ATM: It’s a miracle! Winter returns to Colo. | SummitDaily.com
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ATM: It’s a miracle! Winter returns to Colo.

ALLEN BEST
special to the daily

SILVERTON ” It’s probably incorrect to call the type of snow that pelted Colorado last weekend a product of global warming. Prominent climate scientists have warned that it’s difficult to ascribe any one single weather event to the greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere. Only in retrospect, they say, will the patterns be clearly discerned.

Yet the early snow – Sierra cement, not Rocky Mountain champagne powder – was unusual, perhaps even rare. In Silverton, elevation 9,300 feet, it began as a hard rain. Several thousand feet higher at the Silverton Mountain Ski Area it was snow – and plenty of it.

The warmth surprised many people. “All of the wet sloppy stuff usually comes a month earlier, and this stuff is really sloppy,” said Jim Lamont, who works in the small town of Red Cliff, near Vail.

However, by Sunday skiers at Aspen, Vail, and elsewhere were reporting surprisingly good conditions, even delightful powder.

Just a week ago, The Telluride Watch had a story, called “The Endless Summer,” with a graphic of people carrying skis set against a warm background. That was also the title of a surfing poster of the same name from about 40 years ago.

But now, the miracle of winter has returned. And winter will not go away. Speaking in Breckenridge in October, meteorologist Paul Goodloe of The Weather Channel said that even in globally warmed mountains there will be snowstorms, and probably storms that are even more epic then current ones. But there will also be longer periods of no snow.

The potential will also remain for extremely cold weather, even spells of 30 below, he said. But all in all, he said, winters will be much warmer and shorter.

EAGLE COUNTY ” Most people know Eagle County from what they can see from Interstate 70 as it swoops down from Vail Pass on its way to Glenwood Canyon. Most of the county’s 50,000-plus residents live close to the highway, particularly near the Vail and Beaver Creek ski areas.

But in the corners of the county are found very different landscapes, lightly populated and with plenty of calendar-worthy scenery. In one of those corners lies a century-old 740-acre ranch, located at the base of the Flat Tops. Eagle County government recently spent $2.1 million to secure the land’s development rights.

Skeptics charged “cowboy welfare” and questioned whether there was any real danger of development. If no such threat is imminent, it nonetheless exists, says the Eagle Valley Enterprise.

“Look at what happened to the county in the past 40 years,” says the paper, pointing to any number of gated golf-course communities developed in the last 20 years in once hardscrabble ranching country.

If the charge of “cowboy welfare” stung, it was also off the mark. “The acquisition was about the land, not the owner,” said the Enterprise, and the decision 50 to 100 years from now will be seen as clearly a wise one.

PARK CITY, Utah ” East West Partners, the Colorado-based developer of mountain real estate from Truckee to Canmore to Breckenridge, has another project to sell in Park City, where it has been engaged in development since 2004.

At Empire Pass, part of the Deer Valley complex, the company will begin offering 37 condominiums in a project called Flagstaff that are going on the market in January. Sales prices of the condos range from $2 million to $6 million.

“We’re at the highest end of this game,” said John Calhoun, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing in the Park City operations. “This is expensive real estate. They are marketed to very successful people who are rewarding themselves for their successes.”

GRASS VALLEY, Calif. ” If one contemporary poet were to be singled out for association with mountains, in North America it would likely be Gary Snyder.

Commonly classified among the beat poets, and a model for a character in Jack Kerouac’s 1958 book, “The Dharma Bums,” Snyder spent a decade in Japan studying at a Zen monastery. He has issued 18 collections of prose and poems, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Turtle Island.”

Now 77, he still lives in the South Yuba River area of the northern Sierra Nevada that he has called home for the last 40 years.

Asked by California’s Grass Valley Union which he finds most gratifying, prose or poetry, Snyder said he is gratified by both, but in different ways.

“Poetry is not something you can order up – the beginnings of poems come unbidden and then one goes to work on them, always keeping a huge space of mind open around it. The trick is to listen with the inner ear. This is maybe the most rewarding sort of artistic work, but it would be greedy to expect to be able to do it all the time,” he said.

“Prose, and the challenge of writing ‘a good sentence,’ is enormously demanding in its own way, and it forces one to be clear. Poetry (and art), as Keats said, will be somewhat in darkness – never mathematically perfect – and yet full of suggestion and significance. Prose can be made clear.”

Reflecting on his many hikes up Mt. Tamalpais, the mountain that presides over San Francisco Bay, Snyder told the newspaper he is “more and more struck by the deep value (of walking) to both mind and body, and how much one learns and sees on foot. As the ancient Chinese said (in a time when there was no way to travel but by walking), ‘For a person of vitality and spirit, all of China is your back yard.'”

WHISTLER, B.C. ” A film called “Extreme Seniors” was previewed recently at the Whistler Film Festival. The film, says Pique, challenges the stereotype of bingo-playing, scooter-riding seniors by trying to keep up with local 68-, 75-, and 86-year-old gray-hairs as they ski, mountain bike, and hike.

The filmmaker, 30something Lisa Fernandez, tells the newspaper she was huffing and puffing to keep up – which ultimately inspired her. “One of the things that this film makes me see is that the future is really bright, not scary. The whole idea of getting old – if you retire, you just have more time to play.”

INVERMERE, Idaho ” A non-binding plebiscite in the Invermere Valley area has shown a strong thumb’s down for a proposed ski-based mountain resort called Jumbo Glacier.

Some 78 percent of the 816 ballots cast opposed the resort, which would be located in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia, near the Panorama ski resort. This vote echoes similar straw-poll votes, reinforcing the position of opponents that the project must be rejected. However, the provincial government in August approved a master plan, leading to concerns that the province will circumvent local authority.

Supporters downplayed the vote, likening it to a hearing, where opponents are most likely to turn out. A Jumbo Glacier official, Grant Costello, told the Invermere Valley Echo that he had urged resort supporters to not participate in the survey.


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