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.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Giberson Bay on Lake Dillon

If you drive the Dam Road from Frisco to Dillon/Silverthorne, you will pass the Giberson Bay day use area. Every wonder how it got it's name?

The Giberson family homesteaded the land in the early 1900s. The photo to the left is from a hillside north of the Giberson hay meadow, looking down on a small portion of the 179 acres Howard Giberson left as a protected area to be called Giberson Preserve.

The original ranch, which the Giberson family homesteaded in the early 1900s, was just east of this photo along the road from Frisco to Old Dillon. For six decades the Gibersons ran cattle on the land. At its largest, the ranch was 720 acres.

In the mid-1950s, however, Denver Water began looking for a site to build a High Country dam and create a reservoir, and began buying most of the land around Old Dillon. As of June, 1961, only four ranches had not been sold to Denver Water - the Gibersons being one of them. Condemnation proceeding began that month, and Denver Water was offering the Gibersons about $105 per acre for 380 acres. Eventually they settled for just under $450 an acre.

By the mid-1960s, the family watched as the land they worked for so many decades got covered by water.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Summit Lift Up-date

The Colorado Chair Lift on Peak 8 is still operating - taking people up and down the mountian.

But, since construction began on the new Summit Lift earlier this month - a lift that will run from the top of the Colorado Chair to the summit of Peak 8, opening up runs down Imperial Bowl that used to be accessible only by foot - you can go no higher.

For now, the construction means no public access to the upper reaches of Peak 8.

"Our goal is the safety of the employees and the public," said Joe Foreman, winter sports administrator for the U.S. Forest Service.

"With the helicopters going and digging going on and rocks rolling, we gotta keep it safe.

"Helicopters are used to bring lift towers and equipment to the site, thereby reducing environmental impacts of construction.

All of Peak 7 and Peak 9 are still open for public access.

Breckenridge Ski Resort has also begun work on the Skyway Skiway - a ski trail from Peak 8 to the day skier parking lots in town - with a bridge spanning Ski Hill Road and a tunnel under Park Avenue.

The Skyway Skiway should be complete by winter, 2006. The new Summit Lift is supposed to be complete for the 2005 ski season.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

"Gonzo Cannon" is Set to Blast

I hate to give publicity to those I do not think deserve it and I don't think Hunter S. Thompson deserves publicity for committing suicide. But news is news, so here goes.

The "gonzo cannon" is almost complete and organizational details are almost worked out.

On August 20 the cannon will blast about half the ashes of the late Hunter S. Thompson into the air above his home at Woody Creek.

The "cannon," which at present is shrouded in fabric to hide it from prying eyes, is a steel cylinder tapered toward the top that is formed around the steel framework of a crane boom. It reaches 153 feet above the field behind Thompson's Owl Farm, which makes it roughly two feet taller than the Statue of Liberty, as measured from the top of Liberty's base to the tip of the torch.

The "gonzo cannon" is topped off with Thompson's infamous emblem, a dagger with a double-thumbed fist clenched around a peyote button as the hilt.

It is the fiberglass fist that forms the platform and framework for the device, which has been described as being similar to a fireworks launcher, that will shoot the writer's ashes skyward.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Improvements Underway on the Blue River

Golden-based Ecological Resource Consultants began a four-week project Monday morning that will improve fish habitat in a section of the Blue River behind Silverthorne Town Hall and a larger portion a few miles downstream near The Ponds housing development.

“We’ll have a large excavator working in the river ... to try to make the channel a little more meandering or sinuous than it is now,” said Troy Thompson, president of the company.

The goal is to create a series of riffles, pools and glides to enhance food options, disperse angling pressures on the river, and create a wintertime refuge for trout when the water is flowing as low as 50 cubic feet per second, Thompson said.

Excavators will mechanically move the stream to create the pools and glides and will use control devices to create the fast-moving riffles, which serve as prime habitat for the aquatic insects that trout eat.

Thompson’s team will install steps to make walking down the river easier, stabilize the slope and revegetate sections of the river bank.

