Friday, October 31, 2008

New Monte Rosa Hut awarded

The New Monte Rosa Hut in Zermatt was awarded with the Holcim Awards Bronze 2008 for region Europe. The Holcim Awards is an international competition of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction. The competition celebrates innovative, future-oriented and tangible sustainable construction projects from around the globe. An objective of the Holcim Awards is to progressively generate a worldwide community of recognized practitioners of excellence in sustainable construction. The Holcim Awards recognize any contribution to sustainable construction – irrespective of scale – in architecture, landscape and urban design, civil and mechanical engineering and related disciplines.
The new Monte Rosa Hut at 2810 metres above sea level will be a special mountain hut, which has been planned for the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) by the Department of Architecture of the Swiss Federal Technical University in Zurich (ETH). The Concept and Design of the building was made by Prof. Andrea Deplazes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Infinity Downhill Race

Zermatt has announced that it will stage the "Infinity Race" which it is dubbing "The World’s Biggest Drop" on December 14th. Starting from the 3,800 metre peak, the highest served by lifts in Europe, at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, competitors will descend windy 2,200 vertical metres course via Garten, Furgg and Furi to finish in the town of Zermatt at 1,600m after a 10km run.
To be eligible for participation, competitors must ski, snowboard or telemark down the course.
An event for friends and families just before the Christmas holiday season. The competition has no entry fee, a valid ski pass is enough. The race will have a Le Mans style start: Those interested in winning the event start at the front, in the second zone are those competitors who are looking for a fast personal time, and finally everyone who's participating for the fun of it.
Families can win the event, when a child under the age of 12 takes part, the time is divided by 3.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Academic community joins the Vancouver 2010 team

Last Friday, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) introduced the Community Contributor Program, a new partnership opportunity designed to engage community groups in the Games.
The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Capilano University, Douglas College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Langara College today became the first to officially take part in the initiative, which currently includes colleges and universities providing essential services and resources to VANOC as part of a value-in-kind agreement. VANOC plans to expand the program to other interested community groups able to provide property and programs needed to stage successful Games.
"We look forward to engaging students and staff as part of our Workforce team to help us deliver an extraordinary Olympic and Paralympic experience that will leave lasting legacies for all", said Donna Wilson, executive vice president of workforce for VANOC.
Through the Community Contributor Program, universities and colleges will provide services, including parking spaces that are essential to VANOC’s overall transportation plan and Park and Ride program for spectators using the Olympic Bus Network to travel to venues in Whistler from Vancouver. Schools will also provide classroom space for training volunteers and other members of the VANOC workforce. In addition, students, some staff and faculty from participating universities and colleges will be available for co-op, internship and volunteer opportunities with VANOC.
In exchange for their support, Community Contributors receive a wide range of domestic rights and benefits that create a close association with the Games including various advertising, promotional and workforce opportunities, such as a volunteer recruitment symposium provided by VANOC on the campus of each participating university and college.
VANOC is also working closely with participating universities and colleges to connect students with the Paralympic Winter Games. VANOC hopes to raise awareness of and enthusiasm for adaptive sport, enhance the appreciation of the remarkable abilities of Paralympic athletes and increase disability awareness and the importance of accessibility.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ericsson and Aamot at Base Camp

Fredrik Ericsson and his partner Jörgen Aamot are waiting in the Base Camp to start the summit push. The climb up to the summit and the ski descent is expected to take four days. The summit push starts from base camp and they will use three camps at 6200 metres, 7200 metres and 7800 metres. From the last camp the climbing towards the summit at 8586 metres starts at midnight and it will take around ten hours.
The ski descent, which is the highlight of the two month expedition, is expected to take five hours. The descent has a vertical of almost 3100 metres and has very steep sections of up to 50 degrees inclination.

Base Camp Life
At the moment we are stuck in base camp and all we can do is to wait for the weather to change. I’m getting a bit of déjà vu from last year on Dhaulagiri. Acclimatization climbs passed by without any problems but as soon as I‘m ready for the summit the weather changes totally. Last year it was a week of snowfall that stopped me, this year the jet stream has taken over the mountain. For about a week now it’s been around 90 km/h wind up on 8000 meters and that is no place for us to be in those conditions.
Instead we get to hang out in base camp. So how is life in the camp? My home is a big four man tent that I got all to myself. My down sleeping mattress is possible to convert into a nice and comfy chair. That’s where I spend most of my time. Either listening to music, reading a good book or just enjoying the amazing view from my tent. Our tent site is not very exciting. It’s made up of ice, sand and rocks and it’s very uneven. But the mountains surrounding our camp are very impressive. It’s an amphi-theatre of beautiful peaks, from “The Fake Jannu” in the north via Kangbacken, Yalung Kang, Kangchenjunga to Talung and Kabru in the south. They are all rising 2000 meters higher than we are. That view is hard to beat.
When I’m not in my tent I’m eating food. Jörgen and I have our own kitchen crew here in base camp. Buddhi, Kansha and Mon are making sure we are stuffed after breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are a good crew. Not only are they cooking good food but they are also laughing at our jokes (we paid extra for that).
Anyway after a week in base camp I’m getting restless and I’m hoping that the wind will calm down soon so that we can pack our gear and head up on the mountain again. This time we will try for the summit of Kangchenjunga (8586m).

