Monday, August 28, 2006

The noise over heli-skiing

The AP reported today that Telluride Helitrax, the only helicopter skiing company in Colorado, is drawing critics because the quick, agile helicopter beats backcountry skiers to the untracked snow near Silverton and creates a lot of noise in the process.

Criticism arose when the company applied to the Bureau of Land Management to renew its 10-year permit to use areas around Red Mountain Pass in the San Juans. The permit would replace the one-year permits the company has received since 1995.

Generally, the helicopter business doesn't use areas readily accessible to foot-powered backcountry skiers. Many locals point out that the real powder spoilers are skiers riding in on snowmobiles -- a practice that has boomed in the last 10 years.

Even with critics, odds are good that Helitrax will continue to swoop in and snap up fresh powder, as it has for 25 years. Whether it gets a 10-year permit, or just a one-year, is still up in the air.

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