Thursday, February 28, 2013

Community demands green gateway into Breckenridge

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, Breckenridge, Colorado

     Residents who turned out for a public meeting on the northern McCain property almost unanimously called for the town to restrict development and preserve open space on the parcel widely considered to be the entrance to Breckenridge.

     “When you turn the corner … all you see are mountains and ski areas,” Breckenridge resident Lee Edwards said at Tuesday's meeting. “We want that to be the focus of what people see. That's what we're selling to the rest of the world.”

     Edward's comments and others like them, were met with enthusiastic applause from the crowd of roughly 70 people.

     The meeting followed a public outcry after news surfaced that developers were interested in constructing a gas station on the property and a longtime local business on the site, facing the loss of its lease, was ready to close its doors.

     A draft master plan for the McCain property would have allowed two small lots on the north side of the parcel to be used for commercial — including banks, office space, retail stores, restaurants or entertainment facilities — or service commercial development.

     But many members of the community are now asking that the land be preserved as scenic open space and that existing businesses on the property be grandfathered into a master plan that would not allow additional development.

     The majority of local residents who spoke at Tuesday's meeting echoed Edward's comments. An additional 40 online respondents called for open space on the McCain property. When Breckenridge Mayor John Warner asked how many people were concerned about lighting from commercial development impacting the visibility of the night sky in the area, almost every hand in the room went up.

     “It seems like you drive 15 miles along the road to Odessa, Texas, with businesses all along the highway,” Breckenridge resident Del Bush said at the meeting. “We don't want that kind of a situation up here. … Pay attention to creating an attractive entrance to the town of Breckenridge. Don't make people wonder how long it's going to be before they get to town.”

     Town council members were supportive of the public's minimalist vision for the property, with some saying they would even be interested in converting developed parts of the property back to open space when the existing businesses' leases end in the next few years.

     “It's easy to take the popular view, and yet leadership sometimes has to take the right view,” Councilman Mark Burke said. “In this case, I think the popular view is the right view.”

     The town is tentatively planning to use the bulk of the property for public projects, including snow storage, overflow parking, open space and a community solar garden.

Solar flares tempers

     But the solar garden plan, a project that has been in the works for more than a year, drew almost as much fire at Tuesday night's meeting as the idea of commercial development in the area.

     “What isn't appropriate is a massive solar farm,” Breckenridge resident Eric Buck said. “People don't come to Breckenridge to see the bleeding edge of technology, or to admire the pioneers of environmentalism.”

     In a request for thumbs-up, thumbs-down vote on various possible uses for the property, community members resoundingly shut down proposals for a gas station, bank, bowling alley and auto-related businesses. Solar got fairly mixed reviews.

     The proposed solar garden would be located on just over 3 acres of land and would be available to members of the community to buy into.

     Breckenridge purchased the McCain property from a private owner in 2000. One third of the parcel's approximately $1 million price tag was covered with open space funds. The town intends to preserve and improve the portion of the property along the Blue River corridor.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Special Olympics Celebrates 25 Years

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, Breckenridge, Colorado

     For the 25th consecutive year, Copper Mountain will host the Special Olympics statewide winter competition. The event will take place March 3, featuring outdoor snow events in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.

     “There's a longstanding venue partnership for any kind of event,” said Amy Turner, Special Olympics Colorado VP of marketing and corporate partnerships. “We have so many first-rate world class facilities up in Summit County, it's really a tribute to Copper Mountain and the people there that have helped us put on the event over the years.”

     Around 250 athletes and Unified Partners (athletes without intellectual disabilities) will be out on the slopes to compete for gold, silver and bronze medals. They will be backed by 75 coaches and around 300 volunteers, in addition to spectators. There will be 38 different races, with medals awarded at the finish line. The mountain will be open throughout and the public is encouraged to watch.

     “It means a lot to our athletes to have spectators come out and watch them and cheer them on, so we do encourage that,” Turner said.

     Five of the athletes recently participated in the Special Olympics world championships held in South Korea in late January. For Bryan Terry, it was his second time at the world games, competing in the cross-country skiing event. Terry will co-emcee the closing ceremony alongside Marc Stout of ROOT Sports.

     To qualify for the state championships, athletes must participate in their area championships first. Colorado has five regions. By winning their race or achieving a specific time, an athlete can then advance to the state championship. There is no age limit for athletes and categories are arranged by skill level.

     “Special Olympics Colorado Winter Games is one of our annual signature events and a great opportunity for citizens in the Summit County and metro Denver areas to come out and support our athletes,” Mindy Watrous, president and CEO of Special Olympics Colorado, recently stated in a press release.

     Spectators are encouraged to watch the competitions at various locations on the mountain. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing will take place at the base of A Lift from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Downhill events also begin at 10 and will take place on the Carefree Two, Easy Feeling, Scooter and Copperopolis trails.

     The closing ceremony will be at the Bighorn Ballroom from 4-4:30 p.m. and is open to the public. It acts as a tribute to the athletes, with a slideshow presentation of photos taken throughout the day.

     Following the closing ceremony is the victory celebration, which traditionally includes a dance, from 4:30-6 p.m.

     A fireworks show will take over the skies from 6 p.m. The best place for viewing will be at Burning Stone Plaza.

     “What we're hoping for in our 25th anniversary is really to get more people out to cheer on our athletes,” Turner said, “particularly participating in closing ceremonies and being out there to support at the fireworks show.”

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Study: Breckenridge gondola impacts on birds limited

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, Breckenridge, Colorado

     Birds nesting in the Cucumber Gulch wetlands area do tend to avoid the BreckConnect Gondola when it is moving, but it does not seem to be driving them out of the area, a recent town-commissioned study has concluded.

     The study, the second in three years on the impact of gondola operations on local avian species, was funded in part by Breckenridge Ski Resort.

     Ski area executives prompted the second study when they asked the Breckenridge Town Council to consider again extending summer gondola operations through the protected open space area, recognized as one of national importance.

     “Based on the available information, we don't believe it is necessary to revise our request in regard to gondola summer operations,” Breckenridge Ski Resort spokeswoman Kristen Petitt Stewart stated in an email to the Daily.

     Resort representatives are looking to begin running the gondola between downtown Breck and the base of Peak 8 in mid-June this year rather than early July.

     A 2010 study evaluated the impact of summer gondola operations on bird species in the Cucumber Gulch area. In 2012 the study was repeated to determine the effects on local avian species of running the gondola two weeks earlier in the year.

     “The question at hand is, does starting the gondola earlier in the season — in June versus July — impact the avian species in the gulch more so because that's their nesting time and their migration time,” Breckenridge open space and trails planner Scott Reid said. “I don't think the results were enough to say two weeks earlier in the gondola operations is going to make a huge difference to these species.”

     Researchers did find, however, that one species of bird, the violet-green swallow, was attempting to nest in cavities on the underside of the gondola cabins, which then later began to move.

     The situation poses a problem as migratory birds are protected under international treaty, Breckenridge staffers said.

But ski area representatives deny the problem exists.

“We have looked at this very closely, and have not been able to find any evidence that nesting activity is occurring,” Petitt Stewart stated in an email. “We inspected the cabins very carefully during the summer and clean them regularly as part of our ongoing maintenance program and have never found any evidence of nesting.”

     Breckenridge officials and resort representatives are expected to discuss the issue at tonight's work session.

     The study also found that the late-arriving Cordilleran flycatchers seemed to choose nesting sites away from the gondola corridor. In addition, it showed that the number of Wilson's warblers in the corridor dropped significantly when the gondola began moving, a finding that was consistent with the 2010 study but did not seem to indicate that the birds vacated Cucumber Gulch wetlands area altogether.

     Researchers encouraged officials to limit gondola operations in the morning and evening when many species are feeding and nesting.

     Cucumber Gulch has been identified as a crucial aquatic resource and wildlife habitat. Breckenridge officials purchased much of the gulch with open space funds to protect it from development.

     The BreckConnect Gondola began operations in 2006, and started to run in the summer in 2010. Last summer, the gondola geared up in mid-June and the second study was commissioned to determine the impacts of the earlier start date.

     The cost of the $14,000 study was split evenly between the town and ski resort.