Monday, October 27, 2008

LG Snowboard FIS World Cup & European Cup in Saas-Fee

For the 5th time the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup will be held in Saas-Fee. From 28th to 31st of October 2008 more than 130 riders from 22 countries world have shown their skills in the glacier village. Snowboarders compete in the Allalin Freestyle Park, one of the most incredible half pipes in the world: 130-metre long with its steep 5.5 metre high walls at an incredible height of 3300 metres above sea level surrounded by a breathtaking panorama of glaciers and majestic four-thousand-metre peaks. The competitors include Manuela Pesko (Switzerland), Rolf Feldmann (Switzerland), Iouri Podladtchikov (Switzerland), Tore Holvik (Norway), Kjersti Buaas (Norway), Janne Korpi (Finland), Jiayu Liu (China) and many other world-class snowboarders.
A special attraction during the competitions in the glacier village is the so far unique double halfpipe which has been available to athletes in Saas-Fee since 2007. For the first time last year, athletes and the FIS equally got enthusiastic about this facility. Located directly next to the world-cup pipe in Freestyle Park Allalin, the park team has built a second top class training pipe, in which the athletes can warm up, and which is open to the general public also during the competitions. A super innovation for riders and spectators.
Just the week before, from 23rd to 24th October, 180 riders from 20 nations had the possibility to show their skills in the FIS Snowboard European Cup (halfpipe).
Saas-Fee is the main village in the Saastal, one of the most scenically beautiful and diverse valleys in the Valais and in the Alps. This car-free village, nestling amongst glaciers and mountains, with their typical old Valais wooden houses create the perfect setting for winter holidays, deserving of its name "Pearl of the Alps".

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ericsson and Aamot skiing the slopes of Kangchenjunga

After four days of uphill the extreme skiers Fredrik Ericsson and Jörgen Aamot enjoyed skiing on the "Second Glacier".

"Skiing at last
Back in base camp again after a second acclimatization climb on Kangchenjunga. This time it took us only eight hours, instead of four days, to climb the 1000 vertical meters up to Camp 1 at 6250 meters. Being better acclimatized and having a trail to follow makes a big difference.
The weather has been identical to last week. We've had sunshine in the morning and clouds and snowfall in the afternoon. We are happy that we have marked the route with willow wands (bamboo sticks), that way we could easily find the way to C1 even if it was bad visibility almost half the way up there.
The route from "The Hump" (C1) up to "The Great Shelf" (C2) goes down for about a hundred meters then up what we call "The Second Glacier", a steep snow slope with lots of Seracs and Crevasses. Very similar to "The First Glacier" that goes up to C1.
Being a bit lazy and too comfortable in our sleeping bags we were not very quick out of the tent in the mornings. That way we didn't get far before clouds and snowfall stopped us at lunchtime. To our defense: we can feel the winter coming and the nights are getting colder ;). With this pace it took us three days from C1 to 6950 meters (almost "The Great Shelf") where we found a nice ridge to set camp on.
At this moment the weather changed and it got very windy. According to Meteotest, that are doing our weather forecasts, the wind was 90 km/h at 8000 meters. Maybe a bit less where we were, but still enough. After a stormy night and when the wind didn't decline the next day we decided to return to BC.
After four days of uphill it was then time for skiing. It felt good to step into the bindings after a long summer and a lot of uphill on this trip. "The Second Glacier" is a nice slope for skiing. It has everything from low angle traverses to 50 degrees sections. Unfortunately the snow wasn't great this time but the scenery made up for that. Anyway, skiing on the slopes of Kangchenjunga was a special feeling.
Both Jörgen and I are in good mood and are acclimatizing well. We are now ready for the summit push and as soon as we get a weather forecast giving us four days of nice weather we will go for it. Stay tuned for more news from Kangchenjunga".

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Alpine Ski World Cup starts today on the Rettenbach Glacier in Sölden, Austria

Today the FIS World Cup opens with the Women’s Giant Slalom on the Rettenbach glacier in Sölden, Tirol (AUT). The FIS Women's and Men's Alpine Ski World Cup is held for the 11th time in the Tyrolean ski resort.

25.10.2008 Women's Giant Slalom
26.10.2008 Men's Giant Slalom

Yesterday the FIS Forum Alpinum – the Information Session for Ski Journalists – took place took place in the Freizeit Arena in Sölden.
At 6:30 pm, the Krone World Cup Party was held in the Postplatz square in Sölden village center.
Finally, closing a long day, the Frozen Fire World Cup Party took place in the Aqua Dome Tirol Therme Längenfeld opening officially the winter season.
This afternoon, starting at 7:00 pm, a new kind of side-event will take place in the Freizeit Arena: the Worldcup "Oktoberfest", live music and entertainment by Jetzendorfer Hinterhofmusikanten and DJ RM.
Sölden offers the marvelous BIG 3, Austria's only ski area with 3 mountains higher than 3,000 meters which are accessible by lifts or gondolas. From November trough May thanks to the ski area's high-Alpine location (1,350 - 3,250 m) and the modern snowmaking system (covering all slopes lower than 2,200 m) snow is guaranteed in Sölden.

FIS has launched a new website focused on the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. The website is now online at

Friday, October 24, 2008

Therapeutic Baths in Südtirol

Südtirol offers spa treatments that make use of local products like hay baths, an apple aroma bath, a grape-seed oil bath, a wine bath, a milk and honey bath, a sheep’s wool bath, radon inhalations and Sissi’s whey bath.
I saw this item in the web (Italy: A South Tyrol hay bath) and I want to share it with you.

