Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Alpine Mountain Ranch, Steamboat Springs

Developers are moving forward with their plans for the Steamboat Alpine Mountain Ranch. they are planning a land preservation subdivision in Steamboat Springs, CO where lots are grouped to minimize impact on the land and views. The result will be 952 acres of open space out of the 1,217 acre parcel. This development will be very high end due to it's topography, views and proximity to Priest Creek Ranch, Catamount and the Steamboat ski area.

Selected quotes from the Steamboat Pilot:
County to discuss subdivision proposal By Dana Strongin September 27, 2005

Commissioners will hold a pre-application conference for the Alpine Mountain Ranch, a proposed project east of the intersection of Routt County Road 24 and U.S. Highway 40 and across from Haymaker Golf Course just outside Steamboat Springs city limits

The principals in Steamboat Alpine Development are Andy Daly, who was president of Vail Resorts from 1982 to 2002, and Bill Butler, a Cincinnati-based developer who has owned a home in the Steamboat area for about eight years. They purchased the land in April for $19 million. The Alpine Mountain Ranch project includes a 1,217-acre land preservation subdivision exemption, which, when approved, means that the developer can create one additional home for every 100-acre cluster of land that is left as open space.

The proposal includes 43 home sites that would be built on, but not at the top of, three ridges. There would be ponds and several miles of hiking trails, according to background material provided to the county commissioners. The project also includes recreational facilities for horseback riding and fishing, as well as an on-site gravel crushing and screening operation. Motorists would drive to the development on existing access on C.R. 24 and new access off of U.S. 40. The "remainder" parcel, or designated open space, would equal 952 acres. The land is adjacent to the existing Priest Creek Ranch subdivision. Both parcels were once part of a higher-density residential proposal that also included a resort village and ski lift.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Fall Colors in Steamboat

After work I stuffed my camera into a small case, hopped on my bike and rode up the mountain to the base of the Storm Peak lift. I wanted to get a few pictures of the changing Aspen. Given the time to ride up I only had a few minutes to shoot before the light faded but it was still worth the trip. To me it symbolizes the transition to winter with the changing leaves ending their season and the Storm Peak Lift poised for its season. There are a few more weeks of fall left, get up here and enjoy it soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Steamboat area gets FIRST SNOW of the season in Colorado!

It turns out the Steamboat area was the first to get snow for the 2005-2006 ski season. Now we just need to keep all of the moisture coming our way until the weather gets cold enough to keep it around. Only 70 days to ski season!

Quoted portions from an AP story:
Ski Industry Cheers For First Snow Of Season

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Light snow fell Wednesday in parts of the south-central Colorado mountains in what ski industry officials cheered as the first snow of the season. John Kyle of the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction said there was a report of light snow north of Steamboat Springs a few days ago and Wednesday was likely the first report of light snow over a broader area.

The ski industry group Colorado Ski Country USA said 13 Colorado resorts had reported a trace of new snow late Tuesday through mid-afternoon Wednesday.

Monarch reported an inch of snow, Silverton had at least an inch, and Arapahoe Basin had an inch at its peaks while Breckenridge reported a dusting, the industry group said. "It appears this snowstorm is hitting all regions of Colorado," said Rob Perlman, president and chief executive officer of Colorado Ski Country USA.

The Aspens are just beginning to turn but Winter is closing in on Steamboat Springs

Trail Ridge Road east of Steamboat is closed due to snow today. We haven't seen any snow in Steamboat yet but the Flat Tops Wilderness area south of town got some earlier in the week. Temperatures are definately cooler especially in the morning but the days are still nice. Steamboat is likely to see it's first snow any time now and then it ususally warms up for a few weeks so everyone can fit in a full compliment of warm weather sports before ski seasoon comes. Come late October it feels like winter is coming and by Thanksgiving the mountain is covered. About 2 out of 3 years we have a spectacular opening day. When it is good most of the upper mountain has not been groomed so you can find 2-4 feet of untracked Steamboat champagne powder to bring in the new ski season.

