Mountain News: Angry White Man speaks to Rush 

ASPEN, Colo. – Gary Hubbell, a long-time columnist for The Aspen Times, has hit it big — if getting your column read word-for-word by radio commentator Rush Limbaugh is considered a success.

He wrote a recent column titled: “In election 2008, don’t forget Angry White Man.”

An excerpt: “The Angry White Man is not a metrosexual, a homosexual or a victim. Nobody like him drowned in Hurricane Katrina — he got his people together and got the hell out, then went back in to rescue those too helpless and stupid to help themselves, often as a police officer, a National Guard soldier or a volunteer firefighter.”

And: “He’s a man’s man, the kind of guy who likes to play poker, watch football, hunt white-tailed deer, call turkeys, play golf, spend a few bucks at a strip club once in a blue moon, change his own oil and build things… Women either love him or hate him, but they knew he’s a man, not a dishrag. ….He’s not a racist, but he is annoyed and disappointed when people of certain backgrounds exhibit behavior that typifies the worst stereotype of their race. He’s willing to give everybody a fair chance if they work hard, play by the rules, and learn English.

And, he says, all Angry White Men hate the mere sound of Hillary Clinton’s voice.

The column, in addition to being much-discussed by Limbaugh and like-minded talk-show hosts also generated hundreds of thousands of hits to the Aspen Times website. It also generated hundreds of e-comments, hundreds of phone calls, and hundreds of letters to the paper.

Many of the comments were favourable. The Aspen Times reported that Hubbell’s rant was making the rounds on the Internet.

Hubbell, 45, said that some, but not all, of the opinions of the Angry White Man are his. But mostly it was meant to describe people he’s known, including the 400 or so elk hunters for whom he has worked as a hunting outfitter during the past eight years. He most specifically modeled the Angry White Man on a golf pro he knows, a Vietnam vet.

Another columnist in Aspen, Roger Marolt, who is white and sometimes sounds angry, says in his column that the “angry white man” who is tired of victims is, in fact, the loudest bellyaching victim of all.

“He boasts to everyone of working hard, paying his taxes, taking care of his family, and then uses these noble acts as weapons to fire against single mothers, children of illegal immigrants, gays, the homeless and anyone else who might supplant him as having a more difficult struggle in life.”

 

Heartburn over missing Lynx

TELLURIDE, Colo. – At least for now, Frontier will not be flying its new Q-400 turboprop planes from Denver to either Telluride or Montrose, the latter being the primary gateway for Telluride. The flights are offered under Frontier’s new subsidiary, Lynx.

That omission is causing some heartburn in Telluride, where The Telluride Watch quotes several local business leaders as saying that the local direct-flight organization was not as aggressive as it should have been.

“To me, as someone who is responsible for bringing people to the region, it is concerning that a number of competitors will have lower fares and more modern equipment specifically designed for mountain travel,” said Scott McQuade, chief executive officer of Marketing Telluride.

Not only is Denver a crucial gateway for visitors from outside Colorado, but Denver itself is an important market for Telluride, he said, with 29 per cent of summer visitors coming from metropolitan Denver and 12 per cent in winter.

Dave Riley, the relatively new chief executive of Telluride Ski and Golf Co., the operator of the ski area, suggested that Telluride should have offered cash guarantees, in addition to the “significant amount of marketing support.”

“I can’t help but think at this point that had we also proposed some amount of cash in a revenue guarantee contract in addition to the marketing support, it may have helped,” he said. He said existing service from Denver to Telluride is “minimal and expensive.”

There was even more clear anger in the statement of Dirk de Pagter, chairman of MTI’s board of directors. “We need an overhaul of the philosophy of the air organization,” he said.

The Telluride-Montrose Regional Airport Organization collects money in Telluride and Mountain Village, with supplemental funds from Montrose, which is 65 miles from Telluride.

 

Surge in ‘sidecountry’ deaths

VAIL, Colo. – Of the 43 deaths recorded by avalanche researchers in North America this season, almost a fifth have been in what is sometimes called the sidecountry, the areas adjacent to ski areas. Typically, reports The Denver Post, only 6 to 9 per cent of U.S. avalanche fatalities occur in the sidecountry, also known as the frontcountry. Only once before have there been proportionately so many avalanche fatalities adjacent to ski areas. That was in 1987 when four skiers at Breckenridge and three at Telluride died after taking lifts to access lands beyond the ski area boundaries,

 

Housing plans come together

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. – Voters in Summit County in November 2006 adopted a sales tax and impact fee in order to create affordable housing. That tax is now the basis for a growing vision of affordable housing in Frisco, Silverthorne and other towns, reports the Summit Daily News.