The Vigilius Mountain Resort, located in Lana in the province of Bozen and accessible exclusively by cable car, blends into the larch woods of the car-free Vigiljoch Mountain at 1500 metres altitude with a spectacular view of the Dolomites and the surrounding alpine scenery. True to the motto of its architect Matteo Thun – "eco not ego" – in 2005 the vigilius mountain resort received from the Italian WWF the special award "Panda d’Oro" for its ecological role-model function. The same year, the resort became the first Climate House A in the Italian hotel business. One year later, in 2006, the vigilius was bestowed the sought-after environmental award "Premio all’Innovazione amica dell’Ambiente" from the Italian environment association Legambiente.
Merano Thermal Baths, opened in 2005, is the new oasis of wellbeing offering Merano’s old spa traditions in a modern and innovative interpretation. "Treatments courtesy of Mother Nature in South Tyrol" is the motto, and local natural produce plays a key role in the health and feel-good offering at Merano Thermal Baths. In particular Südtirol produce provides the raw materials used for the various applications and the Merano Thermal Baths proprietary line of bodycare products, with apples, grapes, whey, wool and herbs all sourced in the region.
The Interior design of Merano Thermal Baths is the work of Milan’s star architect Matteo Thun. He has attracted worldwide attention with his exciting architecture and was recently admitted to New York’s Hall of Fame. The architect’s aim in Merano was "to create a natural oasis in the heart of the town" and "to employ shapes and materials to evoke memories of the primeval strength of water".
Merano Thermal Baths employ state-of-the-art environmental engineering in order to economize on energy and above all water. Significant annual savings are achieved with the help of the following technologies: low-temperature heating system, combined heat and power plant (which permits electricity to be generated and the process heat to be utilized at the same time), absorption cooling plant and heat recovery system. Wherever potable water is not necessary, including all the toilets, the water is taken from two deep wells located in the grounds of the thermal baths.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ever Vail Base Village Project Design Receives Platinum LEED Rating

Vail Resorts' planned Ever Vail village development project to be located in the westernmost base area of Vail Mountain ski resort in Colorado has been awarded the highest rating possible, Platinum, under the first stage of LEED for the Neighborhood Development (ND) rating system. Ever Vail is one of only two planned projects in the U.S. that has been certified at the highest level of green building standards under the pilot LEED-ND rating system and the only one in the Rocky Mountain Region.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a development's location and design meet accepted high levels of environmentally responsible, sustainable development. LEED for Neighborhood Development emphasizes the creation of compact, walkable, vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods with good connections to nearby communities.
The $1 billion project will transform the 9.5-acre site, currently known as West LionsHead, into a truly "green" multi-use resort village consisting of residences, a hotel, offices, retail shops and restaurants, mountain operations facilities, a public parking garage, a new gondola and related skier portal and a public park. The name, "Ever Vail", was thoughtfully chosen to reflect the project’s guiding principle of sustainability – that is, pairing Vail Mountain’s enduring preeminent position in the resort industry with an ongoing commitment to minimize the Company’s foot print on the land.
"Being awarded the highest level of green building certification by the U.S. Green Building Council speaks to the commitment Vail Resorts has to the environment and to the dedication, hard work and creativity of our Company's development design team," said Rob Katz, chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. "Once completed, Ever Vail will become an iconic example in the U.S. for not only sustainable mountain resort development, but for offering an exceptional employee, resident and guest experience at the nation's premier ski destination".

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Report Confirms 2007-2008 Winter Season is one of Best on Record in Switzerland

The respected Geneva-based consultancy Laurent Vanat Consulting SARL has reported that Swiss ski resorts enjoyed one of their best seasons.
Best season for 4 years, 2007/08 has seen a 18.4% rise in the visitation of the Swiss ski resorts, compared to the former season. 28.7 million skiers days were recorded. The total turnover experienced a nearly identical rise. The resort of Davos-Klosters stands at the top of the list this year, exceeding, with along with Zermatt in Valais, the million and half skiers days.
Switzerland’s fortunes look set to rise still further this winter as the country benefits both from the rising cost of the Euro and the high altitude of many of its leading ski areas, making it a "best bet" for anyone concerned about snow conditions. This led resorts like Zermatt to increase business in the "poor snow" previous season 2006.
"The cantons of Valais and Graubünden have the greatest market share, with respectively
9.8 and 8.0 million skiers days, in rise of 11.8% and 9.6% compared to the former season. The most spectacular rises were observed in the cantons which experienced a rather catastrophic situation in 2006/07. Thus, Bern sees a progression of 22.5% and the canton of Vaud of 34.3%. These improvements must however be mitigated. If of course all areas get better than the former season, the comparison with two former seasons, showing a more usual profile, emphasizes that the canton of Vaud and the other small players are in fact recluse in a decline of their visitation. This is mainly due to the slowdown of the small resorts of medium altitude.
The question remains to know if it is really about a long-term tendency or if a certain turnaround is still possible
"Ticketing accounts for 88% of the income of the cableways operators, totalling CHF 963 million. The food & beverage managed by the ski lifts companies is limited to 3% of turnover and the other activities to 9%, which very clearly illustrates the weak horizontal integration of the industry in Switzerland".

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

SportScheck Glacier Testival 2008 in Stubai

From October 22nd to 27th the biggest equipment test in the Alps, the 21 SportScheck Glacier Testival, will take place on the Stubaier Glacier. A place to test new products of the upcoming season 2008/09. SportScheck presents more than 3.500 products of leading companies. During the event days you can test the stuff and ski or snowboard all day long.
During the whole weekend you can enjoy the big afterparties all over Neustift for those, who have not had enough activity during the day and are still motivated to celebrate.
Stubai is Austria's largest Glacier Skiing Area. From 1,750 to 3,210 metres above sea level, the winter fun already begins at the start of October and lasts until june. Optimum conditions on the slopes are ensured by the natural snow on the glacier bed and state-of-the-art snowmaking facilities close by. You can enjoy 110 km of pistes served by a modern web of 25 modern cableways and lifts.

