Around the Mountains: Colorado viewed through Whistler’s eyes |

Around the Mountains: Colorado viewed through Whistler’s eyes

ALLEN BESTspecial to the daily

ASPEN Whistler’s G.D. Maxwell, a columnist for Pique, visited Vail and Aspen in late January, catching both during snowstorms, and liked almost everything he found.In Vail, he found the trail map hard to believe: 53 percent of terrain rated most difficult. “It’s a feel-good, better-than-you-are marketing spin. Either that, or it’s a paranoid fear of litigation,” he reported. Blue Sky Basin he described as a “panorama of hero blacks, braggin’ blacks, blacks in name only.” In fact, anything that doesn’t get groomed in Vail gets tagged black diamond. Virtually nothing in the Back Bowls gets groomed. Ergo, all men are Socrates. So much for the theory that diamonds are a hedge against inflation.”Still, he found remarkable skiing at Vail: “Remarkable for its overall ease, remarkable for its lack of crowds, remarkable for its lack of hair-raising pitches, remarkably fun.”At Aspen, rummaging among the four mountains, he was warmed by the steeps of Highland Bowl, “the best run of the trip.”He also found Aspen’s Jekyll and Hyde personality, and was more than delighted by half of it. “For every Terrace Room at the Little Nell, there’s a Cooper Street Bar; for every members-only Caribou Club there’s a Jimmy’s: An All American Restaurant and Bar with meatloaf featured proudly on the menu; for every overhyped, overpriced Prada shop there’s a Pitkin County Dry Goods store.”Taos legislator calling for Bush impeachmentTAOS, N.M. – A legislator who represents Taos in the New Mexico Legislature is co-sponsoring a resolution in the Legislature that would call on the U.S. Congress to impeach President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.”This is symbolic,” said State Sen. Carlos Cisneros. “Realistically, we’re not going to do anything by our resolution, even if it passed (in New Mexico), and that’s not likely to happen. But it’s important that the message be conveyed.”Cisneros told The Taos News that the United States is not winning the war, not can it win it. “It’s civil in nature,” he said.Electric utilities debate need for new coal plantsGUNNISON Can the West continue to grow in population, with ever-more electricity-consuming gadgets plugged in, without building more coal-fired power plants?That has been the fundamental question being asked in recent months in a half-dozen mountain valleys, including the Telluride, Gunnison, and Durango areas.These areas are among the 44 rural electrical co-ops across the Rocky Mountains and High Plains being asked by Denver-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission to extend their contracts. Current contracts are at 40 years, but Tri-State wants 50-year agreements – and also a commitment to buy 95 percent of their power from Tri-State during that time.But is the added power really needed? And is coal the only or even the best option?Tri-State insists it can already see the cliff’s edge. It is already running its existing coal-fired power plants at full capacity and has recently been buying additional power from the spot market. In southwest Kansas, Tri-State proposes to build two new coal-fired power plants, using conventional technology, which is to say with high emissions of greenhouse gases. Each plant would have a capacity to produce 700 megawatts of electricity.A possible third power plant, this one in southeastern Colorado, could possibly use the cleaner-burning coal-gasification technology. Costs are estimated at $5 billion.Opposition is being led by Western Resource Advocates. The Boulder-based group argues that Tri-State has sufficient resources to meet realistic growth in demand. It says more aggressive energy conservation could cut Tri-State’s demand by 500 megawatts. Also, Western Resource Advocates argues that the utility wholesaler could develop wind, biomass projects and solar energy.”We’re watching a great opportunity for local benefits slip away,” says Rick Gilliam, an analyst with Western Resource Advocates. Gilliam also contends that coal, if not generally cheaper than alternatives, will become more expensive if the nation decides to control the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are increasing temperatures.Western Resource Advocates also disputes the demand projected by Tri-State needed by the fledgling oil shale industry of Northwest Colorado. Tri-State projects 375 percent more electricity will be needed than what the industry itself says it will use. Moreover, another utility, Colorado-Ute Electric Association, made a similar miscalculation in the 1970s, building a power plant at Craig for an oil-shale industry that didn’t materialize, forcing Colorado-Ute in 1990 to go bankrupt.Athletes buy tents for optimal trainingBOULDER Elevations of 7,000 to 9,000 feet are considered optimal for both training and beneficial sleeping for athletes. But most athletes live at lower elevations.In response, several companies sell tents that simulate higher elevations, including a firm called Colorado Altitude Training, which is based in Boulder. The central technology, reports the Denver Business Journal, is something called the CAT Digital Controller, which reduces the oxygen percentage inside the tent while simultaneously maintaining a steady internal pressure to exactly counter whatever the outside air pressure might be.Taking advantage of the technology are athletes who then go to lower elevations to compete. Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, Green Bay Packer A.J. Hawk and Denver Nuggets forward Nene are reported to be among the company’s clients.

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