Mountain News: High-speed, homogenized skiing coming 

VAIL, Colo. – There’s some kickback in Vail to a proposal to replace an older lift, Chair 5, with a high-speed quad lift. The lift lines there are legendary, often 45 minutes on powder days. The new high-speed lift will reduce or eliminate lift lines, allowing skiers to yo-yo in Vail’s famous Back Bowls far more rapidly.

But Tony Ryerson, in a letter published in the Vail Daily, maintains that faster is not always better. Lost, he says, will be one of the last areas on Vail Mountain of non-bump but expert-level terrain. More skiers, he says, will also cause less sense of serenity and the “feeling of one’s smallness relative to the area around you” that are “the very essence of skiing.”

“Sundown Express will destroy forever the kind of natural Back Bowl skiing that has set us apart from the rest of the country’s ski areas, and replace it with that homogenized, rushed skiing that requires us now to wear helmets and constantly check over our shoulders lest we get hit.”

 

Time to batten the hatches

HAILEY, Idaho – Susan McBryant, the outgoing mayor in Hailey, located 12 miles down-valley from Ketchum and Sun Valley, sees stormy weather ahead in the economy, which she believes means that local governments should reduce the supply of housing inventory coming through the pipeline.

Allowing too much new development, she tells the Idaho Mountain Express, is likely to result in too much inventory for the market to absorb, putting some projects at risk of defaulting on loans.

“It’s not a stretch to think that there could be default with current construction,” she said. “Denying the next ‘big project’ wouldn’t be to keep a developer from making a profit, but rather to ensure the health, safety and welfare of Hailey’s current residents.”

 

Copper puts trail maps, ads on lifts

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. – Copper Mountain is among the ski areas that are now putting maps of ski trails onto chair lifts, so that riders can study the maps on their way up the mountain. At Copper, those maps also contain advertising.

The advertisements were controversial when the Aspen Skiing Co. asked to experiment with them on chair lifts five years ago. Two years ago, the Forest Service issued a rule that said that the ads were within an “interior” space on the maps, similar to the interior of a mid-mountain restaurant, and hence would be permitted.

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