Friday, January 20, 2012

Mountain Town News


Taking grocery bag issue to a direct vote

BASALT, Colo. -- A municipal edict designed to reduce use of disposable plastic and paper bags is being met with resistance in Basalt. A resident named Roy Chorbajian has gathered enough signatures to force the Town Council to rescind the fee or put the proposal before a communitywide election.

"Communities of the valley shouldn't follow the do-gooders of Aspen who run under the green banner on everything," Chorbajian told The Aspen Times.

The newspaper noted that Basalt was actually the first in the Roaring Fork Valley to take action. In September, the council voted to require grocers to charge 20 cents per bag. Since then, elected officials in Aspen and Carbondale voted to ban plastic bags and charge a fee for paper bags.

A petition in Carbondale could force a community vote there similar to what Chorbajian seeks in Basalt.

Crested Butte explores alternative skiing ideas

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo.—Crested Butte Mountain Resort, thwarted in its plans to expand skiing onto Snodgrass Mountain in 2009, has gone back to the drawing board. The quest, as before, is to provide more ways to hold the interest of visitors for more than three or four days.

The latest sketch—it's not really a plan yet—would yield two more lifts on the existing ski mountain, servicing 100 acres more of intermediate terrain plus another 100 acres of extreme terrain. All of this would be intended to provide the sort of experience sometimes called backcountry lite or, alternatively, sidecountry.

As well, the resort is toying with the idea of a more easily accessible backcountry hut, suited to the skills of beginner and intermediate skiers, reports the Crested Butte News.


Shrines abound amid trees at Aspen resorts

ASPEN, Colo. -- The Aspen Daily News describes a "band of folk art that Aspen can call its own." They are shrines, 45 altogether, by one count, located among the trees in the four local ski areas. The shrines pay tribute mostly to singers and other celebrities of earlier eras, but now increasingly to local residents who have died.

The first shrine, by most accounts, was to Elvis Presley after his death in 1977, but others were created to honor the Beatles, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix. A shrine to Jerry Garcia was visited by Grateful Dead member Bob Weir and his wife during a trip to Aspen in 1999, moving Weir's wife to tears.

Much later, a tribute was created to honor Hunter S. Thompson, who lived near Aspen. The most recent shrine is to a 38-year-local who died in an avalanche in the backcountry near Aspen Highlands last spring. A group of 30-plus friends and family gathered to construct the shrine a week later, putting up signs, skis and photos.

Not everyone is enthralled by the shrines. Tim Cooney, a ski patroller at Aspen since the 1970s, told the Daily News that the proliferation of memorials has become gaudy.

"What was once quirky and charming has become a blight," he said.

Cooney told the newspaper he will take people to visit shrines, when they ask, but he's adamant about encouraging people not to build more.

"People don't have an inalienable right to create shrines on mountains," he said. "It's a ski area, not a cemetery."

Whistler assembles bid to host the X Games

WHISTLER, B.C. -- Whistler is bidding for the rights to host the Winter X Games as ESPN begins expanding the competition. Aspen has been the winter venue for the last 11 years, now along with Tignes, France. Los Angeles is the site of the Summer X Games.

But beginning in 2013, ESPN plans to have six venues altogether around the world, three each in winter and summer. Whistler wants to be among the winter sites.

Whistler Blackcomb, Tourism Whistler and Whistler Sports Legacies have submitted a bid to host the X Games during the April 10-13 timeslot in 2013. The partners are trying to raise $3.5 million.

But Whistler wants the event to be part of a broader, 10-day festival. The new festival, officials said at a public meeting covered by Pique Newsmagazine, would subsume and combine with the existing Telus Ski and Snowboard Festival, which has been held for 17 years.

In Aspen, the X Games last year drew 114,000 people. Barrett Fisher, president of Tourism Whistler, recently told elected officials there that they think even more people can be drawn to Whistler. She estimated a $41.3 million economic impact to Whistler.

Aspen has hosted the event since 2002, and it has been negotiating with ESPN for the last year to extend the contract for another five years. What exactly the Aspen Skiing Co. has been giving has not been publicly disclosed, though The Aspen Daily News reports the municipal government's contribution has been $100,000, and it is considered a key part of the package.

The event this year will be held at Aspen's Buttermilk Mountain on Jan. 26-29.

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