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Aspen landmarks up for sale

Bob Berwyn

Aspen landmarks up for saleTwo renowned Aspen eateries, long known for good grub and friendly service, are up for sale, the Aspen Daily News reports.The Red Onion building is under contract, but agents involved in the deal offered few details, saying only that nobody is moving out. According to the Daily News, the Red Onion is Aspen’s oldest dining establishment, operating as a bar and restaurant since 1892. The current lease expires in April and the owner is reportedly working on a new deal. According to the Daily News, the Red Onion’s “Meatloaf Mondays” have reached near legendary status.The Daily News also reports that the fate of the Little Annie’s building on Hyman Avenue isn’t definite, although negotiations are under way for space to be acquired. More details are expected by May.NY ski lodge could impact rare birdsPlans for a new lodge at the summit of Little Whiteface in New York have triggered concerns about effects on nesting habitat for Bicknell’s thrush, according to First Tracks Online, a Web-based ski zine (www.firsttracksonline.com).The new facility would include a 300-seat restaurant, but conservationists say construction could result in the loss of about 50,000 red spruce and balsam fir trees used as nesting habitat by the birds. All Adirondack Forest Preserve summits above 2,800 feet have been declared as critical bird areas.Chamonix guides primed for avy dangerEuropean newspapers, including U.K.’s Guardian, are reporting that guides in the French Alps are exercising extreme caution in the face of recent heavy snows that have raised the avalanche danger to a high level.There have been seven off-piste avalanche deaths in recent weeks, and some guides are taking their clients to lower-elevation runs below tree line, where the hazard is not as pronounced, according to the Guardian.Large parts of the European Alps have been subject to what the Guardian described as “perfect storm” conditions, bringing copious snow and making the slopes ripe for deadly slides, similar to conditions in 1999, when large avalanches destroyed several residential areas in France, Switzerland and Austria, killing scores of vacationers. This winter again, heavy snows were accompanied by high winds, followed by a rain and thaw cycle and a subsequent layer of fresh snow.In villages surrounding Chamonix, vacationers were confined to quarters for a time while local police inspected high-risk chalets. Ski lifts on the upper slopes at Chamonix were also closed for several days, according to the Guardian.Medicine Bow forest plan revisedThe Laramie Boomerang reports that the U.S. Forest Service has formally approved a new management plan for the Medicine Bow National Forest, opening up 69 percent of the forest for winter motorized recreation and 74 percent for summer motorized recreation. The plan also recommends 28,000 acres for new wilderness.Conservation groups said they are disappointed that the plan allows for timber sales of up to 22.8 million board feet per year, claiming that anything above 7 million board feet is unsustainable, according to the Boomerang.The new plan also designates 1,364 acres for expansion of the Snowy Range Ski Area, though any such expansion is still subject to site-specific review.Ski safety laws scrutinizedThe Boston Globe took a hard look at proposed legislative moves to make skiing safer, finding that some of the initiatives may be knee-jerk reactions to perceived problems that can’t be solved with new laws.The Globe cites a move by Congress six years ago mandating that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission find a way to make skiing safer. That was spurred by the death of California lawmaker Sonny Bono, who skied into a tree. Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey are looking at proposals for helmet mandates, and the Globe concludes that it is yet to be determined whether such laws make sense.In related news, Ski-Europe.com reports that Italy recently passed a law mandating that skiers on the right have the right-of-way, as well as mandatory helmets for children under 14 years of age. Skiers who fall must move to the side of the slope and it will be a legal requirement to stop and assist an injured skier. The law also requires off-piste skiers to carry locator beacons.Winter X games stay in AspenThe Aspen Daily News reports that the Aspen Skiing Co, has finalized a deal with ESPN to keep the Winter X Games in the Roaring Fork Valley through 2007. The announcement was made at a press conference at ESPN SportsZone in Denver after months of negotiation between the two companies and the City of Aspen.Senior SkiCo officials said they were “ecstatic” at closing the deal, according to the Daily News. As part of the bargain, the resort will install lighting, and move the superpipe down and dig it into the ground. The resort will spend more than $500,000 per year for the honor of hosting what is becoming one the winter sports industry’s marquee events.The Aspen City Council has also made a substantial financial commitment to the X Games, agreeing to spend $100,000 in support of the 2004 edition and a similar amount for the subsequent three years, the Daily News reports. Officials say the expense will be offset by sales tax revenues generated by the event.Corduroy’s the word at the ButteThe Crested Butte News reports that ski area officials have started touting the quality of their grooming, claiming “Colorado’s best corduroy.” That, according to the News, marks a significant departure from past promotions that emphasized the “extreme” side of Crested Butte, but ties in with efforts to focus on the family market.”We’ve always had good grooming,” said VP of communications Gina Kroft to the News. “Now we’re getting the message out.” Resort officials said they are grooming the snow more quickly as well as using a winch cat to tackle some of the steeper runs.Power problems at Winter ParkA faulty splice in a power line is being blamed for lift outages and the closure of an on-mountain restaurant at Winter Park, the Winter Park Manifest reports.According to the Manifest, the longest delay left people stranded on the Pioneer Express lift for about an hour, Friday, Jan. 9. The Lodge at Sunspot was closed for much of that weekend, also due to power problems, according to the Manifest.According to the Manifest, a mountain-wide power outage shut down nearly all the lifts at Snowmass Ski Area the same weekend, leaving some skiers and snowboarders stranded for up to 30 minutes.The following weekend power surge on Vail Mountain knocked about power to two lifts and stranded skiers on for about 90 minutes Friday, June 16.Big Mountain may test for drugsThe Missoula Missoulian reports that Big Mountain ski resort may begin randomly testing hundreds of employees for drug use, a scenario that doesn’t sit well with some in the Whitefish area.One resort manager, interviewed anonymously by the Missoulian, said it’s “the new, uptight corporate attitude coming home to Montana,” claiming executives can’t point to even one drug or alcohol-related safety problem.But a resort chairlift operator was recently busted for marijuana when resort officials found a bag of pot in his locker after he was fired for an unrelated offense. That may have been the trigger, according to the Missoulian. Mid-level resort managers have been told not to talk about the plan with the media.The Missoulian then goes on to reference the fact that Vail Resorts dropped its drug-testing program several years ago, instead training managers to look for signs of substance abuse and take corrective action. Interviewed for the story, spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga said VR has “seen no significant increase in workplace safety-related issues.”CorrectionAn item in last week’s Resort Roundup regarding a lawsuit over the ownership of Lone Peak in Montana said the new Moonlight Basin resort is a private ski area. In fact, Moonlight Basin operates on private land but is open to the public.– compiled by Bob Berwyn


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