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Monday, February 25, 2013

Court decisions could test resort liability, Colorado Ski Safety Act

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, Breckenridge, Colorado

     The state's venerable Colorado Ski Safety Act, which outlines responsibilities for skiers and resort operators, could be tested in two wrongful-death cases in which judges recently denied resort-operator requests to dismiss. In December, Broomfield County District Court Judge Patrick Murphy denied Vail Resorts' motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the family of 13-year-old Taft Conlin, who died in an inbounds avalanche at Vail Mountain in January 2012.

     Ruling from the bench, Murphy ruled against Vail's argument that avalanches are an inherent risk of skiing, saying that avalanches are not listed in the Ski Safety Act's list of inherent dangers and risks of skiing. If the legislature had intended avalanches to be an inherent risk, it would be in the 1979 law, Murphy said.

     Last month, Routt County District Court Judge Shelley Hill refused to dismiss a case brought by the family of 19-year-old Cooper Larsh, who died skiing the Howelsen Hill ski area in Steamboat Springs in March 2011. Hill sided with the family's argument that the trail where Larsh died was not properly closed, ruling that the resort operator's failure to rope off the permanently closed terrain was “an unreasonable risk” and “negligent omission.”

     Both rulings dismissed resort-operator arguments that they were immune from liability according to the Ski Safety Act and, in the Steamboat Springs-owned Howel-sen Hill case, the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act.

     “Resorts don't have complete immunity,” said James Heckbert, the attorney representing the family of Conlin in the lawsuit against Vail Resorts. “If people or companies are not responsible for their own conduct, then they just keep on being careless. Immunity breeds irresponsibility, and I think the ski areas have been lax with their safety programs. They try to put everything on the skier and have no responsibility of their own. When they are held responsible, hopefully they will tighten up their conduct.”

     The Vail and Howelsen cases address notification of closures, which is outlined in the Ski Safety Act as a responsibility of resort operators.

     To read this article in its entirety, go to

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Most Expensive Lift Ticket

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, Breckenridge, Colorado

     Vail Resorts has jumped out to a commanding lead over Aspen Skiing Co. in the single-day lift-ticket-pricing competition, which fascinates members of the media to no end.

     Vail Mountain recently started charging $129 as its walk-up window rate, according to a reservationist with the company. Beaver Creek charges the same price.

     Vail's price climbed from $122 during the Christmas and New Year's period.

     Aspen has lagged behind Vail all season in a category where it might not mind being second-best. Skico was charging $114 during the holidays but ramped up pricing to $117 for Presidents Day weekend. Skico offers a $5 rebate to skiers and riders who turn in their plastic tickets at the end of use.

     Skico first topped the $100 barrier for a single-day ticket in March 2011. The company set its price at $99 for the holidays that season and declared that it wouldn't break the $100 barrier. The pricing committee reconsidered later in the season and charged $104 in time for the busy Presidents Day weekend.

     Skico charged $108 during Christmas and New Year's Day 2011, while Vail charged $116.

     Skico officials have insisted in the past that they set their prices without regard to Vail's pricing strategy. There is no competition to be the most expensive resort, they say.

     Both companies try to promote multiday lift ticket purchases through discounting. For example, Vail Resorts sells a four-day ticket for $384 right now if it is purchased at least one week in advance. The price for a single-day ticket is $106 at least one week ahead, according to the company's website.

     Skico's website says it is currently charging $396 for a four-day ticket purchased at least one week in advance. That is $99 per day. Skico also sells a two-day advance ticket for $202. No single-day advance purchase is possible via its website.

— Aspen Times staff report

     The walk-up window price for a two-day lift ticket at Aspen is $220, the company's website said.

     All ticket prices are for adults.

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News and the Aspen Times.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Benefit for Breck Music Festival at Ski Cooper

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, Breckenridge, Colorado

     Short or non-existent lift lines, wide ski runs and natural snow. What seems like a dream for today's skiers is one of the attractions of the “Applause Alpine Extravaganza,” a benefit event for the Breckenridge Music Festival (BMF) slated for Tuesday at Ski Cooper.

     The area is one of the few local resorts that keeps skiing the way it used to be before it became a popular winter activity. It is also full of history, as it was chosen in 1942 as a ski-training site by the 10th Mountain Division for World War II because of its high elevation at 11,700 feet and annual average snowfall of 250 inches.

     On Tuesday morning, guests ski the resort's 400 acres of lift-serviced runs and then warm up in the lodge, where lunch will be served. The benefit concludes with a video presentation of “The Last Ridge,” which tells the story of the 10th Mountain Division and its role in the United States' war effort in Europe during World War II. The showing will be followed by a question-and-answer session with members of the division, Paul Stubbe and John Gordon. Gordon has been a ski instructor at Ski Cooper for many years.

     “The tie-in with the 10th Mountain Division is perfect for us because many of those guys maintained ties to Summit County through the years. They are part of our heritage, and so many of them returned here to ski no matter where they ended up,” said Marcia Kaufmann, executive director of the BMF.

     The event is open to all levels of skiers. It is one of several in a winter series hosted by Applause, the special events fundraising committee for BMF, to support the nonprofit. This is the first time the group goes to Ski Cooper.

     “Skiing at Ski Cooper is most unique, as it takes one back to the days of skiing in the past, with no lift lines, no manmade snow, an old but comfortable lodge and no glitz,” said Applause spokeswoman Sherrie Calderini. “The runs are long and wide, and the terrain is mostly blue cruisers.”

     “Ski Cooper is one of the few places around here you can get that old-time, old-fashioned ski experience, the way skiing started out,” Kaufmann agreed. “It is the way you skied if you were hip to skiing in the '50s and '60s, before everyone else in this country had discovered it.”

     “The folks who attend these events send me emails saying what a great time they had, and how much they enjoyed the company. You meet great people, and this event is the perfect combination of outdoor enjoyment, interesting information and good company,” Kaufmann said.

     Tickets are $55 for Applause members and $60 for non-members and include the lift pass. Participants meet in the parking lot at Ski Cooper at 9 a.m.

For more information, call (970) 453-8446 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting or (970) 453-0506 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting or visit

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Friday, February 22, 2013

Traffic Count at Eisenhower Tunnel Hits Two-Year High

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, Breckenridge, Colorado

     Traffic counts at the Eisenhower Tunnel hit a two-year high for Presidents Day Weekend this year, following a general upward trend in data that shows traffic on the Interstate 70 mountain corridor is getting worse.

     Traffic peaked on the eastbound lanes Monday afternoon, with more than 24,000 cars passing through the tunnel. It was a 3 percent increase from numbers recorded on the same holiday in 2012 and the highest traffic count since 2010.

     Volume on I-70, the primary thoroughfare between Denver and the mountains, has been on an uphill slope, increasing roughly 3 percent per year at the Eisenhower Tunnel, with some fluctuations relative to snowfall, the economy and the price of gas, officials say.

     It's a trend that is expected to continue as the number of people living in the Denver area grows.

     “The Front Range population is projected to continue to increase over the coming years,” said Margaret Bowes, head of the I-70 Coalition, a group of stakeholders that pushes for traffic solutions on the mountain corridor. “We fully expect that, though there will be some fluctuations from year to year, the trend will be for traffic to continue to increase.”

     More than 82,000 vehicles passed through the Eisenhower Tunnel on Saturday and Sunday. According to the latest I-70 future-needs study, traffic on peak weekends could increase to nearly 200,000 by 2035, with travel times growing accordingly.

     To head off the problem, local officials and I-70 corridor stakeholders are pushing a combination of long- and short-term solutions aimed at reducing congestion and increasing capacity on the highway.

     “We're always focused on keeping the work toward a long-term solution,” Bowes said. “But we're also focused very much on near-term and using travel demand management strategies. A big part of that is encouraging off-peak travel.”

     Urging drivers to avoid the periods when the highway generally sees the heaviest effort has been a multifaceted effort that has gained steam in the last year. New smartphone applications allow drivers to view up-to-date travel times and road conditions, while the I-70 Coalition is collaborating with local businesses and resorts to initiate deals to incentivize travelers to make the drive back to Denver at off-peak times.

     Last summer, the Colorado Department of Transportation also began posting messages on electronic signs on the highway encouraging drivers to plan around the predictable periods of heavy traffic, such as Sunday afternoons, when many mountain visitors are returning to Denver.

