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Mountain News: Snow-haves try to steal market share

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Mammoth Mountain wasn't exactly digging out from excess snow, either. But it had top-to-bottom skiing — and getting customers who might otherwise have gone to Tahoe, Utah, or Colorado, according to chief executive Rusty Gregory in a memo to employees.

"Many of our guests came to Mammoth from Northern California for the first time because the Tahoe resorts' lower elevations and limited snowmaking capabilities only allowed the operation of a small fraction of the terrain and services Mammoth provided," reported Gregory. It was, he said, the "most successful" Christmas week in his 34 years on the mountain.

Gregory declared that Mammoth will stay the course. "We are going to do the opposite of what other resorts are doing. We are not going to cut services or service to save money. We are going to keep everything open," he said.

In Colorado, the absence of snow was allowing mountain bikers in the first days of 2012 to continue pedalling on some trails at Crested Butte. Elsewhere in the community, Nordic skiers were using shovels to get enough snow for a racing course.

A weekend storm left some smiles in Colorado. Aspen and Snowmass got 20 centimetres, the first significant snowfall since Dec. 14, reported The Aspen Times – and the last until Jan. 20, according to a local meteorologist.

How to shrink emissions

JACKSON, Wyo. — Carbon constraints are gradually ebbing into commerce. As Jonathan Schecter, a columnist for the Jackson Hole News&Guide, observes, the European Union will implement a cap-and-trade system requiring major airlines to offset the greenhouse gas emissions produced during their European flights.

Jackson Hole, says Schechter, should up the ante. Operators of the local airport should declare it the first carbon-neutral airport. Airlines would be required to raise fares to cover the cost of carbon offsets. In 2008, he says, that would have cost $468,372, or $1.75 per passenger.

In Colorado, the Aspen Skiing Co. reports "slow but not explosive" progress in reducing its carbon footprint during the past ten years. "Despite expansion of operations, such as caused by high-speed detachable quad lifts, which use more electricity, the company has shaved its carbon footprint by two per cent. "That's not horrendous, but it's not exactly saving the planet, either," says The Aspen Times, quoting the ski company's "Greenletter."

The company has done several things to reduce power consumption, such as replacing the boiler that serves its largest hotel with a more efficient model. On the generation side, it has built a small solar farm, a small hydroelectric plant, and has looked into other forms of renewable energy production. The current idea being explored would tap the methane being vented by a coal mine in Colorado to make electricity. Aspen did not specify which coal mine, although there have been discussions for several years about a coal mine near Paonia.