Friday, December 30, 2005

Snow Keeps Pilling Up

Without any obvious large-scale patterns influencing the weather, Colorado seems to have returned to a normal winter storm pattern, with wave after wave of Pacific moisture rolling onshore and delivering a steady series of snowstorms across the Northern Rockies.

“The westerlies across the Pacific are strong now and are driving repeated storms into the western mountains. It has not, however, been far enough south to produce snow and rain for the southwest USA, including southwest Colorado,” said state climatologist Dr. Roger Pielke.

Thursday’s storm snarled holiday traffic but also delivered a fresh blast of new snow at all local areas, with 6 inches at Copper Mountain, five at A-Basin, 3 at Breckenridge and 2 inches at Keystone, as of the 2 p.m.

Just across the Divide, Loveland picked up 9 inches for the highest storm total of the day.

Breckenridge weather watcher Rick Bly hasn’t compiled the month-end totals for Breckenridge but December is sure to wind up as the third month in a row with above-average precipitation, the first time that’s happened in quite some time.

As of Thursday morning, snowfall for the month was about 40 percent above average, Bly said. And there’s more snow on the way, with the forecast calling for waves of moisture to roll in every few days, at least through early next week.

“It’s a very progressive, active Pacific Ocean,” said Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster Scott Toepfer, indicating that another storm is due Saturday night, with another system ringing in the New Year with fresh powder Monday night into Tuesday. Toepfer said it looks like the jet stream could drop a little further south with that system, bringing heavier snows to the Northern Mountains along with a good blast for the San Juans, where precipitation has been lagging a little bit.

The snowpack at Red Mountain Pass is at about 84 percent of normal, Toepfer said.In general, the southern mountains have been drier than average this season, especially compared with the past few years.

“It’s just the luck of the draw where the storm track decided to stroll this year,” Toepfer said, explaining that the jet stream has just stayed that tad to the north, which means the San Juans haven’t seen the southwest flows coming in from Southern California. The recent series of storms has been originating in the central Pacific rather than the Gulf of Alaska, which means the temperatures have been slightly warmer than average for this time of year.

Looking at large-scale satellite images, Toepfer said there’s a zonal flow beginning in China and Russia and extending all the way across the Pacific before ridging and troughing as it hits the West Coast.

“In that kind of flow, the storms move in fast and move out fast, and there’s not a lot of time for dry slots to form in between,” he said.

The current weather pattern comes close, but doesn’t quite meet the definition of a Pineapple Express, when copious subtropical moisture from near Hawaii hooks up with the Polar jet stream for what can be exceptionally heavy snows. But should the present pattern shift just a little, with storms coming in slightly colder, conditions could resemble the winter of 1983, “when we were tunneling down Main Street (in Breckenridge) to get our mail,” Toepfer said.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Keystone Wins Enviornmental Award

Keystone Resort’s ongoing environmental accomplishments have earned it a reputation as a leader in the ski industry for green efforts, according to Rick Cables, regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region, which covers Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota and Kansas.

Over the past year, the Keystone Lodge signed a one-year contract to buy enough wind energy to offset the electricity used by 40-percent of its room nights, the Outpost restaurant began composting vegetable scraps at 11,440 feet and the resort partnered with the U.S. Forest Service and the Keystone Science School to create a mountain naturalist tour for its guests.

That’s on top of already using wind energy to power its night-skiing operation, composting at the Keystone Ranch and the conference center and employing a successful recycling program that consistently recycles 1,200 tons of materials every year.

“The whole ethic at Keystone is about sustainability and a very light environmental footprint. We just thought that was neat stuff and they should get acknowledged for it,” Cables said.

Cables and his two deputy foresters recently selected Keystone out of numerous nominees for its prestigious Caring for the Land Stewardship Award, marking the first time a ski area has ever won the honors.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Kids NextSnow Search 2006

The 2006 Sports Illustrated For Kids Next Snow Search is a series of ski and snowboard competitions in the U.S. and Canada. Boys and girls age 9-13, both skiers and snowboarders all compete in the one class.

Members of the Breckenridge Freeride team will judge the performance of each participant. Events include moguls, carving, big mountain, riding, half pipe, slopestyle, rails, racing, and big air jumps. Athletes must compete in all events. Style attitude and sportsmanship are also considered in addition to athletic skill. The goal is to discover the best kids on snow.

On January 8, 2006 the series comes to Breckenridge.

The winner of the qualifying event will be sent (expenses paid) to represent Breckenridge at the Next Snow Search Finals at Killington, VT, on March 3-5, 2006

For more information to to or contact Heather Nordquist at 970-453-5000.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Skyway Skiway to Open One Year Early

This Friday, Breckenridge Ski Resort will celebrate the opening of the Skyway Skiway with a ribbon cutting on the skier bridge that serves as a link for Breckenridge skiers and riders from Peak 8 to the Main Street Breckenridge and free skier parking lots. The Skyway Skiway also will provide ski-in access to the Mountain Thunder Lodge and Townhomes.

The Skyway Skiway opening was originally planned for the 2006-2007 season, but crews worked into the fall to complete the project early. While the resort still needs to put in snowmaking on the Skyway Skiway next summer, plentiful snowfall has allowed Breckenridge Ski Resort to open the skiway more than a year ahead of schedule.

The Skyway Skiway is an example of the ski resort and the town working together to better meet the needs of our guests including easier access from the mountain to the parking lots and Main Street, said Roger McCarthy, chief operating officer for Breckenridge and Keystone. And, thanks to all the snow that has fallen, we are able to open this new ski run into town a year early to all our skiers and riders.

In May 2002, the Town of Breckenridge and Breckenridge Ski Resort signed a landmark agreement outlining a development plan for Peaks 7 and 8 designed to uphold both the resort town's world-class stature and quality of life. The construction and completion of the Skyway Skiway is an integral part of implementing the agreement.

With its completion, we are one step closer to making the Peak 7 and Peak 8 villages a reality, said Alex Iskenderian, vice-president of development for Vail Resorts Development Company.

The Skyway Skiway ribbon-cutting will take place at the head of the new skier bridge at 10 a.m. this Friday, Dec. 23. To get there via Peak 8, take 4 O'Clock ski run down to the Skyway Skiway.

Monday, December 19, 2005

'98 Vail Fires had Summit County Effect

You have probably read about the recent arrests of two persons suspected of being involved with the 1998 arson on Vail Mountain.

The 1998 arson on Vail Mountain that destroyed Two Elk lodge and destroyed or heavily damaged several other buildings and lifts at the Eagle County ski area was accompanied by a veiled warning that hinted at future strikes against other ski resorts in the region.

Taking credit for the fires, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) warned skiers to stay away from Vail Resorts-owned ski areas, suggesting that more attacks could be in the cards if the resort company didn't back away from its path of what ELF characterized as unwarranted destruction of wildlife habitat.

As a result, the fires had repercussions in Summit County, as Vail Resorts boosted security measures at Keystone and Breckenridge. At the start of the 1998 season, for example, security vehicles were more visible than usual at the Keystone base area. Patrols were stepped up around the ski resorts, and some on-mountain facilities were staffed day and night.

While a similar attack is not near the top of the list of present concerns, at least some of those security measures are still in place, including increased use of video surveillance at all four of the company's resorts, said VR spokesperson Kelly Ladyga.

"The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority," Ladyga said, adding that she couldn't discuss any additional security measures.

The Vail arson also had a direct impact on Summit County's law enforcement resources, said former Sheriff Joe Morales, now director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety. The top concern at the time was securing the access routes to Vail's Category 3 expansion area, now known as Blue Sky Basin. Since the main route to the area started on the Summit side of Vail Pass, the sheriff's office was involved in that effort, Morales said.

The threat of additional attacks against Vail Resorts meant local deputies had to step up patrols around Summit County resorts. Morales said a new lift on Peak 7 at Breckenridge was under consideration at the time, raising security concerns in that area.

"We were concerned enough that those people would go to that level that people could potentially get killed," Morales said, emphasizing that it was lucky no one died at the mountaintop fires at Vail.

Morales said there were several other incidents of eco-sabotage, or vandalism, that were investigated while he was sheriff, including some tree-spiking, as well as damage to heavy equipment around construction areas at Keystone, as well as some equipment under contract to the Forest Service for work on public lands around Montezuma.

Any imminent threat of a ski area attack has faded to the background, but it's still on the radar screen, as is the potential for other types of eco-sabotage, according to Summit County Sheriff John Minor.

"Domestic or international terrorism is never off the radar screen," Minor said. In the context of environmentally motivated attacks, Minor said local law enforcement officials take heed when there are activities in other parts of the state, or even in adjacent states. For example, after a series of arsons targeting SUVs at car dealers in California, the Silverthorne Police Department stepped up patrols around local dealers. Similarly, arson attacks against trophy home construction sites elsewhere spurred local authorities to try and better secure local construction sites. But a bigger concern is a more general threat to all sorts of facilities in the county after Sept. 11, Minor said, referring to increased efforts to protect important infrastructure like Dillon Dam and the Eisenhower Tunnel.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Silverthorne Nordic Center Open for the Season

Silverthorn's cross-country, snowshoe and ski skating center opened for its fifth season Thursday.

The Silverthorne Nordic Center is located at the Raven at Three Peaks Golf Course, 2929 Golden Eagle Road, off Highway 9.

The center offers beginner through advanced trails. The trails will be groomed approximately three times per week, as weather permits. No rental equipment is available.

The Silverthorne Parks, Open Space, Recreation and Trails committee established the center in 2001.

The 5th annual Swift Skedaddle Snowshoe Race, a qualifier for the National Snowshoe Championships, will once again be held at the Center on January 14, 2006. For more information contact Danelle Ballengee at

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Santa to Visit RE/MAX in Breckenridge

Santa's making a special visit to RE/MAX Properties of the Summit before his big trip on Christmas Eve.

