Mountain News: Vail and Snowmass expanding 

click to enlarge NIFTY FIFTY Construction of a new gondola at Vail coincides with the 50th anniversary of the mountain this season.  Photo Courtesy of
  • NIFTY FIFTY Construction of a new gondola at Vail coincides with the 50th anniversary of the mountain this season. Photo Courtesy of

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The Taos News reports that the chairman, Joe Mike Duran, justified the naming because the commissioners had "gone through a lot."

But after the plan got broad attention, much of it with sharply unfavorable comments, the commissioners backed off, explains the News. Instead, the buildings will remain unnamed — and the commissioners will get recognized on a bronze plaque noting their roles in overseeing the construction.

Pine tree disguise planned for tower

WHITEFISH, Mont. — With the arrival of smart phones, existing cell phone infrastructure is getting taxed. To help the situation in downtown Whitefish, Verizon Wireless wants to erect a 30-metre cell phone tower. While there are many concerns about safety and aesthetics, the company wants to disguise it as a faux pine tree, snuggled amidst a row of 24-metre-tall poplars, reports the Whitefish Pilot.

Towns contemplate happy idea of snow

WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. — As the last of aspen leaves flitter to forest floors, the talk in mountain towns across the Rocky Mountains is of snow.

Two winters ago, people in Crested Butte got quite upset because of all the snow mucking up streets. There had to be a better way. And so town officials developed a plan — but had no reason to test it last winter. Instead, people were still mountain biking on trails in January. This year, locals would be just fine with more attention needed to ski wax than tire tread.

In West Yellowstone, town officials had more reason to move around snow last year, and they intend to move even more snow this winter. But some snow will remain. This is a haven for snowmobilers. As such, three inches of snow will remain on streets and six inches along the edges, reports the West Yellowstone News.

New backcountry hut stunning

ASPEN, Colo. — A new backcountry hut has been installed in the Elk Range between Aspen and Crested Butte. Called Opa, the German name for grandpa, it honors Alfred Braun, who immigrated to the United States in 1928 and arrived in Aspen during the early 1950s. He operated a ski lodge and earned a reputation as a skilled alpinist and promoter of the mountain lifestyle. He was known as Opa to his family and friends.

In 1967, he took over operations of a hut system and added more, building them himself with help from family and friends.

This new hut, however, may outdo all others. The Aspen Times describes it as "stunning," as it's tucked into a granite-lined niche at 3,700-metres, with jagged peaks riveting one's gaze from left to right.

"Like all huts in the Braun system, Opa's won't be for the casual backcountry traveller," explains the Times. "Nearly all the routes to Braun huts cross big avalanche paths. The huts also can be difficult to find. There are no trail signs."

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