The fish will be displaced for the duration of the project and, while the work will put some stress on the trout, they’ll move back in upon the job’s completion, Thompson said.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Colorado Pass and Buddy Passes On Sale

Although that much-anticipated first snowfall is still a couple of months away, skiers and riders can take advantage of last spring's season pass prices for Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapaho Basin during the annual Labor Day ski and snowboard sales events in Denver.

The passes can be purchased at the annual Ski-Rex sale at Colorado Ski and Golf in Aurora, at Sniagrab at the Gart Sports Castle in Denver, and at all other Front Range colorado Ski and Golf and REI locations.

"We're borrowing a strategy from Colorado Ski and Golf's Ski Rex and Gart Sports' Sniagrab and making Labor Day weekend a big event for skiers and snowboarders. This year, Labor Day will be the last chance to purchase season passes to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapaho Basin at last springs' prices. Colorado passes will be on sale at both of these Labor Day weekend sales as well as other locations throughout the Front Range," said Chris Jarnot, vice president of marketing and sales for Vail Resorts

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Who Has the Most Expensive Ski Pass?

What ski area has the most expensive ski pass? It somewhat depends upon how early in the year you buy the pass.

But Sun Valley or Vail are good bets.

Sun Valley has announced it will charge $1,775 for an unrestricted pass for next winter. Vail has yet to announce what its 2006 pass cost will be, but last winter it charged $1,649 for a comparable pass. Chances are it will be more expensive than last year.

Jackson Hole is at $1,595 and Aspen is at $1,579, although these are last years prices.

Again, it's a good bet the prices won't go down for 2006.

Some of the other resorts: Telluride $1,375, Deer Valley $1,345, Park City $950, Steamboat Springs $925 and Crested Butte $768.

Then we have a big gap.

The Colorado Pass, the Buddy Pass, the Winter Park/Copper Mt. pass - all aimed at the Front Range skier/rider. These passes are all in the $300 range.

And most of the smallest ski areas almost give away their passes. At Snow King, a small ski area located in the town of Jackson, the season pass costs $99.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Hospital for Summit County

The St. Anthony Summit Medical Center (SMC) hospital, now in the final stage of construction, is scheduled to open its doors to patients December 5.

The scheduled December opening will be the culmination of three years of planning, one year of design, more than a year of construction and the cooperation of myriad public and private entities.

The 25-bed, 100,000-square-foot hospital will increase the medical services available locally, including emergency services, which will double in capacity and upgrade to Level III trauma designation from the existing SMC emergency department’s Level IV.

The existing SMC employs about 80 workers, a staff that will grow to 120 by the time the hospital opens. SMC will begin advertising for the 30-40 new positions this week.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Breckenridge in Top Five

Breckenridge has been named one of the top five communities in the world for snowboarders according to the editors and more than 1 million readers of TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine.

The magazine's September issue, due on the stands today, details the editors' picks of the five best mountain locales for riders to call home, as well as step-by-step instructions for relocation.

The Oceanside, Calif.-based publication has a circulation of 1.1 million and is considered the top magazine in its category.

Winners were decided by the publication's annual reader resort poll, as well as regional information about snow quality, length of season and nightlife.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mountain Mentors Need Donations

Mountain Mentors is looking for donations of gift certificates or goods and services to help raise funds for the program's activities and scholarships.

It is a very worthwhile organization dedicated to helping the youth of Breckenridge and Summit County.

The group will hold its largest fundraiser of the year at Keystone's Taste of Keystone Saturday, Sept. 3.

A silent auction will take place next to the pond at the base of Keystone Lodge from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.Mountain Mentors is a local youth mentoring program. To make a donation contact Jake Quigley at (970) 668-4153 or call Kelly Kissling at (970) 668-4154.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Cyanide Mining a Possibility in Summit County?

A recent ruling by District Judge David Lass that counties do not have the authority to regulate cyanide heap-leach mining has the Summit County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) up in arms.

Heap-leach mining is a process through with mining companies extract gold from piles of low-grade ore by drenching it with a cyanide solution. It does not have a good record in Colorado.

The BOCC unanimously banned the practice in January or 2004.

The Colorado Mining Association, joined by the state, sued the county, arguing that the BOCC had overstepped its bounds, since state law authorizes and regulates the technical aspects of mining through the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board. And the Judge agreed.