At Frisco, one housing project could range in price from $124,000 to $453,000, depending upon size and the income of the buyer. The town is also looking at in-fill zoning and increasing the density of residential areas.

In Breckenridge, says the newspaper, town and county officials are eyeing land that could end up in public lands as a result of a land exchange. Triggering the anticipation is a proposal from a developer to get ownership of a Forest Service parcel near the bottom terminal for the Keystone Gondola.

 

Ski area proposed for Pikes Peak

PIKES PEAK, Colo. – For decades, small ski areas have been going out of business. Now, inspired by the startling success of California’s Mountain High, located about 45 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, small ski areas are popping up again.

The most notable example is in Colorado, where a former ski area, now called Echo Mountain, has reopened just west of Denver. A second, at St. Mary’s Glacier, remains possible.

And now, a third ski area, on the flanks of Pikes Peak, west of Colorado Springs, is being proposed by John Ball, described by the Rocky Mountain News as a former chief executive of a broadband company called Elder Industries. He says it would be modeled upon an existing resort, Eldora Mountain, located west of Boulder.

“People don’t necessarily come from out of state to ski it, but the community loves it because it’s so close,” he says. “My kids can take the bus up to Eldora (from Boulder) in 30 minutes.”

Ball has a contract to buy 320 acres on the northwest side of the 14,110-foot peak, at about the 10,500-foot level. That land would serve as the base for the ski area, and would accommodate real estate development.

The land is currently owned by Harvey Carter, who was a ski patroller at Aspen for 22 years. Carter also founded a magazine called Climbing. Carter tells the News that he has been trying to build a ski area on Pike’s Peak for the better part of 50 years.

“It’s the only place on the peak you could do it,” he says. Three other ski areas at various locations on the mountain have failed.

Ball has a month to come up with $1 million in earnest money on the $4 million parcel. He says he hopes to break ground in 2010 on what he calls The Resort at Pikes Peak. He envisions a large hotel, 340 condominiums, several restaurants and five chairlifts.

If this ski area has legs, it would presumably draw primarily from the Colorado Springs metropolitan area, which now has a population of 600,000, with an additional 200,000 people in the nearby areas of Pueblo and Cañon City.

 

Avalanche claims Canmore woman

CANMORE, Alberta – A 28-year-old woman from Canmore has died in an avalanche that occurred on the border of Banff and Kootenay national parks.

Susanna Lantz had been working as a nursing attendant at Canmore’s hospital, but was a passionate adventurer, competing in grueling bicycle races and was a keen rock climber, says the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Several years ago, using her savings from a job as a tree-planter, she took a one-year solo adventure, riding her bicycle from Calgary to the southern tip of Argentina. Along the way, she climbed the walls of Yosemite and camped alone in road culverts.

 

Half of bark beetles killed

CANMORE, Alberta – Temperatures in the Bow River Valley, where Banff and Canmore are located, dipped to 25 below zero this winter, good enough to hold the populations of mountain pine beetles in check.

“We’ve moved from a situation of impending disaster to a much-improved situation of just uncertainty,” said Barry Cooke, a scientist with the Canadian Forest Service. Computer models suggested mortality of 50 per cent among the beetle larvae in southern Alberta.

Alberta has more marginal habitat for mountain bark beetles, but the relatively warm winters of the last decade have worked to the advantage of the beetles. Cooke said weather that causes mortality of 97.5 per cent keeps the beetle populations at endemic, or normal, levels. But to achieve that requires more than just blasts of mid-winter Arctic air, he said. Early and late-winter cold snaps also help, as do woodpeckers.