Santa will be at the Breckenridge office, located at 220 S. Main St., for the third annual Santa Claus is Coming to Town celebration from 4-6:30 p.m. Friday to visit with children and pose for pictures.

Light refreshments and a variety of free gifts provided by RE/MAX for boys and girls will be available at the event until they run out.

Black Timber Property Maintenance, Majestic Mountain Mortgage, Goode Construction and Development, Summit Daily News and KSMT are sponsoring the event.

Also, RE/MAX in Breckenridge has a mailbox for letters to Santa Claus outside its office. Kids can drop off their wish lists and greetings to the North Pole until the day before Christmas.

For more information about the event, call RE/MAX Properties of the Summit at (970) 453-7000.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix Visits Breckenridge

The world's finest athletes have arrived in Breckenridge for the first stop of this USSA sanctioned snowboard series.

From December 13 - 17, Breckenridge hosts scores of well-known and unknown riders, hoping to make their mark in the field. Kicking off the snowboard season, the Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix promises high energy and excitement for both athletes and spectators.

This year, the top finishers in the Grand Prix series will heat to the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy.

This year's competition includes two half-pipe contests, as well as a nighttime exhibition, in town, under the lights.

For more information contact Heather Nordquist at 970-453-5000.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Peak 7 Base Area Development Gets Green Light

The schedule for a new base area development at Peak 7 stayed right on track as planning commissioners unanimously approved a master plan amendment and density transfer for the project last week.

The approval means construction of roads, bridges and utility installations at Peak 7 is set to begin next May, barring any unforeseen snags, said Alex Iskenderian, vice president of Vail Resorts Development Company (VRDC).

"It's a three-step approval process for us," Iskenderian said, explaining that VRDC will seek the go-ahead for site-specific infrastructure plans in early January.

"We'll see how that goes. We're hoping we can get it approved in one meeting," Iskenderian said.

The company intends to subsequently submit site plans for specific buildings at Peak 7, he said.

The planning commission approval was for the overall Peak 7 and Peak 8 master plan, including a density transfer of 48 units from the Mountain Thunder complex along Park Avenue. The initial focus will be on the Peak 7 area, with construction of residential condo-hotel units and some skier service facilities expected in the next couple of years. Overall, the entire Peak 7 and Peak 8 development has been described as a phased eight- to 10-year project.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Plan for Widening Highway 9

The latest version of the plan for widening Highway 9 between Farmer's Korner and Breckenridge shows some significant improvements, especially for most residents in the Lakeview Meadows area, assistant county manager Thad Noll said after an open house Tuesday evening.

Noll said the latest plan includes a traffic signal at Jarelle Drive and Dickey Drive, providing better and safer access to the highway from the main residential areas at Farmer's Korner. Additionally, the highway has been pushed east, away from the Farmer's Grove subdivision.

"It looks like they really listened to the residents and homeowners association," Noll said."

What the attempt is ... is to reduce the impacts as much as possible with context-sensitive design," said Wes Goff, project manager for consultant PBS&J.

"We're making a very strong effort to reduce right-of-way and environmental impacts in the corridor."

The funding picture for the five mile, $27 million highway project is unclear following the defeat of Referendum D, passage of which would have helped pay for the Highway 9 project. The Colorado Department of Transportation is still tentatively scheduling the start of construction for spring of 2007.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Keystone to add 278 acres of terrain

With snowcat skiing operations at Keystone’s Erickson and Bergman bowls deemed a success by the resort and U.S. Forest Service, the resort is looking to open an additional 278 acres for cat skiing and hike-to access, possibly as soon as this winter.

“Everybody we’ve talked to says they want a little steeper and north-facing terrain,” said Chuck Tolton, Keystone’s director of mountain operations, describing public demand for the new terrain, which the resort for now is calling Independence Bowl.

As described in a Forest Service scoping notice, the new terrain would be on the upper reaches of the north aspect of Keystone Mountain (south of Erickson Bowl), as well as on the west and southwest aspects of Bear and Independence mountains, encompassing the head of the Jones Gulch drainage.

The proposed skiing and snowcat activities would be within Keystone’s permitted area, mostly in alpine terrain above tree line at about 11,000 feet. Snowcats would pick up guests at the Summit House or the Outpost and use established over-snow routes to access the new terrain.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

New Hospital Opening Delayed

St. Anthony's Summit Medical Center delayed its projected December 5 opening after state licensing officials pushed back their inspection date, originally scheduled to take place last Friday.

They rescheduled because other investigations took priority, said Paul Chodkowski, hospital administrator."Originally, Friday was what they were projecting, but that was a little ambitious," said Bev Lilly, hospital spokesperson.

Two inspectors arrived Monday and will complete their review of the hospital today.As of Monday afternoon, surveyors had found about five problem areas that needed to be corrected. They all included minor things related to supplies or procedures, such as needing more red trash cans, Chodkowski said.

Chodkowski said the hospital would open Wednesday. He could not give a specific time because he wasn't sure how many items the inspectors might find to rectify. The opening time also depends on deliveries, such as trash cans, and weather could delay transportation to Summit County, he said.

A sign at the hospital alerts people that it will not open until Wednesday. So far, Chodkowski said no patients have shown up at the new hospital and there has been no confusion at the Summit Medical Center or at St. Anthony's Summit Medical Center.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Local to Run for Governor of Colorado

Summit County’s hometown politician Gary Lindstrom will run for Governor of Colorado in 2006.

The 31-year local resident and former county commissioner who currently represents Summit, Eagle and Lake counties in the State House of Representatives, decided recently to make a bid for the Democratic nomination to fill the gubernatorial seat.

Lindstrom, 63, who stands on a 45-year career in government, said he will run for governor as a politician who isn’t afraid to speak the truth. That truth, from his perspective, is that the state of Colorado does not have a vision: its politicians merely are “reactive” to the main problem facing the state — growth.

“We have a five-bedroom house and we’re inviting 20 people to stay. We’re marketing something that’s over capacity,” he said. “You can tell people to try to stand up in the kitchen to sleep, but that’s not going to work.”

Lindstrom spent his freshman term in the State Capitol this year, where he said he realized too many good people are motivated but afraid to tell the truth, afraid to speak their minds about the state of Colorado.

“Many of them position themselves for a greater political office and think they may hurt their position,” he said, naming a recent example of multi-million dollar computer systems that are malfunctioning for the state.

“No one is willing to take on the governor’s office and say, ‘You made a mistake,’” he said. “Instead, (law makers) keep approving more money every time to appease the contractors.”

It’s things like that, plus more important state challenges, that Lindstrom said he wants to address.

“The state highways are a disaster. But everybody’s afraid to confront (director) Tom Norton and the Colorado Department of Transportation,” he said. “... there’s a fear of the governor’s office ... It’s terrible.”

Lindstrom said that before the state grows more, infrastructure needs to be fixed. He listed roads and water as top priorities. Less talk, more action.

While Gov. Bill Owens formed roundtables in each basin to address water resources, Lindstrom said that results in a bunch of talk and no action.

“Someone has to be assertive instead of more talking,” he said. “Nobody’s got the backbone to stand up and say, ‘We’ve got to take care of the infrastructure.’”

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Learn To Ride Next Weekend

The Roxy Learn to Ride Camp is an exciting, unique program sponsored by the Breckenridge Ski & Ride School and Roxy .

Join Roxys pro riders and Breckenridge's top female coaches at this one-day snowboard camp for females only.

Class sizes are small and lunch is included. The fun continues off the slopes at the Cocoa and Cookies Party where the Roxy representatives give Roxy goodie bags to each participant!

Open to women and girls ages 7 to 70.

Moms: Consider taking this camp with your daughter and learning to snowboard together!

Date: Saturday, December 10

Times: 8:30am-3:30pmLocation: The Village on Peak 9Rate: $90; $45 for employees and employee dependents. Space is limited.

Hope to see you next week!

Laura L. AllenProgram Supervisor Breckenridge Ski & Ride School 970-496-7534


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Imperial Express Chairlift to Open Early

After a year of planning, proposals, red tape and controversy, the Breckenridge Ski Resort will finally unveil the highest lift in North America next Monday.

The high-speed Imperial Express SuperChair, which will reach 12,840 feet and transport riders to the top of Peak 8, will start spinning five weeks ahead of its scheduled January 12 grand opening.

Great early season snow conditions, including the last few days of steady snowfall, can be credited for the surprise, according to Breckenridge spokesperson Katie Coakley.T

he $4 million quad lift will open access to 400 acres of intermediate to advanced terrain that now requires a hike above treeline. The opening of the lift could help boost skier numbers over the oft-packed Christmas holidays, but Breckenridge isn’t counting on a huge impact.

“It’s hard to tell,” Coakley said. “Half the population plans their vacations way in advance, (and) half the population makes last-minute decisions. If more of them decide to go here, then great. But we’ll just have to see.”

The resort is planning a grand opening celebration on Jan. 12.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Marriott Vacation Club Grand Residences for Keystone

In five years, Keystone's River Run base area will take on a new appearance with the River Run Gondola stretched across the Snake River against the backdrop of a new five-story timeshare development.

The Snake River Planning Commission unanimously approved Marriott Vacation Club International's site plan last Thursday for the Grand Residences at Keystone, which will be built in the Hunki Dori parking lot.

The plan calls for 149 multi-family units, 11,000 square feet of space for skier services and 1,890 square feet of commercial property encompassed in three five-story buildings.

The project goes hand-in-hand with the resort's plan to relocate the gondola to the north side of the river and build a new skier bridge.

The Grand Residences will replace two buildings adjacent to the parking lot that house Keystone Sports, the ski and ride school and restrooms, but those facilities will be replaced in the bottom levels of two of the new buildings, said project architect Michael Noda.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Total Telemark Tour to visit Breckenridge

This Sunday, November 27, the Total Telemark Tour will be at Beaver Run on Peak 9 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Tour is a one day, on-snow telemark demo event featuring approximately 20 manufactures representitives.

