Jeeping the High Country

A few weeks ago we took the five hour drive to Ouray, Colorado, to escape our desert heat. Ouray sits at 7792′ surrounded by peaks in the San Juan Mountains in the southwest  section of the state. The scenic Victorian mining town rightfully calls itself “The Switzerland of America.”

Jeep, Jon, Pam, and April high above Ouray, Colorado. Mark is behind the lens.

It’s 47 miles from Telluride on normal roads; about 17 miles via old miner’s roads that ascend to 13,000+’, through meadows, past waterfalls and snow fields. Our friends Mark and April took us on a tour. Mark saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate the super powers of his super Jeep, a high-clearance 4WD,  tricked out to take rough high country roads like a Lexus takes the freeway. What a ride! We climbed “roads” that on foot you’d need to navigate with pitons. We descended cliffs that mountain goats avoid. Given the choice between stream and bridge, you can guess the choice we made. Eventually, we travelled a stream. Others might seek the dry route. With this vehicle, the wet way was just fine. We picnicked near a waterfall before descending back into the valley. If you go, we can recommend staying at the Hotel Ouray, a fine Victorian hotel in the center of town and dining at The Outlaw. There are other good restaurants scattered around the town. Although we’ve never used it, Ouray has a large hot springs facility. The “Million Dollar Highway” (US Route 550) from Ouray to Silverton is gorgeous, and Silverton (home of Silverton Mountain, the legendarily steep lift- and heli-served back country ski area) is filled with neat stores, restaurants, bars and art galleries.

Alterra Purchasing Solitude Mountain Resort

Alterra Mountain Company announced this week the acquisition of Solitude Mountain Resort, the gem in Utah’s Big Cottonwood Canyon. Alterra was formed last year and owns Deer Valley, Steamboat, Winter Park, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Big Bear Mountain, Stratton, Snowshoe, Tremblant, Blue Mountain, and CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures in British Columbia. It also owns the IKON Pass.

Vail Acquiring Crested Butte, Okemo, Mt Sunapee

Vail Resorts is in the process of acquiring Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado, Okemo Mountain in Vermont, and Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire. The sale includes Vermont’s Okemo Valley Golf Club and Tater Hill Golf Club. The three areas are being sold by Triple Peaks, LLC, owned by members of the Mueller family which purchased Okemo in 1982, Mount Sunapee in 1998, and Crested Butte in 2004. The State of New Hampshire needs to approve the Sunapee acquisition for it to proceed. Vail Resorts announced it will honor previously purchased Okemo, Mount Sunapee, and Crested Butte 2018-19 season passes.

Deer Valley Adding New Chair

Deer Valley Resort, recently acquired by Alterra, is investing $8 million in a new high speed quad, improved snowmaking, expanding its fleet of groomers, and replacing its rental equipment. The quad will replace the Homestake chair which carries skiers from Silver Lake Village to the top of Bald Eagle Mountain.

Utah Skier Visits Drop 10%

Poor and inconsistent snowfall contributed to a 10% drop in skier visits to Utah last season. The state had 60% of average snowfall according to the National Weather Service. Nationally, skier visits were down 3%.

Hedy Lamarr Doc Filled with Surprises

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is a documentary film released last month. The exceedingly well-done film tells the story of the Austrian-born actress who helped define Hollywood beauty and informed the visual portrayals of Disney’s animated Snow White and Batman comics’ Catwoman. The surprising part of her biography is that she was an inventor who patented a communications technique contributing to Allied victory in WWII and that is used in virtually all modern telecommunications. Why do I mention this in SeniorsSkiing.com? She also started a lodge in the early days of Aspen. It’s now the Aspen Villas. The film is available on Netflix.

 

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