on their way into town.
“So Tom wrapped it in a blanket, put it in his jacket, and carried it like a baby — and that’s where the name Tom’s Baby came from,” Hague said.
Once the two got into town, Groves paraded it around, and the piece became instantly well known.
“I’ve read a newspaper article that was written that Monday, the following Monday, and already they called it Tom’s Baby, so that was early on,” he said.
Tom’s Baby was taken to an assayer, professionals who would take samples of rock, clean them up and put them through a series of tests to give the miner a certificate that would tell the miner how many pounds of lead or zinc, or ounces of silver per ton were in that sample.
The assayer’s shop was located on what is now Ridge Street, currently home to Angel’s Hollow restaurant. The problem was, the shop had a large plate glass window, and everybody was a little bit scared of people looking in and seeing this huge pile of gold. So they ended up taking it across the street to the assayer’s house, which is now Moe’s Original Bar B Que.
The assayer cleaned it up and put it in an acid solution to eat away all of the non-gold material, and weighed it. There is one account of a piece of Tom’s Baby falling off — a small piece — during the process.
“That was the last time apparently the piece was seen as 13 ½ pounds,” Hague said.
Groves and Lytton contacted the owner of the mine, a local man by the name of Ward who is very famous in local mining history circles. It is said that Tom’s Baby was given to Ward, who had a partner down in Denver.
Presumably, Ward, Groves and Lytton made some sort of financial arrangement, where Ward got the specimen, paying the two miners the other 75 percent in cash. Ward took possession of Tom’s Baby, with plans of shipping it to his partner in Denver. The last time it was seen was when he handed the gold to the conductor on the train that went out on the narrow gauge to Denver — and then it disappeared.
THE RE-DISCOVERY OF TOM’S BABY
Around 1900, there was a group of people trying to organize what eventually became the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The collections of two Breckenridge folks, Edwin Carter, a naturalist, and John F. Campion, a famous gold specimen collector, were added to the museum, which opened in 1916. Tom’s Baby was not found in either collection.
In those days, it was very common to hold large world fairs, and in these fairs, one of the features was exhibits of gold and silver specimens from the West.
“It was a matter of prestige to get it exhibited in one of these things,” Hague said.
The most famous one was Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, and interestingly enough, Tom’s Baby didn’t show up in any of these exhibits.
“It is the largest mass of gold ever found in Colorado — it should have been in any number of these exhibits but it was not,” he said.
Fast-forward to the late 1960s, early 1970s, and a local pastor of the Father Dyer Church in Breckenridge, Mark Fiester, was writing a book he called “Blasted Beloved Breckenridge.” He made it his mission in writing this book to find out what happened to Tom’s Baby.
He did a tremendous amount of research, and in 1972, he discovered Tom’s Baby in a bank vault in Denver, owned by the Museum of Natural History, now known as the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
“It was in a wooden box, off in a corner buried by a bunch of other stuff, labeled ‘dinosaur bones,’” Hague said. “They pull it out — sure enough there is Tom’s Baby.”
They had found a large mass of gold, and everyone assumed it had to be Tom’s Baby, but they couldn’t be sure, as no photographs had been taken of the original specimen. Officials managed to find Ward’s daughter, who verified it was indeed Tom’s Baby. Hague points out that Ward’s daughter saw the gold in 1887, and it was now 1972 — “if you had seem something as a child would you remember it at 80 years old?” The piece they found weighed approximately 10 ½ pounds.
“So it’s always been a little bit of a mystery what happened to other three pounds,” he said.
Fiester found a couple of other pieces that look like they may have come off of Tom’s Baby, but had no way to verify it, and those pieces may very well be in the Museum of Nature & Science, Hague said.
Tom’s Baby is now housed safe and sound in the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and can be viewed behind a thick glass case today.
A fast-moving winter storm combined with heavy traffic is creating closures on Interstate 70 between Vail Pass and Denver. The highway has already seen three closures Friday morning, due to several accidents and slides as the heavy snow created slick roads.
Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Bob Wilson said drivers should expect commercial vehicle chain laws and passenger vehicle traction laws to remain in effect “as long as the storm is gripping the corridor like right now.”
The storm currently extends west to Avon, and almost as far east as Denver. Passenger traction laws require vehicles to have snow tires, four-wheel drive, or alternative traction devices such as chains or Autosocks.
“Part of the problem is the storm came in extremely fast,” Wilson said. “We’ve just had a lot of traffic, and a lot of slipping and sliding when the storm came in pretty ferocious.”
Colorado State Patrol trooper Josh Lewis said he did not see any reports of serious injuries from Friday morning’s accidents. While he couldn’t give an exact number, he noted there had been “a lot of slide-offs.”
“Most people just need to slow down to avoid going into a guardrail or a median,” Lewis said. “There are gonna be more people off the road than there are troopers to help them.”
Within Summit County, Dillon Dam Road remained closed as gusts of more than 20 mph combined with fresh snow restricted visibility along the road. Summit County Road and Bridge foreman Vic Schroeder said they hoped to reopen the road as soon as visibility improves.
On most business trips, you have to squeeze in time for fun with evening outings, layovers and days added to the trip. But if your meeting is at a ski resort, you’ll likely find your schedule is intentionally blank for a block of hours midday, so you can enjoy the slopes.
Continuing education programs for medical and legal professionals make up one of the largest segments of group business travel to ski resorts in Colorado each winter. Usually these meetings start early, with sessions from 6:30 a.m. or 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. Then they recess for a few hours, so participants can enjoy the best part of the day skiing or snowboarding. Meetings then resume from 3:30 p.m. or 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.
“They want to conduct business, attend seminars and learn and grow in their professions, but they also want to enjoy these resorts,” said Marcella Bettis, director of sales and marketing for the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera in Edwards, Colorado, which hosts 35 to 50 such meetings each winter. “Often times, they bring their families, too, especially when it’s a long-term program that’s been in the valley for years. They say, ‘This is an opportunity to bring my family while doing business.’”
For some organizations, mixing ski trips and professional pursuits is a tradition.
“Some continuing education groups have been visiting Snowmass for 40-plus years,” said Rose Abello, tourism director for Snowmass in Aspen, Colorado, where continuing education groups made up a third of group business last winter.
And group business isn’t all continuing education. Lamborghini, the luxury carmaker, has hosted a VIP driving school at Snowmass for top customers including days on an ice track plus skiing, and the American Institute of Architects is coming this winter.
“It’s a good business for the resort industry,” said Michael Berry, spokesman for the National Ski Areas Association, who said that ski areas in other reg ions — including Utah and Vermont — host business groups as well.
But while major convention cities like New York, New Orleans or Orlando, Florida attract thousands of participants to individual events, ski resort meetings “aren’t huge. These are seminars for 75 to 150 people,” said Bettis.
For those who don’t ski or snowboard, other activities include spas, culinary classes and snowmobiling.
Some meetings head to the mountains in the summer, when outdoor fun includes hiking and biking. Colorado’s famed Aspen Institute is busier hosting conferences in summer than winter, though they host winter events as well. The institute’s meetings range from executive and leadership seminars to its Socrates program, which introduces participants to the great books and the Socratic method.
“For an executive who loves to ski, it’s an opportunity to mix a winter vacation with an educational seminar,” said Killeen Brettmann, spokeswoman for the Aspen Institute. Sometimes staffers pair with participants for time on the slopes, according to skill level. “With the Socrates seminar, generally what happens is someone from the institute will say, ‘Who’s an expert skier, who’s a beginner?’ Then if you’d like to participate in the group, you can go, but you also have the option to go off on your own.”
Smaller ski areas also attract group business, often with team-building activities or fun group outings for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. At Canaan Valley Resort in Davis, West Virginia, group sleigh rides are popular. At Sleeping Giant in Cody, Wyoming, ice climbing is a specialty.