Resort Report: Poacher guards, snow record & off-season crime spree

Lots of off the slopes news in this week's resort report as one Telluride landowner threatens to post armed guards to protect his property from hikers, while in Summit County, once the ski lifts closed the crime rate went up. That, record snow in Snowbird and Vail, and the Gulmarg's new Wi-Fi network.

The on-again, off-again dispute over backcountry skiing in Telluride's popular Bear Creek basin just heated up, with a local developer threatening to post armed guards to protect against trespassers in the area this summer.

In the April 22, 2011 issue of the Telluride Daily Planet, developer Ron Curry, a principal in the Gold Hill Development which owns mining claims in the Bear Creek basin posted a press release, which in part stated, “We will defend the rights that attend the ownership of our private property, including the placement of armed guards at points of entry at random times through the coming summer, and beyond. We ask that you respect these rights, just as you would expect others to honor yours.”

Two local trails cross the property, but according to the Daily Planet, the United States Forest Service claims there has been historic use of those trails, while the local sheriff told the paper that the decision on what he can and cannot enforce in regards to the dispute is going to have to come from "somebody bigger than me.”

Snowbird hits snowfall record

In what has already been a ridiculously epic season in Utah, Snowbird continues to rub it in. The area hit a 40-year all-time record for single season snowfall on the afternoon of April 26, 2011, reaching the 690-inch mark thanks to a spring storm that has brought two feet to Little Cottonwood Canyon in 48 hours. Snowbird’s previous single season official record was 688 inches, set in the 1983-84 season. 690 inches, or 57.5 feet, measures nearly the height of each sculpture face at the Mount Rushmore National Monument, more than a third of the height of the Statue of Liberty, and easily tops Utah’s Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. This is the fourth consecutive season Snowbird has topped 600 inches of snow mid-mountain.

Vail hits record snow as Colo. season winds down, and crime rate goes up

Real Vail is reporting that Vail’s season was one for the record books in terms of snowfall as the area received 511 inches, or nearly 43 feet, of snow at mid-mountain this season. That’s the most amount of snow recorded there since the area began tracking mid-mountain snowfall in the 2000-2001 season, and more than the 505 inches which fell at the top of the mountain during the 1977-78 ski season.

Even with so much snowfall, Colorado only counts two areas still open--Loveland, where plans are to close May 8, and Arapahoe Basin, which will be open until June 5. With all those ski areas closing at once, Summit County has seen a dramatic rise in crime according to 9News. ATMs are being broken into, local businesses are being burglarized, and thefts are on the increase, all because the lifts have stopped. “When the jobs disappear, the money goes with it, which is when police say they start to see a rise in crime,” according to the report.

Whiteface parent ORDA reports strong season

The winter 2010-2011 season appears to be a successful one for the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) and its venues. The skiing and riding season at Whiteface Mountain, in Wilmington, N.Y., officially came to a close on Sunday, April 17. Buoyed by an on-time start to the skiing and riding season, which began on Nov. 26, and more than 247-inches of natural snowfall, Whiteface counted 209,214 skier days, an increase of 10.82 percent compared to last season. Revenue also increased at the mountain by 16.31 percent. Gore also had more skier days this winter than last winter as 189,395 skiers and riders took to the North Creek resort slopes. 

“This was a very strong winter for the Authority,” said ORDA president/CEO Ted Blazer. “I believe that there were a few factors that contributed to the season. There’s no overlooking this winter’s snow, we had outstanding conditions all winter long. Snow also fell across the entire east coast, which in turn brought even more visitors to the region from major metropolitan markets.”

Idaho’s Brundage goes for TWO more weekends

Brundage Mountain Resort in McCall, Idaho announced today that it is extending its already-long season by at least two more weekends, with the strong possibility that it could go even longer. Thanks to heavy spring snowfall, the resort will say open the weekends of May 7-8 and May 14-15.

In Washington State, Crystal Mountain plans to continue ski operations on weekends until at least June 12, or maybe into July if conditions permit. Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia has skiing on both mountains through Monday, then the ski season for Blackcomb Mountain only has been extended through May…The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public comment on Heavenly Mountain Resort's proposed capital improvement projects at Lake Tahoe's south shore, which include construction of a 2,500-square-foot-plus permanent ski school structure and the widening of six ski trails on the California side of the mountain…The Gulmarg ski resort is now connected to the outer world through a dedicated Wi-Fi zone which would provide internet connectivity at a high speed. The KU-GULMARG Wi-Fi network is considered as one of the highest Wi-Fi zones in the world at an altitude of 4,120 meters (13,500 feet) above sea-level…and former N.M. Governor Gary Johnson and 2014 Republican presidential hopeful Gary Johnson skied Tuckerman Ravine last week. The avid outdoorsman told New Hampshire Public Radio, “This is my thing, so I understand this and it’s great to be here.”

--Peter Kray

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