In case you don't know Trail Ridge road connects Estes Park and Grand Lake through Rocky Mountain National Park and it is the highest continous road in the United Statesat over 12,000 feet. Make sure to drive it and explore Rocky Mountain National Park sometime when you are here.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Deep in the Woods ... of the Steamboat Ski Area

Tonight after work I headed up the mountain on my bike with my trusty old Wood Dog. A little over halfway up I looked up and saw a large black animal. At first I thought it must have been a Newfoundland but it was too far up for such a big dog to hike. At this point I was about 100 feet away and it quickly became apparent that it was a large black bear eating berries (there were plany of berries from our wet August and he looked quite healthy). I scanned for cubs and didn’t see any. Given my amiable encounters with black bears to date I told Woody to heel and proceeded up the trail.

We were both watching each other at this point and neither of us were getting aggressive. About 40 feet away the bear turned directly towards me we both nodded and then he ambled a couple of hundred feet away and disappeared. I never sensed any concern or agitation on his part. The feeling was very similar to when I have seen sharks when diving or swimming in the ocean, stay calm and you don’t look like food. It was cool to see him up on the mountain getting ready for winter just like me. I’ll take that as yet another sign we are in for a good winter in Steamboat this year.

I have seen a mother and cubs within ski area boundaries over Thanksgiving in about 1999 with Wendy and seen signs on the mountain in the summer ever since. Once I heard one thrashing a tree above me when I was biking up the other side of the mountain. My only regret is that I didn’t have my camera …

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Steamboat Ski area beefing up snowmaking & preparing for for future lifts

The Steamboat Ski Corp is investing in additional snowmaking and grooming capacity for the coming ski season. The snowmaking equipment is targeted for a combination of efficiency and increased reach to deliver more snow to the terrain park and key high traffic areas. New snowcats are targeted at better park maintenance and more nightly grooming coverage. I was never much of a fan of grooming until the introduction of shaped skis a few years ago. Now they better stay in their bed on a powder day but if no new snow has fallen in a few days I can't get enough of fast carving runs on my trusty Volkls.

The remainder of this year's capital budget is focued on getting approval for the new Steamboat ski area master plan. Once that is approved and American Skiing ponys up we are on our way to a new high-speed lift form the base area. This would be a big improvement and take care of some of Steamboat's longest lines on peak days (which are still shorter than the average lines at most front range resorts along the I-70 corridor). a high-speed replacement for the Sunshine lift is also slated.

Selected quotes from the Steamboat Pilot article:
Steamboat Ski Area's budget beefs up snowmaking, grooming By Tom Ross, Staff Reporter

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. is investing in more firepower this fall to help ensure snowboarders and free skiers get to play in the terrain park a little earlier this season. It's part of an announced $1.5 million capital budget. More efficient snowmaking heads on sleds and an extra snowcat devoted to the SoBe terrain park should help Steamboat improve on last year's mid-December opening of its terrain park.

The meat of this year's capital budget is a $200,000 investment in getting Steamboat Ski Area's five-year master plan update through the environmental process. Successfully guiding the five-year plan through the National Environmental Policy Act approval process isn't as glamorous as the replacement of the Burgess Creek Chairlift last year. However, it's a necessary precursor to taking big steps on the mountain, Vice President of Mountain Operations Doug Allen said.

Among the more dramatic projects included in the five-year plan is a high-speed replacement for the Sunshine lift. There also is something new for Steamboat in the plan -- a six-pack chairlift. It would replace a collection of aging chairlifts that currently clutter the lowest slopes at the ski area. The master plan underwent a public review in 2004.

Steamboat will acquire 42 new snowmaking guns this fall. Of the total, 15 will replace older, less-efficient snowmaking heads with new equipment. The remaining 27 will be 15-foot tall tower guns mounted on sleds. Their portability will allow snowmaking crews to concentrate more firepower on the terrain park during the crucial time of year, Allen said.

Allen's snowmaking crews also will go to extraordinary lengths this winter to deliver man-made snow to small areas that get a lot of skier and snowboarder traffic. One such area is on Lower High Noon and Daybreak trails, where skiers resuming their day after lunch at Rendezvous Saddle cruise in the direction of the Sundown Express lift. Although the Priest Creek area, where the two trails are located, get some of the heaviest snowfall on Mount Werner, Lower High Noon and Daybreak are in the shadow of a hill and don't get the same abundance of snow. Nor are they among the 333 acres covered by Steamboat's snowmaking system. "Those trails receive a lot of traffic and less natural snow," Allen said. "We experimented last winter with airless guns and long hoses and showed that with even a little bit of snowmaking, we could make a huge difference."
Full story in the Steamboat Pilot here

Friday, September 09, 2005

Steamboat Springs is Hosting the Freestyle Skiing OlympicTeam Trials Dec 30 & 31st

Here is a heads up to check this out if you are in town or watch the action unfold at your favorite resort on national TV if you can't be here in person. You can count on me being there to watch this in person with my camera in hand.

