A new climbing film, Eldora, and concussions: November 22 Health and Recreation round-up

By Kirsten Ellis

A climbing film for everyone

Three Boulder climbers are featured in a new climbing film, which premiered Wednesday at the Boulder Theater, called “Exposure 1.” Filmmakers Chuck Fryberger and Kyle Berkompas aimed to show the emotion behind the sport, both on and off the rock, the Colorado Daily said.  Tickets to watch online can be bought on EpicTV.

Eldora Mountain Resort opens

“Stoked” skiiers and snowboarders decended on Eldora today for opening day, The Denver Post said.  The Epic Pass includes Eldora for the first time this year, adding this closer resort option for local skiiers.  They currently have a 20 inch base and got six inches of new snow in the last 72 hours, according to Eldora’s website.

Concussions are worse than you may have thought

Here’s the bottom line, don’t hit your head against a tree while skiing.  According to an article in The Denver Post, most people think they are ready to be out playing sports again too quickly after a concussion, and can cause and even more serious brain injury, since their body is not fully functioning yet.  So, even a mild concussion can result in more long-term consequences.


Weekly Round-Up — Nov. 21

By Kendall Brunette


Federal sequestration cuts hurt ongoing medical research by reducing research grant funding.  According to Boulder Weekly, Christopher Lowry, a scientist in the department of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado Boulder, is one of many CU scientists who are struggling to obtain funding for their research.  Lowry is researching new treatments for depression and is working toward a vaccination against it.  Although his research has received constant funding since 1995, he now faces the reality that the money will soon run out, leaving his research in question.


The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office is seeking information about two recent incidents of illegal chemical dumping near Lyons.  According to The Denver Post, authorities found a 30-gallon barrel of zinc cyanide dumped at the Black Bear Inn earlier this month.  Four days later, a 20-gallon barrel of copper cyanide was discovered at an Environmental Protection Agency dump site.


CU-Boulder proudly announced the successful launch of its Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission on Monday, Nov. 18.  The CU-led $671 million NASA mission to Mars will target the role that the loss of atmospheric gases played in changing Mars from a warm, wet and possibly habitable planet for life to the cold, dry and inhospitable planet it appears to be today, according to a CU-Boulder news release.

Health and Recreation Round-Up for November 15

By Kirsten Ellis

Winter Sports

On Tuesday, the forecast did not anticipate that the mountains could get up to a foot of snow this weekend.  But its time to sharpen and wax your skis, snow is fluttering down, and the mountain resorts should see 12 inches by Sunday afternoon, according to The National Weather Service.

The Daily Camera reported that this year is already Boulder’s ninth-snowiest year on record.  Here’s to the beginning of a great ski season!

The Affordable Care Act

It has been an uncertain week for private health insurance and the Affordable Care Act.  250,000 lower end policies in Colorado alone were due to be cancelled this year because they did not meet new law requirements effective Jan. 1, but President Obama announced that these policies can be extended for another year if the state regulators and insurance companies decide to allow customers to renew their existing policies.  The Denver Post explains what you need to know about Obamas cancelled policies.

The most common advice to consumers is to call your insurance company to ask what your options are, and check the online marketplace to see if you might have better coverage options through the Affordable Care Act.

Boulder Ice Rink

The downtown Boulder ice rink announced today that they will not re-open for the 2013-2014 season, citing major mechanical issues.  They are also unsure if they will open next year, according to The Daily Camera.

Wet avalanches join the long list of climate change consequences

By Kendall Brunette

You’ve planned, prepared and trained for this day.

Your legs are full of energy and ready to carry you to the summit.

You noticed the air becoming lighter with each step, but the adrenaline pushes you up the mountain with determination and perseverance.

Standing atop the summit, you look down at the white mountainside below you, anxiously and meticulously picking your line of descent.

You point your tips and send it!

Before you lies nothing but untouched powder waiting for you to carve the majestic turns most people only dream about.

With each turn you feel the freedom and exhilaration you’ve been craving.


The sound every backcountry skiier or snowboarder fears – the sound of an avalanche breaking lose beneath you.

This sound has become more familiar and common in the backcountry because of climate change.  According to the U.S. Forest Service, wet avalanches are caused by rain, prolonged exposure to sun and warm temperatures.  These type of avalanches differ from the more prevalent dry avalanches, which are caused by wind-loaded snow drifts placing excess stress on the snowpack.  Climate change-induced warming trends facilitate the conversion of snow precipitation into rain at lower elevations, adding more moisture to the low-elevation snowpacks.


Jeff Deems, research scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder’s National Snow & Ice Data Center, studies snow hydrology – the study of how snow moves and forms.

“Low-elevation snowpacks exhibit climate change impacts first,” Deems said.  “We are losing those low-elevation snowpacks – they are not accumulating as early, and they are melting faster and earlier.”

According to Deems, minimally warmer atmospheric temperatures turn a substantial fraction of snowfall episodes into rainfall events.

“At low elevations, we are seeing a diminished snow pack, either from the snow not accumulating in the first place because it rained instead, or from additional rain falling on top of the snowpack, which helps melt the snow faster,” Deems said.

