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Xstream race planned in Moab

Allen Best

DURANGO – Will Newcomer is somewhat of an extremist, says the Durango Telegraph. He’s familiar with epic mountain bike rides, massive crag scaling and torrential river crossings – all in a day’s work, whether in Canada, Hawaii, or Colorado.

He’s an adventurer racer, a genre that has grown big since Mark Burnett, the creator of reality television shows on television, created the Eco-Challenge.



Newcomer, with 10 years in the recreation industry, founded Gravity Play Sports Marketing in 1999. Based in Durango, he put on his first Adventure Xstream race at Moab in 2001 – a 12-hour race that has now spread to Vail, Breckenridge, and Durango.

This series, notes the Telegraph, is a stepping-stone for people who are just entering the world of brawn and bravery – participation has quadrupled since the inception.



Newcomer and his wife, Jenny, have also put on several other events. Next is an expedition race over a 250- to 300-mile course across six days in the canyon country near Moab, with the winners standing to make $8,000.

Patroller leaving howitzers, slides behind



ALPINE MEADOWS, Calif. Ð Ray Belli is retiring as ski patrol manager after 34 years at Alpine Meadows.

The official story is that his rescue dog fell 30 feet from a chairlift, and although the dog didn’t break any bones, Belli took it as an omen. Less officially, he admits he’s tired of waking up at 4 a.m. on stormy days, and he no longer skis on his days off, unlike when he was young. He’s now 58.

Belli was a seasonal logger in the late 1960s when he joined Alpine Meadows. He wasn’t a very good skier, he confided to the Tahoe World, but he figured it was better than drawing unemployment. He moved from lift operator to snow groomer to patroller, and five years ago he became manager of ski patrol.

Alpine Meadows has a major avalanche control problem, as witnessed by two disasters. In 1976, an avalanche killed four people. Then, in 1982, an avalanche destroyed the main lodge, killing seven people.

Alpine is one of only eight ski areas in the United States to use military equipment for control of avalanches. The cache includes both 105mm and 75mm howitzers, which are cannons that fire explosive shells; an Avalauncher, which is a compressed-gas cannon; and high-explosive hand charges. In a single day, ski patrollers have thrown up to 360 hand charges in an attempt to dislodge unstable snow.

Almost the entire base at Alpine sits underneath a slide path. Other resorts with similarly dicey avalanche control problems include Alta and Snowbird in Utah and Mammoth in California.


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