Vendors that will be at the event include: Black Diamond, G3, Volkl, Atomic, Rossignol, Fisher, Bomber, Mountain Outfiters, Crispi, Garamont, Scarpa, K2, Flylow, Totem Telemark, and Desert Mountain Medicine.

This year's tour features professional instruction from PSIA and Babes in the Backcountry, equipment demos from all the major gear manufacturers, athlete appearances, kids' equipment and instruction, movie premiers, women's clinics, steep camps, backcountry safety seminars, apres ski parties and more.

Contact Nat Ross for more infomation: 970-390-9730,

There is no cost to attend.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Frisco Main Street to get Facelift

The west end of Frisco's Main Street, near the #201 exit at I-70 is getting a facelift.

On Monday, Rep. Mark Udall announced that he had secured $1 million in federal dollars to improve the area, and the town of Frisco will match that with $1 million of their own for the project.

Udall’s money was included in the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development spending bill approved last week. The town of Frisco had set aside their $1 million in the town’s capital fund, which would have been used for redevelopment of West Main even if the federal funding didn’t come through, town officials say.

For many visitors to Frisco’s historic and economically vital Main Street, their tour of the area ends at town hall, at the intersection of Main Street and Madison Avenue. There, pedestrian walkways end, and much of the commercial business does as well. That’s where the new redevelopment comes in. The new $2 million project will aim to make that part of town more commercially viable, more friendly to visitor traffic (both pedestrian and vehicular), and more of a “gateway” to historic Main Street.

According to the town of Frisco, specific improvements to the area are likely to include: signage, lighting, pedestrian pathways between town hall and the Tenmile trailhead, landscaping, drainage and parking. Frisco also said the Frisco Recreation Open Space and Trails (FROST) committee will be involved in the planning process to represent recreational and trail interests.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Earliest Opening in History for Some Breckenridge Slopes

The Breckenridge Ski area announced today that Peaks 8 and and 10 will open tomorrow - November 23 - for the 2005/06 season. I've been here for a LOT of years, and this is the earliest I can remember opening this much of the ski area this early!

There will be 20 lifts and 96 trails open tomorrow.

That's 1,440 acres open on November 23. Wow!

The mid-mountain base is 32 inches.

Total snowfall since October is 84 inches - that is 7 FEET!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Breckenridge Ski Area Opens More Lifts

The Breckenridge Ski Area has announced the opening of more lifts and more ski runs.

The snowstorm over the weekend provided lots of new snow (32 inches in the last 72 hours) and the ski area will be opening Peaks 8 & 10 next Wednesday, November 23. The lifts that will be opened are: Falcon, A, C, Eldorado, Peak 8 SuperConnect, Snowflake, 5, Colorado, Rocky Mountain, and possibly 6 Chair if conditions allow.

In addition, on Peak 9, they will open the QuickSilver Super6 and the Mercury for this weekend (the QuickSilver on Friday and the Mercury Friday or Saturday, depending on snowmaking for the maze).

All supporting services will also be operating to provide the level of guest service expected from the #2 most popular resort in North America. This is probably be the best opening we've had in years.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Yes, it snowed - a lot - over the weekend

A-Basin: 13 inches since 8 a.m. Monday, 38 inches in four days. It will be up to ski patrol whether conditions are safe enough to open new terrain.

Breckenridge: 18 inches in the last 36 hours as of noon Monday. Breckenridge will be opening several advanced runs under the E Chair on Peak 9 North Slope.

Keystone: 11 new inches as of Monday at noon. More than 2 feet since Friday. The mountain hopes to open a portion of the bottom of the mountain today.

Copper Mountain: 12 new inches as of 3 p.m. Monday, in addition to 17 inches the previous two days. Nearly 200 acres of terrain is open.

Loveland: 32 inches since the storm began on Friday. Chair 6 is scheduled to open Wednesday.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I-70 Saga Continues

While the state continues to study what improvements to make to ease congestion along Interstate 70, summit County's towns are split when it comes to the question of future funding for the I-70 Mountain Corridor Coalition.

The coalition consists of 30 towns and counties along and near I-70 that joined together to develop a common vision for addressing future transportation solutions in the corridor.

At a recent town council work session, Breckenridge Mayor Ernie Blake suggested his town won't pay $7,500 to hire an executive director for the group. But Frisco Mayor Bernie Zurbriggen thinks it's important to have someone in place who "eats, sleeps and breathes" I-70 during the next year, as the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) finalizes a programmatic impact study for a planned slate of improvements to the highway between Golden and Glenwood Springs.

At issue is a tentative plan by the coalition to create an executive director's position at a cost of about $75,000 to $100,000. The idea is to get the various entities to share that cost.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Copper Mountain Giving Away Heli-skiing Trips

Copper Mountain Resort is set to give away eight heli-skiing and riding trips with Canadian Mountain Holidays at the conclusion of Lift Off this weekend. Lift Off is the name of Copper's season opening celebration.

Skiers and riders get a chance to win a trip when they purchase a $19 Boarding Pass and sign up a team of four participants. For each day that a skier or rider gets their Lift Off Boarding Pass scanned, their team will earn another chance to win. Teams can get their passes scanned until noon Saturday.

Lift Off Boarding passes are available at any Copper Mountain Guest Services desk, and do not provide lift access.

The event continues today with more live music, après parties and new movies. Copper has partnered with BIAS media to bring Level1's, "Shanghai Six," Mack Dawg's "From _ with Love" and Teton Gravity Research's, "Tangerine Dream" to the Lift Off movie event on Saturday. Doors open at 6 p.m. A Lift Off Boarding Pass or $5 movie ticket is needed for admission into the Copper Conference Center.

The winners of the Heli Days Canadian Mountain Holidays trip will be announced at the movie.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Colorado Mt. College May Stay in Breckenridge

A 20-acre parcel at the northern outskirts of Breckenridge could be a backup location for a new Colorado Mountain College campus, under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) approved by the Breckenridge Town Council recently.

According to the document, Breckenridge will be first in line to buy the existing CMC facility in town for $2.25 million - once the college finalizes plans to build a new consolidated facility elsewhere in Summit County, foreseeably at a preferred location somewhere near Frisco.

"The Dam Road location is still our first choice," said CMC Dean Leah Bornstein, referring to current plans to pursue a land trade with the U.S. Forest Service for a parcel of land between the Dam Road and Interstate 70.

CMC has also eyed land near the County Commons for its consolidated campus.

But the 20-acre Breckenridge parcel on the so-called Block 11 property, north of the rec center along Highway 9, would also be a fine location for a new campus, Bornstein said.

"The MOU is the culmination of efforts and discussions with CMC that have been in progress for a year," said town of Breckenridge spokesperson Kim DiLallo.

"We are very interested in turning (the CMC campus in Breckenridge) into Town Hall," she said.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Breckenridge Ski Resort Opens for Season

Breckenridge Ski Resort is celebrating the beginning of the Breckenridge ski season by handing out gifts to locals.

Members of Breckenridge's management team handed out 200 free coffee mugs at six local coffee shops this morning. The mugs were stuffed with coupons from local businesses.

"Wake Up Breck" is designed to thank to community members who show ski resort guests incredible hospitality all season long, according to the resort. Mugs were given away at Starbucks, Clint's Bakery & Coffee House, Cool River Coffee House, Petal and Bean, Seattle's Best Coffee Cart at City Market, and Daylight Donuts.

The Breckenridge Ski Resort opens tomorrow - November 11 - for the 2005/06 ski season.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Backcountry Ski Huts

Ski huts began showing up in Colorado in the 1940's.

In Summit County alone, there are four backcountry huts that are open to the public on a reservation-only basis. Summit's huts are operated by the Summit Huts Association (SHA), a non-profit organization which was founded in 1987. SHA works loosely with the Aspen-based 10th Mountain Division Hut Association, which handles marketing and reservations for SHA.

Tenth Mountain operates 14 huts in the Aspen, Leadville and Vail areas. Both organizations operate under special use permits from the U.S. Forest Service.

Although most of the huts are open during the summer, they are much more popular during the winter months. In fact, reservations for this winter are going fast - as usual. According to Letti Alvarez of 10th Mountain, most of the prime winter weekends sell out a year in advance. If you still want to visit a hut this winter and you haven't booked one yet, don't worry, midweek reservations are still available.

Taking a hut trip is a great way to experience nature first hand. All one needs to bring on a hut expedition is personal gear and food. The huts are equipped with pots, pans, silverware, a propane-burning stove and a wood-burning stove. The average cost for one night's stay is $28 per person.

Most of the region's huts can accommodate up to 16 people. Groups tend to have four of five people, but individuals are also welcomed. Most of the 10th Mountain Division huts are seven to 11 miles apart and can be linked together with the use of a detailed map. For people that lack backcountry experience and safety knowledge, several guide services are also available. To book reservations, get directions and learn more about the hut system, go to or

Monday, November 07, 2005

NBC Shooting Film in Breckenridge this Week

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Breckenridge. What? It's way to early. But wait.

NBC will be shooting the holiday episode of its reality television show "Three Wishes" this week in Breckenridge.

Taping will take place primarily on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Breckenridge Resort Chamber (BRC) in cooperation with the town and resort has asked all Main Street businesses to decorate for Christmas a little early for the show, so a trip through Breckenridge right now brings with it sights of lights, wreaths and ornaments.

"When I was driving down Main Street last night and saw everyone putting their Christmas lights up, I've never been more proud to represent Breckenridge ... just with the outpouring of support," BRC spokesperson Kristen Petitt said.

The show features five-time Grammy Award winner Amy Grant as host along with leading contributors Carter Oosterhouse (NBC's "Today," "Trading Spaces"), Eric Stromer ("Clean Sweep") and Diane Mizota ("Trading Spaces: Boys vs. Girls") visiting communities all over the country to grant wishes to deserving people.

