| AspenTimes.com

Skier dies at Granby Ranch after colliding with tree

A skier died Saturday night at Ski Granby Ranch after reportedly hitting a tree, according to Granby police.

Ski patrol attended to an unresponsive skier at about 7:10 p.m. at the Granby ski resort, according to a statement released Sunday morning from the Granby Police Department.

The skier, Abdul Jahangir, 46, from Tennessee was transported to the emergency department at Middle Park Health – Granby where medical staff pronounced him deceased, according to police.

The Grand County Coroner's Office confirmed his identification on Sunday and released his name.

First responders from Grand County EMS, the Granby Police Department and the Grand County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene and assisted with the incident.

This marks the first skier death in Grand County for the 2018-19 ski season.

Avalanche advisory in place for Colorado mountains through Monday

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center on Saturday morning issued a special avalanche advisory in effect for the mountains of Colorado through 8 p.m. Monday.

In the advisory, the CAIC said avalanche conditions are dangerous right now throughout the state.

“Backcountry travelers can easily trigger very large and deadly avalanches,” the advisory read. “Avalanches may break across terrain features and run long distances.”

The CAIC also said in the advisory on Saturday morning that, in the past week, the CAIC has documented six people caught in avalanches, 34 avalanches triggered by backcountry travelers and 168 avalanches in total.

“Backcountry travel this weekend will require conservative decision making, cautious route finding, and careful snowpack and terrain evaluation,” the CAIC said in the advisory.

Also on Saturday morning, the CAIC forecast avalanche danger in the Aspen area as a 3 on a scale of 1-5, which is “considerable.” As of Saturday afternoon, the CAIC forecast level-3 considerable avalanche danger above and near tree line.

Ride the Rockies event returning to Snowmass, Roaring Fork Valley

The annual Denver Post Ride the Rockies cycling tour makes its way back to the Roaring Fork Valley this summer for the first time since 2016 this year, with overnights in Snowmass Village and Carbondale.

The Ride is entering its 34th year. According to an announcement made Friday night, the 2019 route features a seven-day loop, beginning and ending in Crested Butte. This year's ride will include stops in Snowmass Village on June 11 after riders make their way over Independence Pass from Buena Vista.

Then, on June 12, riders will head up the Maroon Creek Road and back down before making their way down the Roaring Fork Valley for an overnight in Carbondale. The 2016 Ride began in Carbondale.

Ride the Rockies takes place from Sunday, June 9 to Saturday, June 15, and is prefaced with a opening day prologue, which starts on Mt. Crested Butte June 8. From there, day one takes riders west out of town, straight up Kebler Pass. The daily mileage varies between 40 miles and 83 miles, with total of 445 mi., and approximately 28,230 feet in total elevation gain, according to a news release.

Colorado’s search for the right de-icing mixture

EAGLE COUNTY — Beet juice is for drinking and for driving.

Beet juice is one of the nation's new health discoveries, touted by health websites for its ability to improve blood flow and help lower blood pressure. Beet juice also is the base ingredient of a road de-icer touted by the state of Missouri as "making a big difference when it comes to battling winter weather."

With his crews now responsible for snow removal on U.S. Highway 6, Gypsum Public Works Director Jeff Shreeve wants to find the right de-icer for the community and beet juice popped up in his preliminary research.

"We are just exploring the new options," Shreeve said. "Highway 6 probably brought it more to the forefront. But we have been trying to see different products out there. Someone always has something new. We are just trying to look at it all with an open mind."

Shreeve can expect a lot of company as he launches his quest for the perfect de-icer. Municipalities, counties and the state of Colorado have been looking for the optimum roadway de-icer for decades. The problem isn't tied to a lack of options, but rather the different drawbacks each presents.

"The bottom line is all of the products have pros and cons," said Kyle Lester, Colorado Department of Transportation's director of highway maintenance. "But we are still always going to try to find that one magic bullet."

'Beeting' the roads

The idea of using agricultural by-products to combat ice isn't new. There are a number of Canadian cities — including Calgary and Toronto — that apply beet juice or molasses derivatives on their streets.

"Beet juice, when mixed with salt brine, helps the salt brine work at lower temperatures to treat ice or snow packed surfaces," notes the Missouri Department of Transportation website.

MDOT also notes that beet juice actually lessens the corrosive properties of salt when used in a mixture that's 80 percent salt brine and 20 percent juice. Additionally, the cost of beet juice is comparable to the cost of calcium products — roughly $1.70 to $1.85 per gallon.

