Patrons asked to pitch in for open space |

Patrons asked to pitch in for open space

Allen Best

CRESTED BUTTE ” Operators of the Crested Butte ski area have begun asking patrons of its restaurants and retail stores for a 1 percent donation to the local open space program. Some 60 businesses in the Crested Butte area participate in the program.

“Open space is a huge part of this valley and the drive for people to come here,” said the ski company’s Ethan Mueller.

He added that few other ski resorts have the open space, views and serenity that Crested Butte has.

“The I-70 resorts either never had it, or lost it and will never regain it,” he said. “It’s important to preserve the reasons locals came to live and guests came to visit.”

WOLF CREEK, Colo. ” As is so often the case, it’s shaping up as a tale of two winters in Colorado.

Along the I-70 corridor and north at Steamboat Springs, the stories have been about the abundance of snow. Snow shovelers and plowers are making a good living, although some places are running out of places to dump it.

This snow, along with everything else, has produced what was described in

several resort locations as a banner holiday period. At Beaver Creek, the manager of Charter Sports said more skis were rented during Christmas week than had ever been rented before there ” or any other Charter Sports store.

Somewhat similarly, the number of cars parked along the frontage road in Vail was up substantially.

A similar story comes from Aspen, where the Buttermilk ski area set a “modern-day record” for users. But all four of the local ski areas at Aspen were reporting gains, none more significantly than at Highlands, where a new double-black-diamond area is drawing visitors. Again, the biggest story seems to be good snow.

In Southern Colorado, the story is an all-too-familiar one of recent years. Wolf Creek Ski Area, which often leads the state’s ski areas with an average snowfall of 435 inches, had received only 82 inches by early January.

Snowpacks in that part of the state are reported to be just 35 to 50 percent of normal.

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