The Christmas episode, however, is a bit of a departure from a traditional episode, in which the crew sets up in one town, has a central "Wish Tent" for people to tell Grant their wishes and then grants three wishes from that area. According to NBC spokesperson Jill Carmen, the holiday episode to be partially shot in Breckenridge will feature Grant and company granting wishes for kids from all over the country, so there will be no Wish Tent or locally-granted wishes in Summit.

Part of the show is being filmed in Breckenridge primarily as a backdrop for the concert Grant will be performing Wednesday, during which she'll be singing Christmas songs, and there will be a wish granted on stage, according to Carmen. The entire cast of the show will be in attendance at Grant's concert.

The concert will be standing room only in the Blue River Plaza area, Petitt said, and Main Street will be closed during the performance.Other roads will be closed as well for the show Wednesday.

"Breckenridge is a charming, quaint location, and we really like the Main Street charm. It's the perfect backdrop for a special about Christmas wishes and kids," executive producer Andrew Glassman said. The Christmas episode of "Three Wishes" will air on NBC Friday, Dec. 2.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

BOLT Tax Resurfaces - Enforcement Stepped-up

Town officials are going to focus more sharply on collecting business license fees and taxes, especially from vacation homeowners who rent their properties for short-term vacations via do-it-yourself websites.

Any number of sites offer short-term rentals by owners, with no way of telling whether they hold the appropriate town business license.

Tim Gagen, Town Manager, said the growth of the web in the vacation rental business and the proliferation of absentee-owned homes have given the issue a higher profile.

“People are buying these larger homes as an investment and only spend a few weeks of the year in it,” Gagen said, adding that some of those owners then look for a way to get a return on that investment, including short-term rentals.

The town has earmarked $30,000 in the 2006 budget to pay for some contractual auditing, said Gagen, explaining that Breckenridge may work with some of the other local towns in this effort if a cost-sharing arrangement can be reached.

At issue is the Business and Occupational Licenses Tax (BOLT), established in 1986 to generate revenue for marketing the town and town events.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Copper Mountain Ski Resort Opens for the Season

Friday was sunny and cold in Copper Mountain - a perfect day to open the ski resort for the 2005 ski season.

Copper Mountain became the third ski area to open this season. Arapahoe Basisn and Loveland opened last month.

Two intermediate trails, Rhapsody and Main Vein, were ready to ride. The resort opened with a 20-inch base that was both manmade and natural snow.

Copper Mountain also showcased its early season festival - Lift Off - in the resort's village. It included live music, ski and snowboard films and a demonstration center that featured the newest equipment.. The festival runs through November 13.

While light snow was expected overnight in Summit County with maybe an inch of accumulation, according to the Weather Service, there was over a foot on my deck this morning! Yes, another big snowfall. It's looking like a good winter for skiers and riders to me.

Friday, November 04, 2005

October Snowfall Way Above Average

A storm in the middle of October helped boost moisture totals for the month to 40 percent above the long-term historic average, said Rick Bly, who tallies snow and rainfall for the National Weather Service in Breckenridge.

Bly measured 2.06 inches of precipitation on his backyard gauge, compared to the average 1.25 inches in October, historically the driest month of the entire year. Much of that moisture came in the form of snow - 20.5 inches, to be exact, as compared to the average 11.8 inches.

Does any of this bode well for the winter? Not according to Bly, who said there's no statistical correlation to show that a wet October means a snowy winter.

Looking forward, November averages about 20.7 inches of snow. The record November snowfall totaled an impressive 59.2 inches, way back in 1898. On the other extreme, only 2 inches fell in November of 1904 and again in 1905, making those the driest Novembers ever.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Mountain Lion Sighted in Breckenridge

A resident in the Winterwood subdivision at the north end of Bart Road on Peak 7 in Breckenridge encountered a mountain lion Saturday night.

Returning home shortly after 7 p.m. their headlights illuminated an animal standing in the driveway. They knew it was too large to be a dog, but thought it might be a lynx. Then they saw its tail.

"It kind of straightened up and turned around to face me, and it was a mountain lion with a big fat tail like they have," the residend said. "I sat and watched it for a couple seconds then it took a look at me and charged down the driveway and it was gone in about five big bounds. I got a pretty good look at it."

Sightings like this are rare, said Randy Hampton of the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Mountain lions are populous locally, but are typically elusive creatures. They don't spend time around people and are commonly only seen when passing through an area.

This summer a hunter eventually shot a lion after throwing things at the animal didn't scare it away. Given that there are 300,000 hunters in the woods every year to have only one encounter through 10 months of the year speaks to the elusive nature of the predators. The animals can cover 50 miles in a day, Hampton said.

Still, caution is the best policy, Hampton said. A Durango woman was scratched across the shoulders in August when a lion jumped at her as she sat on her deck.

"It's part of living in Colorado," Hampton said. "People live here because they love the wildlife and like to see what's out there, but with the deer and the elk that everybody likes to watch come the predators."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More Snowfall in Colorado

Summit County ski areas reported 4 to 6 inches of new snow Monday morning.

Other Colorado resorts also received significant snowfall from the latest storm.

Telluride in southern Colorado was hit the hardest, reporting 19 new inches on top of the mountain.

Snowmass reported 14 inches, while neighbors Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain received 12 inches and10 inches, respectively.

Powderhorn on the western boarder of Colorado also received a foot of snow.

This latest storm has moved out of the region, however cooler temperatures, and possibly snow, are expected to return at the end of the week. With Arapahoe Basin and nearby Loveland Basin Ski Area already open for the season, Copper Mountain is opening this Friday.

Breckenridge and Keystone are scheduled to open on Nov. 11.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Snow Guns on Full Blast

Warm temperatures over the past couple of weeks have slowed snowmaking efforts, but that’s not stopping ski areas from opening in early November.

Mild temperatures and high humidity prevented Arapahoe Basin from opening on its planned date of October 21, but a dip in temperature allowed it to open two days later. As of Friday, it planned on opening a second run today — Ramrod — according to Peggy Hiller, assistant general manager,

Breckenridge, Copper and Keystone resorts have been consistently making snow for at least the last week, and each say they’re in good shape for opening day.

Keystone spokesperson Amy Kemp said Keystone’s snowmaking system allows the resort to efficiently make snow, quickly turning guns on and off when temperatures are optimal — the usual among high-tech modern resorts.

It snowed Friday night (approx. 2 inches) and it's been snowing off-and-on over the weekend. Expected additional accumulations are in the 3 - 5 inch range by tomorrow morning.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Mountain Thunder Lodge Density Transfer

The Breckenridge Town Council approved a density transfer of 60 single-family-equivalency units from the Mountain Thunder Lodge development on Park Avenue to the Peak 7 development area.

The Breckenridge Ski Resort is in the final stages of working out a development plan for the Peak 7 area with the Breckenridge Planning Commission. That process will determine how the 60 new units will fit in with the already approved 125 units, said Alex Iskenderian, vice-president of development for Vail Resorts Development Company (VRDC).

Most of the development on Peak 7 will be residential, with skier services and other commercial development to be added at a later time, when the Peak 8 base area is redeveloped. The Peak 7 project will include a stop for the gondola planned to run from town up to the ski area.

The Peak 7 development plan could soon gain final approval. Iskenderian said the hope is to start working on roads, bridges and utilities as early as May 2006, with the actual development beginning in the spring of 2007.

"We're very excited about the real estate market in Breckenridge," Iskenderian said, referring to sales at the Mountain Thunder project and the overall record level of property sales in town and the rest of the county in recent months.

The sales at Mountain Thunder helped Vail Resorts move ahead with the new Skyway Skiway project, giving skiers/riders direct access back to the in-town parking lots. Similarly, development and sales at Peak 7 are closely linked to the timing of the gondola construction.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Another Real Estate Record Set

Another record was set for real estate in September. Transactions reached an all-time high of 445 "actual recorded deeds" for the month, according to information gathered by Land Title Guarantee Company.

This follows a record-setting month of August, when transactions also reached an all-time high.

“More people are investing in real estate versus the stock market, and they’re trying to buy in before interest rates go back up,” said Brooke Roberts, sales and marketing director with Land Title Guarantee. Roberts also attributes the rise in transactions to an influx of more locals buying in to the market, as they “realize the importance of buying real estate as an investment,” she said. As proof, Land Title reports that county properties priced below $200,000 had the highest number of transactions for the month, at 107.

Breaking down the transaction numbers further, Land Title reports that the average median transaction price (or the number at which half the transactions were priced above and half below) fell to $276,800 — just below August’s median mark of $293,000.

Breckenridge continued to rack up the most number of transactions by area; Breckenridge had 180 transactions. Keystone, Frisco and Wildernest were next on the list, with 53, 35 and 34 transactions each, respectively.

Looking at year-to-date data, Summit County is poised to surpass the real estate totals recorded for last year. Through September, total real estate sales volume is up 133 percent over last year, and transactions are up 128 percent year-to-date.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Silverthorne Outlet Stores Sold - Again

In what the purchaser called a difficult and complicated procedure, the Outlets at Silverthorne will be sold again, less than one month after local Sam Brown agreed to purchase the shopping center from its majority owner.

Newport Beach, Calif.-based Craig Realty Group has entered into an agreement with Brown to purchase the three-village outlet mall, company president Steve Craig said Monday afternoon.

Brown entered into an agreement with TGS North American REIT (TGS) in late September to purchase TGS' 60 percent share of the stores. Brown already owned 40 percent of the shopping mall.

Craig said the deal is set to close on or before Dec. 1. He could not disclose a purchase price.

"We think we worked out something that everyone will be a winner, everyone could walk away saying they would be fine," Craig said of the pending deal.