An examination of various road de-icer compiled at http://www.dudesolutions.com bears out those claims.

"Some say beet juice or pickle brine is quicker and less toxic for melting ice on roads," the website reports. "It also has less of an impact on the environment, as it's made from natural materials. It can lower the melting point of water to as low as minus-20 degrees."

But there is a downside to beet juice de-icing. "If it makes its way into streams, its sugars can attract germs that feed on the oxygen in the water that many animals need to survive," says dudesolutions.com.

That's the biggest reason why CDOT isn't using beet juice on its roadways.

Nation's highest standards

"I studied this pretty hard about 10 years ago," Lester said.

At the time he was CDOT's highway maintenance supervision in southwest Colorado and his study included a beet juice de-icer produced in Kansas and a molasses-based product from the northwestern United States. During the test in the Durango area, Lester said both de-icers were effective and CDOT drivers liked both the products and the results.

"However, they did not pass our phosphates test," Lester said. "Ag products have an impact on water quality."

For more than 20 years, Colorado has been part of the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters organization. As the name suggests, the group was organized by northwestern states to pool resources and fund research of highway de-icing products. Colorado's de-icing standards were developed as a result of the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters research and they include regulations for phosphates, ammonia, heavy metals, corrosive agents and more.

"Over the past 10-plus years, Colorado is probably the most restrictive state in the country," Lester said.

Beet juice products can act as a fertilizer and increase algae growth and that's why they don't pass the state's phosphate test. High phosphates are a problem for Colorado which, unlike Missouri, features shallow waterways. More algae in streams means fish won't get the oxygen they need. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, magnesium chloride actually is a better environmental choice, Lester said.

Much maligned mag

In its pro/con analysis of magnesium chloride, Dude Solutions notes: "MgCl is effective at minus-13 degrees Fahrenheit and is minimally damaging to the environment. It is very fast-acting and more effective at de-icing than rock salt."

In addition to using magnesium chloride because it has less impact on water quality, Lester said Colorado tries to mitigate the overall environmental impact of using the de-icer with application standards.

"We focus on limiting our usage and on using the right product at the right time," Lester said. "We are trying to train our operators to use the product correctly."

But for motorists who deal with gunk on their cars, magnesium chloride is decidedly unpopular.

"We don't use any liquid de-icer and the only time we use mag chloride is in the summer on our dirt roads to keep them together," Eagle County Road and Bridge Director John Harris said. "When people see us going through neighborhoods spraying anything on the roads, they get a little worried."

The county uses a salt/sand mix on frozen roads and the recipe calls for 6 percent salt, Harris noted. In Gypsum, crews use a concoction that includes 20 percent salt to a cinder mix. During a discussion of road maintenance issues earlier this month, members of the Gypsum Town Council were adamant that they didn't want to begin using magnesium chloride in town.

Even though members of the driving public don't like magnesium chloride on their vehicles, Lester said CDOT's use of the product means safer roads.

"If we want a certain level of service on the highways, there is an impact," Lester said. "The best course of action is to wash your car."

Still searching

But just because the state believes that magnesium chloride is the best product currently available, Lester said CDOT hasn't abandoned the search for something better. It's a search driven by science.

In the past, Colorado State University has conducted extensive de-icer studies and currently, CDOT is researching locally sourced products. There are some intriguing possibilities. One option uses barley by-products, which aren't as sugary (phosphate heavy) as beet juice but still stick to pavement.

The current CDOT research also will look at the state's phosphate standards. Lester added that perhaps, after comprehensively looking at the regulations governing industry outflow, the state might consider altering its highway de-icer phosphate rules.

Lester added that previous research has already improved the state's de-icing strategies. For instance, CDOT used to dump sand on the roads, which affected both water and air quality.

"The Front Range brown cloud of the 1970s and 1980s would come back with the use of sand," he said.

Additionally, the use of salt brine instead of gradual salt has been an improvement.

"With the liquid, you can put in a corrosion inhibitor and it doesn't bounce off the road," Lester said.

In the final analysis, Lester noted the state has to be budget conscious when it makes a de-icer decision.

"It's a balance of level of service, environment and cost, quite frankly," he concluded.

University of Colorado announces $4 billion fundraising campaign

BOULDER (AP) — The University of Colorado has announced its most ambitious fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $4 billion.

The university has already raised more than $2 billion in the quiet phase of the campaign, which has been ongoing since late 2013. University officials say they have now made the campaign public to hit the $4 billion mark, which could happen in the next three to five years.

The Daily Camera reports that the campaign, called “Essential CU,” more than doubles its two most recent predecessors in 2013 and 2003.