Rain falling on top of the snowpack may indeed melt the snow faster, but it also increases the risk of wet avalanches.  Snow carried down mountainsides by wet avalanches tends to be heavier and concrete-like, as they are laden with excess moisture.  Wet avalanches move significantly slower than dry avalanches, which some claim to be a benefit, as it allows more time for people to escape the sliding snow.  The U.S. Forest Service says that wet avalanches are also more difficult for humans to trigger because of the differences in weight and moisture content of the snow.

According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Colorado endured 223 avalanche accidents over the past four years.  Of these incidents, 33 were fatal.  Skiiers are the most common avalanche victims throughout the state, but snowboarders, snowmobilers, snowshoers and hikers are also included in the statistics compiled by CAIC.  Nationwide, snowmobilers comprise the greatest number of avalanche fatalities over the past nine years.

US av fatalities by season

Based on data from CAIC, avalanche fatalities follow a growing trend.  Over the last 60 years, the number of fatalities has steadily increased each year.  One explanation for this trend is advances in technology, leading to greater backcountry access.  Today’s snowmobiles harness greater horsepower and are specifically designed for climbing mountains in the backcountry.  Skiiers and snowboarders have gained greater backcountry access with helicopters and snowcats – fully tracked vehicles designed for on-snow travel.

Climate change is the other explanation for the increase in avalanche fatalities.  Warmer atmospheric temperatures, paired with rainfall on snowpack creates a ripe recipe for wet avalanches and the chill-inducing WHUMPH!

Deems simply says, “We know that if you change the atmosphere, you change the snowpack.”

And when you change the snowpack, you run the risk of erasing those beautifully carved turns with massively destructive wet avalanches…WHUMPH!

Weekly Round-Up — Nov. 7

By Kendall Brunette


Earlier this week, High Country News published an article about commuters across the U.S.  The article was in response to an August report released by the USPIRG Education Fund, which found that people in all but seven states drove less in 2011 than they did in 2005.  Specifically, Colorado decreased their daily driving by 11.4 percent.  The article credited the expansion of Denver’s light and commuter rail services during the six-year time period as a significant contributor to Colorado’s decreased daily driving.


Boulder police arrested a 19-year-old CU student Wednesday after he admitted to killing a raccoon with a bat.  According to the Boulder Daily Camera, the student told police that he killed the raccoon for its hide.  Jace Robert Griffiths did not say what he planned to do with the raccoon hide, but he could be charged with aggravated animal cruelty.


Trader Joe’s, the specialty grocery store chain, announced its debut in Colorado on Thursday.  According to The Denver Post, the chain plans to open a store in Boulder at the Twenty Ninth Street mall in February.  Denver and Fort Collins will also receive new Trader Joe’s stores.  The chain will host a Grand Opening in Boulder on Valentine’s Day 2014.

Boulder Ballot Issues 2B, 2C, and 2D pass together, shifting and extending open space funds

By Kirsten Ellis

Voters passed three measures Tuesday that will require Boulder, over the next two decades, to shift sales tax revenues it uses for open space acquisition and maintenance to transportation and general funds.

Ballot issues 2B, 2C, and 2D all passed city elections with about three-fourths of the votes — practically a landslide. Pun intended.

City council members unanimously agreed in August on this package of three ballot issues, transferring some funds away from the mature open space program to transportation maintenance costs and the general fund deficit.  City council members, and even Mike Patton, the director of Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP), are very excited about Tuesday’s results.  Funds for open space will be sufficient to acquire new land, maintain trails, and continue with the cities master open space plan, in addition to extending funds to open space longer than they had originally planned for the project.

Heres a breakdown of the Ballot Issues.

Currently, Boulder city allocates .6 cent of city sales and use tax to the acquisition and preservation of open space.  This will continue, without changes, for six more years.

2B creates a new short-term city sales and use tax of .15 cent to fund transportation needs between 2014 to 2019, about $4.5 million annually.

Tim Plass, former city council member, said the immediate transportation need is maintaining pavement.  There is a basic transportation backlog that amounts to $4.2 million for roads that need to be fixed.  If the roads are too deteriorated, it’s actually more expensive to repair them, than if funds were used earlier to mend smaller problems.  So it’s more cost effective to fix them now, rather than later.

2C will alter an existing .33 cent tax allocated for open space, splitting it between open space and the general fund, starting in 2019.  Open space will receive .22 cent, and .11 cent will go to the general fund, helping to close the budget gap.  Starting in 2035, .10 cent will go to open space, and .23 cent to the general fund.

City council and OSMP have teamed closely for their open space vision, acquiring a necklace of parks around Boulder.  Together they budgeted for future open space acquisition, development, and maintenence.  2C will extend open space funding past it’s current expiration, 2019, and still allow for much needed core services funding, like fire, police, and transportation, said Tim Plass.

OSMP director Mike Patton is happy 2C passed.  Since much of the open space land has already been purchased, this will ensure funds will continue to flow to open space past 2035.

In 2035, these same 2C funds will swap with .10 cent going to open space and .23 cent to the general fund.