     Transportation officials say they may continue to use electronic messages, which were effective in shifting driver travel times, but the corridor will likely continue to see heavy traffic, particularly on weekends.

     “It's definitely under consideration,” CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson said. “But we're going to still get plenty of traffic up in the mountains.”

     Long-term projects are generally focused on increasing the highway's capacity, beginning with an expansion of eastbound I-70 to three lanes at the Twin Tunnels, near Idaho Springs. The project will require a full closure of the eastbound highway lanes from April through October, but is expected to improve the flow of traffic when complete by expanding a key choke point on the corridor.

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Breckenridge Ponders Use of Property North of Town

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, Breckenridge, Colorado

     With everything from residences to warehouses to restaurants proposed for the northern McCain property — the last large parcel of unplanned land on Breckenridge's valley floor — the town is asking the community to provide input on a plan for the future development of the area.

     Officials are hosting a public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at town hall to give locals an opportunity to offer suggestions and comments on possible uses of the property, widely acknowledged to be a significant aspect of Breckenridge's entrance corridor.

     The meeting comes after the property became a topic of community debate when news came to light that a developer was interested in constructing a gas station on the property.

     Town officials want to preserve part of the 126-acre plot for various public uses, including a solar garden, overflow parking, a reservoir and open space along the Blue River corridor. But commercial, or service commercial development, including contractor or building trades, equipment rental businesses, auto repair shops, warehouses, retail stores, restaurants, coffee shops, office space, gas stations banks or entertainment facilities are proposed for two northern sections of the property.

     The same space could also be designated for residential use or open space.

     Town leaders vary in their visions for the property, with some seeing it as an opportunity to retain useful services and businesses in the northern part of Breckenridge that might otherwise locate in other parts of the county, and others advocating the space be left undeveloped as a scenic view corridor on the route into Breck along Highway 9.

     “As an entryway into town, I'm not sure what it's all going to look like at the end of the day,” Councilman Gary Gallagher said. “But I'd say let's make it all open space and a beautiful entrance into town.”

     Officials said there was interest from an applicant, but they have not entered into negotiations for a gas station on the property.

     Breckenridge purchased the McCain property — a rectangular strip of land that runs adjacent to Highway 9 on the north end of town — from a private owner in 2000. One third of the parcel's approximately $1 million price tag was covered with open space funds, as the town intended to preserve the portion of the property along the Blue River corridor.

     Breck officials say there are no plans in place to sell off the section of land that runs adjacent to the river for development, but there could be. The town is permitted to sell land purchased with open space dollars as long as the money from the sale is returned to the open space fund.

     “The intent is for it to stay open space,” Breckenridge spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo said in November of the river corridor, which is also a key wildlife migration area. “But it isn't like a land trust.”

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Colorado resorts' housing market rebounds

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit, Breckenridge, Colorado

     A huge December pushed 2012 High Country real estate sales to their highest levels since 2008.

     Three years after the resort real estate market cratered in 2009, sales in six Colorado resort counties have rebounded.

     Realtors say the rebound was supercharged in the last few months of the year, with December sales ranking as one of the strongest since the boom times of 2007.

     In Pitkin County, where average prices in tony Aspen were $4.2 million in 2012 and most high-end deals are done in cash, December sales reached $270 million, up 116 percent over December 2011.

     Aspen broker Tim Estin said uncertainty over tax changes planned for 2013, primarily estate and capital gains taxes, “likely fueled a number of these transactions before the end of the year and trumped the uncertainty caused by the ‘fiscal cliff' debate.”

     In Eagle County, where December sales climbed 90 percent, buyers whittled away at a dwindling supply of properties.

     “It was a combination of people searching for a good investment and watching a market near the bottom,” said Vail broker Gil Fancher, who posted his best month ever in December with a mix of high-end, midmarket and fractional sales. “People are realizing I can park money in this area and come and use it or I can rent it and I can even gain a little back on my investment when the market returns.”

     That return has been slow, especially to the levels seen in 2007. Back then, real estate sales in Eagle, Grand, Pitkin, Routt, San Miguel and Summit counties topped a record $10 billion. Two years later, the economy reeled, resort-area foreclosures reached record levels and prices plummeted. Total sales in those counties in 2009 barely hit $3.6 billion. Last year, sales in the six counties reached $4.9 billion, still less than half of 2007 but 22 percent ahead of 2011 and 37 percent ahead of the 2009 low point.

     To read this article in its entirety, go to

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News and the Denver Post

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Drought Continues

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

     It's been an ongoing theme in Summit County and across Colorado for nearly a year now: periods of daily precipitation follow extended dry spells, but can't deliver enough moisture to alleviate extreme drought conditions.

     Recent snowfall has helped, experts say, but with Colorado snowpack still far behind average and what is shaping up to be the second consecutive dry winter failing to produce the needed moisture, western Colorado may be on its way to another arid summer and dangerous fire season.

     Snowpack in the Blue River Basin, where shades of brown can still be seen at the top of peaks 9 and 10, is only at 59 percent of last year's total at this point in the year, and 42 percent of the median snowpack for the area.

     Meanwhile, the U.S. Drought Monitor continues to place Summit County, and much of northwestern Colorado, in an extreme drought.

     After a dismal January for snowfall delivered only 6 total inches in Breckenridge, compared to an average 23 inches, it is becoming more likely that the winter season many hoped would pull Colorado out of one of the worst droughts in a decade will fail to do so. Without a significant increase in snowfall over the next several months, parts of the state may be on track to see another difficult summer marked by a lack of water and high wildfire danger.

     Consecutive months of below-average snowpack accumulation are statistically decreasing the possibility of reaching normal conditions by April, a Feb. 1 Colorado State Basin outlook report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service stated. Last year's below-average snowpack did not offer any buffer to our current situation. … Water users in all basins should start planning for below-average surface water supplies this season. The potential for shortages this season is great.

     Last summer's drought was offset by healthy reservoir levels, with storage facilities across the state nourished by above-average snowfall and high streamflows the year before.

     But Dillon Reservoir is now only 66 percent full, far from its 90 percent normal for this time of year, according to data from Denver Water, the utility company that owns the lake. Denver Water's total storage system is at only 63 percent of total capacity, falling below levels recorded during the 2002 drought year, when the system dipped to 76 percent of capacity at the end of January.

     Officials are now talking about mandatory water restrictions next summer.

     It would mean that if we get to that point, we would have mandatory restrictions for customers, specific days where they can water, Denver Water spokesman Travis Thompson said, noting that the usual wet spring snowfall could still head off the need for such restrictions. We're still hoping for that.

     Drought conditions area also setting Summit County up for another high-risk wildfire season, with an increasingly dry and flammable forest dominated by beetle-killed timber.

     What we're really looking at is the fuels on the forest floor, said Dan Schroder, field agent for local Colorado State University extension office. These fuels are incredibly dry. We also have a standing timber of primarily dead lodgepole pine … so our trees and woods are less able to resist fire.

     Local officials continue to urge the public to be water conscious and to take steps, including implementing defensible space, to protect homes and properties from wildfire.

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Monday, February 18, 2013

Frisco's Romp to Stomp

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit
     For a decade, Summit County has hosted the Tubbs Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer annual snowshoeing 3k and 5k races dedicated to raising money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a national breast cancer research organization.

     The event has raised around $860,000 since its inception and this year the aim is to add another $125,000 to top the $1 million mark for money raised in Summit by the Romp.

Make it a weekend

     The Romp to Stomp will take place March 2 at the Frisco Adventure Park.

     Summit County resident Joan Davids has been involved in the event every year, the first as a volunteer and participant and the other nine as chairperson of the event. Davids hopes to not only encourage participants to enjoy the snowshoeing, but to convince them of the value of coming earlier and staying longer.

     “The whole idea is to get people up here in the county for the whole weekend. Make it into a weekend,” Davids suggested. “We don't want that excitement to just drop. … Now we're saying it's just a full weekend. It can drop on Monday,” she added with a laugh.

     Romp to Stomp is doing several things to encourage participants to stick around. First, organizers are continuing the tradition of the night-before Pink Party, which features a goodie bag, coupons for drinks, trunk shows by local retailers and plenty of good food, as well as a chance to mingle with other participants.

