The rhythm of this valley makes it clear it is time to transition…
Believe it or not, the ski area opens this Wednesday. It was just a few days ago I was riding my mountain bike on the sweet trails of Hartman Rocks. But then came the shift. Boom. Winter storm warnings were blasted on the forecast sites. Kebler Pass was closed after a storm dropped a foot and a half of snow. Irwin was deep and the Upper Loop buried. The time is now to shift gears and move into ski mode. And we will do that Wednesday with a day of Free Skiing, compliments of Crested Butte Mountain Resort to start the great 2013-2014 season.
Speaking of CBMR: Did you hear the resort sold? Okay, not sold, but may be selling. There is truth to part of the rumor (see page 1). Now, anyone who has done a business deal knows that this “sale” is a long way off. There isn’t even a signed sales contract. But there are real talks going on. We are in the realm where two parties have sort of agreed that for the right price they should and can strike a deal. There are numbers to run, negotiations to hold and contracts to sign. Suits are taking tours and going over the books. Selling a ski area (or at least the management contract and a boatload of property) is probably more complicated than selling a set of tires, so while a ski area transition in management has started, nothing is guaranteed.
All the standard names of the potential new owners are circulating across the bars in town. Names like Intrawest (preparing a $100 million public stock offering to raise money for potential acquisitions), a mysterious local conglomerate (locals with $) and executives of the Staubach real estate group (second-home owners with $). Even Vail (just over the divide and with $) and Irwin (just up the road and with $) and Monsanto (an evil corporation but with $) are being tossed around as potential new neighbors. There may be some truth to part of those rumors as well, but the ski area has been impressive with keeping the name of the potential buyer under wraps. We’ll know soon enough—or it won’t matter and the Muellers will continue to pray for a huge snow year.
So pop out of sales mode for a second and look at the metrics of the early season. There are more air seats sold for the winter than at this time last year, and that’s with fewer seats coming into our regional airport. That’s a good thing. There is more snow on the ground this year in November than in the last several years. That too is a good thing. Reservations are looking good, the mountain is looking pretty and the resort executives are optimistic we will have a good season. As we transition into winter season it is the most optimistic time of year for any ski town. So be happy and look forward to a great five months.
The lifts will start turning Wednesday at 9 a.m. and in typical Crested Butte tradition, we can count on some local kids who will freeze their butts off all night to snag the first chair of the season.
Speaking of chairs: Chris Ladoulis transitioned into a chair Monday night at the Crested Butte Town Council table. Outgoing Councilman John Wirsing vacated the seat when he chose not to run for reelection. Thanks go out to Wirsing for oftentimes bringing in a different perspective to council discussions.
Ladoulis comes to the council during what the Chinese might term “interesting times.” The town is dealing with a blow-up with U.S. Energy over a proposal to clean up the old Keystone mine site. The council is being asked to change zoning to accommodate a large affordable housing project between Clark’s Market and the True Value. The council members themselves are pretty up-front about having a need to sit down in a retreat to lay out ground rules and parameters about how to deal with each other, their partners in the mine issue, and the community in general. Welcome to the hot seat, Mr. Ladoulis.
So here we are at the beginning of the next ski season. Change is a constant but sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same in the valley. Rhythm is part of this place and the rhythm says it is time to put away the bike and strap on the boards. We even get to keep enjoying another regular thing it seems we experience every year at this time—talking about who is buying the ski area.
Have fun, everyone. It is the start of a new season.