Beacon Bowl at A-Basin |

Beacon Bowl at A-Basin

Bob Berwyn

Backcountry skiers and boarders long ago tuned into the fact that it’s important to have the right safety gear, including avalanche beacons. But having one and knowing how to use it efficiently are two different things. And proper use of a beacon can become a life and death issue in the event of a burial.The Jan. 25 Beacon Bowl at Arapahoe Basin is a friendly competition designed to test those skills. The beacon event begins at 10 a.m., followed by a snowpit analysis demonstration at 11:30, an avalanche dog demonstration at 1:30 and an awards ceremony and aprs-ski party at 3:30 p.m. Wilderness Sports will also be hosting a tele demo. All proceeds go the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.Crystal expansion delayedAccording to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter, plans to expand Crystal Mountain, near Seattle, have been pushed back by several months, as Forest Service officials try to evaluate potential impacts to forested areas that provide habitat for the spotted owl, marbled murrelet, lynx and gray wolf – all protected under the Endangered Species Act.The controversial expansion plan has been in the works since Michigan-based Boyne USA bought Crystal Mountain in 1997. A decision was originally expected in 1999, but USFS officials now say they plan to release their final decision in May or June of this year.Under the $94 million expansion plan, the resort wants to add seven new lifts, a 100-room hotel and expand a mountain-top restaurant, all while upping its capacity from 7,500 skiers per day to more than 11,000, according to the Post-Intelligencer Reporter.Keystone deathinvestigatedOfficials continue to investigate the death of a 47-year-old resort employee who fell from the Summit Express chair while downloading from the summit restaurant, the Rocky Mountain News reports.The resort had previously closed the lift to skiers because of high winds and bad weather, according to the News. Kenneth Zech, of La Crosse, Wis., was one of the last employees to take the lift back to the base. He is the second Keystone employee to die at the resort this season. A snowmaker died in November when he was trapped in a snowmaking enclosure.Jacksondevelopment stillcontroversialA planned resort development along the Snake River near Jackson Hole is still ruffling local feathers, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reports. About 150 residents showed up for a public hearing on the Canyon Club recently, with many people endorsing Teton County’s recommendations for significant changes to protect bald eagle nest sites.The Canyon Club would include 72 homes, an 18-hole golf course, a clubhouse, employee housing and maintenance buildings on 360 acres along a stretch of the Snake River approximately 12 miles south of Jackson.Whether or not golf course fairways should be counted as open space was among the issues still to be resolved. Some speakers expressed concern about flooding and potential impacts to fish habitat in the river, according to the News and Guide.Boaters are worried that, if the Canyon Club displaces nesting bald eagles, the Bridger-Teton National Forest will restrict the public’s river access to protect eagles elsewhere in the Snake River Canyon.A-Basin toutsenvironmental fundAn employee-sponsored environmental fund at Arapahoe Basin has generated more than $3,500 since it was launched two years ago. Funds raised by employees is matched by the resort and then is used to aid local environmental groups. Past recipients have included Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness and the Continental Divide Land Trust.The employees involved in the A-Basin Environmental Fund encourage other organizations and companies to start their own employee environmental funds. “It’s all about protecting what you think is important and what is right outside your own back door,” said Alan Henceroth, A-Basin’s Director of Mountain Operations.State, ski industry team up for Mentors & Moguls programSome of Colorado’s disadvantaged youths will get a chance to enjoy a day on the slopes, thanks to the Mentors & Moguls program, a cooperative venture between the state, Christy Sports and several ski areas.Christy Sports is providing free gear for program participants, while several ski areas are donating free lift tickets. In the mentor program, qualified adults are matched with youths from various state social services.Participating ski areas include Loveland, SolVista, Eldora, Monarch, Sunlight, Powderhorn and Steamboat. For more information on the Mentors & Moguls program call (303) 237-6321 or email at wildfire closing in on ski areasA raging wildfire is bearing down on two of Australia’s most popular ski resorts, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Roads around Kosciuszko National Park have been closed and the flames are threatening Thredbo and Perisher-Smiggins resorts, according to the Morning Herald.Truckers rebel in SierraThe Sierra Sun reports that truck drivers using Interstate 80 across the Sierra Nevada have challenged Caltran’s authority to impose chain requirements. Caltrans is the California transportation department.According to the Sun, one group of truckers ran the controls while a second group created a roadblock that backed up traffic all the way to Reno. California Highway Patrol officials admitted that they lost control of the traffic and the trucks and ordered Caltrans to lift the chain control. Officials used sand and salt to try and make the road safer before allowing the trucks to pass.Summit Huts plansseveral eventsThe Summit County backcountry will be bustling the next few months, with several events planned at Francie’s and Janet’s cabin. First on the schedule is a level 1 avalanche clinic on Feb. 15-16 at Francie’s. The two-day course costs $250, including a hut night at Francie’s cabin, dinner and breakfast and gear demos.A women’s hut trip and work day is coming up Feb. 22-23 at Janet’s Cabin. Volunteers help maintain the high quality of the hut system, so participants will restock the woodshed and scrub the hut from wall to wall. The work will only take a few hours so there should be plenty of time for skiing the powder in the adjacent backcountry.Another volunteer day is scheduled for Francie’s Cabin Feb. 25. Volunteers earn a free night in one of Summit Huts Hutmasters quarters for volunteering their time. Call 970-453-8583 or email at more information.– compiled by Bob Berwyn

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