Money from the new campaign will support academic, research and public service activities on the four campuses.

CU President Bruce Benson says the money could support any number of things, including the endowment, scholarships, endowed chairs, research and buildings.

CDOT gets started on Winter Blitz DUI enforcement campaign

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s The Heat Is On campaign returns this week for the Winter Blitz DUI Enforcement period, promising an increased officer presence and saturation patrols across the state to apprehend motorists driving under the influence of alcohol, cannabis and other substances.

The Winter Blitz period is one of 14 enforcement periods throughout the year, and will run from Jan. 18-28. Last year, officers across the state arrested more than 600 impaired drivings during the Winter Blitz enforcement.

“Right now, Coloradans are enjoying their favorite winter sports and activities,” said Derrell Lingk, director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. “Our goal is to help all road users stay safe from those who choose to drive impaired and put everyone at risk.”

During the 14 DUI enforcement periods last year, law enforcement agencies arrested 9,687 drivers, slightly down from the 10,271 arrests in 2017. Preliminary data shows that 216 people died in impaired-related crashes on Colorado roads in 2018.

“We strive to keep impaired drivers off Colorado roadways throughout the year,” said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “These enforcement periods are meant to deter drivers from making the poor decision to drive after consuming alcohol or drugs. Sadly, the data shows thousands of people still choose to drive impaired.”

Lost skier survives snowstorm in backcountry near Steamboat resort

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – A skier spent a snowy night in the backcountry after getting lost in the Routt National Forest outside Steamboat Resort on Thursday.

A combined team of 17 Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers and Steamboat Ski Patrol worked together to bring the man back to safety. Surprisingly, he suffered no injuries from the incident.

Heavy snowfall and avalanche danger complicated the rescue, which lasted almost 24 hours.

Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers received a call at 6:40 p.m. Thursday from a 62-year-old man lost in an out-of-bounds area known as Holy Bowl near the ski resort’s Morningside Park.

Jay Bowman, president of Routt County Search and Rescue, said the man called from a de-activated cellphone. Although such phones allow people to make emergency calls, they do not allow emergency responders to track the call.

This made it nearly impossible to find the lost skier in the dark and through heavy snowfall.

“We were really looking for a needle in a haystack,” Bowman said.

Bowman said the man was from out of state and entered the backcountry without clear knowledge of the area and without any backcountry gear.

Eight Search and Rescue volunteers headed out at 8 p.m. to look for the man. Steamboat Ski Patrol assisted in the search. By 2 a.m. Friday, amid increasingly heavy snowfall and gusty winds, the rescue team postponed their search until later in the morning.

The summit of the resort where they were searching had received more than 15 inches of snow since the resort’s chairlifts closed  Thursday night. Despite the storm, temperatures did not pose a major threat to the man.

“We were very lucky that it was a warm night even with the horrible conditions,” Bowman said.

Four of the Search and Rescue volunteers spent Thursday night at Ski Patrol headquarters located at the top of the Sundown Lift.

The skier called Search and Rescue again early Friday morning. This time, rescuers were able to get a better location from the man. Rescuers left at first light to look for him.

Bowman said the rescue team coordinated with the Air Force’s Cellular Team to determine the man’s location.

Rescuers found the man at 11:45 a.m. Friday in the Storm King Creek drainage. Bowman said the man was cold but not hypothermic. The hardest part was finding a safe way to get the man out of the area without triggering an avalanche.

Bowman said rescuers assisted the man in hiking 700 vertical feet back up to the ski area near the Tomahawk run, where more rescuers had established a staging area.

"It’s not easy terrain to move around in especially with the amount of snow back there," Bowman said.

Rescuers finally got the man to the staging area at 4:30 p.m. and transported him to UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs. Bowman said the man was cold and tired, but that he did not appear to have any injuries.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an avalanche warning for the Steamboat Springs area. The Center reported “very dangerous” avalanche conditions for the area.

Bowman advised that anyone who ventures into the backcountry should know the area well or be with someone who does. They should also carry an activated cellphone with them so that rescuers can locate them in the event of a rescue.

Storm brings heavy snow to Aspen, Snowmass area; avalanche warnings issued Friday

Another round of snow with a forecast of as much as a foot Friday is making travel difficult around Aspen and Snowmass and sparking avalanche warnings in the Colorado mountains.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for 6 to 12 inches of snow by Friday night and winds gusting to 35 mph in the central and northern Colorado mountains. The advisory area includes the Elk and Gore mountains, up to the Steamboat area and toward Vail.

