Friday, August 26, 2011

Mountain Town News


Shaun White to carry the Vail torch forward

BROMFIELD, Colo.—Snowboarding champion Shaun White has inked a deal with Vail Resorts. Among other considerations, Vail Resorts will donate $5 to White's chosen charity, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, for every Epic Pass it sells.

Last year that would have yielded $1.5 million. For his part, White will design a 22-foot halfpipe at Northstar, a California ski area that is among the half-dozen that Vail Resorts owns.

The Denver Post notes that White has developed a rigorous and highly selective process for choosing partners.

"Yeah, we found that out," said Rob Katz, chief executive of the ski company.

In linking arms with Vail, the 24-year-old White is bidding adieu to Park City Mountain Resort, his long-time sponsor.

Telluride passes hat for flight revenue guarantees

TELLURIDE, Colo.—Add Telluride to the long list of communities where the finances of the direct-flight programs need shoring up.

The Telluride Montrose Regional Air Organization has secured pledges of $360,000 from the ski area operator, local towns and some businesses, but it needs $500,000. Even while planning to reduce flight schedules this year, it is passing the hat to avoid more severe cuts.

The organization arranges for flights from various cities to Montrose, 65 miles away, the nearest airport capable of handling large airplanes. Two-thirds of the budget comes from a 2 percent tax on restaurants and lodging.

A few years ago, the organization had $5 million in reserves. But revenues collected by the air organization have remained flat at $2.3 million, while payments have increased to airlines, which insisted upon minimum revenue guarantees, and for marketing.

The Daily Planet reports expected expenditures of $3.6 million in 2011. Rising fuel costs are cited as the single biggest reason for increasing payments to airlines.


Flying to Jackson to cost more this winter

JACKSON, Wyo.—The cost of flying will be going up. That's the bottom line in many places—including those going to Jackson Hole this winter.

Jackson Hole expects to see about the same number of passengers seats available for the ski season as last year, and at about the same potential cost in terms of revenue guarantees to local sponsors of $1 million. But fares will go up.

"That's just kind of the long and short of it," Mike Gierau, president of the Jackson Hole Air Improvement Resources, told the Jackson Hole News.

A similar message was given by airline consultant Kent Meyers in a July appearance before the Vail Town Board. He said there are fewer airlines, which are trying to become more global. And airlines such as Delta are pulling out of smaller airports.

He urged that a Vail-area community group look at low-cost carriers, such as Southwest and Frontier, to keep fares in check.

Steamboat hears about a fee on plastic bags

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.—The effort to discourage use of disposable plastic shopping bags by imposing a fee is spreading to Steamboat Springs. But a spot check of two council members by Steamboat Today suggests the proposal is unlikely to go far.

The proponent, Catherine Carson, says Yampa Valley Recycles has sold 12,000 reusable bags for $1 each in the last three years. The next step, she said, is to put a tax of 20 cents on each disposable bag.

But Walt Magil, a City Council member, told the newspaper that Steamboat doesn't have a problem with plastic bags blowing around. And council President Cari Hermancinski said she prefers that such proposals come from the stores.

Aspen and Basalt this week were scheduled to take up a proposal to levy a 10 cent fee, and the down-valley community of Carbondale also intends to do so soon.

Daring heli-sling rescue plucks climbers off peak

BANFF, Alberta—Two mountain climbers were plucked off a mountain in Yoho National Park in what the Rocky Mountain Outlook says is believed to be the highest helicopter sling rescue in the history of the national parks of the Canadian Rockies.

The elevation was 3,567 meters, or 11,700 feet. The two climbers had climbed the South Tower of Mount Goodsir, one of the highest peaks in British Columbia, then bivouacked. The pair had intended to traverse the Goodsir peaks, but found they were unable to go back down what they had climbed, and could not find anchors for rappels. At that point, they used a satellite beacon, called a SPOT, to summon rescuers.

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