     The big new thing this year, which Davids hopes will really encourage visitors to extend their time, is the Romp to Stomp app. Developed by Silverthorne-based company YodaCom, the app has a myriad of features designed to help visitors enjoy, explore and discover Summit County. It will display a schedule of all Romp to Stomp events and times, give up-to-date road conditions, allow users to take photos and send them to friends or Facebook, find deals and directions to Summit County businesses and even help them find where they parked their car. It's also free.

     Jeremy Black developed the app free-of-charge for Romp to Stomp. He's participated in the Romp many times, he said, and his sister is a breast cancer survivor.

     “I'm thinking, there's gotta be an app for that,” Black said. And now there is.

     The other new development will take place March 3, the day after the Romp. Participants who show their Romp to Stomp bib at Loveland will get an $11 discount on a ski pass for the day. Additionally, for every discounted Romp to Stomp ticket, Loveland will donate $10 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

     “I think it's a cool win-win for everyone,” Davids said.

     Romp to Stomp caps the number of participants at 2,300, so registration is first come, first served. Davids encourages people register, whether it's their first or 11th time.

     “Of course all of us know somebody who's been through breast cancer, unfortunately, so many people come to the event to celebrate that the person actually has survived this miserable disease, or in memory of someone who unfortunately didn't make it through,” Davids said, who is a breast cancer survivor herself. “Therefore, the importance of the fundraising comes in, in my mind, because Komen's mission is to really eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease.”

     “Have fun,” she added, “Enjoy the beauty out there on the Frisco Adventure Park and do it for an important cause.”

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

     Susan G. Komen for the Cure, often referred to simply as Komen, is one of the largest and best-funded organizations in support of breast cancer research in the country. Founded in 1982, Komen came about after Nancy G. Brinker promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, who was succumbing to breast cancer, that she would do whatever she could to work toward eradicating the disease. Since then, the organization has grown across the nation and now has international connections and a global impact.

     The Romp to Stomp is one of many programs that helps raise money for Komen. In addition to Colorado, it also takes place in New Jersey, Vermont, Minnesota, Utah, Washington and Oregon, as well as two locations in Canada. According to Davids, the Colorado event usually raises the most money. Last year it reached $114,000. The year before that was its record high at $149,000. This means that the goal of $125,000 is certainly achievable, Davids said.

     “Every dollar helps,” she added.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Slow Down When the Weather Gets Bad

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

     The headlines are too familiar: “Tractor-trailer crash on I-70 at Avon kills 1,” “Fatal semi-truck crash closes I-70,” “Crash is third fatal accident on I-70 this week.”

     Interstate 70, a major corridor both for intrastate and interstate commerce, is our mountain community's source of revenue and accessibility that too often presents dangerous, or sometimes deadly, consequences. In the last two weeks alone, accidents have closed down lanes on the interstate, creating traffic jams and aggravation.

     On Wednesday, a trucker traveling westbound veered off the roadway and over-corrected, according to the Colorado State Patrol, losing his life as a result. The week before, seven semitrucks crashed, including a tanker carrying hot oil asphalt. The tanker's contents did not spill, but removing the crashed truck from the interstate was a lengthy and careful process.

     Late last year, a snow plow and SUV were involved in a crash on Vail Pass that sent a 21-year-old man to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. And countless other accidents often include drivers sliding off wintry roads or accidents that result because of speeding or driving under the influence.

     Colorado State Patrol Trooper Josh Lewis said that the number of accidents are more or less on track with last year's numbers. He said it's hard for the patrol to track the exact number and causes of accidents because 15 calls could come in for the same car that slid off the road, and police might arrive and the car has already left the scene, for example.

     At the Colorado Department of Transportation, spokeswoman Ashley Mohr said the department is constantly conducting studies around the state in the name of safety. Speed studies, which help determine speed limits in specific areas, occur every day around the state, she said.

     If there's a particular stretch of road that sees multiple accidents, Mohr said the department would study those accidents to determine whether it could do something to prevent future accidents. The department would examine everything from speeds to road conditions at the time of the accidents, she said.

     The department did review the accident near Wolcott recently involving the seven semitrucks and determined the crash was not caused by a road condition that CDOT could have prevented through more plowing or maintenance. That accident was reviewed because there was precipitation on the roadway, a situation in which CDOT always goes back and reviews when there are accidents, Mohr said.

     “Part of the problem is where a lot of these accidents happen, there's heavy truck traffic,” Mohr said. “We look at what kind of vehicles are involved in these situation and it's usually the trucks.”

     CDOT tries to distinguish whether truck traffic has caused an accident or whether it's a roadway design or road conditions, she said. The department currently has no red flag on Interstate 70, meaning there's no specific area that has seen enough accidents to warrant a safety study.

     Lewis said in cases of blowing snow, which was happening in parts of the state on Thursday afternoon, crashes always increase. Most aren't terrible, he said — they're mostly cars that have slid off the road, causing little-to-no damage and rarely injuries, but there's a big influx of calls reporting those crashes.

     Generally speaking, people go too fast for the conditions, Mohr said, adding that truck traffic is obviously not the only problem.

     “Always pay attention,” Mohr said. “We heavily encourage folks to pay attention to speed limits. But, just because the speed limit says ‘x,' if conditions are not safe for that, it's OK to slow down.”

     Lewis couldn't agree more. He said State Patrol often encourages people to simply stay put when road conditions are bad, but if you absolutely have to be out on the road, always anticipate that it will take more time to get to your destination and give yourself that extra time, he said.

     “It doesn't matter what you're driving,” Lewis said, adding that four-wheel-drive can only help so much.

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Las Vegas Furniture Market

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

     After returning from the Las Vegas Furniture Market, I think it is only fair to discuss the upcoming furniture fashions that made their place at Market this winter. This being my first Market experience, I was certainly blown away by the masses of furniture. Now that I have had time to revisit the trip, I ask myself “What had the strongest presence?”

     It is certainly safe to say that leather is king! The represented trends included bonded leather, authentic leather, fleece-lined leathers and leathers of vibrant to neutral colors, just to name a few. Of these, the bonded leather was represented very well at Market. The innovations and restructuring of this leather-blended upholstery have come a very long way.

      Several times at Market, I would sit down in a bonded leather sofa and was mistakenly convinced that it was full, authentic leather. Today, the look and feel of bonded leather is remarkably comparable with that of real leather. A few years ago, this was not necessarily the case.

     The newest trend of fleece-backed leather is really a hot idea for the mountains. The fleece backing creates a thicker, warmer finish to the upholstery. Being in the furniture industry, I have come across many folks in Summit County who refrain from leather-type fabrics on furniture because it can often feel cold. These fleece-lined leathers put cold mountain temperatures to shame.

     Motion furniture is booming in all show rooms. Reclining sofas and loveseats are in high demand, and the manufacturers are responding with motion pieces in all designs. More contemporary styles are coming through in reclining. Motion in the past has featured more pillowed and full-sized appearances. The latest looks include stream-lined arms and sleek silhouettes.

     Another concept that stuck out within all manufacturers is the use of color and prints. One of the top vendors we carry in our store, Ashley Furniture, is doing a lot of entertaining colors. Red, teal and deep blue were frequent colors seen in their show room. Starburst patterns in complimentary colors represented the toss pillows on the brightly fitted pieces. One sofa to the next to the next was equally as impressive as the last. It was difficult to pick a favorite.

     Some furniture shoppers can be intimated by these funky-colored trends. However, the idea is that in affordable furniture, you can go with that fun colorful set in your living room. In seven years after your taste has changed, you don't have a ton of money invested in your current furniture. Therefore, you aren't heartbroken to replace it with something fresh and new.

     The furniture world is massive and, truthfully, overwhelming at times. There are quarterly furniture shows each year in the U.S. As imagined, the biggest challenge is to develop the newest style and design that sets you apart from the rest. Vegas Market for winter 2013 has been concluded for only two weeks, but it is already ancient history. High Point Market to take place at the end of April in North Carolina is already the next order of business

     For more home style tips and information visit ifurnish and More Space Place in Frisco or email Kalyn Johnson at

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Friday, February 15, 2013

Jazz and Wine in Keystone

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit
     Keystone is fast becoming the go-to place for wine aficionados with its longstanding summer Wine & Jazz Festival and now a winter festival too, new as of last year. The Winter Wine Weekend returns for a second year Saturday and Sunday.