Craig Realty Group purchased the Outlets at Castle Rock and the Outlets at Loveland from TGS in August and had expressed interest in purchasing the Silverthorne stores at that time. Craig's vision for the Outlets includes finishing the $13 million renovations started last year by TGS. Work on the new Trout Village was completed over the summer and is now 100 percent occupied. The Buffalo and Ptarmigan villages are set to undergo exterior renovations next spring.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

2nd Colorado Ski Area Opens for the Season

Arapahoe Basin ski area officials announced that Sunday would be its opening day for the 2005-2006 ski season.

Friday night's snowmaking efforts were exceptional, readying the ski area's opening for today. The Exhibition chair will open to the public at 8:30 a.m. today and skiers and riders can look forward to a 12- to 20-inch base on the High Noon run. Adult lift tickets on opening day will be $38, youth tickets age 15 to 19 will be $35, and child tickets age 6-14 will be $17.

Ski and board rentals, food and beverage, the 6th Alley bar and retail shop will be open and available to the public. Ski school lessons will begin when the Molly Hogan Learning Center opens later in November.

Local radio station KSMT will be on site in the base area with a live remote, playing music and handing out give-aways.

Pass sales for A-Basin's Bonus Pass program are available while supplies last for $239. The Bonus Pass holder receives unlimited skiing or riding at A-Basin for the 2005-2006 ski season and five non-transferable ski days at Keystone or Breckenridge. One of those days can be used at Vail or Beaver Creek (some restrictions apply on the Vail/Beaver Creek ski day).

A-Basin only passes are also available by calling 1-888-Arapahoe or online at

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Halloween in Breckenridge

Breckenridge is getting ready for Halloween. Just take a look at Fatty's Restaurant on the left.

The Great Pumpkin is here!

Every year Fatty's puts up great holiday decorations, such as the Halloween decorations you see here.

The aspen leaves are gone, we've had over 30 inches of snow on the mountain and the skiing/riding will begin in just a few weeks.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Southwest Airlines Coming to Denver

Southwest Airlines will resume service in Denver next year after a 20-year absence. Good news, indeed, for everyone wanting to visit Colorado.

Although Southwest has shunned Denver International Airport for more than a decade because of its high costs, the Dallas-based carrier - in the midst of an expansion - reconsidered because those costs have declined.

It will compete head-to-head against United Airlines as it emerges from bankruptcy and Denver-based Frontier Airlines, which combined have about 75 percent of DIA's market. Frontier's stock dropped 29 percent on the news, closing at $7.68 a share on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Representatives of both United, which operates the low-cost carrier Ted, and the low-fare Frontier noted they already face Southwest in other cities and that they will be competitive on ticket prices when Southwest is in Denver.

Southwest will start small with plans to expand as the traffic builds. Details on when it will start, schedules, fares and gates will be released next week.

"We've been concerned about the costs at DIA in the past but they have done a remarkable job in getting their costs downs to levels that make sense to Southwest Airlines," Southwest Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly said. Another factor was current ticket prices at DIA, which he called high. "We'll have a modest start in Denver early next year and we'll just have to take it from there," Kelly said during a conference call with the news media.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Breckenridge and Keystone on National TV

The national spotlight is coming to Summit County this winter when competitions at Breckenridge and Keystone will receive a primetime stage.

The U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix is slated to take place at Breckenridge Dec. 13-17. The event, which Breckenridge has hosted three out of the last five years, will be televised on Christmas Day at 3 p.m. by NBC. Although the event is televised every year, it has not previously been given such an optimal time slot.

Breckenridge is one of only three stops for the U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix, which also touches down in New Jersey and Oregon. One of the most popular features of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) event is the downtown rail competition which takes place Dec. 17 at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge. The rail jam will be televised by the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) at a time that has yet to be determined.

Keystone will be hosting a national event of its own when the Sports Illustrated for Kids Next Snow Search event comes to town Jan. 27-29.

The weekend event will be a special All-Star edition featuring young competitors from across the country, and will be televised by NBC as part of its Winter Olympics coverage on the opening day of the Turin Games. According to a Sports Illustrated press release, the Next Snow Search is a national talent search to find young athletes who best represent the next generation of extreme skiers and snowboarders.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Weather Outlook for this Winter

Timed perfectly to arrive just after Colorado's first significant fall snowstorm, weather experts with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Wednesday released their outlook for the winter, predicting above-normal temperatures and near-normal precipitation for much of the U.S.

There are no clear indications whether Colorado might experience the longed-for big winter. In fact, in NOAA's outlook, chances are equal for above-average, near-average or below-average precipitation in Colorado.

The NOAA forecasters said they don't expect either La Niña or El Niño to play any significant role this winter. Without those large-scale patterns, the forecasters are looking to other short-term factors that might help predict winter conditions. That includes the so-called North Atlantic Oscillation.

"Under these conditions there tends to be more variability in winter weather patterns across the nation, especially in the Great Lakes region and the northeast U.S.," the agency indicated on its website.

Warmer temperatures are expected across much of the central and western U.S. Including Alaska and Hawaii, while the odds are equal for warmer, cooler or near-normal temperatures in the Midwest, along the Southern California coast and on the East Coast.

Precipitation is forecast to be higher than normal across Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and northeastern Texas, with drier-than-normal conditions across the Southwest from Arizona to New Mexico. Drought conditions across the country have eased, with about 20 percent of the U.S. experiencing some level of drought, compared to 30 percent at the same time last year. Drought remains a concern for the sixth year in a row for the Northwest and the northern Rockies.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Loveland Ski Area Opens Tomorrow

If this week's storm hasn't already spurred you to wax your boards, the news from Loveland Ski Area should add some incentive.

Marketing director John Sellers said the ski area will fire up one chairlift this Friday, Oct. 14, for one of its earliest opening days ever.

“We got 18 inches out of this storm and they're making snow like crazy,” Seller said, adding that Loveland will open with its usual offering of one top-to-bottom, 1000-vertical-foot run, comprised of three connected trails; Catwalk, Mambo abd Homerun.

Loveland has been the clear leader in the ongoing opening-day derby, at least during at least the past 10 years, but A-Basin has become a factor since installing a top-to-bottom snowmaking system a few seasons ago. A-Basin previously announced a scheduled opening day of Oct. 21. No word was available as of Wednesday morning whether the early October storm might push up that date.

Other ski resorts around the county are set to open in November.

Seller said that one group of skiers and boarders has already set up camp in Loveland's parking lot, planning on being first on the chair come Friday morning. He wouldn't discuss how many people have showed up in the past for opening day but said last year marked one of the best openings ever. Tickets on opening day will be $38. Call Loveland at (303) 569-3203 for more information.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

30 Inches of Snow in Breckenridge!

Breckenridge Ski Resort reported more than 30 inches of new snow Monday morning.

Copper Mountain reported 20 inches at the top of the lifts. Keystone’s measurement came in at 17 inches. Arapahoe Basin didn’t have an official tally, but marketing manager Meisha Lawson estimated well over a foot of snow had fallen.

Loveland Ski Area reported 11 inches, which will help the mountain open earlier, said marketing director John Sellers.

“It’s complementing our snowmaking very nicely,” Sellers said. “It looks very much like winter up here.”

Sellers said the mountain doesn’t yet have a set opening date and needs an 18- to 21-inch base with side-to-side coverage before the trails will be ready.

A-Basin’s targeted opening date is Oct. 21, Copper will open Nov. 4 and Keystone and Breckenridge open on Nov. 11.

Crews from the Poma lift company and Breckenridge resort worked through the snow on Monday to continue construction of the Imperial Express SuperChair at Breckenridge, said Breckenridge spokesperson Katie Coakley.

The helicopters have finished flying in all the major components for the high speed quad, the towers are in place, the roofs are on the terminals and there is heat in the work area.

“They’ve got the people and the equipment to finish this thing,” Coakley said.

Crews expect to be finished with what will be the highest lift in North America in 10 days, Coakley said.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Big Snowstorm In Progress

Whew! Let me tell you we have had some snow today.

Just look at the photo I took of my deck and back yard a few minutes ago.

I just drove to the local grocery store and cars were sliding all over the place, people walking down the middle of the road, throwing snowballs at each other.

Winter in Breckenrige has begun.

The Breckenridge Town Works department was not planning on having this much snow today, that's for sure. The streets are a mess of snow and slush almost 12 inches deep.

I would estimate we have had at least 12 inches of snow today as of 6 p.m. Mountain Time today and it's still snowing.

I checked the National Weather Service site a few minutes ago and they were forecasting 18 - 24 inches by this time tomorrow.

Yes, the ski/ride season will be underway very soon. I wouldn't be surprised if both Loveland and Arapahoe Basin opened for the season tomorrow!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Breckenridge Ponders Budget

Cautious optimism was the theme Tuesday as the Breckenridge Town Council and department heads spent the day grappling with a budget for fiscal year 2006.

Lingering economic uncertainty in Colorado and nationally, especially in light of sky-high energy prices, led town manager Tim Gagen to present what he called a conservative $37.2 million budget, holding the line on spending in most areas.

"We saw some recovery this year ... not enough to add much new, but it's getting us back to where we were," he said, explaining that the 2005 rebound in tax revenues put the town back on track to match its previous best year in 2001.

Gagen said that 2005 sales tax revenue was up and the real estate transfer tax was "through the roof."

"As a rule of thumb, we need to grow 6 percent to add anything. Staff is stretched and stressed. They're taking on more," he said.

Gagen also pointed out that some of the town's major facilities, including the Riverwalk Center, rec center and town hall, could be in need of significant repairs in coming years. The town's elected officials and planners also discussed the phenomenon of the dramatic climb in revenue from real estate transfer taxes, trying to discern whether the trend is sustainable in the long term. Sales tax is still by far the biggest source of revenue for the town, at 37 percent, but the transfer tax now amounts to about 10 percent of revenues. In dollars, that revenue is projected to reach a record $4.6 million this year.

Town council members were a little more optimistic than Gagen in their assessment of the fiscal situation, acknowledged by the town manager as he launched a discussion on potential capital investments.

