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Mountain News: Old lodges to be razed in Banff

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BANFF, Alberta — Three old lodges and two houses are to be dismantled to make way for a new 172-room hotel next year.

Gordon Lozeman, president of Banff Caribou Properties, said the 104,180-square-foot hotel will have an indoor swimming pool on the third floor and two more outdoor pools will be on the roof, "all with incredible views," Lozeman told the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Dreadful skeeters may be terrorists this year

JASPER, Alberta — Mosquitoes were dreadful last year in Jasper. What's the outlook for this year?

The Fitzhugh, a newspaper, consulted Edmonton's biological technician, Mike Jenkins, who has tracked mosquito populations for years. He says there is about 30 species of mosquitoes in Alberta, perhaps a few less in Jasper, because of the fluctuating temperatures and more severe terrain of the mountains.

Obviously, mosquitoes can overwinter, and in fact, some mosquito eggs can remain dormant for up to 10 years. "The eggs are amazingly resilient. Even extremely frigid temperatures will have little effect on their survival," he tells the Fitzhugh.

Based on weather trends and the number of eggs likely in swampy areas, it's reasonable to assume a fair number of mosquitoes will be buzzing around Jasper this summer.

Good for dragonflies, and also good for birds. But not so good for humans. "Get a good mesh tent, haul out your mosquito jackets, and get ready to start slapping," advises the Fitzhugh.

$41 million paid for property

ASPEN, Colo. — Although not a record, two properties on what locally is called the backside of Aspen have sold for a combined $41 million.

The Aspen Daily News says the two parcels together have 77 acres and two larger houses, of 12,000 and 5,700-square-feet, along with some smaller guesthouses and such. The various houses altogether have 12 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms, plus a $49,000 home theater and a $29,000 Jacuzzi, reports the Daily News, citing county assessor records.

Two larger real estate sales have occurred in the Aspen area. One was the $46 million sale of a property called Mandalay Ranch, and the other, for the same price, was the sale last year of the Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan's mega-mansion to hedge-fund magnate John Paulson.

Using SmartPhones to guide errant travellers

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — For several years, the most common story was that search and rescue teams were being dispatched with greater frequency because some poor guy got lost at about dusk and had the means to call for help.

In the good old days, according to this narrative, the poor guy probably could have figured his way out of his dilemma with the light of a new day, surviving well enough if not comfortably so in the interim.

Now comes a report that the cellular technology is allowing rescuers to do their job remotely. Chad Bowdre, president of the board of directors for Routt County Search and Rescue, says missions have declined during the last 10 years owing to cell phones and global-positioning system (GPS) technology.

"We are being called out on fewer missions, and our missions are faster in timeframe, because we're getting calls (from concerned friends and loved ones about people who are overdue) at about 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.," he tells Steamboat Today.

At times, Bowdre, or one of his colleagues, guides people remotely just by talking them out of their wilderness confusion. The local communications network allows researchers to monitor cell phone pings off towers, using triangulation to locate the position of the caller.

"I might get a call from some lost hunters who can't find the trail," Bowdre explained. "I say, 'OK, see that large (mountain) ahead of you? That's Hahn's Peak. Put that at your left shoulder and begin walking, then call me in 20 minutes.' Sometimes they call back in 10 minutes and say they've hit the trail. I tell them to make a right turn."

Another example of the value of the new technology occurred last December, when snowmobilers called to report being bogged down in deep snow on Buffalo Pass, located north of Steamboat Springs. Because rescuers could identify exactly where they were, they were able to reach the snowmobilers in time to retrieve them from a cold night for which they were not prepared.

Mama moose and calf killed after incident

GRAND LAKE, Colo. — Recently, The Denver Post published a story about the surge in numbers of moose in Colorado, a species that has prospered since the first of several reintroductions in 1978. One concern is that the moose might become more of a danger to people.

And sure enough, almost as in a stage play, a cow moose injured a 60-year-old woman as she walked her dog in Grand Lake, a town located at the west entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.

This is the same town where a moose killed a former mayor several years ago.

The woman's injuries did not seem to be life-threatening, according to the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife press release quoting a wildlife manager hoping for her quick recovery.

But as is so often the case, the circumstances seem to suggest that the dog-walker showed poor judgment. Citing an unnamed witness, the press release says the woman and her dog were reportedly as close as three metres to the cow and its calf before the moose charged her and knocked her down.

Citing an "abundance of caution," wildlife officials euthanized the cow and calf.

Moose do not differentiate dogs from wolves — their natural predator — and will instinctually attempt to stomp them in self-defense, said the agency's press release. If the dog runs back to its owner for safety, it can bring an angry, thousand-pound moose with it, putting people at risk as well.

Grand Lake made headlines recently after several national news organizations reported on a local bull moose's seemingly amorous attention to a large statue of a bull moose located within city limits. Wildlife officials say the cow moose attack is not related to the bull's unusual behavior, but remind onlookers to keep their distance from the bull, and all other moose they may encounter.

Open space won't go to local food growing

TELLURIDE, Colo. — It seems everyone wants a piece of a 6.65-acre parcel of land on Telluride's western edge. It's flat, sunny and easily accessible. With that in mind, hang gliders and others of an organization called the Telluride Air Force like to use it for a landing zone. Youth sports advocates see athletic fields.

And now comes a pair of activists, full of fire in the belly after conversations at Mountainfilm at Telluride, with the idea of using aquaponics to grow pesticide-free vegetables and mercury-free fish for "Telluride residents and guests."

"This can be a statement to other communities and will set an example that will be emulated," said Steve Cieciuch, co-founder of a group called Telluride Grown. Locally produced food will smother the carbon footprint of delivering food from California, he said.

But while the Telluride Town Council is sympathetic, the proposal got lackluster support. An "amazing concept," said Mayor Stu Fraser, but this isn't the parcel for it.

June event fills out summer in Vail

VAIL, Colo. — It was a splish-splash weekend in Vail, which hosted what used to be called the Teva Mountain Games.

Teva left, and GoPro picked the prime sponsorship for the festival, which bills itself as the "country's largest celebration of adventure sports, art and music."

The festival this year included competition in steep, freestyle, sprint and full-contact kayaking, rafting, mountain, road and slopestyle biking, plus World Cup bouldering, flyfishing and...well, you get the idea. There was $100,000 in prize money posted.

Now in its 13th year, it was designed to kick-start summer during a time when not much was happening. It is also something of a response to Aspen's snowy X Games.

The numbers do seem to be strong enough that the Vail Valley Foundation, the primary organizers, makes the case for keeping on. A survey by Intercept Insight found that 63 per cent of Mountain Games' spectators returned year after year, and 20 per cent have attended for five or more years.

Just as bars like repeat customers, so do ski towns — especially if the visitors rent rooms. And in 2012, according to that same survey, those visitors spent more than $2.1 million.

FRASER APPROVES HOUSES WHERE IKE ONCE FISHED

FRASER, Colo. — Over the protests of some residents, one of the prettiest meadows in the Colorado high country is to be carved into a dense subdivision.

The 295-acres Byers Peak Ranch has been annexed into Fraser with entitlements to build 530 detached and 905 attached residential units, 550 lodging units and RV sites and commercial and industrial units.

In the 1950s, President Dwight Eisenhower sometimes vacationed in Fraser and fished for trout in St. Louis Creek.