Payette River goes big near Tamarack. (Tamarack Resort/Facebook)
The winter may be over, but a solid reminder of what a good year it was in the West continues to play out in the rivers that are flowing bank-full out of the mountains this spring.
A 2.3kW solar installation at Aspen Highlands ski patrol headquarters. (Aspen Skiing Company)
During the past couple of decades, a majority American ski and snowboard resorts have come to embrace that climate change is a reality – and a threat to their futures.
Evidence of resorts engaging the principles and practices that reduce fossil fuel use and carbon footprint can be found at many venues and in many ways. Low-energy snowmaking is spreading, as is on-mountain recycling, car pooling priority parking and biofuel use.
Here’s SnoCountry’s sampling of some of the green projects at U.S. resorts:
Sugarloaf. The northern Maine resort has gone all in to reduce its footprint, including revegetation to reduce erosion and composting at area restaurants that produces “black gold” soil used on the Sugarloaf Golf Course.
Cranmore. New Hampshire resort added its first electric/diesel groomer snowcat to supplement a fleet that has been burning biodiesel for a decade. New condo project will heat and cool with efficient electric pump systems.
Crystal Mountain. The Michigan resort got recognition for carbon-reducing LED lighting in parking lots, and its high-speed Crystal Clipper chair that runs solely on wind power credits.
Stevens Pass. All the lift cables at the Washington mountain are lubricated by non-petroleum castor oil, and management actively seeks out “green” vendors for its food and beverage services. Snowmobiles burn low-sulfur diesel, and operate as much as possible during off-hours.
Squaw Valley. Can’t buy bottled water at the California resort; instead, you can fill up water bottles at refill stations for free.
Aspen-Snowmass. The Colorado resort complex chose a political route in addition to e-efforts. Partnering with Protect Our Winters, all employees wear the organization’s patch, and resort officials lobby hard for local, regional and national climate change awareness and action.
The National Ski Areas Association lists 200 U.S. resorts that have signed on to its Sustainable Slopes program – and more than a dozen have received money for “green” projects through the program.
If big snow falls early, pay less to ski more powder at Crystal Mountain. (Crystal Mountain/Facebook)
This is what we do in anticipation of another ski and snowboard day: Think snow, check web cams, pray for cold – and lock in a couple of early-season discount tickets.
Most resorts drop ticket prices before the holidays to entice us into the high country as soon as possible. Savings also can be had by ordering online, buying in groups, and going midweek.
Here’s SnoCountry’s sampling of early ticket deals around the country:
Crystal Mountain. Limited number of five-pack of adult tickets available on first-come, first-served basis at Washington mountain. Cost is $335 for 10 percent savings.
Sundance. Utah resort sells limited number of day tickets 40-60 percent off on a revolving basis. For example, Dec. 9 ticket costs $30.99 – more than half off.
Mammoth Mountain. Ski opening day at Cali resort for $50, online only. Includes free coffee and cocoa to stay warm till lift opens at 8:30 a.m.
Snow Summit. Opening day at SoCal mountain is $41; stay another day and get two days for $69. Must buy online at least 72 hours in advance.
Steamboat. Through Dec. 18, three days of skiing and riding costs $169 with Boat Launch Pass, plus 20 percent off mountain lodging.
Aspen/Snowmass. Book at least two nights before Dec. 18 and get 40 percent off lift tickets at any SkiCo mountain. Book three nights at Little Nell Hotel before Dec. 18 and get two lift tickets free.
Bromley. Purchase a Sun Mountain Card by Dec. 16 for $69, and get $30 off full day ticket price all season. Price goes up to $79 after that.
Stratton. Top out at $69 midweek, $89 weekend with bonus day after Jan. 2 for $89 with X2 Card.
Fly through the sky at Seven Springs for Labor Day fun (Seven Springs/Facebook)
The end of the summer is unofficially marked by the Labor Day weekend (Sept. 2-5), and then the long, long wait for ski and snowboard season to begin.
So before the waiting begins, get a whiff of the high-mountain air and winds in the pines by checking out the holiday festivities at resorts all around the country.
Winter travelers to Colorado resorts have a choice: Take advantage of convenient flying into Denver International Airport and make the two-hour drive to Summit County, Winter Park or beyond.
Trying to get ahead of the popularity of videoing from remote-controlled drones, many Western resorts have banned their use – citing safety issues and both FAA and U.S. Forest Service concerns.
Winter’s cold is loosening its grip on the Rockies as the sun stays in the sky longer, and skiers and snowboarders begin to shed a few layers of clothing. The coming of March also means it’s time to party in the out-of-doors at Colorado resorts.
Four feet at Mt. Rose, two feet at Squaw Valley, 19 inches at Northstar – winter returned to the Tahoe area with a vengeance this past week. But, California and across the West will see things quieting down and warming up for much of Presidents' Week.
It’s long been a desire of ski and snowboard resorts to get kids on the slopes at as early an age as possible in hopes that they get hooked on the sport early on. At the Aspen-Snowmass Ski and Snowboard Schools, this concept has been taken to another level.
I’ve got another option for you in the lift ticket department if you’re not sure whether to plunk down a grand (or more) for a season pass this year or just purchase individual passes from say, Costco.(see SnoCountry news story).
Four of the nation’s major western independent ski resorts – Alta, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole, and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows – have joined together in a new cooperative that means plenty of dollar savings in passes and lift tickets.
The ski resorts picked up honors for their work in protecting the environment during the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) convention this week in San Antonio, Texas. Aspen Skiing Co., Colo.; Mt. Abram, Maine; Steven’s Pass, Wash., were cited.