Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mountain Town News


Hard-rock mining rebounds in Rockies

CREEDE, Colo.—The San Juan Mountains will soon be alive with the sound of high-powered mining drills, with new or expanded mining ventures planned at Creede, Silverton and Ouray as the result of rising prices for metals.

Similar plans had been in the news five to six years ago. But like the saws and hammers at construction sites, they were silenced by the recession.

In Creede, a company called Rio Grande Silver is seeking support to further explore the potential of silver deposits that would justify a new portal. The exploration would yield an added payroll of 40 employees, reports the Alamosa Courier.

On the west side of the San Juans, permits are moving forward for a mill at Silverton and a mine near Ouray, according to The Denver Post. The mining at Ouray would put 70 people to work to extract lead, copper, zinc and silver.

All three towns have colorful boom-and-bust histories from the 19th century. Silver was discovered at Creede in 1883, and at one point the town had a population of 15,000. Poet Cy Warman wrote that “it’s day all day in the daytime, and there is no night in Creede” during those boom years.


Breckenridge gets OK for big ski expansion

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo.—The Forest Service has approved expansion of the Breckenridge ski area. The approval gives the ski area the right to use an additional 550 acres of terrain, four-fifths of it lift-served and the remainder hike-to slopes. The terrain will need two new lifts.

The main purpose of the Peak 6 expansion is to reduce skier congestion and waiting time for lifts, said Scott Fitzwilliams, supervisor of the White River National Forest. The ski area has twice in recent years been the most visited ski area in the Untied States, surpassing long-time heavyweight Vail Mountain. In the 12 ski areas of the White River National Forest, from Aspen to Arapahoe Basin, it was also by far the most congested on the slopes.

The expansion had been fought by backcountry skiers, who argued that the ski area was poaching their powder.


New owner of hotel at Jackson ski area

JACKSON, Wyo.—The 204-room hotel at the base of the Snow King ski area, the in-town ski area in Jackson, has been purchased by a company that plans to invest more than $20 million in an upgrade.

The purchaser, JMI Realty, is a subsidiary of the John Moores family of San Diego. The company, in turn, has contracted with Benchmark Hospitality International to manage it.

“The bones of this building are incredible,” said Greg Champion, chief operating officer of Benchmark.

But the rooms are aging and don’t command top dollar, just $200 per night, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide.

Snow King Holdings, the prior owner of the hotel, will retain the adjoining ski area. To bring the ski area into profitability, Manuel Lopez and other owners want to install a zip line, terrain parks, ice climbing and a bike park. Snow King Holdings has talked about more snowmaking and an alpine coaster. The group just secured a paragliding service, Lopez said.

Lopez and his partners also retain about 90 percent of the development rights associated with the resort’s master plan. That entitles owners to develop about 450,000 square feet of buildings, Lopez said.


Horse poop and other courtesies of the trail

BANFF, Alberta—Trail etiquette is on the mind of people in the Canadian Rockies. In the Rocky Mountain Outlook is a letter from a bicycle rider who laments the lack of common courtesy. Users need to recognize that it’s a multi-use and multi-user trail, writes Cecil Lafleur of Canmore.

In Jasper, the complaint was different. Horse riders should do what dog-owners have long done on their trails, which is to stop and pick up after their waggy-tailed pals, said a self-identified newcomer, writing in the Jasper Fitzhugh.


Bear visits popular Vail eatery

VAIL, Colo.—Keep the doors closed! That will be the mandate henceforth at one of Vail’s most popular eateries, Restaurant Kelly Liken.

The Vail Daily recounts that business was wrapping up at about 10 p.m. on a recent hot, summer night when a big black bear wandered into the building lobby. A bartender glanced into the lobby, thinking he was seeing a large dog.

As the lingering diners were herded toward the kitchen, the bartender made loud, unfriendly noises, which caused the bear to leave. The working hypothesis was that the bruin had apparently been drawn by the smell of garbage from nearby homes in the building. Couldn’t have been the odors form Vail’s best-known restaurant, could it?

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