What are you reading lately? Jack Reacher? The latest chick lit? Good for you. Let your brain melt. Us, we’re into a new paper in Geophysical Research Letters called “Projected Changes in Inter-annual Variability of Peak Snowpack Amount and Timing in the Western United States,” or, for short, “Projected Changes in Inter-annual Variability of Peak Snowpack Amount and Timing in the Western United States.” For the three of you still reading at this point (Hi Mom!), the paper shows that warm temperatures associated with climate change cause less snowfall and more melting in the West. (Duh!) But more worrisome, and less obviously, it shows that consecutive snow drought years are increasingly likely. (Squaw, anyone?) Now THAT is worrisome for the ski industry. Climate change can also cause “precipitation whiplash,” where areas go from extremely dry conditions to heavy rains or snowfall, in places such as California, or, uh, here. (See: Basalt fire, then flooding.) This whiplash messes up water distribution in local ecosystems and makes planning harder for ski resorts. If you’re intrigued, try reading the “Plain Language Summary” of the paper, and go further depending on pain tolerance.
Aspen Skiing Company Utility Holy Cross Energy Continues to Go Green
Our 100% organic cotton, sustainably sourced hats are metaphorically doffed to Holy Cross Energy, which this fall announced it could reach its 70% clean energy goal by 2021. That’s a decade earlier than originally planned! This announcement follows a deal with Guzman Energy to purchase 100 megawatts of electricity from the Arriba Wind Farm in Lincoln County. It was made possible by the rapid decrease in wind energy prices, which are blowing coal-fired power out of the market. And HCE isn’t stopping there. CEO Bryan Hannegan has spoken about the utility’s 100% renewable energy goal, saying “We know we have the rest of the summit to tackle. The hard part is the last face, the last 20%. If you’re a mountaineer, that’s the challenge that you live for.” ASC has worked closely with HCE over almost two decades to help increase clean energy supply. This work includes construction of the 3MW Elk Creek coal mine methane capture project, and extensive engagement with community partners to bring progressive, renewable energy voices to the board of directors.
While you all have been working Excel tables, little kids have been playing office behind the IT shop using fax machines and dot-matrix printers, which is way more fun, and you learn stuff too. Why though? It’s because IT has been obsessively collecting massive amounts of e-waste to save future generations from toxic landfill leachate. You’re welcome. Just this year, they recycled 4,400 lbs. which is like, two tons brah! Even after the IT team rounded up the equipment for the recycle bin, one neighborhood kid constructed a fort and hauled the old equipment back in to make a pseudo office. (In the adult world, there’s a term for such entrepreneurial, socially misfitted oddballs: Financial Analyst.) Not only is IT working to save the planet, they are inspiring the next generation. Props to Rob Blanchard and team for making this happen!
Thanks to Victor Gerdin for this reporting.
If you thought the lead article on climate science was boring, allow us to reset your barometer. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Frank White, Victor Gerdin, Jonboy (who is now working for City of Aspen), Colin Martin, and others at Snowmass, snowmaking operations there have become 40% more energy efficient over the past two decades. One way they did that was by replacing old school “flow control valves” (pictured below) with new technology to control water flow. Operating the old equipment was like driving your car with the gas pedal floored and controlling speed by railing on the brakes, or put differently, driving with Don Schuster (ret.) The new school systems use variable frequency drive motor controllers, which only use as much electricity as necessary to pump water. There are 8 of them in the Primary and Booster Pump Stations at Snowmass. So, in other words … if the temperature gets a little colder during a snowmaking night, and you want to pump a little more water (to make more snow), the new system just uses a little more electricity, instead of turning on a whole new pump.
Even better: when Colin and crew painstakingly removed all 9 old school flow control valves without damaging them, they worked with Victor Gerdin to find out there was an aftermarket. So ASC made a cool $6,000 for these inefficient unwanted flow control carcasses … and all we had to do was load them onto the truck that the buyer even drove up the mountain.
Orange You Glad You Volunteered?
Outfitted with astounding neon trash bags and tattered orange safety vests, a motley crew of ASC employees took on the trash at Independence Pass during our annual cleanup lallapalooza. Scaling the cliffs and thankfully avoiding the SUVs whipping past, we amassed a heaps of trucker bottles (don’t ask…ok, you asked: plastic pee bottles (full) that truckers chunk out the window to save time from rest stops) and in keeping with the theme here, a pair of soiled tighty-whiteys (a relic of someone’s not good terrible day on the otherwise beautiful Pass). This is a time-honored tradition (picking up trash, not soiling our trousers, although…) and we hope you join us next year.
Donut Mess with the Next Generation
More than 4 million people participated in the Global Climate Strike on September 20th. As part of it, students in Aspen created the
snowflake photo below to symbolize giving a flake. (Those dots are actually kids in white T-shirts, and the flake looks oddly like diamond jewelry, this being Aspen). While most folks supported these kids, the colorful comments of a couple of (likely bot, likely Eastern European) internet trolls on Facebook prompted ASC to turn on language filters… Meanwhile, thanks to a hall pass from Mike, ASC employees took the day to join the strike, educate themselves, and enjoy the outdoors. In support, ASC set up a “donut wall” in Aspen, encouraging citizens to sign climate cards urging representatives to act on climate. Two women didn’t support the cause, but signed climate cards anyways “because we wanted the donut.” One ASC employee noted that their action “sums up the collapse of American society in all its frosted glory.” Michael Miracle characterized it “Homer Simpson as moral compass.” Final count? Cards: 200. Donuts: 150 (147 humans, a few aggressive dogs). Donuts per Card: 1.3333333…a repeating decimal, the stuff of revolution.
Ohio River Trash Stash Removal
Limelight marketing coordinator Casandra Rodriguez has finally returned to us after participating in the In Good Company trip to clean up the Ohio River. Clif Bar supports the program and next year you could be selected to participate along with representatives from other environmentally conscious companies—just keep an eye out in the spring for applications. Casandra earned the nickname “Grizzly” after finding what (they think) used to be a bear slipper while hunting for garbage in the river. Other items removed include: 70 tires, a bowling ball, computer monitors, a stroller, and three messages in a bottle. (We don’t know what the messages were, sorry! But we assume they were plaintive cries in the wilderness, paeans to lost love, cries for help from desert islands—you know, typical note-in-bottle stuff….) Despite losing the battle to retrieve a moldering ice cube tray lodged under logs, Casandra and the team disposed of a grand total of over 115 thousand pounds of trash! What’s more? She returned determined to eliminate single-use plastics from her life, your life, the Limelight Hotels, and the whole-wide world. Stay tuned for more on her story at the February MIM, or—better yet—go talk to her next time you’re at Riverside.
On February 25, Aspen U at the Limelight Aspen will be hosting the most important climate activist in history, Bill McKibben. The event, billed as a scrum, will include beer drinking. Mark it.
PS: Did you even recognize the Greenletter in post-analog clothing? A big round of applause for Erin Sprague, director of Brand Camp (aka training us all how to be consistent with our newer and grander standards), who graciously took our design from the dark ages of Microsoft Word 2005 to the time and aesthetic of Buck Rogers.