Jazz and wine

     Saturday night features a wine tasting paired with hors d'oeuvres by Black Diamond Gourmet and entertainment by jazz musicians Will Donato Trio. Donato, a saxophone player and national recording artist who has played with Al McKay (Earth, Wind and Fire), Bruce Conte (Tower of Power), Steve Reid (The Rippingtons) and others, is a popular performer with Keystone's summer festival.

     The wines were handpicked by Tracy Whitlock of the Bacchus division of Republic National Distributing Company, which partners with Keystone Neighborhood Company to sponsor the event. All are available locally and range from $8-$25 retail.

     “When you have to narrow it down to a few wines, you want those wines to all stand out and to really embody what region and varietal they're representing — and also to be a good value to the consumer,” said Whitlock, who selected 10 reds and 10 whites for the occasion. “The idea is to introduce people to some great quality wines that are a great value and are easily accessible for people to enjoy and learn about.”

     Among the featured wines are two unoaked Chardonnays — Chardonnays that have not been aged in an oak vessel, which is a traditional American preparation method. Whitlock said unoaked Chardonnays are becoming more and more popular as people learn more about wines and become more experimental with their choices. “People are realizing that this varietal has a beautiful expression on its own without the added component of oak,” she said.

     Far from a snobby affair, Whitlock said Keystone's Winter Wine Weekend “is fun” and “meant to be enjoyed,” in contrast to the preconceived notions some folks have about what a wine experience need be.

     At $30 in advance online or $40 at the door, “the Saturday night portion in particular is a great value and very kind on your purse strings for everything that is included,” said Maja Russer, Warren Station director of events and marketing. Last year, the first night sold out.

Cooking tips too

     On Sunday, for $55 in advance or $65 at the door, Warren Station presents a “triple-whammy,” as Russer called it — a wine pairing, cooking demo and catered New Zealand meal where guests get to eat what they've just seen made.

     The chef conducting the demo is the same as the caterer — the renowned Chef Christopher Rybak of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area's Black Mountain Lodge fame. Rybak will present a New Zealand dinner with appetizers including a crab-and-shrimp salad on citrus-scented quinoa and assorted cheeses; a spinach, strawberry, feta and toasted almond salad with balsamic vinaigrette; braised New Zealand lamb shank with fresh greens and waxed beans with carrots and creamy polenta. He will demonstrate how to make each of the courses onstage, and after each, servers bring the dish out to attendees.

     “It's not just a demo — people are getting to eat what is being demoed,” said Russer.

     Later, they can recreate the dishes at home. The event is pretty labor intensive to put on, she said, because while the chef is demonstrating how the food is prepared, there's a coordinated effort taking place behind the scenes to plate each course. Last year, Russer found herself making use of serving skills mastered back in her days at Dillon Dam Brewery.

     Between food demos, wine specialist Jeremy Krug — who also gives wine seminars at the summer festival — will talk about the wines selected to pair with each course.

     “Last year we did Italian wines and an Italian theme,” Whitlock said. “This year we thought New Zealand would be fun because those wines are really up and coming and just beautiful.”

     Since Whitlock also works with Rybak at A-Basin, they collaborated on the New Zealand theme. Well known for his role as A-Basin's executive chef, Rybak worked at Keystone years ago, and he operates a catering business too. The folks at Warren Station got to know him last summer through his daughter, Chelsea, who worked as a special events intern for the arts center.

     “We have had Chris cater KNC events in the past and our experiences are that his product and presentation are top notch,” Russer said. “I personally am a fan.”

     To purchase tickets for the advance, discounted rate, visit
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Thursday, February 14, 2013

One Million Vertical Feet

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

     One million vertical feet in one day.

     That was the goal of the relay team from Six Pack Sports when it caught the first chair at Keystone Resort Wednesday morning. The 10 skiers weren't aiming for fame, though, they were aiming to raise money for a good cause.

     The Six Pack Sports team took on its Million Vertical Feet Challenge to raise money for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado. Overall, the team raised nearly $13,000 for the nonprofit organization.

     Big Brothers Big Sisters provides at-risk children with mentors. Its reach is national, with roots in Colorado going back to 1918. In 2012, the program supported roughly 1,900 mentoring relationships in the Denver and Pikes Peak areas.

     Mike Kirkland, commissioner at Six Pack Sports for the last four years, has participated in Million Vertical Feet challenges in the past in other states. This year, he decided to bring the challenge to himself and his colleagues at Six Pack Sports to benefit a good cause.

     The money raised by Wednesday's challenge will to go start the inaugural Sports Buddies ski day. Sports Buddies is a program offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters in which children and their mentors participate in organized activities, including attending and playing team sports. The money raised by Kirkland and his colleagues will provide for transportation, ski lift tickets, rental equipment and lunch for the participating children.

     Kirkland plans to help make the Sports Buddies ski day an annual event.

     “We're going to have a heap of these,” he said.

     Six Pack Sports is dedicated to promoting sports and similar activities throughout the community. A year-round sports league based out of Denver and Boulder, Six Pack Sports provides opportunities for adults to get together and share their love of sports.

     Raising money for children to enjoy sports just made sense, Kirkland said. “I thought it was a natural fit for the fact that we do adult sporting events.”

     Kirkland's team did the math for what they would need to do in order to achieve its 1 million vertical feet in one day challenge. By completing 44 runs each, they could accomplish approximately 100,000 vertical feet per person.

     “We got the first chair up and we're going all the way through the night skiing,” Kirkland said from the gondola Wednesday. He and his companions chose Keystone Resort, they said, because of the night skiing option. They needed to ski for 11-and-a-half hours straight to meet their target, and even ate their sandwich lunches while riding up the gondola.

     “It's a grind. We're bombing every single run. We need to go straight down the mountain every time,” Kirkland said. He paused, then added, “It's a lot of fun.”

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Hotel on F-Lot?

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

     Eighteen months after Breckenridge officials shut down a proposal for a high-end hotel on the central F Lot property, the town is preparing to explore the feasibility of such a project.

     Breckenridge is poised to contract with a private real estate firm and an appraisal company to investigate whether a luxury, branded hotel is financially realistic for the F Lot property.

     The F Lot is currently a town-owned, paid parking lot, but Breckenridge leaders have for several years characterized the space as a last gem of undeveloped space in downtown Breck.

     The private consultants are charged with exploring the viability of a variety of development options, or no development at all on the property. They told members of the council a hotel would need to generate at least a 17 percent return on investment to be considered feasible.

     A number of developers expressed interest in putting a hotel on the lot in the fall of 2011.

     “The council really felt that they were pretty much at a disadvantage not understanding when those proposals came in if that made good business sense,” Breckenridge spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo said. “What they're looking to this consultant to do is really to look at is it feasible to even consider that piece of property to become a hotel.”

     The consultants will also investigate concerns among members of the lodging community that in a small market like Breckenridge a new high-end hotel might cannibalize existing two- and three-star short-term rental properties.

     Town leaders emphasized the importance of the consultants' study of the F Lot be fair, unbiased and open to the possibility that a hotel might not work at the location.

     “I want to make sure that our community can feel safe that this was truly an independent consulting job,” Councilman Mark Burke said. “Our objective was to see if there's a need for a higher-end hotel.”

     An East Coast developer initially brought forward an unsolicited proposal for an F Lot hotel in 2011 and asked the town to support the project by providing the property for free.

     Members of the lodging community came out in strong opposition to the hotel, saying many smaller companies already have a hard time filling all their rooms and that plans for additional developments at the gondola lots and on peaks 7 and 8 were poised to expand the lodging market enough over the next few years.

     The town solicited additional hotel proposals, but later shut down the idea altogether.

     In connection with the future of the F Lot, town officials are also considering redesigning the adjacent Riverwalk area, the nearby arts district and placing a park or open space on the next door Tiger Dredge Lot.

     Members of the council have said that any parking lost as a result of the development of the F or Tiger Dredge lots will be replaced.

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Copper Mountain Plans Improvements

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit
     On the heels of Breckenridge Ski Resort's success with an application to expand to a new mountain, Copper Mountain is now also looking to improve its offerings.

     New lifts, new trails and wind turbines are the headliners of a package of improvements Copper proposed to the U.S. Forest Service.