A trip to the Colorado State Court of Appeals is probably next.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Chimney Rock Moonrise

Southwest of Breckenridge a couple hundred miles is Chimney Rock. It's not every day that Chimney Rock Archeological Area invites the public in at 1 a.m.

But they did so on August 1. More invitations to visit the park at unusual times will be issued over the next five months so the public can observe an unusual lunar phenomenon.

On these particular nights, as part of its natural cycle of movement across the sky, the full moon will appear to rise between two natural stone pillars in the park. You can view the phenomenon from a fire tower observation deck. But archaeoastromers - who study what was known about astronomy in ancient times - believe that the Great House Pueblo, an ancient ruin in the park, was built by a tribe of puebloan people to watch this celestial event.

The Great House Pueblo provided a perfect vantage point for seeing the moon come up between the pillars more than 900 years ago. Its construction has been dated to 1076, with another phase of construction 18 years later. Both periods coincided with years in which the moon could be seen rising in that spot, adding credence to the theory that these ancient people recorded and predicted the moon's cycle.

The moonrise is visible between the pillars for three years in a row, every 18 years. This year, the moon could be seen rising between the pillars on Aug. 1, and there are five more opportunities to observe it.

The park is hosting a 2 1/2 hour program to see it, including an orientation session and a short drive followed by a hike past the Great House ruins to the fire tower.

Dates are Aug. 27, with visitors admitted at 11 p.m.; Sept. 24, at 10 p.m.; Oct. 21, at 7:40 p.m.; Nov. 17, at 4:30 p.m., and Dec. 15, at 3 p.m. For details, call (970) 264-2287, Mondays or Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Chimney Rock is located in the San Juan National Forest, 44 miles east of Durango.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Bus System Dumps Biodiesel

High fuel costs have forced the Summit Stage to forego the use of biodiesel in the transit system's bus fleet.

The fleet is being powered instead by conventional low-sulfur diesel fuel.

The 20 cent premium biodiesel commands over regular diesel fuel has caused the stage to use regular diesel fuel. Had costs not become a road block, the free bus system would have used a fuel blend that contains 80 percent diesel and 20 percent soy derivative this summer.

Unlike diesel, the soy derivative contains no sulfur, so the blend produces less air pollution in its emissions than diesel alone does.

The bus system is currently paying $2.22 per gallon for conventional low-sulfur diesel, up 80 cents per gallon since January. The Stage's 2005 fuel budget is $335,000, and $272,000 has already been spent.

Summit Stage buses used biodiesel in the warmer months of 2004. The biodiesel cannot be used during the winter - it turns to a gel and plugs the engines of the buses.

The fuel-cost picture is unlikely to get any prettier in the future. Beginning in September, 2006, the EPA will require the buses to run on ultra-low-sulfur diesel or ultra-low-sulfur biodiesel, which will increase costs by an additional 40-60 cents per gallon

Friday, August 05, 2005

Swan Mountain Road Bike Path

Circumnavigating Dillon Reservoir entirely by paved pathway may be in the future as Friends of the Swan Mountain Recpath are launching an effort raise funds for the project.

Local governments have already put aside $1.2 million for the project, but the first two of four phases will require an additional $2.65 million in private and foundation funds.

The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) has printed 2,000 booklets it will send out over the next few weeks to raise money for the Swan Mountain Recpath project.

"We're hoping that everyone who enjoys using the path will step up, help out and spread the word," said Liz Finn, assistant executive director of NWCCOG.

Summit County government enlisted the fundraising assistance of NWCCOG to make the path over Swan Mountain between Farmer's Korner and Summit Cove a reality.

A volunteer citizens group, "Friends of the Swan Mountain Recpath," will bring the project out in the community.

Contributions to the Swan Mountain Recpath project are tax-exempt and may be sent to NWCCOG Foundation, P.O. Box 2308, Silverthorne, CO, 80498. More information about the project is available at

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Breckenridge to Allow Parade of Homes Signs

The Breckenridge Town Council recently approved directional signs for the Parade of Homes in a narrow 4-3 vote.

