1. WildSnow outer local: tiny homes are again in our news. Aspen Skiing Company is buying them at $100,000 each (!) for employee housing. They figured out a tricky way to bypass restrictive land use codes that make it tough or perhaps even illegal (depending on minimum square footage stipulations specific to each land use code) to live full-time in a tiny home. Apparently some or perhaps all the RV parks in Eagle County, Colorado have special use permits that allow unlimited stays for clients. Park your wheeled tiny house in one of these RV parks — live there as long as you want.
I like what’s going on here, but have to chuckle. As has happened over the years in many other parts of our country, mobile homes in our area were once the solution to quickly created employee housing. Many of the resulting “trailer parks” remain in play, some having been developed as early as 1964 for a dam building project. Nowadays, asking for approval of a new mobile home park development in our area would be like asking permission for an oil refinery. Rename mobile homes to “tiny houses” — problem solved. Any thinking person, however, has to wonder why a “tiny house” that costs $200 a square foot is somehow preferable as affordable housing, when compared to a “mobile home” that costs $34 a square foot. Is it worth nearly six times the square footage cost not call your house a mobile home?
(Example price estimates gleaned from internet research. The Skico tiny homes, ostensibly from Sprout, are said to cost $100,000 each at about 500 square feet. I found a new 765 square foot mobile home for sale in our region for $25,585. In the case of a larger mobile home, the comparison wouldn’t be fair. But in my opinion 764 square feet is close enough to 500 for valid consideration.)
Indeed, with the incentive of charging a premium, I wouldn’t be surprised if mobile home factories begin pumping out “tiny houses” by the score, if they have not done so already. Coming soon, the double wide tiny house!
Interestingly, I studied land use codes from a few other counties and noticed that in RV campgrounds was usually stipulated as “seasonal, not year around.” Typical of the various regulations (such as minimum home sizes) that have contributed to our somewhat artificial housing crises. Article here.
2. I love the concept of off-grid living. But solar power, while often vaunted as the savior of the human race, in reality is a rather problematic way to get electricity on a small scale. You need batteries that cost money and wear out. PV panels are large, unwieldy and can be a target for thieves. The current sweet spot in panel efficiency (converting sun to electricity) is not impressive, and panels rarely operate at peak efficiency anyway. They need direct sun to do that, not have dust or dirt on the glass, clear sky, and so forth. Thus, any development in making panels more efficient is closely watched. Wiki is fascinating. Latest developments.
4. Check out this 100-year-old skier getting his summer turns. (High Bandwidth Warning, Salt Lake Tribune so loaded with advertising it barely functions, but fun article on high bandwidth connection.)
5. Condolences to friends and family of skier who fell through snow hole on Mount Rainier and appears to have been lost to a raging creek. Article here.
6. Skiing and snowboarding the Colorado 14,000 foot peaks has become popular. In fact, so popular that it’s now not a big-news item when someone completes them all. Since Chris Davenport made the speed of the project an issue when he became the second guy to ski them all — and the fastest by doing them in one year — others have tried to break his speed record. It looks like the speediest ‘teener skier (actually, splitboarder) is now Josh Jespersen. He did them all in 138 days. Super impressive. Not only do you need incredible motivation and fitness for that sort of thing, but the mental game of balancing stormy weather, avalanche danger and skiable snow can be so difficult and stressful you can easily throw in the towel part way through your project — or begin skiing only smaller parts of the peaks and rationalizing to yourself that you’ve completed them. (some peaks are hard to get complete runs on due to inconsistent snow cover from season to season). Article here.
7. I’m keeping count. So far, I’ve had three annoying encounters with irresponsible drone pilots and their craft. What’s the solution? I’d shoot the things out of the sky with my elk harvesting tool, but the field of fire is often unsafe. I’d buy a drone buster electronic rig if Amazon had a deal, but they don’t. How about a bird of prey trained to attack the things? Might work. Article here.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.