     Forest Service officials released the details of the resort's improvement plans Monday in a Notice of Proposed Action (NOPA), calling for public comment prior to the start of environmental analysis on the projects.

     The proposal was released just days after Copper announced plans for a $500,000 overhaul of the Woodward training facility.

      That project, alongside the improvements included in the Notice of Proposed Action, are planned to cater to the resort's summer guests and could represent an interesting response to Breckenridge's Peak 6 expansion, which many expect to steal industry headlines in the upcoming season.

     The projects, if approved, will be constructed during the summer months, likely over the course of several years given the short building season on the mountain.

     Copper officials did not directly comment on whether the proposed improvements are meant to help the resort compete with Breckenridge's expansion.

     “The projects proposed have been on our historic improvement list and are additions to our most recent (environmental impact statement) and revised Master Development Plan,” spokeswoman Austyn Williams told the Summit Daily in an email.

Copper's list of proposed projects

     > A Kokomo make over. As part of an effort to increase teaching terrain, the resort is looking to replace the existing triple Kokomo lift with a 3,000 foot chair based adjacent to the Union Creek facilities. The new lift would provide both round trip service and transport for beginning ski and ride students to two new surface conveyor lifts located on the gentle terrain north of the lift's top-load station. The resort is also pitching a viewing deck addition that would allow skiers, snowboarders, coaches and the public to overlook the terrain park and Woodward facility.

     > Catalyst Terrain Park surface lift. Intended to help expedite training and the flow of athletes through the park, the surface lift is expected to be particularly beneficial during the Woodward at Copper late-spring and early-summer training program.

     > New trails and improved access. The proposed action calls for a series of new trails or improvements to existing trails that a challenge for skiers and snowboarders either due to a flat grade or difficult terrain. Resort officials want to create a new, groomable trail entrance to the Enchanted Forest, a new T-Rex connector trail, to replace the low-angle Woodwinds Traverse trail and an improved runout trail from Spaulding Bowl.

     > Surface lift access to Copper Bowl. Copper executives area also looking to add a new surface lift to the west of the existing Sierra Lift, that would provide service to Copper Bowl, which currently is only accessible by hiking to the top of the ridge above the bowl. The 850 foot proposed conveyor would be able to transport 800 people hourly.

     > Wind turbines for clean energy. In an effort to enhance environmental sustainability, the resort also proposes installing two 24-foot wind turbines near the Union Peak Ski Patrol Station to help offset power used on the mountain.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Copper Mt. Updates Training Facility

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

     Winter Olympic hopefuls and amateur daredevils alike will have a newly renovated place to practice and play in Summit County. Copper Mountain officials announced that Woodward at Copper, an indoor-outdoor ski and snowboarding training facility, will get a $500,000 facelift in time for summer camps in June.

     Woodward at Copper opened in 2009. Basing its philosophy off of Camp Woodward in Woodward, Pa., which opened in 1970, Copper Mountain was the first indoor-outdoor mountain home for a training facility that allowed winter-sports athletes to try new, difficult tricks in a safe environment, according to a resort news release.

     “Still one of few training facilities of its kind today, Woodward at Copper is poised to raise the bar, yet again, leading into the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, with improvements that will not only transform winter sports training, but will cater to summer action-sports enthusiasts, as well,” resort officials said in a written statement.

     The renovations include a new foam pit, a protective cushion that allows athletes to perfect unprecedented and risky moves that they otherwise couldn't practice in a real-world environment.

     The pit will be added next to the current big jump line that will include a drop in platform with 2-foot and 4-foot jumps designed for development of beginner park skills.

     “It allows you to try tricks you wouldn't try outside until they're perfectly maneuvered,” said Copper spokeswoman Austyn Williams. “You would spin off into a foam pit before trying it over hard land. The growing trend of action sports on the snow is increasing the difficulty of the tricks year after year.”

     The street area will double in size allowing for full access by BMX, mountain bike, skateboards and park skis and snowboards. Renovations also will include two new viewing areas giving spectators an up-close sightline of the action.

     “The reason behind the expansion is we want to keep the Woodward product as fresh as possible,” Williams said.

     Woodward at Copper, a 19,400-square-foot facility, will unveil its latest improvements in time for the first week of summer camp, which starts June 16.

     On top of the indoor renovations, Woodward at Copper will also add a summer chairlift. Starting June 16, Woodward at Copper camps will have full access to a lift-served snow jib park with dedicated features designed to shrink the learning gap. BMX and skate program offerings will be extended outdoors, on-mountain, and include an outdoor mini-ramp for summer campers.

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Friday, February 08, 2013

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit    

     Five new high-alpine bowls, 543 new acres and a 23 percent increase in skiable terrain.

     That's the package of improvements Breckenridge Ski Resort is promising skiers and snowboarders with the opening of its fifth mountain, Peak 6, at the start of the 2013-2014 ski season.

     The expansion will be Breckenridge's first in more than a decade and is expected to make headlines across the industry.

     For the resort, the project was hard won, fraught with bureaucratic hurdles and pushback from a community loathe to see acres of healthy trees be cut in a forest already devastated by the pine beetle epidemic.

     Though the project's opposition hasn't yet conceded defeat — there's talk of litigation relating to the U.S. Forest Service decision to allow the project — approval on the expansion was a big win for the resort, one it's preparing to leverage with other Breckenridge businesses.

     “The addition of Peak 6 for the 2013-2014 ski season will be a huge step for both the ski resort and our entire community in providing an improved customer experience for our guests,” Breckenridge director of marketing Kieran Cain stated in a letter directed to members of the business community. “We hope you share our excitement in what will be the biggest news in the ski industry over the next year.”

     The letter was included with a series of talking points for local business owners to provide to employees who work with customers.

     The project drew heated but mixed reactions from the community prior to its approval, with some celebrating the prospect of new skiable terrain and others railing against prospective harm to the forest and wildlife in the area.

     For some, the impending construction signals the end of a long fight.

     “I have no hard feelings,” said former town Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron, who was a vocal opponent of the expansion. “Sometimes you fight a battle not because you think you can win it, but because it's the right thing to do.”

     In August, after years of environmental studies and community debate, the Forest Service approved the more than 500-acre expansion, which will add a fifth mountain to the resort. Within the boundaries will be 10 new-cut trails, 13 runs above treeline and the resort's first above-timberline intermediate terrain. Skiers and snowboarders will be able to access the mountain via a four-person chair and a detachable six-person lift from Peak 7. There will also be a warming hut at the top of the mountain and a restroom facility at the mid-load location.

     The resort agreed not to develop a base area on Peak 6 prior to the expansion's approval and withdrew and initial request for a restaurant on the new terrain from the application.

     Breckenridge sits on land owned by the Forest Service, within a designated boundary. The Peak 6 expansion falls within the existing boundaries.

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Mountain Pine Beetles on the Decline

Posted for Nancy Yearout

     The spread of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, which has swept through forests across Colorado since 1996, is slowing significantly, according to the state's recently released annual aerial forest health survey.

     The U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service reported that the epidemic has expanded by 31,000 acres in 2012, as compared to the 140,000-acre increase in 2011.

     “Generally speaking, the mountain pine beetle epidemic in Summit County is definitely declined,” said Cary Green, U.S. Forest Service timber management assistant for the White River National Forest eastern zone. “We haven't seen any widespread damage since 2009/2010. I think Summit County's clear in that.”

     Though the epidemic is declining, Green said that it doesn't mean the beetles are gone completely. It will be possible for pockets of trees to be affected in the future.

     “They're always going to be in the ecosystem,” he added.

     Nearly 3.4 million acres in Colorado have been infested by the mountain pine beetle since the initial outbreak in 1996. Most mature lodgepole pine trees have now been depleted within the initial epidemic area.

     Mountain pine beetles aren't the only insect causing havoc on Colorado's trees, however. While the pine beetles seem to be in decline, the recent report stated that the spruce beetle outbreak has started to expand. Nearly 1 million acres have been affected since 1996, including 183,000 additional acres detected in 2012.

     The majority of the spruce beetle devastation has occurred in southern Colorado in the San Juan and Rio Grande national forests. Though spruce beetles have shown up in Summit County, Green said they do not appear to be in very large numbers.