2D shifts money from existing open space taxes to transportation in 2019, extending the short-term .15 cent transportation tax, 2B, for 20 more years. During the first 10 years, 2019-2029, funds will go to transportation.  The last 10 years they will go to the general fund.

PLAN Boulder did not support 2D because “it strikes us as deceptive and overly complex,” and they think the tax for open space may prove necessary, said Ray Bridge.  They might have supported a transportation tax for this amount if it was separate from open space, had been written to provide the right amount of money and the right amount of time, and had been written clearly for transportation maintenance and not growth.

City council members were concerned that voters would be wary about cuts to open space after the September 2013 flood, as it seems open space needs more resources now.  But FEMA will be reimbursing the city for some costs.  And tax percentages to open space will remain the same for the next 6 years, not going into effect until 2019, said Tim Plass.

Although it seems like open space funding could be cut by almost one-third by 2035, the city is actually just adjusting their open space budget and extending it for at least 16 years, ensuring residents can still escape city life, just minutes from their doors.

Strange Brews: Craft beer inspired by unique ingredients

By Kendall Brunette

Take a look at the beer menu of any Colorado craft brewery and you will notice a peculiar trend — the ingredients used to brew some of your favorite drafts seem more fit for a smoothie than a beer.   Chai tea, key lime, guava, pineapple, watermelon, mango, passion fruit and chili pepper all add to a growing list of quirky flavors found in today’s craft brews.

A survey of this year’s Great American Beer Festival medal-winning beers proves that America’s appetite for craft beer is changing.  Conventional lagers, pale ales, pilsners, stouts and wheat beers now compete with specialty beers that use an array of adjunct ingredients not commonly associated with beer.

One local craft brewery that brought home a medal from this year’s festival was Avery Brewing Company of Boulder.  Avery was one of 580 breweries that attended GABF, the country’s premiere beer festival and competition.  Every year, brewers from across the country convene in Denver for three days to showcase their beers in hopes of returning home with a medal or two to hang on the brewery walls.  This year’s festival saw 2,700 different beers entered into competition.

On a recent tour of Avery Brewing Company, Kyle “Hair Kevin” Howard, tour guide and beer enthusiast, explained the craft brewing industry’s shift toward strange brews with unique ingredients.

Howard’s love of craft beer is obvious from the minute you meet him.  There is a certain twinkle in his eye as he describes the brewing process.  He lists off the ingredients of his favorite beer with a child-like giddiness.  His body literally gyrates with excitement as he talks about having the best job in the world.

Avery's Kyle Howard describes brewing with unique ingredients

Avery’s Kyle Howard describes brewing with unique ingredients

Experimental brewing is common in the world of craft beer.  Howard explained that every good beer is the product of experimentation using different kinds of ingredients and tweaks throughout the brewing process.  In an effort to keep customers interested in their product, Avery uses a variety of unique ingredients to produce beers that everyone can appreciate.  Variety is the key to engaging a wider customer base who will keep coming back for more.

Avery uses the collective creativity of its employees – waitresses, brew masters and everyone in between – to brainstorm recipes for new beers.

Avery’s Bhakti Chai Brown Ale uses locally-sourced chai tea.  Boulder’s own Ozo Coffee supplies the coffee used in one of Avery’s coffee stouts.  The Ermita VI is one of Avery’s barrel-aged sour beers that uses key lime puree in the brewing process before it is aged in Suerte tequila barrels.

Avery's barrel-aging program Photo by Kendall Brunette

Avery’s barrel-aging program
Photo by Kendall Brunette

 Fate Brewing Company, another Boulder craft brewery, jumped on the strange brew bandwagon with their Watermelon Kolsch — a light beer brewed with watermelon puree.  Just down the road, Mountain Sun Pub sells its Colorado Kind Ale — a hop-filled beer locally referred to as, “The Dank.”  Similar to Avery, Mountain Sun produces a coffee porter called Isadore Java Porter, which is brewed with fair-trade coffee from Boulder’s Conscious Coffee.

Each of these unique beers uses the same general brewing process, but with different ingredients introduced at various times.  The resulting beers please crowds from all different walks of life.

Some of the more serious craft beer connoisseurs show their appreciation for these strange brews on Beeradvocate.com.

One satisfied Avery customer from Missouri posted, “The best thing I had was called ‘Samael’ — a 17 percent, five-ounce pour that was like whiskey and beer had a beautiful, beautiful baby.”  “Every sip was the best thing I’d ever tasted,” the customer exclaimed.

Perhaps one of Avery’s most popular craft brews is its Lilikoi Kepolo, which means passion fruit devil in Hawaiian.  This passion fruit-infused Belgian-style witbier won a bronze medal at this year’s GABF.

The list of Colorado’s strange brews is expansive and ever-growing.  Avery’s Rumpkin Ale, brewed with pumpkin innards and aged in rum barrels, marked the onset of fall in Boulder.  As winter nips at the heels of craft brewers, suds-sipping customers eagerly await the next batch of inspired brews.  Next season’s flavor possibilities are endless – limited only by a brewer’s imagination.