Avalanche warnings have been issued for all of the central Colorado mountains from Wyoming to New Mexico as a storm rolls through the state, including around the Roaring Fork Valley.

According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s Friday morning update, as of 6 a.m. “weather stations are showing 0.5 to 1.5 inches of snow-water equivalent, but only 6 to 8 inches of snow. Winds have been blowing in a good range to drift snow, with ridge top gusts over 40 miles per hour. Dense snow, falling at high rates, and lots of drifting.”

The National Weather Service advisory in in effect until 6 p.m., and an update Friday said the "hazardous conditions could impact the evening commute." Mountain passes will be difficult for holiday travelers, as heavy, wet snow hits most of the Colorado high country.

The Aspen School District canceled classes for Friday because of the overnight snow.

Those traveling in and out of the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport should check their flight status before heading to Sardy Field.

Parts of southern and western Colorado are under a winter weather warning with more than a foot predicted in some areas, the NWS said.

The forecasted snow has increased the avalanche danger to high (level 4 out of 5) and backcountry travel in avalanche terrain is not advised, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center warned. This storm comes after up to 15 inches of snow fell Wednesday in the central mountains.

"Expect a heavy snow load on a weak snowpack beginning late Thursday night and continuing through Friday," the CAIC said.

The avalanche danger will rise rapidly, according to the state agency, and slides will be large and easy to trigger or occur naturally in much of the Colorado high country.

The storm is forecast to clear out by Saturday, and the next chance for snow in the area on Monday and again Wednesday, the NWS said.

Inbounds avalanche at Taos Ski Valley buries 2 men near summit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An avalanche rushed down a mountainside at a New Mexico ski resort on Thursday, injuring two people who were pulled from the snow after a roughly 20-minute rescue effort, a resort spokesman said.

The avalanche near the highest peak of Taos Ski Valley happened around 11:30 a.m., initially spurring fears among authorities that more victims may be buried on the mountain before witnesses told them they had not seen any other people on the slope when the slide began.

Still, a precautionary search of the mountain continued through much of the afternoon to ensure no other people remained trapped, said both Chris Stagg, a spokesman for Taos Ski Valley, and Bobby Lucero, the director for emergency management in Taos County.

The extent of the injuries for the two people, both males, was not immediately known. They were taken to hospitals in Albuquerque and Taos.

The avalanche happened on a stretch of mountain known as the K3 chute, where expert skiers who ride a lift to Kachina Peak can dart down a partially rock-lined run. It was unknown what triggered the avalanche, but the ski resort said an investigation was planned.

Stagg said the accident happened despite the resort taking a series of precautions Thursday morning. They included sending ski patrollers to evaluate conditions and detonate explosives — a measure meant to trigger any potential slide before skiers take to the slopes. The resort also delayed opening the lift to Kachina Peak at the start of the day, Stagg said.

“We had checked that area for avalanche conditions this morning and enacted controls,” he said. “This is a great example that you’re never 100 percent certain.”

Taos Ski Valley’s terrain covers a 1,200-acre (or nearly 5-square-kilometers) area of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. Its Kachina Peak is a nearly 12,500-foot (3,810-meter) summit.

According to the Taos News, which was first to report on the avalanche, CPR had been given to the two people found beneath the snow.

George Brooks, the director of the nonprofit Ski New Mexico, which promotes the sport, said avalanches are fairly rare in the state and typically terrain is very well controlled. The avalanche comes as the region enjoys one of its better ski seasons in recent years after a spell of dry winters.

A series of snowstorms has moved across the Southwest since the start of the New Year, and another was expected to soon hit parts of the region after dropping heaving rain and snow in California.

“If they occur, it’s not usually when anybody is around,” Brooks said of avalanches.

Taos Ski Valley had received 2 inches (5 centimeters) of snow in the day before the avalanche and 15 inches (38 centimeters) in the week preceding it, according to its website. The spot where the avalanche happened is prone to winds that can blow up the mountain and create a cornice, allowing avalanches to occur even without a significant amount of recent snowfall, Brooks said.

Family remembers skier who died at Breckenridge Ski Resort on Jan. 7

William James Hass was a life-long learner.

As an inventor, writer and entrepreneur, Hass' life was largely defined by his intelligence and an unrelenting desire to share his knowledge with his loved ones and colleagues. And like most who make their way to the mountains, Hass had a passion for skiing.

Hass died Jan. 7 at Breckenridge Ski Resort following a cardiac event, but knowing that he died on the ski slopes during one of his annual voyages out West is something of a comfort for his family, as he got to spend his final moments reveling in perhaps his most adored pastime.