     Unlike mountain pine beetles, which attack standing trees, spruce beetles prefer fallen trees, where they build up their population before attacking nearby weaker trees. Similar to mountain pine beetle, the increase in spruce beetle activity is due to factors that increase tree stress, including densely stocked stands, ongoing drought conditions and warmer winters.

     According to Green, spruce beetle infestation is harder to spot, because the needles simply fall off rather than change color as with the mountain pine beetle.

     Green said that the main focus right now is to deal with the remnants of the beetle kill as well as increase the health of the forest to make it less susceptible to future beetle attacks, of any kind.

     “(We're) trying to get most of the dead trees out where we can, trying to utilize the trees in some sort of product so they don't go to waste,” Green said. “And regenerating the next future forest is obviously the goal as well.”

     This will come in the form of planting trees in areas of high use, such as recreation areas. In other parts, Green said, lodgepole trees will start to come back on their own, particularly younger trees that survived the beetle epidemic and are therefore much less likely to succumb to beetles.

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Breckenridge Discusses Solar Panel Policies

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

     Members of the Breckenridge Planning Commission will be deciding if, when and where to allow solar panels in the historic core of town tonight.

     It's one of the first steps in the process of tightening town policies on solar panel installations in downtown Breckenridge, an issue that has sparked controversy among residents in recent years.

     “We're trying to balance the issue of the character in the historic district with the use of sustainable resources,” planning manager Chris Neubecker said.

     The key question before planning commissioners will be whether to allow freestanding solar panel arrays for commercial and residential use in downtown Breckenridge, which are not currently prohibited by the town planning codes.

     Current town policies regarding solar panels were put in place several years ago, but town leaders at the time primarily considered the issue of panels being installed on historic homes and didn't go into the question of arrays on or near larger buildings.

     “We really thought this through when we did it originally,” said planning commissioner Eric Mamula, who was on the town council when the solar panel policies were initially adopted. “But stuff always comes up. We didn't really even think of the larger buildings with flat roofs. There's some new territory we're covering now.”

     With approval from the planning commission the draft of revised solar panel policies will go before the town council for discussion as a new law.

     The proposed policy changes call for flush-mounted solar panels to be allowed on sloped roofs, even if they are visible from a public street or alley. But solar devices on flat roofs and detached stand-alone arrays would be allowed only if they were not visible from nearby streets or alleys.

     Town officials say they hope a community solar garden planned for the McCain property north of town will provide an alternative for business owners and residents in downtown Breck who want to use clean energy, but can't get solar panels approved on or near their own property.

     “We think that would be a viable option for property owners almost anywhere to buy into solar and renewable energy without having panels on their property,” Neubecker said. “That would give them an option to use renewable energy and get credit, but not have any visual impacts on their property.”

     The solar panel discussion was renewed last fall when the owners of the Lincoln West Mall, on the corner of Main Street and Lincoln Avenue applied to install the devises on the flat roof of the building.

     The mounting structures and panels themselves would have been visible from nearby Ridge Street, prompting the town government to review the existing rules.

The application was latter withdrawn.

The issue of solar panels in the downtown historic district gained attention two years ago when the Breckenridge Town Council considered a proposal to install solar arrays on several town-owned facilities including the Riverwalk Center and Breckenridge Golf Club, eliciting a wave of outrage from community members who considered them to be too ugly for the carefully protected core of town.

     The town later killed the proposal.

     “I'm a big supporter of solar panels, but I think the place needs to be appropriate,” Councilman Mark Burke said at the time. “Councils long before me have created codes to maintain the historic beauty of Breckenridge. Solar panels will never be historical.”

     But the council took no action at the time to amend the town's codes or laws to ban solar panels on private structures in the core of town.

     The planning commission is slated to discuss the issue at 7:15 tonight in the council chambers at Breckenridge Town Hall.

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Monday, February 04, 2013

Town of Blue River in Transition

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

     Fifty years ago Blue River was a sleepy little village of second-home owners and peace-loving locals hidden on the southern rim of a county not yet discovered by the ski industry.

     But surrounded by breathtaking vistas and miles of backcountry access, within range of local resorts and with somewhat lower real estate prices than neighboring areas, the tiny settlement wasn't going to stay a secret forever.

     Today, as Blue River approaches its 50th birthday, it is a town in transition.

     “It's flip-flopped,” Mayor Lindsay Backas said. “It used to be mostly second-home owners. Now we believe that it's mostly permanent residents.”

     Approximately 800 of them, according to the most recent census data. And while Blue River still doesn't have any commercial businesses within the town limits, it is evolving and developing in other ways.

     Perhaps the best evidence of the changing tide came last April, when the town hosted its first municipal election in decades. Since approximately 1978, there had been no need to have a vote in Blue River, because candidates for the board of trustees always ran unopposed. In 2012, two Blue RIver residents stepped up to challenge the incumbents, and one of them won a seat on the board in an election that drew nearly 150 voters to the polls.

     At about the same time, the town finished construction on Blue River's first park — now something of a community-gathering place — and began a public push for Summit Stage bus service to be extended to the south end of the county.

     Now, with a growing number of permanent residents demanding more services, town officials are looking at bigger projects, including a recreation path that would run through Blue River and up Hoosier Pass, a contract for additional law enforcement and a comprehensive plan for the future of the town.

     The comprehensive plan, a process of determining the community's goals for future development, is still in the early stages, but will likely be completed this year with input from local residents, Blue River officials said.

     “It's sort of an overall municipal plan that deals with all aspects,” town Trustee Rob Theobald said. “We'll be looking at immediate changes, three to five years and then 10-25 years.”

     The plan will likely confront some of Blue River's biggest questions: whether to allow commercial business operations in the town limits, how to address backcountry access and a possible three-mile plan examining how the town will interact with its neighbors in the future.

     The plan is still in its infancy, but will likely be completed this year. Town officials say they do plan to incorporate the input and priorities of Blue River residents.

Growing pains

     The process of evolving from the quiet cluster of vacation homes that incorporated in the 1960s to an active community of permanent residents has had its ups and downs.

     Blue River officials have thus far been stymied in their ongoing efforts to give the town some autonomy in the form of a bus route and a zip code of its own.

     For some residents, the growth and development come along with what might be an inevitable sense of apprehension that the nature of the town they love, and have chosen to live in, may change.

     “When I was a kid I really remember Blue River being kind of a world away from Breckenridge. It was its own residential area where residents would go to really escape the bustling world of Breckenridge,” resident Toby Babich said. “I worry that making changes just for the sake of change may go against the character of the town.”

     But while the comprehensive plan does have far-reaching goals, there are some things town officials say are not on the discussion table.

     “I don't think we're envisioning any major change to the sort of mountain rural aesthetic,” Theobald said. “We're not looking to become another Breckenridge or another Highlands neighborhood. We're looking to improve what we have.”

     Information on public meetings around the comprehensive plan will be forthcoming, Blue River officials said.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News

Sunday, February 03, 2013

SnowSports Industries America Snow Show

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

     Women promoting sunglasses stood around in bikinis and fur vests. A DJ for a headphones company spun tunes atop a trailer. Spyder showed off a custom Audi R8 inside its booth. Pepa of the hip-hop trio Salt-n-Pepa performed for Burton.

     And there were lots of stickers. This is an industry that loves stickers.

     Behind all of the fanfare, and the stickers, there was serious business to be done at the SnowSports Industries America Snow Show inside the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. This week, it is the epicenter of the $3.3 billion retail snowsports industry.

     “For the ski industry, this is it,” said Dan Chalfant, president and CEO of Avon-based Liberty Skis. “This is the big dog.”

     Liberty's booth had the company's line of 2013-14 skis plastered to the wall as Chalfant and other employees chatted with buyers, media members and other industry insiders on the floor of the convention hall.

     This is Liberty's 10th year at the SIA Snow Show. For them, it is a chance to renew connections with buyers with whom they have worked in the past, as well as connect with people who aren't familiar with Liberty.

     They were showing off their wide Helix skis, the really wide Double Helix and the enormous Mutant 192, as well as a new ski that will benefit the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and will be hand-tuned by former U.S. Ski Team racer and valley local Sacha Gros.

     Friday morning, Eagle-Vail-based ski wear maker Skea's booth was hosting buyers from Whistler, B.C.; Sun Valley, Idaho; and Pittsburgh, Pa.