"What I'm hearing is, we're a little more bullish than my pessimism," Gagen said, asking the elected officials to present and prioritize a "wish list" of investments.

More information is available at

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Record Number of Skiers/Riders Visit Breckenridge

Strong earnings and skier visit numbers at Breckenridge and Keystone resorts last season helped owner Vail Resorts post a record financial year.

Breckenridge saw a record number of skier visits, totaling 1,471,000.

Keystone also posted a record, tallying a skier visit total that was more than 8 percent better than the year before.

“Keystone is back in the elite club of the few North American ski resorts with over 1 million skier visits,” said chairman and chief executive officer Adam Aron.

Aron also cited early returns on season pass sales, which he described as “robust” — up about 22 percent in dollars over last year. He did not comment on lift ticket pricing for the coming season, but he did say, “We are very proud of the quality of the product that we offer our guests, and historically, we’ve not exactly been shy in charging our guests for that quality.”

Aron specifically cited new high-speed lifts being constructed at both Breckenridge and Beaver Creek, and said Vail Resorts “would continue to spend significant amounts of capital on upgrading grooming equipment as well as improving our snowmaking systems in order to provide a world-class experience across our resorts for our guests.”

Aron also mentioned new upgrades to rooms at the Keystone Lodge as further proof of that commitment.

Aron also mentioned the success of Breckenridge’s Mountain Thunder condominium project. He said the company had pre-sold all 34 of the condo units taken to market starting in February 2005, and he expected closings to occur between July and November of 2006.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Silverthorne Outlet Stores Sold

The majority owner of the Outlets at Silverthorne announced plans to sell its share of the shopping center to mall co-owner Former TCE LLC, a Boulder-based company that lists local Sam Brown as its registered agent.

TGS North American Real Estate Investment Trust (TGS) entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Former TCE LLC, according to a press release.

“We are pleased to have reached a satisfactory buy/sell agreement with our co-owner at the Outlets at Silverthorne,” said TGS CEO Jeff Kohn in the release.

The purchase amount was not specified, although the negotiated price was directly associated with recent improvements to the Outlets, the release said.

The purchaser provided a $500,000 non-refundable deposit to secure the sale.

The purchase is expected to be completed on or before Dec. 1.

Silverthorne is approximately 12 miles north of Breckenridge.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Aspen Trees are at their Peak

Tourists head for the peaks above this historic mining town to see autumn leaves of gold and orange that turn a bit bolder each day amid the forest of thick, green pine.

Yes, the annual aspen tree autumn is at its peak right now.

People love to watch the aspens turn. Leaf-peeping, a nickname given to the tradition of viewing fall foliage, generates hundreds of millions of dollars every year from Maine to Washington state as tourists visit forests and surrounding towns, staying anywhere from a few short days to a week to watch the annual event.

Today, fall travel accounts for about 25 percent of all travel, up from about 22 percent some 13 years ago.

Among popular leaf-peeping sites are the Northeast, the Shenandoah Valley, the Blue Ridge Parkway through Virginia and North Carolina, the Rockies and routes through Midwestern and Western states, travel industry officials say.

In Colorado, the brilliant golden colors of the aspen trees can be seen across the Rockies, from Durango and the Maroon Bells area near Aspen to the Peak-to-Peak Scenic and Historic Byway from Black Hawk to Estes Park west of Denver.

Boreas Pass from Breckenridge to Como is an often listed "best" for viewing the aspen trees.

I think it's just a nice warm beautiful feeling when you are looking at the foliage.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Wellington-Oro Mine Clean-up

After years of negotiations and multiple environmental studies, a Canadian company this week started treating acid-tinged water oozing out of the abandoned Wellington-Oro Mine in French Gulch in Breckenridge.

BioteQ, a Vancouver, B.C.-based company, was chosen in June as the preferred technology provider for the cleanup and started setting up operations at the Wellington-Oro site this past weekend. The pilot treatment plant will only be in operation for a few weeks, but if the test results meet expectations, construction of a permanent $1.2 million treatment facility could begin as soon as next spring, according to Brian Lorch, a resource specialist with the Summit County Open Space and Trails Department.

Treatment of the mine drainage is part of the larger cleanup issues surrounding the entire B&B open space deal, to be jointly funded by the town of Breckenridge and Summit County. BioteQ has offered to pay the cost of construction and one year of operation up front, with no money down from local governments, to make sure the treatment meets objectives.

The goal is to meet the water quality standards set during years of talks between local, state and federal water quality officials.The acid mine drainage from the Wellington-Oro contributes significant levels of cadmium and zinc to the waters of French Gulch and, in turn, the Blue River, impairing the aquatic ecosystem downstream. The goal of the treatment is to clean the water to where the Blue can support a self-sustaining brown trout fishery below its confluence with French Gulch. Treating the acid mine drainage at the site is also one element of the complex 1,800-acre open space deal for the old B&B mining lands in the vicinity of the Wellington-Oro.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Colorado Gets New Ski Area

The state is getting its 25th full-scale ski area high in the San Juan Mountains .

Silverton Mountain has received a permit from the Bureau of Land Management to operate over 1,300 acres — all expert-level terrain — with up to 475 skiers a day. The area has been open for four winters but only for guided skiing.

“It’s still going to feel, even with unguided skiers, uncrowded and vast,” said owner Aaron Brill.“Five hundred skiers a day is smaller than the smallest days at other ski areas.”

The BLM, after three years of review, granted Brill a permit Tuesday for 40 years. The public has 30 days to appeal the decision. It has one lift, but almost nothing in the way of amenities at its base. There’s no grooming and no snowmaking. The area receives an average of 400 inches of snow a year. With its steepest runs approaching 55 degrees, there’s typically no turning back.

The first unguided skiing will have to wait until April because the mountain’s terrain crosses snowpacks particularly vulnerable to slides. Brill wants to make sure his avalanche-clearing work is satisfactory before allowing snowriders out on their own.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Silverthrone RE/MAX Office Remodel Complete

RE/MAX Properties of the Summit has finished the remodel of its Silverthorne office.

The office is located along Highway 9 near the Interstate 70 exchange.

In addition to design elements meant to lend a more "mountainesque exterior," the new building is nearly double the size of the original office.

By expanding into the space previously occupied by Breeze Ski Rentals, The Silverthorne RE/MAX office now contains nearly 5,000 square feet, and has added 10 private office suites.

Company officials said they were pleased to finally get rid of the building dubbed, "The Ugliest Building with the Best Location in Summit County."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Cyanide Heap-Leach Mining Redux

A three-judge panel will review District Judge David Lass's ruling that Summit County does not have the authority to regulate cyanide heap-leach mining.

As reported here a month or so ago the Judge ruled the county does not have the authority to regulate this mining process.

Cyanide heap-leach mining is a process through which mining companies extract gold from piles of low-grade crushed ore by drenching it with the cyanide solvent.

The appeal, filed with the Colorado Court of Appeals Sept. 19, stems from a lawsuit filed by the Colorado Mining Association against Summit County in March 2004 that challenged newly enacted county mining regulations. Judge Lass ruled that the county could not enact a ban on mining using cyanide-leaching processes because under state law, that regulatory power rests with the Colorado Mine Land Reclamation Board. Several other counties have enacted similar bans, and the Colorado Mining Association saw potential threats to existing and future mining activities. The Summit County case could be precedent-setting for the rest of the state.

The Sierra Club and the grassroots Alliance for Responsible Mining joined in the defense against the mining industry's challenge and will continue to be party to the case.

"Summit County hopes this appeal will restore the proper balance of power between the state and local governments in mining regulation that it believes state statutes and prior case law dictate," the county attorney's office stated in a press release.

"The county appreciates the district court's stated support for the county's 'well-intentioned attempts to protect its valued environmental interests,'" said County Commissioner Bob French. "However, we believe the Colorado Mining Association's preemption arguments do not allow for the proper exercise of important land-use powers provided to county governments by law."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Wildfire Near Breckenridge is Under Control

Local and State fire districts and U.S. Forest Service are mopping up and performing clean-up from the wildfire that flared up yesterday near Summit High School, now named the Ophir Mountain Fire and urge the public to avoid the area of the fire for the remainder of the year.

The Forest Service is actively addressing the danger of falling trees within the burn area.

"However we are asking the public to stay out of the burn area for the foreseeable future due to the many hazards left behind from a wildfire, " said Rick Newton, Dillon District Ranger.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, however preliminary findings have indicated the fire to be human caused. U.S. Forest Service and local fire investigators will continue to investigate.

The fire burned approximately 16 acres.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Wildfire Breaks Out Near Breckenridge

A wildfire broke out near Summit High School yesterday afternoon. Summit High is located approximately 5 miles north of Breckenridge. Shortly after the fire was reported at about 2:40 p.m., black, billowing smoke engulfed the area near Swan Mountain Road.

The flames ignited a patch of pine trees about one-quarter of a mile above the high school, and quickly crept over the ridge and burned within 200 yards of the high school, said Lake Dillon Fire Authority public information officer Rachel Flood.

At its worst point, the fire threatened up to 50 homes, five of which were in imminent danger of being destroyed. A Forest Service slurry bomber flew in from Grand Junction and helped contain the fire.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated. A power outage was reported in the area about 20 minutes before the fire calls began coming in.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A-Basin Gets Facelift

The look of Arapahoe Basin's base area is changing for the first time in three decades with a new $1 million rental and repair shop.

The new building will be about 7,500 square feet (three times larger than the old building) and will house a rental and repair shop, restrooms, public waiting area and several caretaker apartments. The old facility was a fixture at the base area for much of the ski area's 59-year-old history, and was torn down shortly after the ski area closed last season.

The final product will resemble the base's other two green and white A-frame-style buildings, including the main lodge and the ski patrol building.

