Heavenly Valley ski area now 50 years old
December 24, 2005
LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – It’s birthday time at Lake Tahoe. Heavenly Valley, one of North America’s largest ski areas, with 4,800 acres, is now 50 years old.While 8,000 skiers once was a big, big crowd, now even 16,000 visitors doesn’t seem like much of a deal, said Malcom Tibbets, the long-time mountain manager at Heavenly, told the Tahoe Daily Tribune.South Lake Tahoe, the city at the base of the ski area, is celebrating its 40th birthday.Pikas and other critters going up in YosemiteYOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. – Maybe the little critters of Yosemite National Park have been reading Mountain Gazette.Motto of the Colorado-based magazine is, “When in doubt, go higher.” And that’s exactly what the rodents and other creatures have been doing, scientists tell the Seattle Times. They suspect the upward flight is a response to global warming.Among the most provocative discoveries is that of pikas. Once found as low as 7,800 feet, the pike now cannot be found below 9,500 in Yosemite.James Patton, curator at the University of California, Berkeley, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, told the newspaper that a team of scientists from the museum were retracing the research of Joseph Grinnell, a biologist who 90 years ago catalogued the mammals, birds, and reptiles of the park. In retracing his steps during the last three summers, they found an environment that has seen a remarkable shift.The Yosemite Valley, they said, has had a 50 percent turnover in types of birds it harbors. And several species of rodents have shifted their range by as much as 3,000 feet. For example, the rare Inyo shrew, once found no higher than 8,000 feet, now ranges as high as 10,000While some species have merely expanded their range uphill, others have moved uphill. Such is the case with pikas.It’s the good cold days again in Fraser ValleyFRASER – A good number of people in Fraser are wondering where all this talk about global warming came from.The town, once called the “Icebox of the Nation,’ has seen 44 below, according to unofficial but widespread readings, and it was still below zero on a recent December morning.To long-time resident Kirk Klancke, it’s just like the “good, old days” of 30 to 40 years ago. “We’re having a really good winter,” he told Mountain Town News. “We have tons of snow and lots of cold to preserve it. We went a couple of weeks without seeing the stripes on the highway.”The Winter Park ski area reported 142 inches of snow midway through December, the most snowfall since a phenomenal streak of 41 straight days of snow that was recorded in 1983.Crested Butte records a dubious superlativeCRESTED BUTTE – Crested Butte recorded a dubious superlative on Dec. 8. The temperature that night dropped to 39 below, officially the lowest reading in the nation.”We haven’t had that much serious cold for about 20 years,” said Larry Adams, the town utilities manager.And it’s fair to speculate that plumbers haven’t worked on as many frozen pipes in 20 years. “Do you want to be a plumber?” asked Ron Chlipala, owner of Timberline Mechanical Contracting.”We’ve been very busy, but this is overload,” he told the Crested Butte News.Alberta gaining income as site of major moviesCANMORE, Alberta – Alberta is starting to make good money from hosting movie-makers. The Rocky Mountain Outlook reports that the province generated an estimated $200 million this year, and hopes to double that within three years.Among the headline productions this year was “The Assassination of Jesse James,” starring Brad Pitt. The history-based film is set in Colorado, but Alberta pocketed $30 million.Last year the province hosted the filming of “Brokeback Mountain” in a valley south of Canmore and Banff. Director Ang Lee recently confided to an audience in Jackson Hole that he would have preferred to film the movie in Northern Wyoming, where writer Annie Proulx had set it, but was constrained by his $13 million budget. He jokingly called Alberta, where the film was shot, a “cheap imitation Wyoming.”Sculptor’s peaks not a generic airport mementoCANMORE, Alberta – What a Canmore sculptor is selling is definitely a step up from rubber tomahawks, or even the models of moose and elk that are so commonly purchased as vacation mementoes.Instead, Jason Hoerle has sculpted models of several of the most notable peaks found in the Bow River Valley, where Canmore and Banff are located. “They’re unique,” he tells the Rocky Mountain Outlook. “It’s not a generic product you see in airports all over North America.”Producers of “Brokeback Mountain” seem to agree. An assistant purchased 15 of Hoerle’s Cascade Mountain sculpture, to be relabeled as Brokeback Mountain, and given to the movie’s stars, director and other key players.