Monday, October 20, 2008

IDE’s All Weather Snowmaker for Zermatt tested

The new snow machine will be put into operation next month to offset the bad snow conditions of the late autumn in the glacier piste. The snow is being used to make a path between the bottom of its high altitude glacier and the cable car station from where skiers and boarders can get back up the slopes to access the year round ski area. In years gone by the glacier did reach this lift station anyway, but over the past two decades it has melted away and in late autumn, around the beginning of October, the glacier piste ends 500m before the lift station.
Zermatt Bergbahnen was the first ski resort to order a new kind of artificial snow system: the IDE’s All Weather Snowmaker. Later Pitztal Gletscherbahnen was the second Company to order, following Zermatt’s footsteps, the snowmaker. IDE Technologies is a world leader and pioneer in water desalination, wastewater concentrators and purifiers. The snowmaking technology comes from the mining industry where it is used to cool the goldmines.
CEO Zermatt Bergbahnen Christen Baumann explains how it works: "To put it simply it works like a freezer. The temperature of the surrounding air is irrelevant. In a closed container with a diameter of 3.2m and a height of 10m, water is exposed to a vacuum without any additives. A small portion vaporizes, the remaining water freezes to snow, which is afterwards expelled at a rate of about 40 cubic metres every hour. The snow produced has the consistency of a wet spring snow". IDE’s All Weather Snowmaker is a unique, environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient solution. The energy it requires for a year is the equivalent to that of one household.
The new snow machine, which is produced in Israel, had a delivery period of one year and costs around CHF 2 million (EUR 1.19 million).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ericsson and Aamot have reached Kangchenjunga Camp 1

The extreme skiers Fredrik Ericsson and Jörgen Aamot have reached the Kangchenjunga Camp 1 at around 6200 meters.

"Route to Camp 1!
Climbing an 8000-meter peak is a time consuming project. Not only can it be a long and demanding approach to the foot of the mountain but you also need to spend weeks to get used to the altitude (acclimatize) to be able to climb the mountain. In total Jörgen and I are spending two month to be able to climb and ski on Kangchenjunga.
This Autumn Jörgen and I are the only climbers on the south side of Kangchenjunga. Normally the base camps on the 8000ers are crowded with climbers and on the mountain there are fixed ropes all along the routes. Being alone is great, it gives a more adventurous touch to it. We get to go up on the mountain all by ourselves to search and find a nice and safe route to climb (and ski). I can almost imagine what it was like for the British climbers that first climbed Kangchenjunga in 1955.
From our base camp at 5100 meters we have about 3500 meters up to the summit of the mountain and we will use three camps on the way. During the last four days Jörgen and I have been working our way up to our first camp. It is located at about 6200 meters on a ridge that was named “The Hump” by the first ascensionists. The route goes on a fairly steep glacier that is cracked up by crevasses (cracks) and seracs (ice walls) that we have to navigate around. The routefinding was a bit tricky and the weather didn’t cooperate with us either. Each day it was clear and sunny in the morning but after a only few hours clouds pulled in and it started snowing. Needing good visibility to move higher up we could only manage to ascend a few hundred meters a day. We spent one night at camp one before we returned to base camp. Four days up, three hours down.
Having a good route up to C1 and the fact that Jörgen and I seem to acclimatize well we are getting good confidence for the future. At the moment we are resting in base camp before we are heading up the mountain to continue our acclimatization and trying to figure out the route to Camp 2 at 7000 meters. More news when we are back from C2".

Saturday, October 18, 2008

France will bid for 2018 Olympic Winter Games

France will compete to host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Henri Serandour, president of the French National Olympic and Sporting Committee (CNOSF), announced last September 24th. France has previously hosted three Winter Games, in 1924 in Chamonix, in 1968 in Grenoble, and in 1992 in Albertville.
The cities of Grenoble, Annecy and Nice have already stated their intention to bid to host the Games. Grenoble looks in a good position though it is rare for the same city to organise the games twice. The mayor of Grenoble Michel Destot said the town would emphasize its strong Olympic history with the hope of being nominated as hosts next year. "Grenoble has a strong Olympic past", Destot said. "It hosted the 10th winter Olympics in 1968 and has retained its faith in the Games. The decision of the CNOSF was not a big surprise but very good news that we had been hoping for for the last two years". Grenoble's bid was ratified officially at a meeting on October 6.
Serandour added that none of the three bidding host cities could take anything for granted.
"If what we are looking for does not correspond with the cities' dossier, we could very well say 'no,'" said Serandour, who added the same system used by the International Olympic Committee for selecting candidates would be used by the CNOSF. The study of the bid documents will be done by international experts with ensuing costs of up to 100,000 euros to be covered by the bidding cities. The host city will be unveiled in March 2009.
Munich and Denver are also serious candidates for the 2018 event, though Serandour played down a possible new failed bid following the failure in July 2005 in getting the 2012 Games. "I think it is better to be a candidate, even one that fails, than to be completely absent", added Serandour, who said he wanted to learn from past mistakes.
The winning bid will be announced in July 2011 at the 123rd IOC Session in Durban, South Africa.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kaunertal Opening

From Today until Sunday, Snowboard and freeski contest, concerts and parties as well as the "Testival" with brandnew material for the 08/09 season are the basics of the 23nd Kaunertal Opening.
On Saturday 18th, 40 highly motivated amateurs and Pro's who didn’t make it on the invited list will have the chance to compete against some wellknown names and pro invited riders at the Big Park mini shred Contest for the title "KTO Rocker 2008".
The KTO mini shred amateur contest will take place on sunday, October 19th and special prices and goodies are waiting for the winners.
On the Testcenter more than 30 companies (ACG, Adidas, Anon, Atomic, blue tomato, Bonfire, Burton, Dainese, Deeluxe, Elan, Flow, Forum, F2, Head, Jeenyus, K2, Nitro, Palmer, Pha:macy, Red, Ride, risk' n' fun, Rossignol, Salomon, Scott, Snowboardklinik, SP-Bindings and Völkl) are introducing approximately 3000 new products to test for free at 3000 metres height.
Some wellknown names from the austrian and international music scene (Russkaja, Texta, Failsafe, Viva La Muerte and DJ Dexter) will guarantee two outstanding parties on Friday and Saturday in the party tent in Feichten.
International Movie Presentations will be also available in the party tent in Feichten: Absinthe Films with Ready, Headbud Productions with Aestivation, Matchstick Productions with Claim, Pirate Movie Production with Overseas and Isen7 with Teenage Love Graffiti.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ski Maps for Blackberry

