Top 5 stories on, week of Aug. 11 |

Top 5 stories on, week of Aug. 11

Grizzly Peak’s west facing slope blanketed in snow in December 2018 near Dillon. The 2018-19 winter came with record-breaking snow. Long-term forecasts predict winter 2019-20 will be much tamer.
Hugh Carey / Summit Daily file photo

Editor’s note: Stories in this list received the most page views on for the past week.

1. El Niño is officially over. What does that mean for winter 2019-20 in Summit County?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that a weaker version of the large-scale weather phenomenon has ended. Weak El Niño conditions had been present since fall 2018, allowing for one of the heaviest snow seasons in Summit County in years, including record-breaking March snow totals at the ski resorts.

In making the announcement, NOAA noted that sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean had dipped to normal. That means El Niño — which occurs when those surface temperatures are higher than average — is officially over and that the El Niño Southern Oscillation is now in a “neutral” state. NOAA predicts a 50% to 55% chance of current conditions persisting through winter.

What does that mean for Summit County? Your guess might be as good as the experts’. When conditions return to neutral, it means there are no strong forces guiding climate in either direction — the warmer El Niño or cooler La Niña.

— Deepan Dutta

2. Winter Park looking to capitalize on Arapahoe Basin joining Ikon Pass

With the Aug. 2 announcement that Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is joining the Ikon Pass, Winter Park Resort is looking forward to drawing even more skiers and riders from the Front Range this season with the help of a more attractive pass.

After a record year for skier visits across the state, Winter Park’s parent company Alterra aims to capitalize on the spike in enthusiasm for Colorado resorts by adding Arapahoe Basin to the Ikon Pass’s fleet of resorts within two hours of Denver.

“I think it’s a good thing for all the resorts that are in Colorado, especially those of us along the I-70 corridor,” said Steve Hurlbert, Winter Park’s director of public relations and communications. “I think it’s going to entice more people to come skiing and … more skiers is a good thing.”

— McKenna Harford, Sky-Hi News

3. Thumb tacks annoy some riders at Leadville 100

Several cyclists in the Leadville 100 reported issues with finding thumb tacks in their wheels during the race. Jake Wells, of Avon, said his Stan’s No Tubes tires saved his race after picking up a couple of thumb tacks early on in the race. Wells finished 28th.

For second-place finisher Quinn Simmons, the tacks may have proved helpful in an unexpected way. Following the race, Simmons gave VeloNews an exciting race report, describing a wack-a-mole like attempt to plug the multiple thumb tack holes before limping into his tech pit. The frustration of the incident prompted Simmons to reach new limits, VeloNews reported. By the end of the race, he had nearly caught leader Howard Grotts, finishing just three minutes behind Grotts for second place on the day.

“It just felt like something that shouldn’t be happening and I got really frustrated,” Simmons told VeloNews. “And that’s why, when I started going, I was so mad that I figured I would ride as hard as I could until I blew up. I fully planned to blow up halfway up Columbine (climb) and I had pretty good motivation to just go as hard as I could.”

— John LaConte, Vail Daily

4. Palisade Plunge (and its 6,000-foot descent) will be one of Colorado’s crown jewels

For more than a decade, Scott Winans of Grand Valley and a small band of outdoor recreation advocates in Mesa County have worked on an audacious plan for a 33.6-mile trail plummeting 6,000 vertical feet from the top of Grand Mesa to the Colorado River in Palisade. The Palisade Plunge trail project corrals three federal agencies, three municipalities, landowners, water districts, ranchers and hunters under a single banner, marking a coalition of Western Slope residents about as diverse as can be assembled.

Last month, a team of trail builders started boring singletrack into forest so thick they might as well be miners blasting tunnels. When the crew with Singletrack Trails finishes — hopefully next year, depending on funding — there will be more than 31 miles of new purpose-built trail, and about 3 miles of existing singletrack, descending from the basalt-fluted alpine rim of the state’s highest mesa. Riders can start at 50-degree temps in the alpine and jump in the river in the 100-degree valley when they finish. It’s a destination-worthy trail destined to become a crown jewel of Colorado mountain biking, joining the state’s Monarch Crest and Utah’s Whole Enchilada as iconic, must-pedal rides.

— Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun

5. ICE confirms people were detained during operation in Granby

The Granby Police Department confirmed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were in Granby recently. Sgt. Amy Ryan-Williams, spokesperson for the Granby Police Department, said the department couldn’t comment on the details of another agency’s operations, but she confirmed their presence.

A spokesperson for ICE’s field office in Denver confirmed the agency conducted a targeted enforcement operation and arrested some individuals during it, but couldn’t confirm how many people were detained.

— McKenna Harford, Sky-Hi News

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