"He wasn't just an anecdote, he was bigger than life," said Debby Hass, William's wife. "He was a man well-loved, deeply and richly loved. And not only by his family, but he was admired and revered by his business colleagues. It's a testament to the man he was. And I'm happy he died a blessed, good death, and that it happened while he was young enough that people will remember him and honor him."

Hass, 71, grew up on the north side of Chicago as an only child, taking road trips with his parents to visit different lakes around the country. His father was a plant engineer, and used to bring Hass with him to work to look at the machinery and equipment. Those trips would make a lasting impact on Hass' life.

"I think that largely contributed to his desire to be an engineer," Debby said. "He liked to see how things operated, and he liked to see things from start to finish."

Hass graduated from Lane Technical High School in Chicago before enrolling at the University of Illinois-Chicago College of Engineering, where he graduated first in his class and was recognized with the Bell Honors Award. At UIC, Hass also co-founded the University of Illinois Engineering Alumni Association. After graduation, Hass received his master's of business administration at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Following school, Hass enjoyed a number of different endeavors, including work with the Peat Marwick accounting firm, Wilson Sporting Goods and as a partner with Ernst & Young. Later in life, Hass served as the CEO of TeamWork Technologies, Inc., a consulting and research organization that assists with improving business practices. Most recently, Hass was working alongside his son, Charles, at his property management company.

Additionally, Hass is a former national chairman for the Turnaround Management Association, a worldwide community of professionals who work with companies to improve their businesses. Hass also served as the vice president and founder of the Private Directors Association, a group dedicated to enhancing the value of private companies using a broad network of CEOs, business owners and board members for their expertise. His work ethic was one thing he handed down to his children.

"He supported our goals, and really taught us the way," said Charles, his son. "He made us understand how to work for things. I used to cut lawns as a kid, and my lawn mower broke and I needed a new one. He said, 'OK, we'll finance it for you, and you give us $8 a lawn until it's paid for.' He was always supportive, but he wouldn't give anything away. He'd tell you how to make it work, and how to see it through."

Despite participation in numerous professional groups and associations, Hass also believed in creating things for himself. In the late 1970s, Hass invented the Bone Fone, a wearable radio that could be draped around the user's neck as a hands-free alternative to other radios that could be worn while skiing or biking. In the same vein, Hass also invented an early version of the stereo jacket, with speakers built into the collar and a cord going to the pocket so users could play their own music.

"He was passionate about making the world a better place, and making things better," Charles said. "His was a path of never-ending improvement. … He was definitely an entrepreneur."

Hass also co-authored two books: "The Private Equity Edge: How Private Equity Players and the World's Top Companies Build Value and Wealth," and "Board Perspectives: Building Value through Strategy, Risk Assessment and Renewal."

In his free time, Hass enjoyed going to his summer retreat in Wisconsin, where he would wow bystanders with his waterskiing skills on Elizabeth Lake. He was known to others in the area as the "Happy Skier." At home he often took to reading, mostly books on business, which he would fill with sticky notes on his personal thoughts. His family also described him as a "news hound" constantly switching between networks to gain new perspectives on the day's goings-on around the world.

"He was always seeking knowledge, and he was a smart cookie," Debby said. "But you'd never know it. He was so humble and kind, and he never lorded it over others. He would just pull you aside to share something, and he became a great educator among his peers later in life."

"He was a perpetual student," Charles added. "He was always learning, always thinking."

Hass' family described him as relatively quiet, the type of man who was always hesitant to boast, and who wouldn't share even his most exciting stories unless he was asked to. Yet he was also easy to get along with. And perhaps most importantly, he understood what was truly important to him.

"He had this thing about the dash between when you're born and when you die," Debby said. "And what matters is the dash in between. He always had time for our children and me. That's not lost on them now. … I can tell you from the comments we've received from friends from the lake, skiing friends and business friends that Bill was larger than life. He had a zest for living, and did so with gusto. He was a quiet man, but his actions spoke for him. He was a loyal and dedicated friend."

Hass is survived by Debby and his children Charles, Veronica and Andrew. He was also the proud grandfather of five granddaughters, and a grandson currently on the way.

A memorial has been set up in Hass' name at the University of Illinois Foundation. Those looking to donate to the memorial should do so by mail to UIC Engineering, SEO Room 821, 851 S. Morgan Street (MC 159), Chicago, Illinois, 60607 under the memo line "Bill Hass Memorial."