GPS software manufacturer Northport Systems, Inc., has announced that free Fugawi Touratel topographic mapping software for the U.S. and Canada is now available for Blackberry handsets, complementing its existing service to various mobile handsets from LG, Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and Sanyo. Designed to enhance outdoor activities, the Touratel software will now provide Blackberry customers with convenient and highly detailed outdoor mapping as they ski or snowboard, in-bounds or out.Fugawi Touratel utilizes the Blackberry’s internal GPS receiver, eliminating the need for the added cost and bulk of a specific-use Bluetooth GPS receiver. Due to its unique Web 2.0 architecture, users do not need to download and install the software as the entire Fugawi Touratel application works through the smartphone’s Internet connection.
Blackberry users will have access to Fugawi Touratel’s high-resolution U.S. and Canadian topographic maps, sourced directly from the U.S. Geological Survey and Natural Resources Canada, respectively. Blackberry customers will benefit from added map content and ongoing product development instantaneously, without the need to download updates, apply patches or purchase additional hardware components."Northport Systems is pleased to add Blackberry handsets to our growing list of supported mobile phones", said Robin Martel, president of Northport Systems. "Based on our conversations with outdoor enthusiasts, we are confident that the convenience of mobile mapping coupled with the breadth of detail provided by Fugawi Touratel will be well received by Blackberry customers".
Touratel is a free map service for skiers, snowboarders, hikers, hunters, anglers, mountain bikers, canoeists or others who enjoy the outdoors. USGS maps are available in 1:24,000, 1:100:000 and 1:250,000 scales for all U.S. States. NRCan maps are available in 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 scales for all Canadian Provinces.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Test to gauge the viability of wind turbines at Snowmass

The Aspen Skiing Company (ASC) has successfully installed a 164-foot-tall wind tower at the top of the Snowmass Ski Area to determine if wind turbines are feasible there. The initial installation of the tower was delayed last month when a winch failed, resulting in damage to the original tower and a slowdown on the project. The new tower was erected on the slope above the top terminal of the Big Burn chairlift. Anemometers will measure wind speed and direction at heights of 45, 55 and 65 meters. Data will be collected and evaluated over the next year. The experiment is being run in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service and Leitwind, a subsidiary of Leitner-Poma, which will assess the data. Turbines produce enough power to make a feasible return on investment, especially since the company could eliminate the volatility of energy prices. ASC hopes to assemble at least three wind turbines at the top of the Burn and produce between 66 and 100 percent of the power needed by the Aspen resorts. "It’s an environmental and a business move" Auden Schendler, Executive Director of Sustainability, said.
Starting in 1997, Aspen Skiing Company pioneered ski industry purchases of wind power, when we ran the Cirque lift on 100% wind power. From 2006 to 2008 the Company purchased renewable energy credits equivalent to our electricity use.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Freshers Ski Week

Seven countries (Andorra, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Norway and Switzerland) are involved in UK snowsports industry Freshers Ski Week, a learn-to-ski initiative with free skiing for first timers at 50 great resorts for one week from either the 17 or 24 Jan. 2009.
You only need to book your holiday with any of the seven participating tour operators, Airtours, Crystal Ski, Erna Low, First Choice Snow, Inghams, Neilson and Thomson Ski and your tuition, lift passes and equipment hire will be thrown in for free, but remember there's only a limited number of packages.
The participating ski resorts are:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek

On September, the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa opened their doors. This luxurious Hotel, which combines visions of both environmental- and pedestrian-friendly design, will be the centerpiece of the new Riverfront Village in Beaver Creek. Nestled on the banks of the Eagle River at the base of Beaver Creek Resort, this full-service condo hotel features 210 residence-style accommodations ranging from spacious studio suites to three-bedrooms complete with custom designed contemporary furnishings, large kitchens, fireplaces, LCD televisions and more. The cornerstone of a $500 million resort development also features a signature restaurant by acclaimed chef Thomas Salamunovich, and for a total relaxation experience a 23,000 square foot Spa, Fitness, and Wellness center offering mountain-inspired treatments and onsite physicians. As the premiere "green" spa in the Rockies, Spa Anjali carries only environmentally-friendly products, including Amala Beauty and Anakiri.
The resort offers easy access to Beaver Creek Mountain via the Riverfront Express Gondola located right outside the resort's lobby door. The lift delivers skiers and snowboarders to world-class terrain in less than three minutes.
Developed by East West Partners, The Westin Riverfront was designed by the architectural firm of Hornberger & Worstell of San Francisco in conjunction with OZ Architecture in Boulder, Colorado. The interior was designed by internationally recognized leader Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP.
The Westin Riverfront is being built "green" from the bottom up and is on track to become Colorado’s first high-end hotel to achieve LEED certification. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building project meets the highest green building and performance measures. All certified projects receive a LEED plaque, which is the nationally recognized symbol demonstrating that a building is environmentally responsible, profitable and a healthy place to live and work.
Westin Hotels & Resorts, with more than 150 hotels and resorts in more than 31 countries and territories, is owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola Launch Commemorative Poster