 

Banff may end use of mag chloride

BANFF, Alberta – Banff town officials are talking about ceasing use of magnesium chloride to melt snow and instead switching to a more environmentally benign but expensive potassium acetate liquid deicer. The potassium compound costs $3.44 per litre, compared to 29 cents a litre for mag chloride. Mag chloride is highly corrosive to metal and concrete, although not as much as the basic sodium chloride road salt used by most other municipalities. The cost increase in Banff would be $34,000, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

 

Crested Butte stresses efficiency

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Crested Butte is planning an ice rink, but it is being very clear with all involved that it wants energy efficiency to be of the highest priority. The concern is such that they have wanted assurances of what the Crested Butte News described as the “pro-green” outlook of the architectural firm.

But there is also a hint that the long-term energy efficiency and the up-front costs may be a balancing act. Bob Gillie, the town building and zoning director, said reducing energy use will probably require building a geoexchange system, which he believes will be very expensive. “It’s something we want to investigate, but there’s no doubt it will take more money to do that,” he said.

 

Foresters take look at smoke shacks

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – U.S. Forest Service officials skied around Crested Butte Mountain Resort recently to examine what the Crested Butte News describes as “smoke shacks.” The newspaper says the structures range from simple lean-tos to fully enclosed tree houses, and they can be found from high-traffic areas near ski lifts to the extreme terrain.

Such structures, says Dan Nielsen, the Forest Service patrol captain, are illegal on national forest land without authorization. Other resorts also have such structures, he said.

Crested Butte in the past has obliterated the smoke shacks, although without total success. Lately, though, it has made it a priority. Neither is marijuana smoking, if still illegal in Colorado, a high priority for police enforcement in Mt. Crested Butte, says police chief Hank Smith.

“In our world, given staffing levels and the other problems we may be dealing with, if someone is smoking a joint and doing nothing but --- on our priority list, that’s somewhere below cows on the road,” he said.

 

Major development gets first nod

MINTURN, Colo. – The Minturn Town Council has given first approval to annexation of former mining lands envisioned for high-end resort development.

However, still to be negotiated is how much money the developer would guarantee Minturn. The Vail Daily says that a final vote on the annexation is likely yet in 2008.

The 4,300 acres of land involved are located in the triangle between the towns of Minturn, Red Cliff and the Vail ski area. Ginn, a Florida-based developer with extensive projects in the Southeast, bought the land for $35 million several years ago.

Planned are 1,700 housing units, some of them in townhomes near former mining zinc mining operations, but others in large-acreage plots in higher elevations on Battle Mountain, above the abandoned mining town of Gilman. A golf course atop mine tailings is planned, as is a gondola connecting the two primary development areas. At the top area, at about 10,000 feet in elevation, a private ski area is planned. Ski lifts of Vail Mountain, although unconnected, would be about a mile away.

 

When it makes sense to burn money

DONNELLY, Idaho – Talk about burning money. On one Saturday night earlier this winter Ryan Skinner was burning all the money he had.

He had been atop Tamarack, the ski area, and had become disoriented in the snow and fog. Instead of riding down the eastern flank, where the ski area is, he headed into the backcountry on the west side.

Soon, he bogged down in several feet of wet snow, unable to snowboard downhill and, he told the Lewiston Tribune, unable even to stand up well.

After slogging through the snow for more than four hours, he dug a snow cave and crawled inside, wet and hypothermic. Skinner, a financial planner, tried to start a fire using money from his wallet. Call it legal tinder.

“I burned at least $30 worth of money,” he said, but to no avail. He became delusional during the night, imagining tracks that weren’t there.

The next morning, wading once again, he finally came to a snowmobile track, which gave him a base for walking. Finally, nine miles from the resort, he was found by a member of the Tamarack ski patrol on a snowmobile.

While the general rule of thumb when lost is to stay put, Skinner says that wasn’t an option. “The only thing keeping me warm was moving,” he said.   He does, however, regret his initial adventurous route, going into an area he was unfamiliar with.

 

Idaho skier dies in tree well

McCALL, Idaho – Yet more evidence arrives of the dangers inherent amid the joys of tree-skiing. The story comes from Brundage Mountain Ski Resort, near McCall, where Brad Peterson, 47, suffocated after falling into an 11-foot-deep tree well. Searchers found him under six feet of snow.

 

Ski trail signs applied to airport

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- The federal government has turned to the ski slopes for ideas about how to move travelers through the security review at airports. In a test program first launched at Salt Lake City, and then in Denver, travelers can chosen between the black-diamond, the blue and the green lines. The black-diamond line is intended for experienced travelers who carry little luggage, reports The Denver Post. The green line is for families, for example, who move more slowly, and also those saddled with many carry-on items.

