Around the Mountains: Avalanches hit houses in Sun Valley, Idaho |

Around the Mountains: Avalanches hit houses in Sun Valley, Idaho

ALLEN BESTspecial to the daily

KETCHUM, Idaho Avalanches big and small were evident across the Ketchum area after a storm deposited 20 inches of snow. In the towns Warm Springs neighborhood, near the base of the Sun Valley ski area, an avalanche swept over one home, the second time in a month the house has been hit. An avalanche wall absorbed most of the impact, and no damage was detected in the house, but an outlying garage got knocked about.The Idaho Mountain Express states four other homes were hit, but reported no damage. However, emergency services personnel were worried enough about the potential to human health that they evacuated all homes in that area.Elsewhere, an avalanche dammed a river, which caused water to back up to a depth of 18 inches in one subdivision.Freidman Memorial Airport, located down-valley at Hailey, has had to close for about six days because snow piled between the taxiway and runway has reached a height of at least 25 feet. That prevented long-winged aircraft from taxiing. Extra help was hired to haul away the problematic snow.Dream come true for those who love snow STEAMBOAT SPRINGS By now, the big winter was supposed to be over, turning to drought. But the U.S. Weather Service was wrong, wrong, wrong! The snowfall total this season at the Steamboat ski area has now pushed past 300 inches, with additional snow falling rapidly in the early days of February.The Steamboat Pilot & Today found both people who love and hate the prodigious powder. Brian Bonsell, a hotel worker and avid surfer, had decamped Hawaii several weeks before. In order to leave there, I had to come to a place like this, he told the newspaper. I always wanted to live where it just snows every day.Riding that much powder was, he said, like riding waves.But Bob Wakefield, who came from Kansas, really would prefer corduroy. Im not really to the point where I can ski in the deep snow like this, he said. Powder days are not my favorite.Snow fell on 80 percent of the first 73 days of the ski season at Steamboat.Real estate volume sets record in Telluride areaTELLURIDE Buoyed by several sales of large ranches on the mesas above Telluride, the real estate market in the Telluride last year reached $756 million. Although paltry by standards of the Vail and Aspen areas, where sales last year remained above $2 billion, it nonetheless is a 4 percent gain over Tellurides previous record year.Just the same, some real estate agents are thinking that 2008 could be lower. The national slowdown hasnt flushed people out of our market by any means, said Jim Lucarelli of Real Estate Affiliates, although phones arent ringing as steadily or robustly as we may be used to.The view from Telluride is that, relative to Vail and Aspen, it still remains a bargain. All things are relative, of course. The lowest priced single-family home in Telluride during the last several years was $1,076,000.Real estate soars more in Jackson Hole in 07JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Real estate sales in Jackson Hole topped $1.5 billion last year. There were fewer transactions, but dollar volume rose 19 percent. The median sale price last year rose 27 percent, and the average sales price rose 24 percent. Those statistics come from David Viehman, who owns Jackson Hole Real Estate & Appraisals. He said real estate appreciated more in 2007 than any other year so far this century.The Jackson Hole News&Guide says that Sothebys International Realty, relying on the more narrow data from the Multiple Listing Service, echoed those findings. Its data show that the higher end market is becoming a large part of the total pie – a clear trend for several years both in Jackson and most other resort-based valleys in the West.Will it stay the same? Some say yes, but Clayton Andrews, of Sothebys, pointed to the elections and economic turbulence as potential causes for a downturn. Jackson Hole has been protected from these issues in the past, and we will have to wait to see what effects they will have this year.Slipping dollar expected to help tourism in Park City PARK CITY, Utah The slipping value of the dollar is resulting in more foreign visitors to Park City. International ski pass sales are up 20 percent this year, reports Bill Malone, executive director of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, although sales were also up 16 percent last year. Malone, according to the Park City Record, is projecting an increase in visitor nights this year, and also an uptick in real-estate sales, after a year of declining sales last year.Presidential wannabes and has-beens hang in ski townsRED RIVER, N.M. It seems like you cant go to a ski town anymore without bumping into presidential types.In New Mexico, news agencies reported that former president Bill Clinton was in Red River, a ski town of 500 people north of Taos, to watch the Super Bowl in the company of Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor and former presidential candidate.The Clintons, both Bill and Hillary, also passed through Aspen frequently last summer, while Mitt Romney has been something of a regular in Park City. Of course, he owns a house there, one of three identified recently by the New York Times. He also has digs in Boston and a palatial-looking weekend escape in New Hampshire.Visa hassles eliminate many potential touristsSTEAMBOAT SPRINGS U.S. ski areas would get many more foreign visitors if not for the paperwork, says Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the Travel Industry Association. Dow told an audience at the Airline Partners Summit in Steamboat Springs that citizens of 27 counties do not give visas to travel to the United States. However, in some of those where visas are mandated, the trouble of getting one is enormous. For example, Brazil has just four cities with offices.