Mountain News: 

Steamboat jumping on plastic

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The Nederland project is different than what is being proposed in Summit County, both smaller in size and, with its plan to generate electricity, larger in ambition. Stevens said the electricity never materialized, the heat was spotty, and as for the automation – it requires two of three people to tend it.

In turn, plant designer Delta Dynamics blames the town with providing wood that is too high in water content and for poorly maintaining the plant. "All of the stoppages were due to fuel quality and maintenance issues," said the firm’s vice president, Sev Bonnie.

Spreading west

TRUCKEE, Calif. — People in the Rocky Mountains have long feared "Californication," as sprawl-type development is often called. In the resort world, it’s the other way around. The Sierra Nevada is being changed in ways that could be called "Coloradification." Trends 10 to 20 years old in the resorts along the I-70 corridor of Colorado are now playing out in the Truckee-Lake Tahoe area.

For example, 10 years after Vail got a modern traffic roundabout, work is being completed on a Truckee’s first roundabout.

Next, finishing touches are being applied to a pedestrian base village at Northstar-at-Tahoe, a ski area. As was done at Beaver Creek, it will have an ice-skating rink (using synthetic ice in summer) and many places to spend money. Over two-thirds of the 60,000 square feet of commercial space has been leased. As well, 100 condominiums are going on line in the first of several phases.

Project developers Booth Creek Ski Holdings and East West Partners both originated in the Vail area of Colorado.

Helicopter skiing at Silverton?

SILVERTON, Colo. — It’s funny how one thing can lead to another. Consider how Silverton Mountain Ski Area began, where the original goal was to have great powder snow skiing at a cost of only $25 lift tickets.

But great powder snow skiing often comes in tandem with avalanche threats. To quell the avalanche danger, ski area developer Aron Brill has to drop explosives into the snowpack. It can be done by shooting howitzers, but it’s actually less expensive to drop charges from a helicopter. And since you’re operating helicopters anyway, why not take some paying guests, to help pay the overhead?

Following this curious path, Silverton Mountain could go from the lowest-end, no-frills type of downhill skiing to the most expensive, exclusive kind.

Still, while the permit from the Bureau of Land Management provisionally authorizes helicopter skiing, Brill tells the Durango Telegraph that helicopter skiing remains "highly conceptual." Richard Speegle, the federal agent processing Silverton Mountain’s affairs, similarly reports a cautious approach involving a trial period.

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