A-Basin’s Montezuma Bowl opens Wednesday, February 24
Posted by sibylle in Uncategorized, skiing (Wednesday February 24, 2010 at 8:41 pm)

‘Zuma Bowl, with 400 acres, almost doubles the available terrain at A-Basin. Today, 17 trails and 200 acres will add to the skiable terrain at the Basin.

I was teaching at Keystone today, so didn’t ski the bowl myself, but I plan to get out to Montezuma Bowl  soon and will take some photos and report on the conditions.

Telemark world cup race at Keystone February 24 - 27
Posted by sibylle in skiing (Monday February 22, 2010 at 8:08 pm)

While everyone else concentrates on the 2010 Olympics in British Columbia, Colorado locals can enjoy the World Cup Telemark races right in our back yard.

Driving home from work at Keystone today, I noticed two rows of netting up beside Go Devil, the steep run where many races take place. I wondered what races were scheduled, when the radio announced the Tele world cup, consisting of four separate FIS World Cup races on Thursday through Sunday.

Earthships, snowy winters, and catch water
Posted by sibylle in earthship (Tuesday February 2, 2010 at 9:05 pm)
Snow covers our windows after a storm

After my last post about living in an Earthship in Colorado above 9,000 feet in winter, several people wrote to ask about how the Earthship works. I’ll try to answer some of the questions in this and the following posts.


First, Michael Reynolds of Taos, New Mexico, designed the Earthship as a passive solar, super-insulated, potentially off-the-grid home to be as self-sufficient as possible. It has thick earth walls that retain heat that enters the house through the numerous south-facing windows. Like a greenhouse, for plants, Reynolds designed the Earthship with slanted windows (glazing).


In snow country, snow tends to pile up on the windows, preventing the sun from heating the house interior on sunny days unless I first go out in the morning and sweep or shovel the windows clear. If we have a big storm, with heavy snow, the snow accumulates on the windows up to several feet deep (or thick), a result of the high winds at this altitude that blow snow over the entire roof and down onto the windows.


Tristan excavates the snow, with blocks that weigh 70 pounds or more


In a normal house, with vertical glass, and a roof overhang, the snow rarely even hits the windows, much less sticks to them. If you’ve ever lived in snow country, you would have noticed if the windows were snow-covered after each storm, preventing light from entering. Does any reader have vertical windows where the snow sticks to the glass?



One further issue is water. The design calls for catch-water from the roof to drain into tanks in the house that provide the water supply; with a 3,000-gallon holding tank the norm. In the Rockies, with temperatures ranging from 30 below at night to below zero in many days in December and January, snow falls on the roof but does not melt. I depend on about 2,500 gallons to last as my water supply from November until March – 2,500 gallons for 5 months equals 500 gallons per month; which amounts to 16 – 17 gallons per day.


We have composting toilets that require no water, but that still leaves us with less than 20 gallons for showers and washing dishes per day for the household. Reynold’s concept may work well in a rainier climate, or at lower altitude, but here, while the Earthship may be somewhat self-sufficient, we use the gym for showers and the Laundromat to do laundry.


Having more, and larger tanks to hold more water would work in cold climates. Still, if one can get no additional water for 4 months or longer in the year, storing enough water to comfortably last for that time may be challenging.

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