 

Big parking garage debuts

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – The 280-car parking garage, located adjacent to the $35 million Jackson Hole Center for the Arts, has been completed. An array of lights atop the garage will use light emitting diode technology, which lasts longer and uses less energy. The cost is higher, but Larry Pardee, the public works director, estimates the payback period of only 2.4 years.

Town officials had originally hoped to put solar collectors atop the parking structure, but discovered that the extra weight would increase the cost of steel and concrete by $250,000 in a project already well over budget. Instead, town officials now hope to create a solar-collecting farm near the community sewage treatment plant.

 

Schools in session until mid-June

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – School won’t get out in Jackson Hole until June 12 in 2009. That will be two days longer than usual. On the other hand, Christmas break will last two full weeks. Unlike in Colorado, where public schools start in mid-August, letting out in May, school in Jackson Hole starts in early September.

 

Old building to be fortified

PARK CITY, Utah – A recent earthquake in Nevada turned attention anew to the likelihood of quakes in Park City. One of the town’s most notable structures, an old school house that now serves as the city hall, would likely collapse in the event of a 7.0 magnitude quake. Recognizing the potential for mayhem, city officials had previously set aside $5.3 million for upgrades that will make it less vulnerable to earthquakes, among other improvements, reports The Park Record.

 

Nine in condo taken ill

TAHOE CITY, Calif.   – Nine people staying in a condominium complex at Tahoe City were poisoned by carbon monoxide. Such poisonings are relatively common in North Tahoe, firefighting chief Dave Ruben tells the Sierra Sun. Last year, two fatalities were attributed to such poisoning. Still, while highly recommended, carbon monoxide alarms are not required.

 

Plenty of development planned

HAILEY, Idaho – A major development is being proposed for Hailey, located 11 miles down-valley from Ketchum and Sun Valley. The project envisions 379 homes in Quigley Canyon, just east of Hailey. A little more than half would be in denser neighbourhoods and at lower cost, located in an area called Down Canyon. As elevations rise, so do lot sizes and prices, culminating with 68 homes on one- to five-acre lots in an area called Up Canyon. Included in the project would be a golf course, with green fees of $25 for the locals. A firm from Boulder, Colo., called KTJ Design is doing the land-use planning. Among the developers is Hennessy Co., of Ketchum.

 

Housing aplenty plotted

SUNLIGHT SKI AREA, Colo. – The Florida firm that has an option on the Sunlight ski area has now increased its plans for base-area housing to 830 units. Sunlight Mountain Development, a firm based in Destin, Fla., is under contract with current Sunlight owners to purchase the property.

The sale is contingent on winning approval from Garfield County to redevelop the resort. Key is the development of real estate at the base, of which now there is little. Development would occur on 130 of the 443 acres being planned in the project, reports the Glenwood Post Independent.

The ski area is located about 12 miles southeast of Glenwood Springs.

Meanwhile, another major housing project is planned in the valley between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. Called Cattle Creek Crossing, it will be allowed 400 to 600 units on 282 acres of land. The land is owned by Related WestPac, which also purchased the base-area project at Snowmass Village from Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest.

 

It’s back to the start

WOLF CREEK PASS, Colo. – It’s now official. Environmental groups, including Colorado Wild, have dropped their lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service, which has agreed to start anew on its environmental impact statement for a proposed road. The road would be needed to service a real estate development planned at the base of the Wolf Creek Ski Area.

But whether the Forest Service will draw any different conclusion is the key question. A press conference called by the U.S. Forest Service suggested it won’t.

“Federal law,” said Dan Dallas, supervisor of the Rio Grande National Forest, “requires this agency to provide reasonable access over public land to private property.” The Forest Service, he added, has no jurisdiction over private land.

Colorado Wild has argued that allowing the road accommodates the development, which in turn will have impacts to the Forest Service lands that surround it.

Those lands, aside from the ski area operations, remain largely undeveloped. The development plans of Billy Joe “Red” McCombs and his development front man, Bob Honts, call for more than 2,000 housing units on the property, most in time-share ownership.

The Pitcher family, which has owned the ski area since the 1970s, originally was a partner with McCombs in the real-estate development, but in the late 1990s abandoned their participation. The two have suits and counter-suits against one another.

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