Whistler Blackcomb has announced details of a poster competition. Artists are invited to submit a design for a commemorative poster to celebrate the upcoming grand opening of the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. The artwork created should be an original piece designed specifically for this contest. The theme for the painting should focus on 'Connection'. Artists must submit a photo of their work by October 24 at 5pm.
Judging will take place the following week and the winner will be notified on November 5. The winning artist will be awarded a Whistler Blackcomb 2008/09 season pass, a $500 gift card for Whistler Blackcomb retail outlets, and 100 copies of the poster.
"We hope that the endless possibilities that the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola offers will inspire community artists to create and take part in this historic launch", says Dave Brownlie, Whistler Blackcomb's President and Chief Executive Officer. "In many ways, the opening of the Gondola signifies a new birth, a new era in mountain access, and the beginning of a new chapter filled with the hundreds of stories that Whistler and Blackcomb mountains inspire each season. To capture all this in a piece of art is true genius, and I would be very honoured to showcase the winning artwork to all who take part in the launch".
Copies of the poster will be given away to guests attending the PEAK 2 PEAK grand opening event on December 12. The original artwork will be auctioned off at the 2009 TELUS Winter Classic/ Whistler Blackcomb Foundation Gala on January 25th, with proceeds going towards supporting non-profit organizations in the Sea to Sky Corridor. Entries that are not selected for the commemorative poster may still be used in an art exhibit at the Roundhouse Lodge on the weekend of the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola opening.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pow(d)er Weekend at Hintertux Glacier

Austria’s only round-the-year ski area celebrates the Pow(d)er Weekend. Autumn means powder snow on the Hintertux Glacier and the Fall Ski Season kicks off with the Pow(d)er Weekend. The Event include spectacular live performance by stars of the aprés-ski scene, a promotional programm with ski tests, Erdinger "white beer" parties in the Sommerberg arena, and lots of fun in the nightclubs.
A modern (including a new Bi-cable ropeway) comfortable web of 21 lifts and cable cars power right up to an altitude of 3,250 m, guaranteeing terrific views extending up tp 100km. In addition to the two existing glacier buses, you can now also glide up to the magnificent peaks in the new Glacier Bus I from Hintertux to the Sommerbergalm.
Fresh powder snow on up to 60 km of slopes and a permanent party atmoshere off them brightens the mood of October´s early bird skiers.

Friday, October 10, 2008

MaXXX Mountain Glacier Start

From Today, October 10th to Sunday, October 12th, the great Glacier Autumn will be opened with a splendid entertainment program at Sölden. On the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glacier you can enjoy 38 kilometres of Ski Runs (25 blue and 13 red) served by 10 Ski lifts (3 gondolas, 2 chair lifts and 5 T-bar lifts) with an average capacity of 20.000 persons per hour ensure perfect skiing, especially in autumn and early winter. Both Glaciers are connected to each other by the scenic, 1,7 km long "Rosi Mittermeier Road Tunnel". Skiers can take advantage of the oustanding Ski Tunnel, situated at 3.240 m above sea level, that guarantees a quick and easy change from Rettenbach Glacier to Tiefenbach Glacier.
Besides sports and activities, ski and snowboard equipment tests, live acts by the Beatstreet band and DJ music shows the ultimate Pub Crawl of countless pubs and bars in Sölden is scheduled on Friday and Saturday night.
Thanks to the Europa Test- & Exhibition Center at Rettenbach Glacier and the Salomon - Station Sölden is the only winter sports resort worldwide that runs an international Test Center comprising the most important partners all under one roof.
"Grab your winter sorts equipment" is the slogan - and off you go!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

White5, Five Glaciers With One Card

White5, is the the ultimate in winter enjoyment in your pocket. Valid on the Kauntertal Glacier, on the Pitztal Glacier, in Sölden-Ötztal, on the Stubai Glacier and on the Hintertux Glacier, the White5 ski pass entitles you to use facilities for a period of 10 days from October 1st, 2008 until June 1st, 2009. The White5 ski pass is issued exclusively on a special White5 key card and can be purchased at all tills and booking offices of the 5 ski areas.
The glacier regions in Tyrol have long been renowned throughout the world to winter sports fans. Powder snow from October until May, snow guarantee, ski slopes full of variety and extremely comfortable service offerings win the acclaim of an international public with 5 top glacier ski areas above 3000 metres comprising a length of 150 kilometres.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Skiing Magazine's Top 10 Resorts for 2008

Skiing Magazine readers have named Whistler Blackcomb No.1 ski resort in North America for the twelfth year in a row.
Skiing Magazine Readers ranked these resorts as the best 10 for quality of snow, terrain, affordability, and nightlife. Skiing is a USA magazine by and for passionate skiers owned by World Publications, LLC.
  1. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
  2. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  3. Vail, Colorado
  4. Telluride, Colorado
  5. Alta/Snowbird, Utah
  6. Alyeska, Alaska
  7. Aspen/Aspen Highlands, Colorado
  8. Big Sky, Montana
  9. Steamboat, Colorado
  10. Breckenridge, Colorado
Siing's Best Après Scene award went to Whistler Blackcomb, with the Garibaldi Lift Company receiving accolades for its great food and variety of live concerts. Whistler Blackcomb also received a Top 5 ranking for Backcountry Access, Steeps, and Park; as well as a Top 10 ranking for Trees.
"We survey our readers annually and ask them what they think is the best resort. But this year we tweaked the question. We asked readers where they would go if money were no object. Essentially, where they want to ski most", says Jake Bogoch, editor of Skiing Magazine. "The answer was Whistler Blackcomb. On a personal level, I get it. I've skied at Whistler for the past seven winters and can't seem to stay away".

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ericsson and Aamot have reached Kangchenjunga Base Camp

Last Sunday, the Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson have reached the Kangchenjunga Base Camp at around 5300 meters. During the next three weeks Fredrik and Jörgen will prepare for the high altitude with acclimating climbs. When they are well acclimated, they will try to climb the 3000 vertical meters high Yalung Face on Kangchenjunga in a four day push. They will carry all their equipment by themselves and climb without supplementary oxygen. Well on the summit, 8586 meters above the sea, Fredrik and Jörgen will put on their skis and try to ski all the way down to base camp. The first complete ski descent of Kangchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world.

