Friday, December 24, 2010

Mountain Town News


Whistler eyes terrain, possibly a wind farm

WHISTLER, B.C.—Now that handsome revenues from Whistler-Blackcomb don't have to be funneled to Wall Street, ski area managers are looking to invest back into the mountain. They're talking about potential terrain expansion, new lifts, more restaurant seats—and, most problematic of all, a possible wind farm.

Whistler already has a little more than 8,000 acres of skiable terrain, but if skier numbers grow, another 2,000 acres could be added to the Khyber Ridge area, said Doug Forseth, senior vice president of operations, at a recent open house.

Ski area officials have also started talking about the potential for a 9-megawatt wind power project, reports Pique Newsmagazine. That output would be sufficient to meet 20 percent of the electrical demand at the ski area. The ski area has tested a couple of sites, but without success. Now, it's looking at the Khyber Ridge area, which gets blasted by strong, sometimes turbulent winds.

Truckee to tap wind from near Idaho Falls

TRUCKEE, Calif.—Four years ago, the Truckee Donner Public Utility District was caught in a quandary. It had planned to buy into a new coal-fired power plant in Utah, but a public concerned about producing more greenhouse gas emissions objected.

But if not coal, what? The utility has pushed conservation, and now it is investing in wind-generated production near Idaho Falls, Idaho. The utility, one among several investing in the project, hopes to get 15 of the 58 megawatts of production when the farm begins operations in 2012.

The Sierra Sun says the project developer is Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, a nonprofit agency that providers power in the Intermountain West.

La Niña a blessed thing to backcountry skiers

JACKSON, Wyo.—You think people don't like to backcountry ski in Jackson Hole? More than 600 people attended the Skinny Skis Avalanche Awareness Night in Jackson recently. And according to the Jackson Hole News&Guide, there were cheers every time that the phrase "La Niña" was mentioned.

If not a record, this winter's La Niña weather pattern has dumped great volumes of snow on Jackson. The comparison with last winter's sparse offerings are particularly striking.

These early and regular snows have created a relatively stable snowpack, meaning that avalanches won't occur as easily. Still, they remain possible, particularly during storm cycles.

Epic storm delivering rain to some places

VAIL, Colo.—The storm that drenched Los Angeles and made Las Vegas drizzly and cold was expected to create snowfall of epic proportions in Colorado. And on mountain slopes it seemed to be doing just that.

But below 9,000 feet, rain seemed to be the norm, at least in the Vail area. The town, elevation 8,150 feet, has had its fair share of droughts and snowless Christmases, but the winter rains of recent years have become far more common than was the case for the first several decades of the resort's existence.

Idling now illegal except when its not

PARK CITY, Utah—After a few years of gentle nudging, Park City has adopted a law that limits idling to three minutes.

Backers included the school district plus two of the local ski areas, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort. A business group in the town's premier shopping district along Main Street also endorsed the proposal, reports The Park Record.

That said, the new law leaves enough exemptions to drive a truck through: emergency vehicles, vehicles defrosting windows, anytime it's below 32 degrees or above 90, vehicles stuck in traffic, and on and on.

Vail/Beaver Creek set new one-day benchmark

VAIL, Colo. -- Though relatively few people will pay it, the single-day lift ticket price at Vail and Beaver Creek this winter will peak at $108 during Christmas week, then drop to $102 in early January. The peak at Breckenridge during Christmas will be $104, and at Keystone $99. Aspen drew the line at $99, reports the Aspen Times, as did Telluride.

Ringo and wife ready to depart Aspen

ASPEN, Colo.—Ringo Starr and his wife, Barbara Bach, have placed their 3,200-square-foot cabin outside of Aspen on the market. Real estate agents say the couple liked the house, but after 20 years decided they didn't use it often enough to continue ownership. The property includes 16 acres along the Roaring Fork River, and the asking price is $4.5 million.

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