Just a few weeks ago the council denied approval of the signs unless a "donation" of $5,000 was guaranteed to the Summit Foundation.

However, the issue is not over yet.The Summit County Builders Association (sponsor of the event) guaranteed a $1,000 gift to The Summit Foundation, and will encourage a $5 donation to the foundation from people visiting homes along the tour, which is scheduled for Sept. 10-11 and 17-18.

So, the ransom has been paid.

Donation and educational boxes will be in all 16 homes. Educational boxes? What in the world are they?

The council will be watching this year’s event closely to "see how much additional money is raised, and if the exception was worth it."

I guess if enough money is "donated" the council will say it was worth it to make the exception and allow the signs. An interesting way of evaluating town council rules and regulations. Did I hear someone say donate enough money and you can have your way with the town council? No, no, no. I'm sure I have misunderstood.

The council had originally asked for a guaranteed $5,000 donation and, when the association said it couldn’t afford that, the council balked at allowing an exception to the sign ordinance.

The sign exception will expire after the Parade of Homes is over. The signs will only be up from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day during the Parade of Homes. The show also involves Silverthorne, Keystone and Copper Mountain — all allowing signs for the event.

The council said it will revisit the topic once the event is over — and that keeping the town code’s integrity will remain a priority. Did they really use the word "integrity?" Yes, they did.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"Over The River" by Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Artist Christo recently told residents of Salida (approx. 90 miles south of Breckenridge) he would be willing to pay for ambulances, helicopters and firefighters to be stationed along the Arkansas River for visitors to a planned exhibit that would drape a giant canopy over the river.

He also offered to install watering troughs for bighorn sheep that may be spooked by the translucent aluminum-coated fabric panels suspended from 8 to 20 feet above the river in a 7 mile stretch just east of Salida to the Parkdale siding 10 miles west of Canon City.

The success of "The Gates, Central Park,"has advanced their planned work, "Over the River," which was first conceived in 1995. "There will be many interruptions (in the fabric panels) for boulders, rock formations, vegetation," Christo said. "The fabric panels' width will be the same width as the water."

An environmental impact study needed for the necessary permits is 75 percent complete, he told a standing room only crowd at a theater in Salida. Christo needs approval from the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area governing agencies of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Colorado State Parks. Once approved, Christo said it would take workers about a year to install the anchors for the fabric. He said he hoped to have the installation ready for sometime in mid-July and mid-August of 2008.

Christo said he looked at 89 places in the Rocky Mountain region."We chose the Arkansas River because it is so habitable there is so much human activity. Also, there is no screen of trees to block the view of the river and there are high banks," Christo said.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Summit Lift Construction Begins

The construction of the highest chairlift in North America is underway.

It will reach almost to the top of Peak 8 pictured in the photo on the left.

Breckenridge Ski Resort began construction on the anticipated — and debated — Peak 8 summit lift, the Imperial Express SuperChair today.

The high-speed quad will reach 12,840 feet and transport riders to the top of Peak 8. The $4 million lift will open access to 400 acres of intermediate to advanced terrain that now requires a hike above treeline.

Roger McCarty, chief operating operating officer for Breckenridge Ski Resort, called the lift the “crowning touch.”

Until now, it’s been on again, off again, on again for the new Breckenridge lift.

The project (along with replacement of Chair 6) was originally approved by U.S. Forest Service Dillon District Ranger Rick Newton in January. The approval was subsequently appealed by Colorado Wild, a ski industry and Forest Service watchdog group. Several local residents also signed the appeal; some cited a concern that the lift would eliminate most of Breck’s hike-to terrain. During the appeal process, regional officials determined the decision should have been made at the Forest Supervisor level, resulting in a withdrawal of Newton's earlier OK. Incoming White River Forest Supervisor Maribeth Gustafson then reviewed the project and issued another approval.

Since then, planners have been waiting for Aug. 2 to arrive.

“Everyone here has been excited to get going,” said Nicky DeFord, spokesperson for Vail Resorts. A target date for completion has not been set, DeFord said.

“They’re kind of leaving that open — both the Forest Service and our operations guys” she added. “They think they can get it done by the end of the season. They’re confident.”