Steamboat to Host U.S. olympic Team Trials in Freestyle Skiing By CO skiing News

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colorado — The U.S. Ski Association, the century-old organization which serves as the national governing body of Olympic skiing, and Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation announced that the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for aerials and moguls skiing will take place Dec. 30-31, 2005, in Steamboat-Ski Town U.S.A. ® NBC Sports will televise the event with a 90-minute show, including aerials and same-day coverage of moguls airing on New Year’s Eve day at 2 p.m. EST.

"The Steamboat Springs community has a strong skiing spirit and established Olympic heritage. To bring the U.S. Olympic Team Trials here is exciting for us and our athletes," said Bill Marolt, USSA president & CEO. "It allows us to give back to a community that has supported the Team for so long and to provide some exciting ski competition for athletes vying for the 2006 Olympic Team."

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials is essentially a wild-card opportunity for athletes to make the Olympic Team, as two winners (male and female) from each freestyle discipline (aerials and moguls) will be named to the 2006 U.S. Olympic Freestyle Team. The remaining athletes will qualify for the Olympic Team through a season-long series of existing World Cup competitions. The entire 2006 Olympic Freestyle Team will be named Jan. 25, 2006.

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Ski Town, U.S.A. will include men’s and women’s aerials under the lights at historic Howelsen Hill on Friday, Dec. 30th, and men’s and women’s moguls on the Voo Doo trail at the Steamboat Ski Area during the morning on Saturday, Dec. 31st.

"Freestyle is clearly one of the hottest sports in all of skiing, consistently generating some of the highest television viewership ratings in the sport," said Andy Wirth, vice president of marketing & sales for Steamboat. "Freestyle skiing always has been, and remains a huge part of Steamboat’s claim to Ski Town USA, and we are excited to be hosting the U.S. Olympic Team Trials."

Three reigning World champions, two defending World Cup champions and three reigning Olympic medalists are just part of the unprecedented depth on the 38-member U.S. Freestyle Ski Team who are expected to compete for an early Olympic Team spot. Among the top competitors will be 2005 World Cup champions Jeret 'Speedy’ Peterson (aerials) and Jeremy Bloom (overall, moguls), along with World champions Nate Roberts, Hannah Kearney and Toby Dawson.

While this is the first official Olympic Team Trials event for the U.S. Ski Team, Steamboat athletes are no strangers to early selection to Olympic Teams. Both Ann Battelle and Travis Mayer secured their spots on the U.S. Olympic Team during wild-card competitions. A discretionary pick for World Cup action to start the 2002 Olympic season, Mayer clinched an Olympic berth on New Year’s Eve and went on to win an Olympic silver medal in moguls less than two months later.

Steamboat has a long tradition in the sport of freestyle skiing and is currently home to freestyle athletes and coaches such as Nelson Carmichael, 1992 Olympic bronze medalist; Ann Battelle, 1999 World champion and four-time winter Olympian; Kris Feddersen, three-time Olympian and World Cup winner; Ryan St. Onge, World Cup winner and two-time U.S. aerials champion; Travis Mayer, 2002 Olympic silver medalist; Don St. Pierre, current U.S. Ski Team moguls head coach; Jeff Good, former U.S. Ski Team head coach, who coached four Olympic medalists; and Park Smalley, athlete, former U.S. head coach and driving force behind the Olympic status freestyle skiing enjoys today. In addition, Steamboat hosted the U.S. Olympic Freestyle Team’s 10-day pre-Olympic camp in 2002 before the Team came to Salt Lake City and won three Olympic medals.

