‘Snow farmers’ still reaping cash crops | VailDaily.com

‘Snow farmers’ still reaping cash crops

Shane Macomber/Daily file photo Good snow this year has translated into good business for kayakers and rafting companies, which depend on good runoff to sustain business during the spring and summer.

VAIL ” The rapids at Dowd Chute stayed at a consistently high level this year, said Lisa Reeder of Timberline Tours.

“It was a good ride, most definitely,” she said.

High hopes ” and high water ” for the spring and summer seem to have translated into good business for the valley.

Several local kayaking, rafting and fishing companies say business has been brisk after the snow melted.

“If you have a good ski year like this year, the spillover goes into the summer,” said John Cochrane of Gorsuch Outfitters. Cochrane said his business is up significantly this year compared to 2005.

Last ski season, the snowfall on the tops of Vail and Beaver Creek mountains was the highest in nine years. Lots of snow translates to good hype and good runoff for the spring.

“We’re all snow farmers,” Cochrane said.

Sean Glackin, owner of kayak shop Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards, said the Eagle River season shaped up well.

“It didn’t get super high, but it stayed at a really good level for a long time,” Glackin said. “Any time you make it into early July, it’s a good thing.”

The Eagle River isn’t a dam-controlled river, so the season lasts about two months for kayakers and rafters. After the first part of July, rafters and kayakers move to dam-controlled stretches of the Colorado and Arkansas rivers.

Glackin said he thinks business is up compared to last year, although his company has merged with another store and has moved since last summer. He said some beginner kayakers have waited until the second half of the summer for water to subside before they try the sport.

Rafting companies also depend on good runoff for good business. Doug Schofield, head guide for Lakota River Guides, said business is up 20 percent over last year.

“It definitely feels like the valley has been busier for longer” this summer, Schofield said.

The snow is great marketing for rafting companies, and though the water has been about average this year, the record snow levels created a perception of great water, Schofield said.

A warm and dry April made the snowpack melt fairly quickly, he said.

“We would have hoped the Eagle would have run a little longer than it did,” he said.

Reeder said business has been up this summer and the company is hoping for a record year.

“The perception of people coming in to the valley for the summer was they had a great winter, there was a lot of snow, so it’s going to be a good rafting season,” Reeder said.

Greg Caretto, co-owner of Nova Guides, said his numbers are down a bit compared to last year. Still, he said, the water is the best it’s been in 10 years.

The good business extended to outdoor businesses beyond the water industry, too.

Alex Rebeiz, manager of Mountain Adventure Center at the base of Vail Mountain, said business has been up 8 percent compared to last year. The shop sells clothing and also rents mountain bikes. Last year’s good snow could be a reason, he said.

“That usually happens,” he said. “It carries over to a good summer and a good winter bookings-wise.”

The Eagle River at Avon peaked May 23 at 2,820 cubic feet per second. On Monday, it was running at 250 cubic feet per second, 126 percent of average.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado

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