"Base Camp at last!
Finally we have reached the Kangchenjunga Base Camp and it was not a walk in the park to get there. We were hoping for eight days of nice walking in the hills and mountains of eastern Nepal. Now 14 days later I know that the Kangchenjunga base camp trek is a bit more complicated than that.
First we were strolling in the sun along rice fields and banana plantations. Then came the Jungle with the leeches. The days got longer and the rainfalls got more frequent. As we moved up to higher altitude the weather and the terrain got nicer. Once in a while I even got a glimpse of a snow capped mountain. Our mood got better but that didn’t stop Jörgen from catching a cold. He got a sore throat and a bad cough that kept him a wake most of the night. To get rid of the cough Jörgen decided to stay a few days in the camp in Tseram (3700m) while the rest of the crew continued. During the trek we had about 20 porters that helped us carry our gear and food. When we came up to the Yalung Glacier that leads up to Kangchenjunga, about half of them didn’t want to continue. With only half the men it took us two days to travel the distance of a normal day. If that wasn’t enough, then came the snow. In one day we got 20 cm snow and that made the rest of the porters give up on us as well. Even though it gave us some problems I totally understand them. Walking on this glacier is no fun at all and 20 cm of snow doesn’t make it more exciting. It’s a mix of sand, rocks and ice and always up or down. Not a single flat spot. The gear the porters show up in is better suited for a sunny day on the beach than on a snowy glacier. I’m impressed that they made it as far as they did. Fortunate for us we were not far from base camp. Jörgen got well and caught up with us and together with our cooking crew: Buddhi, Kansha and Mon we could move up to Kangchenjunga Base Camp.
It feels great to be here at the foot of Kangchenjunga and the view of the beautiful mountains makes the long trek all worthwhile. After 14 days in the jungle and on the moraine Jörgen and I are getting very excited to take out the skis and head up to the snow".

Monday, October 6, 2008

Eco-buildings in Südtirol

The building sector is at present responsible for more than 40% of EU energy consumption. Südtirol, like other regions in the Alps, has the goal to improve the energy performance in buildings, reducing the conventional energy demand. To achieve this goal, in 2002 Südtirol introduced the KlimaHaus/CasaClima certification system, developed to provide an instant estimate of a building’s energy consumption. There are three classes of KlimaHaus: KlimaHaus Gold, KlimaHaus A and KlimaHaus B.
KlimaHaus Gold exhibits the lowest energy consumption of the three classes, with a heating energy consumption less than 10kWh/m²a, requiring practically no active heating system. KlimaHaus Gold buildings are über-efficient buildings called Passive houses. The first Passive house in Südtirol dates from 1998.

Buildings with a heat consumption of less than 30kWh/m²a receive KlimaHaus A qualification, and buildings with a heating energy consumption of less than 50kWh/m²a KlimaHaus B qualification.
The highest KlimaHaus certification is KlimaHausplus. Awarded to residential buildings distinguished not only by energy-saving construction, but also by ecological construction methods and use of renewable energy for heat production. To qualify for KlimaHausplus certification, a building must fulfil the following criteria:
  • Heating energy consumption under 50 kWh/m²a
  • Heating fuelled by renewable energy sources
  • Use of environmentally-friendly, non-health-damaging building materials
  • Inclusion of at least one of the following measures: A photovoltaic system, solar panels for water heating and/or integrated with heating system, rainwater usage, green roof.

943 buildings have been certified as KlimaHaus in the Autonomous Province of Bozen/Bolzano, 12 of which have been certified as KlimaHaus Gold and 14 KlimaHaus Gold Plus. Of the 30 passive houses in Südtirol, 6 are in Pustertal/Val Pusteria, 5 in Burggrafenamt/Burgraviato, 4 in Überetsch-Unterland/Oltradige-Bassa Atesina, 2 in Bozen/Bolzano, 1 in Salten-Schlern/Salto-Sciliar, 4 in Eisack/Valle Isarco and 4 in Vinschgau Valley/Val Venosta.
KlimaHaus certification is performed exclusively by the KlimaHaus Agency. The cost of certification is paid directly to the agency by the applicant (usually the building owner), its price regulated by a fee schedule. The agency then pays the certifier for services rendered. All buildings certified with KlimaHaus categories Gold, A or B may display the corresponding KlimaHaus placard directly at the entrance, testifying to its low energy class.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

SKi Magazine's annual "Top Resort Guide"

SKI Magazine's annual "Top Resort Guide", the definitive ranking of North American ski resorts, names Deer Valley, Utah as the No. 1 ski resort in its October issue. Nearly 7,000 SKI Magazine subscribers responded to the "Top Resort Guide" survey, which was conducted by an independent research firm. It is the most comprehensive and longest-running ski resort survey in the winter sports industry. Resorts are ranked in 18 categories: Overall Satisfaction, Access, Après Ski, Dining, Family Programs, Grooming, Lifts, Lodging, Off-Hill Activities, On-Mountain Food, Scenery, Service, Snow, Terrain/Challenge, Terrain/Variety, Terrain Parks, Value and Weather by SKI subscribers who have skied the resorts for the past two seasons, skiing an average of 23 days a year. SKI Magazine is published by Mountain Sports Media, a Boulder-based division the Bonnier Corporation. The Bonnier Corporation is one of the largest consumer-publishing groups in America and the leading media company serving passionate, highly engaged audiences through more than 40 special-interest magazines and related multimedia projects and events.
The top 10 resorts according to SKI Magazine's readers:

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Heliskiing Operator Goes Green