     Owner Diane Boyer said that during the show, she will come in contact with buyers that represent 80 percent of her yearly sales.

     “Buyers can come see the whole collection and feel the whole culture of the brand,” Boyer said.

     One of Skea's coolest new products is a down jacket called the Cali. It has a 3-D, bubble-like fabric that is stretchy and water-proof.

     As a past chairperson of SIA, Boyer was one of the people behind the show's move from Las Vegas to Denver in 2010.

     Varyk Kutnick was manning the Fat-ypus booth with fellow athlete Brandyn Roark. They were showing off their new models including the powder skis D'Riddum and the D'Root, which feature a unique five-point shape that allow for quicker turns. With appointments set for throughout the day, they were touting their high-quality construction and their local roots in Breckenridge.

     “We're just trying to spread the love because when people get on (our skis), they don't go back,” Kutnick said.

The buyers

     On the other side of the coin were the buyers.

     Mike and Deb Grant, owners of Off Piste Sports on West Meadow Drive in Vail Village, were taking a break Thursday afternoon after a full day of appointments on the opening day of the show, which runs through today.

     The Grants will place over 50 percent of their orders for next season at this show. As a small, independent store, they want to stand out from other ski shops in Vail, so they were looking for unique items — clothing, ski equipment and accessories — to put on their shelves next season.

     “If it shows up in too many stores, we don't want it,” Mike Grant said.

     This is the one event where they can see just about all the merchandise they need to stock their store. There are lots of aspects of a product that you just can't understand via a catalog — colors, sizing, and just the benefit of holding a product in your hand.

     “You can touch it, feel it, try it on,” Mike Grant said.

     For the Grants, the SIA Snow Show is also a time of excitement of the new year. It's an annual reunion of reps, buyers and manufacturers who together ride the ups and downs of the industry, and a chance to look ahead to a new year.

     Buzz Schleper of Buzz's Ski Shop will spend three or four days at the convention, where he does most of his buying for next season. He is booked up with retailers such as Burton, Never Summer and K2.

     For him, nothing can replace seeing a product live.

     “To see the whole line fresh, you have to come to this show,” Schleper said. “If you don't come, you are just guessing.”

     SIA is as much about the extracurricular activities as it is about the convention floor. Schleper was still choosing options for that night that included a Spyder party and a concert by the punk band Pennywise.

     There was also a boxing match between industry figures sponsored by Skullcandy and Pabst Blue Ribbon that was billed as “Boxing, bros and brews.”

Building relationships

     The companies ranged from the industry heavyweights to the newcomers just trying to establish a name for themselves. On the latter end of the spectrum was Weston Snowboards, a Minturn-based company that was at its first SIA Snow Show.

     Owner Barry Weston Clark said he was trying to build relationships with good retail partners, “not just sell to anyone.” They would like to work with retailers who have a strong emphasis on backcountry outfitting.

     The convention is also an opportunity to get media exposure. Clark said several media members expressed interest in talking with Weston because of its sustainability focus — the company makes snowboards from beetle-kill pine.

     Some saw the convention as a unique opportunity to get face time with the most powerful people and companies in the industry. You could include the locally based SOS Outreach in that group.

     SOS Outreach's Seth Ehrlich said the group was meeting with the corporate partners who make the group's work possible — creating mountain adventure-based programs for at-risk youth.

     They include K2, Ride, 686 and Quiksilver.

     “This is our chance to see them in person,” Ehrlich said.

     They were also hosting the fourth annual Youth Summit on Saturday, where they would present a lifetime achievement award to snowboard pioneer Tom Sims.

     SOS had a booth set up near the entrance to the big convention hall. Of course, they had stickers.

Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Peak 9 Restaurant to Close

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit

 In the small office at the back of Peak 9 Restaurant at Breckenridge Ski Resort, there's a window that overlooks the entire Tenmile Range.

     It's a view Kevin Brown, owner of the last independent dining spot on the mountain, has enjoyed for nearly 40 years, but one he'll soon have to give up.

     With the lease on the building set to expire next year, the Breckenridge institution known for its variety of homemade soups, is preparing to close its doors for good at the end of the 2013/14 season.

     “To be here to finish it out is incredible,” Peak 9 manager Mike Mraz said. “It's a little piece of history.”


     For Brown, the closure is bittersweet. At 61, he's dedicated nearly 40 years of his life to the business, a shared effort with his good friend and original owner Barbara Tunnicliffe, who died in September.

     But running a restaurant at 11,000 feet is a challenging venture. Brown arrives at work before sunrise every day and, his employees say, rarely takes a day off. In the summer he spends two months on repairs and maintenance on a weather-worn building which he doesn't own.

     During the ski season, food has to be brought in by snow cat, and Brown keeps a full-time live-in staff of three people at the restaurant in the winter to help with opening and closing procedures.

     He plans to retire when the lease runs out at the end of next season rather than reopen the restaurant at another location in Breckenridge. For him, Peak 9 and Peak 9 Restaurant are inseparable anyway.

     “I just don't have the energy to do that,” Brown said. “Up here it's such a unique situation. I love it, I come up in the morning and it's beautiful. I can take a walk a around the building, take a quick snowshoe up the hill, clear my head and get ready for the day. In town, it would be a 24/7 thing.”

     But many of Peak 9's customers, some of whom ate at the restaurant as kids and now bring their own children to dine there while skiing Breckenridge, aren't ready to see the restaurant go.

     For four decades, Brown and Tunnicliffe have specialized in a different kind of on-mountain dining experience, defined by hot, hearty and homemade food, lower prices than their competition and a family atmosphere.

     Brown's own daughters, now in their 20s, grew up working at the restaurant on weekends, and his wife, a school teacher, often helped out on her days off.

     “Over the years, we were known as the family owned restaurant,” Brown said. “It's the family atmosphere people are going to miss.”

The end of the lease

     The original owner, Tunnicliffe, opened the Peak 9 restaurant with a 10-year lease in 1974 through a connection with the ski area CEO. At the time, it was just one of several independently owned dining spots at a resort where executives weren't interested in the food-service industry.

     “Breckenridge ski area was owned by Aspen Ski Company back then,” said Brown, who was hired on to run the kitchen in 1975. “They were in what they always used to say was the uphill transportation business, they weren't in the restaurant business.”

     But under Tunnicliffe's hand the restaurant business thrived on Peak 9, and the eatery began to earn a reputation for good food and a family atmosphere. It's success grew, and by 1984 resort management was ready to offer Tunnicliffe a sweeter deal: three more 10-year-options on the lease in exchange for an investment in an expansion to the building.

     “They were really happy with what we did here,” Brown said. “We kept improving the business as time went on to where it was making them a lot of money.”

     But before the first 10-year lease option rolled around, the ski area had changed hands and the new ownership was more interested in the restaurant business than its predecessor. In 1994, resort management with a company called Ralston Purina tried to break the restaurant's lease and retake possession of the building. But Tunnicliffe and Brown, by that time a full partner in the business, stood their ground and took the resort to court to fight for the lease. They won the case in district court, but Ralston Purina appealed the decision. An appellate judge again ruled in the restaurant's favor, but the company appealed the case again to the Colorado Supreme Court. After nearly four expensive years of litigation, Brown and Tunnicliffe won their case and the right to renew their lease.

     But the original 30-year-agreement expires in 2014, and Vail Resorts has made clear they don't plan to offer another extension.

     “We have been planning for a long time to transition that restaurant back to our own operation,” Breckenridge Ski Resort spokeswoman Kristen Stewart stated in an email to the Summit Daily. “The lease model has been used at many ski resorts including Aspen, and now that we have developed our own expertise in mountain dining, it's logical to operate it. We truly appreciate the partnership that Kevin Brown and the Peak 9 team have provided over the years.”

     Stewart said the resort will continue to operate a restaurant out of the building, but it's unclear whether the name or other aspects of the current character will be retained.

     Vista Haus and the now-defunct Bergenhoff were once also independent restaurants at Breckenridge. But one by one, the dining locations have been taken over by the resort. For roughly the last 20 years, protected by its 1984 lease agreement, only Peak 9 has remained.

     “It's like an island in the middle of an ocean,” Brown said. “Or an island on top of a mountain.”

     Peak 9 Restaurant is located just below the top of the Beaver Run Chair on Peak 9.