Mountain News: Still almost no snow at many Colorado ski areas 

click to enlarge WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM - Snow please Colorado area ski resorts are want for snow

MT. CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. — If there were people skiing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort on the afternoon of Dec. 31, more telling of this season of snowy abnormality were the driveways of homes.

Poles had been placed along the edge of asphalt, to give those driving the snowplows an idea of where to scrape. The poles stood in just a few centimetres of snow.

A bountiful winter this is not, at least so far in resorts in Colorado and more southerly locations of the continent.

In the San Juan Mountains, even less snow was evident over the weekend. Travellers to Telluride will commonly travel from Ridgway to Dallas Divide, passing as they do the stunningly beautiful hay meadows of the ranch owned by Ralph Lauren. Snow is the common denominator for Christmas week, but almost no snow was evident Friday, Dec. 29 amid the hay stubble.

At Telluride, one man was walking in shorts, and skis were almost entirely absent from the town streets. The Plunge, the famed ski run, showed as much grass as snow. Along Colorado Avenue, the town's main artery, doors were open and shops were busy.

Vail had more natural snow but still not very much. A resident reported the village streets were busy — too busy. There were people in town because there just wasn't that much excuse to be on the ski hill.

In Tahoe, it was much the same story: abnormal heat and not much snow. The National Weather Service reported several highs were broken during the days after Christmas. The Tahoe Daily News reported many injuries on the ski slopes. "Without fresh snow, injuries are more common at ski resorts because of the hard-pack conditions," the website noted.

It now costs a small fortune to smoke tobacco in Aspen

ASPEN, Colo. — A pack of smokes went up US$3 on New Year's Day, the result of a new tax approved by an overwhelming percentage of Aspen voters in November.

The US$3 tax will be increased incrementally during the next decade to US$4. The goal is not to raise revenue. Aspen forfeits its share of state tax revenues from sale of tobacco products. Instead, the taxes are levied in an effort to discourage smoking and other use of tobacco.

The Aspen Times reported that other tobacco and nicotine products such as for vaping, chewing, and dipping will have an additional 40 per cent tax compared to current tax levels.

Retailers selling tobacco will also have to pay a one-time fee of US$500. A town officials told the Times that he expects no more than nine businesses will sell tobacco. For the record, there are seven businesses that will sell marijuana that can be smoked.

Vice President Pence urged to "make America gay again"

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo. — Even at Christmas, politics was in the air in the Aspen area.

U.S. Vice President Michael Pence and his wife spent a few days of holiday leisure at a private home near Snowmass.

Wanting to make a statement, residents of a neighbouring house erected a rainbow banner that read: "Make America Gay Again."

In 2006, as head of the Republican Study Committee, Pence said that being gay was a choice and said keeping gays from marrying was not discrimination, but an enforcement of "God's idea," according to a 2016 account in Time magazine.

Aspen and its suburbs have a tradition of free and strong expression of political views, particularly those on the liberal side.

"This town had a history of irreverence when it came to our visitors," Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, told The Aspen Times. "We seem to have lost that a bit, but this is an extension of that."

Trump himself was a frequent Aspen visitor in the past. During one ski trip, there was a confrontation on the slopes between Trump, his then-wife, Ivana, and his mistress, Marla Maples, who later became his wife. Trump also flirted with becoming a real estate developer in Aspen.

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