The new building is expected to be finished and open for business around the first of the year. Also new this year, A-Basin plans to step up the number of live music acts performing in the bar and offer soup and other snacks at the summit building.

The ski area is hoping to add 400 more acres of skiable terrain with an expansion into Montezuma Bowl, although the addition into the popular backcountry area isn't expected until the 2006-2007 season at the earliest.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Breckenridge Historic District Getting Tough

The uncertain distinction between "historic" and "just old" in Breckenridge is getting a lot of attention.

In a case that has received national attention, Randy Kilgore who in the past has been named local contractor of the year for his historic preservation work, was convicted of illegally demolishing a portion of a 122-year-old house.

"The town of Breckenridge has one of the largest historic districts in Colorado and takes very seriously the responsibility of preserving this community's historic past which is anchored by historic structures," said town spokesperson Kim DiLallo.

Kilgore argued that the portion of the venerable J.W. Evans house that he tore down was not historic, but a 1040s add-on, and that he was cited only because town inspectors moved too slowly to confirm that fact before the debris was hauled away.

Kilgore, whose wife, Janet Sutterley, is an architect who sits on the town's historic-preservation commission, contends he left messages with the building department for three days before hauling off the old material. When enforcement officers did show up, they found the entire rear historic structure missing, according to a written report, and later issued a "red tag," stopping work for over 2 months.

Although officials conceded the kitchen that was torn down was not as old as the rest of the house, they still took the case to court.

Municipal judge Buck Allen ultimately suspended the 10-day jail sentence for Kilgore but fined him $1,000.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Golf Tournament to Benefit Lake Dillon Preschool

The Lake Dillon Preschool 2005 Fall Classic Golf Tournament is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 25, at the Keystone Ranch Golf Course.

The tournament will start with a 10 a.m. shotgun "scramble" tournament with celebrity host Matt Renoux.

The cost is $100 per player, or $360 for a foursome, which includes green fees and cart rental, practice balls and goody bag, contests and prizes, aprés reception and a silent auction.

Registration deadline is Saturday. For details and registration forms, please contact Lake Dillon Preschool at (970) 468-1606.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Ski Season less than a Month Away?

Believe it or not, we're probably less than a month away from the first ski resorts opening. Last year Loveland opened on October 15. That's getting the diehards excited.

When reminded of how close we are to last year’s opening date Loveland’s Mark Abrahamson laughed.

“No wonder I can’t sleep at night and my stomach hurts and I’ve got a headache — because I’ve gotta get the snowmaking fired up!” he said, chuckling but not kidding.

Abrahamson runs Loveland’s snowmaking operations. Loveland has opened first five straight years, and 17 of the last 23. (Arapahoe Basin opened Oct. 22 last year, a week after its neighbor on the Continental Divide.)

According to Abrahamson, Loveland’s guns should be making snow within the next seven days. 28 degrees is the ideal temperature to make snow and during this past week the nightime temperatures have been in the 30s. The forecast calls for low temperatures to remain in the 30s for the next 10 days. And at 12,000 feet that means temperatures in the 20s.

The traditional battle for the first resort to open is usually between Loveland and Arapaho Basin.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Winter is Close at Hand in Breckenridge

The low last night was 35 degrees at my house. It spit snow off and on all day yesterday.

The top of Peak 9 had a dusting of snow on it this morning - above 12,000 feet.

A friend from Fairplay said they had snow in town last night.I

t has snowed and rained off and on most of the day today - yet we had sunshine as well.

Yes, winter is close at hand in the Rocky Mountains.

It's 44 degrees outside now (5:15 p.m.) and a fine, cold mist is falling.

The aspen trees are beginning to turn a brilliant gold and red in color.

Yes, winter is close at hand in Breckenridge.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Local Film Maker Seeks Music

The filming of "Did I Say Thousand Island?" by local director Patti DiVita ended on Aug. 28.

She is now editing hours of footage and finding the perfect music to accompany the Summit County-set romantic comedy about restaurant life.

"We got it made! We got it done, and no one got paid anything for it. I t's amazing how everyone really pulled together," she said. "That's a minor miracle in itself."

DiVita, who set a vigorous three-week filming schedule, said she hopes to have a rough-cut of the film ready in about a week because of upcoming film festival deadlines.

She's seeking local bands and musicians to submit music to provide the movie's soundtrack.

"Some of the people in the movie really want to be actors; and in the same vein of wanting to propel their dreams, I'd like to do that with musicians as well," she said.

DiVita said she wants a wide variety of music, but nothing too heavy."I don't think this movie is geared toward the 18- to 25-year-olds," she said.

"There's a lot of dialogue. It's more mellow. I don't want music that's head-banging."

She said she's also interested in including contemporary tunes and some classic rock.

"There's a great range of emotions in the movie, and I would like the range of music to be the same," she said.DiVita was originally interested in including some '70s tunes from bands like Led Zeppelin; however, she soon realized that would run up a bill totaling thousands of dollars.

She pointed out that, like the actors who volunteered their time, musicians will have to donate their music to the film at no cost.

"For now, they would just have the opportunity to get their music in a movie," she said. "It's all unknowns just trying to get exposure."

Interested musicians should contact DiVita as soon as possible at (303) 818-6177 or leftviewproductions@

Monday, September 12, 2005

Ford National V-8 Car Meet in Keystone

The weeklong Western National V-8 Ford Car Meet started today in Keystone.

Nearly 220 registered participants are signed up, with more drive-ins expected for the gathering, which will be run under the direction of National Chief Judge Waymon Brownlee.

All cars present will be 1932-1953 Ford, Lincoln or Mercury models, judged on the accuracy of the owner's restoration to the car or truck's condition when it rolled out of Henry Ford's factory. Owners who earn 950 points out of the possible 1,000 win the Dearborn Award, the highest honor at such an event, where cars are not compared against one another but against the standard of the Ford Company.

This Wednesday the cars will be lined up in Tenderfoot Parking Lot at Keystone and judged from roughly 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Spectators are welcome, as long as they don't touch the cars or interfere with the judges.

There will 10 to 12 classes spanning 21 years of cars, with perhaps five to 10 cars in each class. There can be multiple Dearborns awarded per class, or none at all.

A separate class of vehicles not considered for Dearborns will be the touring class, cars from the '32 to '53 era that have been modified from their original states.

Thursday and Friday the cars will tour Summit County, going from Keystone to Leadville, Montezuma, Breckenridge, Frisco, and Dillon. At five consecutive stops on Friday owners will pick up a playing card to form a Poker hand. Those with the best hands will be awarded prizes at Friday's banquet, where Dearborn winners will also be recognized.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Breckenridge Ranks No. 7 on Ski Magazine List

Breckenridge again made the top 10 in Ski Magazines top ski resorts.

The readers of Ski Magazine ranked Breckenridge number 7 overall. Although that is a drop of one position from last year when it was rated number 6.

Deer Valley, Utah, supplanted Vail as the No. 1 ski resort among readers of SKI Magazine.

Vail received the runner-up position, besting five Colorado resorts in the top 10.

"Statistically, the drop is fairly insignificant," said Greg Ditrinco, executive editor for SKI. "You can't really point to one area they fell precipitously."

Vail ranked in the top spot three of the last four years, and six times in the past decade. But the resort's success can be an enemy, said Greg Ditrinco, executive editor for SKI.

Summit's other resorts, Copper Mountain, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, failed to make the top 10.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

11th Annual Breckenridge Oktoberfest Celebration

Breckenridge's annual Oktoberfest is next weekend - September 16 - 18.

The street party will take place in the 100 and 200 blocks of south Main Street from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The Brewmaster's Dinner on Friday night is hosted by Paulaner Bier and the Swiss Haven restaurant and will take place at Swiss Haven - 325 S. Main Street. For tickets call the Swiss Haven restaurant at 970-453-6969.

The party kicks off on Saturday with a performance by the Summit Concert Band from 11 a.m. - Noon. Followed by the ceremonial keg tapping at the music stage. Live music all weekend long featuring T.A.G. (Those Austrian Guys, led by Peter Krainz).

The Team Summit Ski Swap will be held at the RiverWalk Center during the weekend, as well.

The annual Oktoberfest 5k Run and Walk will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Authentic German beers provided by Paulaner Bier and a variety of traditional and creative food will be available at street fair prices.

Additional information is available at 970-453-6018.

Friday, September 09, 2005


Grab your steins! Don your dirndls! The annual September tradition of Oktoberfest is back in town.

This Saturday, Frisco Main Street will be brimming with beer, bratwurst and Bavarian culture for the fourth annual Frisco Oktoberfest.

Aromas of Landjager summer sausage and herbed spatzle will fill the air, as the Edelweiss Schulplatters grace the streets with traditional Bavarian dancing. And Sunday, the festivities continue at Copper Mountain's Burning Stones Plaza and Keystone's River Run Plaza.

"Traditionally, an Oktoberfest is a celebration of a Bavarian wedding," Suzanne Burke, special events coordinator for the town of Frisco, said of this weekend's movable feast. "Obviously we have no connection to that. Here it's a mountain-town tradition of celebrating our mountain lifestyle. Ours is centered around beers and brats. We drink, and we do the chicken dance. That's what we do."

Breckenridge's Oktoberfest will be held later this month.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Breckenridge Festival of Film

The 25th annual Breckenridge Festival of Film began today and runs through Sunday at various locations, including the Speakeasy Movie Theatre, Breckenridge Theatre, Breckenridge Town Hall videoamphitheatre, Maggie Pond and Summit High School.

The festival features independent films, premieres, a kids' film and GLBT films. A new program of films created by Summit High School students will also be shown this year.Guests and celebrities like JoBeth Williams ("Poltergeist," "Big Chill" and "Into the Fire," premiering at the festival), Connie Nielsen ("Gladiator," "Great Raid"), director/producer David Semel ("Dawson's Creek," NBC's "House"), festival host Jeffrey Lyons (syndicated WNBC-TV film critic) and Ben Lyons (MTV's "Your Film Show") will be making appearances throughout the weekend at forums and panel discussions.