Planning Commission Delays Base Area Update Plan Approval

Confused consultants who somehow didn't realize last night was their big day and a few unfinished issues caused the delay of the Steamboat Base Area Update Plan last night. The plan appears to be on track for approval but a few pieces still need to be worked out. The re-routing of the road through Ski Time Square and affordable housing requirements(somehow the consultants forgot) are the most important but at this point the Planning Commission seems to be thinking along the same lines. A wakeup call and a finished plan from the consultants, Stan Clauson and Associates is the biggest obstacle at this point.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Mountain Biking on Emerald Mountain

One of the best things about living in Steamboat is that there are great biking trails winding out of nearly every corner of town. I got a call from a friend at 330pm asking if I wanted to ride and we met at the base of Emerald at 4pm despite living at opposite ends of town and both having young kids. Beteween 4 and 530 we rode up the town side of Emerald through a series of great loops up to the quarry (over several examples of the best stonework I have ever seen on a trail, kudos to some very skilled trailbuilders). Then we went across Blair Witch to the cow pond up some more and down again past the pond and through some incredibly sweet loopy switchbacks and turns with really cool approach angles that go through a low tunnel of trees. Next we went across toward town and then up again to catch another nice downhill section and back up to the Lupine loop for a fun descent through the loops again. A very nice ride that just appeared out of thin air due to the right friend and a very good decision to take the risk and move to Steamboat...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Monster Brown trout caught in the Yampa River and more signs of an EARLY WINTER

There's nothing like a monster catch to keep a sparkle in a local fly-fisher's eyes. Meredith landed a big one and she will be talked about quite a while for this feat. I am getting back into fly-fishing so this will motivate me to get out this week. How about you?

Selected quotes from the Steamboat Pliot and Today: (Full Story)
Streamers bring out the aggression in autumn browns By Tom Ross Sun Sept 4, 2005

Steve Henderson thinks the monster brown trout that Meredith Gilliland landed in the Yampa River probably was a rogue trout. Instead of guarding a perfect lie in a current seam and sipping the aquatic insects delivered by the river, Gilliland's trout probably was a cruising predator looking for triple-value meals. "I don't think a trout can get that big just sitting and waiting for food to come to him," Henderson said. "His home range may have been a half-mile long." It was caught on a private stretch of the river west of Steamboat.

So how big was the fish? Gilliland said it was measured at 31 inches in length. She said Russell took girth measurements and estimated its weight at as much as 14 pounds. Curd said September is a good time to begin probing the rivers with big streamers. Steamboat has had a half-dozen continuous nights of frost, and lower water temperatures trigger a response in trout. "This is when they get the feedbag on," Curd said.

Gilliland, a student at Montana State University whose family lives here, has been fishing since she was 4 or 5 years old. She said she changed strategies on the morning she caught the 31-inch brown because her sister, Lauren Matthews, caught the first fish of the day. "Lauren does that a lot," Gilliland said. "I decided to start looking for pike and tied on a conehead sculpin. I was making a long cast to the dark water. I made several casts and hadn't done much when I thought I either got caught on the bottom or a log." When she and Russell realized it was a fish, they weren't certain what to expect on the other end of the line. "I had to fight it for 15 to 20 minutes," Gilliland said. "I didn't know what it was until it jumped. It was like a whale. We were all laughing."

Henderson said there are signs that the brown trout in northern Colorado may have begun their annual spawning rituals early. Typically, browns in the Yampa River spawn in October, and it's possible to observe some spawning activity in November. Henderson has heard a report that the brown trout in Troublesome Creek where it flows into the Colorado River upstream from Kremmling already have come off their spawning beds, and the browns in the Colorado River already are in spawning mode.

"It feels like it's going to be an early winter," Henderson said. "Of course, as soon as you put that in the newspaper, we'll have five weeks of Indian summer."

Streamer patterns imitate minnows and other small fish. In the Yampa, that means the homely sculpin and the common dace. Tie on a streamer -- you never know when you might catch the brown trout of a lifetime.

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Rec Center for Steamboat Springs?

The expansion of the library into the existing community center is making some good waves. The City of Steamboat Springs is currently discussing if they should replace the existing community center with something similar in size and scope or build a modern recreation center. If the goal is to bring people or all ages together a real recreation center would be a great way to do that since the existing community center attracts only a few segments of city residents. Steamboat has a nice facility in the Hot Springs Pool, Health and Rec center but it is small and there is not a year round pool for younger kids.

The current site of choice is on the West side of town by the Transit Center but I think they should also consider some of the availible land just east of downtown along the Yampa river or just off the Mt Werner Circle interchange on the river side to locate in a more central area. Building a full Recreation Center would be considerably more expensive than just replacing the small community center Steamboat has now. That additional cost could be justified by the benefit to residents alone but it would also be a big amenity for visitors all year round and make Steamboat Springs even more family friendly.