Eagle Pass Heliskiing is a British Columbia based heli-skiing operating in the Monashee Mountains. The base for Eagle Pass heliskiing is located at Griffin Lake Mountain Lodge, 150 km north east of Kelowna International Airport (serviced by connecting flights from Calgary AB, Vancouver BC and Seattle WA).
Eagle Pass Heliskiing offers each guest the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions, caused by the use of a helicopter for their ultimate skiing experience, by buying carbon credits from Planetair through the reservations process. The renewable energy and energy efficient projects they will be supporting prevent as much greenhouse gas from entering into the atmosphere as they have released during their helicopter-accessed skiing adventure.
"EPH realizes that recognizing and dealing with its carbon footprint and sustainability is an integral part of their corporate responsibility. Secondly, as most of their international clientele are becoming increasingly aware of the impacts and magnitude of climate change, EPH has realized the opportunity to work together to offset the emissions of their holiday", the company said in a prepared statement.
Each client will receive a certificate from Planetair to signify that the proceeds have been invested in an energy project. These projects are managed by offset provider myclimate.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Swede Aims To Be First To Ski The World’s Three Highest Mountains

The Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson is trying to become the first person to ski the three highest mountains in the world. The three year project starts this month with Fredrik going to the Himalayas to ski the third highest mountain, Kangchenjunga (8586m).
Fredrik Ericsson is one of the world’s leading high altitude skiers with ski descents on some of the highest mountains on earth, including; Peak Somoni, Shisha Pangma, Gasherbrum 2, Laila Peak and Dhaulagiri. Fredrik's partner on the expedition is Norwegian extrema skier Jörgen Aamot.
"I have already skied on three of the fourteen 8000-metre peaks, but now the aim is towards the absolute highest. The project spans over three years and I will try to ski the three highest mountains in the world, Kangchenjunga (8586m) this autumn, K2 (8612m) next summer and Mount Everest in the autumn of 2010" says Fredrik. Everest has claimed the lives of several skiers and boarders in the few years since it was first descended on skis and board.
The first big challenge starts now when Fredrik together with his Norwegian companion are going to the Himalayas. The mountain they plan to climb and ski – Kangchenjunga – lies on the border between Nepal and Indian state Sikkim. Kangchenjunga was assumed to be the highest mountain in the world for many years before the correct altitude of Mount Everest was established in 1849.
Kangchenjunga was first climbed in 1955 by a British team that included Joe Brown and George Band. Since then, around 200 climbers have reached the summit. But so far no Swede or Norwegian has climbed to the summit and no one has skied off the summit of Kangchenjunga.
"This means that we can become the first Swede and Norwegian to climb to the summit and also the first in the world to ski the mountain" says Fredrik
After a long journey by aeroplane, jeep and on foot they will end up on the Yalung glacier where they will set up base camp at an altitude of about 5300 meters. They will prepare for the big challenge over a period of three weeks during which they will undertake several acclimatising climbs. Mid October will see the duo start the hard climb to the top of Kangchenjunga.
"We will carry all our equipment; we have randonneboots on our feet and will not use supplemental oxygen. Therefore it’s harder for us to climb the mountain than for most of the other climbers" says Fredrik.
The climbing is mostly on a glacier, the route is long and serious and it’s extremely strenuous climbing at that altitude. Fredrik and Jörgen are planning to use four days from base camp to the summit and they will spend three nights in camps on the way. "On the summit day we start climbing at midnight and I believe it will take about 10 hours to reach the top" says Fredrik.
The ski descent, which is the highlight of the two month expedition, is expected to take five hours. The descent goes all the way down to base camp, has a vertical of almost 3300 metres and has very steep sections of up to 50 degrees inclination.
"To ski at 8000 meters is not easy. It’s extremely hard work and in the beginning we have to stop to rest after only a few turns. After four to five turns I’m as exhausted as after skiing 1000 vertical meters in the Alps" says Fredrik.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New online tool to help snowsport businesses to get greener

This Month sees the Ski Club of Great Britain and the Travel Foundation launch a new tool aimed at ski resorts and ski resort businesses to give them practical tips on how to make their business greener. The online resource called (which will be live in mid-October) hosts video clips demonstrating ways to improve ski resort businesses’ practices to make them more environmentally friendly in ten areas: Energy conservation in buildings, water conservation, waste management measures, snow production, lift operations, ski area vehicles, transport, sustainable design and construction, environmental policy and communication and education.
The resource is aimed at ski resort operators, hotels and chalets and other businesses in ski resorts including ski shops and restaurants.
Sue Hurdle, Chief Executive of the Travel Foundation, said: "We are delighted to be partnering the Ski Club of Great Britain in this leading initiative aimed at making our ski and snowsports holidays greener and more sustainable, and preserving the pristine mountain environment for future generations to enjoy as we do".

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Explore North: Sailing and Skiing Above the Arctic Circle

Explore North playground is located between Bergen and Spitsbergen (Norway). Lofoten, Hjørundfjorden, Shetland, Spitsbergen, Helgeland: there you can find some of the world's most stunning cruising grounds, and when you combine sailing with skiing and hiking you end up with one of the most perfect combinations in the world.
Explore North was created to give visitors the chance to experience the magnificent cruising ground between Bergen and Spitsbergen in an eco-friendly manner. Formed from the merger of two ski and sail experts, for the 2009 season the company have two state-of-the-art, expedition equipped sailing yachts based in Bodø. "Our aim is to deliver the best experiences within sailing, skiing and mountaineering above the polar circle", says Sture Ellingsen, skipper on Lille Polaris, an aluminum-hull Koopmans 45. He and his wife Enid Ellingsen have run Sail and Ski expeditions into Norway's Lyngen Alps for a number of years, sharing the wonders of sailing and mountaineering on Lofoten, one of the most appealing islands in the world.
Jon Amtrup is the skipper on Explore North. He has crossed the Atlantic twice, participated in the Bergen Shetland Race six times and done a lot of shorthanded regatta sailing. He is also a freelancer for the Norwegian yachting magazine SEILmagasinet and other boating magazines.
Explore North offers lifelong memories, adventures that combine sailing along the Norwegian coast with skiing and snowboarding in the Lyngen Alps. You will have the chance to climb to the summit of mountains that starts right at the seashore at the Norwegian coast and ski down again.