The festival's 25th anniversary Gala will take place at 6 p.m. today at the Top of the World Restaurant at the Lodge and Spa in Breckenridge. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased online at, at the Riverwalk Center box office by calling (970) 547-3100 or at the door. The evening will include appetizers, dinner, wine, dessert and dancing.

The Smirnoff Martini Smash will take place Saturday evening in honor of the festival at 9 p.m. at Salt Creek. Cost is $10 and includes a selection of complimentary food and martinis and dancing. For more information about the festival, visit

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Weed Control in Summit County

The number of invasive, noxious weeds so common to our area has been knocked down a notch this summer.

"We've gotten a lot of work done," said Lisa Taylor, who heads the Summit County Weed Program, a local group charged by the Board of County Commissioners to control invasive species of noxious weeds from inhabiting native areas around Summit County. When even small weed infestations are left unchecked, they can spread like biological wildfire, plaguing lands that may never recover from the arrival of an invasive species.

The weed control season is coming to a close as summer starts to wane - weed control is concentrated from May through September.

Taylor's group is finishing up a season spent spraying from one end of the county to the other. According to Taylor, her group completed two "treatments" on all of the county's major roads. Some of the more traveled corridors that got the full treatment this season were along Highway 9 from the Grand County line to the town of Silverthorne, along Highway 6 from the town of Dillon to the top of Loveland Pass, on the roadside between the towns of Frisco and Breckenridge and on the south end of the county from Breckenridge to the top of Hoosier Pass.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Summit County 4-H Club Helping Displaced Animals

Though human tragedy is the dominant concern among the thousands of aid workers along the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the situation of displaced animals is the focus of several local organizations.

Summit County 4-H members are raising funds for pets endangered by the hurricane.

They will be collecting donations and goods through Friday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Safeway in Frisco. Leashes, pet food, litter bags and food bowls are all welcome at the 4-H table, and will be shipped to Mississippi and Louisiana after the collection period is over.

Monetary donations will be sent to the Veterinary Memorial Foundation in Baton Rouge, La., the main local animal rescue group working in the disaster area.

Larger professional organizations are also getting involved. The Denver branch of the American Humane Association deployed its Animal Emergency Services rescue rig to the Gulf Coast last week, loaded with pet food and supplies. The mobile unit can serve as both a veterinary clinic and a temporary shelter for endangered animals.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Intrawest and Copper Mountain

Top Intrawest executives will provide an overview of a new development plan for the Copper Mountain village at the annual state-of-the-resort meeting today, outlining a 15-year vision aimed at ensuring the long-term sustainability of the resort.

“Last July was not a great time for us,” said Intrawest regional vice president Joe Whitehouse, referring to county commissioners’ denial of a previous plan that ended a long and bruising planning process.

Among the main issues were concerns over parking and a density increase that ran against the grain of Summit County’s stated intent to prevent up-zoning and cap development at currently approved levels, while allowing exceptions for affordable housing and transferred development rights.

A proposed gondola through the village was also a contentious point. Whitehouse said resort officials spent the past year reflecting on what makes a community and what makes a sustainable resort, and worked closely with major stakeholders, including employees, merchants, homeowners and the nearby town of Frisco to reshape the proposal.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Ski Pass Frenzy Starts Today

Vail Resorts will offer last springs' prices in Summit County next weekend, in Denver this weekend and online through Monday.

Copper Mountain and Winter Park start selling passes at preseason prices today.

Loveland Ski Area is offering its unrestricted season passes, four packs, the midweek pass, three class pass and frequent user card today.

Vail Resorts offerings include: The Colorado Pass, which offers unlimited days at Keystone, Breckenridge and A-Basin and 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek for $349. The Buddy Pass offers unlimited skiing at Breckenridge, Keystone and A-Basin for $309. Beginning September 6, prices will increase by $20 for every pass. For more information about pass sales, contact the Colorado Sales Office at 303-504-5870.

The Rocky Mountain Super Pass offers unlimited access to Copper Mountain and Winter Park and is on sale for $329. Winter Park only passes are $259 and Copper Mountain only passes are $279. Passes can be purchased at

Loveland's unrestricted pass is on sale for $139. These passes can be purchased at Prices are good through November 21.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Let the Ski Wars Begin!

Ski and board shoppers are the winners as the Gart family's "Ski Rex" and The Sports Authority's "Sniagrab" sales begin this Labor Day weekend.

Of course you'll have to come to Denver to take advantage of the big sales on ski and board equipment.

Sniagrab - "bargains" spelled backwards - will mark its 51st year this weekend. The Sports Authority company that owns Sniagrab is advertising sales of 30 percent to 70 percent off retail.

The Gart brothers Specialty Sports Venture company's "Ski Rex" sales are gaining ground. They will add a charity event to this years sale and is also offering equipment from its mountain stores at up to 80 percent off retail.

30,000 people are expected to go through the doors of the Gart Sportscastle on Broadway Street in Denver during the weekend - 1,000 of them during the first 15 minutes of the sale.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Changes in the Wind for Green Mountain Reservoir

The U.S. Forest Service wants to raise fees, restrict ATV use and require portable toilets and firepans at some popular Green Mountain Reservoir campsites, and the proposal has already triggered criticism from some of the people who use the area.

The reservoir is approximately 25 miles north of Breckenridge and a popular spot.

"At this time, it's all still proposed," said U.S. Forest Service ranger Howard Scott, who has been involved in the management of the area for 26 years.

The agency is hoping to get a handle on spiraling recreational use with a new master plan, and at the same time reach compliance with the new Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA). This new law defines the Forest Service's authority to collect fees more precisely than the controversial recreation fee demonstration program it replaces.

The Forest Service is under time pressure to complete the Green Mountain plan. Its current authority to collect fees at Green Mountain under the rec fee program expires Sept. 30. Scott said his agency will not be able to make that deadline, and will have to stop collecting fees and offering services. Use also drops off quickly at that time.

According to Scott, the Forest Service needs to modify the facilities at Green Mountain Reservoir so they meet FLREA standards. This requires certain amenities, including designated parking, permanent toilet facilities, permanent trash bins, interpretive signs or picnic tables.

Friday, August 26, 2005

50 Years of Chevy Muscle Cars in Breckenridge

Breckenridge will be a Chevrolet wonderland from September 1 - 4.

Breckenridge will be the showroom for a special celebration of 50 years of classic muscle cars when the 2005 Western National All Chevy Show powers into Breckenridge over Labor Day Weekend.

The public show at Beaver Run Resort will be a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Cancer Center.

For show registration, dinner and dance or dance only tickets, contact RMCCC President Greg & Kay Horn,, or RMCCC Vice President and Show Chair Eugene & Lynette Dilbeck, 303-755-4891.

Or visit the site:

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival

The Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival continues this week with concerts on Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday.

Tickets are $15 or $25 for Gold Star Reserved seating.

Concert schedule:

Thursday, 7:30 p.m.Soirée concert - private home- Works by Beethoven, Bach, Schubert, Handel-Halvorsen and others.

Friday, 7:30 p.m.Chamber concert - Silverthorne Pavilion- Hayden Trio in G Major for Piano and Strings Hob. XV/25 - "Gypsy"- Beethoven String Quartet in E-flat Major, Opus 74 - "Harp"- Shostakovich Quintet in G Minor for Piano and Strings, Opus 57.

Sunday, 7:30 p.m.Soirée Concert - private home- Works by Schumann, Françaix, Dvorak, Brahms and others.

Monday, 7:30 p.m.Chamber concert - The Raven Golf Club, Silverthorne- Beethoven Fourteen Variations on an Original Theme for Piano and Strings, Opus 44- Jean Françaix String Trio (1933)- Schumann Quintet in E-flat Major for Piano and Strings, Opus 44.

For tickets or more information, call (970) 468-4774 or visit

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Home Depot for Frisco?

Home Depot may be the development for Frisco’s 9.4-acre parcel.

Town manager Michael Penny recommended this past Tuesday afternoon that the Frisco council put the home improvement giant before local voters, who would decide whether Home Depot has a home in Frisco.

The town staff believes the development proposal from the big-box retailer had more to offer than competing developer, BigHorn Center Partners, when measured against the council’s objectives for the town-owned land, such as long-term economic sustainability, complementing local businesses and providing public benefits.

Home Depot projects its first year’s sales tax revenue to be in the neighborhood of $1.2 million, compared to BigHorn’s $416,000 to $918,000, depending on the final amount of retail space available.

Home Depot’s proposal answers more questions than BigHorn’s does, and not just from a financial perspective. BigHorn would include an Ace Solutions, but no other tenants in the multi-store proposal are known, another reason staff were attracted to Home Depot’s proposal.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Annual Rubber Duck Race Set for September 3

The Summit Foundation's annual duck race is set for Sept. 3 on the Blue River in Breckenridge.

The foundation owns 15,000 ducks for individuals and businesses to adopt. Anyone can buy a six ducks for $25; a dozen for $50 or 25 ducks for $100. All proceeds benefit The Summit Foundation, which improves the quality of life for residents and guests by awarding money to local nonprofit agencies.

For 18 years, the organization has raised money by racing rubber ducks down the river. Bad weather has dampened the last couple of races. Last year, it snowed, and the foundation had to keep 3,000 ducks that normally race in storage, due to poor turnout.

It usually races about 10,000 a year.

"We were killed by the weather the last two years, so anyone who has access to the weather god, we'd love them to have a chat," said Deb Edwards, executive director.

Last year, the foundation raised more than $52,000. In 18 years, the ducks have raised $453,938, said Åsa Armstrong of The Summit Foundation. This year, she hopes to break the record of a little more than 10,000 ducks adopted. To reach that goal, all of the nonprofits in the county are selling ducks, as well as board members, banks, grocery stores and other entities, such as the internet.