Mountain News 

$100 lift tickets at Aspen and Vail

ASPEN, Colo. - Quietly this winter, a milestone was surpassed in the ski industry. Two ski areas have now charged more than $100 per day for lift tickets.

Vail was the first, during the Christmas holidays, charging $108. Then, on the Presidents' Day Weekend, Aspen came in with a $104 price.

"It's been looming there for a long time," David Perry, senior vice president of the Aspen Skiing Co., referring to the $100 threshold. "Had the recession not occurred, the barrier would have been cracked more rapidly," he told The Aspen Times .

"The price increase has garnered little media attention and "not one negative guest comment," Perry said.

But the Aspen Times does note that there had been an uproar in 1987 when the company announced an increase to $35 a day. By at least one measure, inflation would have turned that to not quite $68 today.

How many skiers will actually pay the $104 price at Aspen? In the past, walk-up lift-ticket sales have accounted for 10 per cent at Aspen, Perry explained, but the company's evolving pricing structures encourage multi-day ticket packages purchased in advance at discounted rates. For example, a two-day ticket purchased at least seven days in advance goes for $91 per day. A six-day ticket a week in advance costs $85 per day.

How about the skier who buys a six-pack but uses only four days? The company offers a refund for a processing cost of $5 or offers to apply the difference as credit for future skiing.

Banff Snails die

BANFF, Alberta - There's some concern in the Banff area because of the lack of flows in one of six hot springs that harbor a scarce snail called Physella johnsoni, which is the size of a lemon seed. The snails are found nowhere else in the world.

This same Kidney Springs also ran dry in 2002. No theory was given as to why it ran dry, but other springs have also gone dry in the last century, one of them 12 times in the last 15 years.

Banff National Park officials didn't try to intervene to protect the water-dependent snails from dying. In other cases, the species has repopulated after the springs have dried.

However, local environmentalists disagree. "If this appears to be in any way related to global warming, then that's not exactly letting nature take its course," said Mike McIvor, president of Bow Valley Naturalists.


IPP criticized

GOLDEN, B.C. - A company's plans to build a run-of-the-river hydro power project involving several creeks east of Glacier National Park have been drawing criticism from residents in Golden, environmental groups, and at least one public official.


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