Friday, December 21, 2012

Mountain Town News


Snow crummy, but sales were just fine

ASPEN, Colo.—Snow was crummy last winter in Colorado, including at Snowmass, the Aspen Skiing Co.’s primary property. But guess what, the ski company still managed to increase revenue.

Because the ski company uses U.S. Forest Service land, it is required to pay fees based on those revenues. The Aspen Daily News reports that the company paid $1.2 million in fees for revenue derived last summer and winter. That’s the most in the last seven years, surpassing even a year of epic snow storms.

Dave Perry, the senior vice president of the mountain division for Aspen Skiing, told the newspaper that the revenue increase can be attributed to strong destination visitor numbers. In turn, there was strong revenue from ski school and on-mountain restaurant operations.

Across the 11 ski areas in the White River National Forest, which also includes Vail and Breckenridge, ski areas paid the Forest Service $12.5 million for operations last winter and summer. Skier numbers were generally down—but revenues were not.

The moral of the story: Snow matters, but it’s not everything.

Car-share program debuts in Park City

PARK CITY, Utah—A Toyota Prius and a Ford 250 pickup are the first two vehicles in a new car-share program introduced at Park City.

The vehicles can be used for as little as $4.95 per hour, plus a mileage charge. For the Prius, it’s 49 cents a mile.

Car-share vehicles can be rented at any time of the day or night, for as little as an hour or for as long as three days.

The intent of the program, according to a press release from the city government, is to reduce the need for a second car or truck, or maybe any car at all. Research cited in the press release said every vehicle in the UhaulCarShare program can replace up to 20 personally owned vehicles.

Avalanches a ghostly presence in Wyoming

JACKSON, Wyo.—The annual Skinny Skis’ Avalanche Awareness Night in Jackson was expected to be a little more somber this year, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide. Steve Romeo, described as a backcountry ski guru and one of the event’s usual organizers, was killed in an avalanche last winter, one of three fatalities in the region.

Romeo was known for both the enthusiasm with which he attacked backcountry skiing, as well as for his pursuit of knowledge.

His death, said the newspaper, underscores the danger that avalanches pose to all members of the backcountry community. Even the most proficient backcountry users are at risk when faced with the uncompromising power of an avalanche.

Drawing on data from the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center, the News&Guide notes a dramatic increase in avalanche deaths over the decades. The first recorded avalanche deaths in Wyoming were two mail carriers killed on Teton Pass about a century ago. Soon after, a freighter died in the same area, and then a soldier in Yellowstone National Park.

But deaths by avalanche in the Jackson Hole area were relatively rare until the 1970s, when there were eight avalanche deaths in one decade. And then, in the first decade of the 21st century, there were 32 avalanche deaths. This decade looks to be on the same trajectory, with 11 avalanche deaths since 2010. All have involved skis, snowboards or snowmobiles.

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