Vail, CO 3-16-19

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Vail, CO 3-16-19

Postby EMSC » Fri Mar 29, 2019 5:13 pm

Jr had his final race of the season at Vail.

I'm not the biggest fan of Vail. The parking stinks and is pricey, the hill is not particularly steep, the prices are outrageous, etc... So there may be a few things I'm biased about in a TR like this, though the snow was in great shape and quite deep.

We parked at the village garage and walked the 1/3 of a mile to Gold Peak/Larkspur lodge since the valet only parking garage at gold peak had no valet's on duty until long after all the racer family's had shown up. Turned out to be a good decision since Ski and Snowboard Club Vail forced everyone to change at the Gold Peak/Larkspur lodge (not the SSCV building that we used to be able to use).... then forced everyone to take all bags outside and pile them at the finish line fencing. Not a lot of folks happy about that...

Then it took 3 tries to find the racer only lift tickets... Then there was the 3,000! people at the Gold peak base for a "pink" cancer fundraiser event where the lifties literally sat around staring at the lift all morning instead of trying to match up quads in the sizable line... They also still use hand scanners at that lift instead of RFID gates which is weird given that Rob Katz (Vail, Inc CEO) is big into technology spend. There are reasons I don't go to Vail more often...

That said, the snow was in excellent shape due to all the huge Colo snowfalls in the first half of March, while also being a blue-bird day where portions of the back bowls softened up in the afternoon for probably the first time (it's been rather cold and snowy for 6-8 weeks in Colo). Given Jr was with a coach much of the day, I was able to ride the lift up to Northwoods and ski a few laps in the back bowls early; more laps again right after lunch; and then Jr and I went after his 2nd race run making it just in time for one lap in Blue Sky Basin before it shut for the day.

The truly unusual thing was this was on a Saturday and going home in the afternoon there was hardly any traffic at all. No slow or stop & go's anywhere along the route. I haven't seen anything like it during prime ski season in YEARS. I don't even have a theory for how/why traffic was so low.

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Racers & parents getting ready early


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Sun Down bowl


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part of Sun Up bowl


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the prominent peak just left of center is Mt of the Holy Cross, a 14'er (which I have hiked in summer)


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fuzzy frame from a cell phone video of Gold Peak race arena


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That's the Gore range poking up


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Welcome to Vail's back bowls. Enjoy the catwalks.


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Top of Blue Sky


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a great pano of all the back bowls from the top of Blue Sky...


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My son thought these lift 'shelters' were dumb looking for the BSB lifts.


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CDOT was still moving a lot of snow around on I70
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Re: Vail, CO 3-16-19

Postby egieszl » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:10 am

I will never understand the allure of Vail.

Vail sucks and you back up that statement with many of the things you stated.

The Back Bowls have to be the most overrated terrain of any ski area in the country. South facing so the snow more often than not sucks. When it is powder you're in a heated competition with thousands of others, more like tens of thousands, to get a single untracked lap.

The terrain is flat, criss crossed with catwalks, and the mountain really doesn't have any challenging terrain. The Intermediate terrain itself leaves a lot to be desired.
2018-19 ski season stats- Vertical: 1,328,039, Days: 55, Lift rides: 814, Top day vertical: 53,363;
Total past 12 seasons- Vertical: 14,120,078, Days: 557, Lift rides: 8,869, Top day vertical: 64,867;
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Re: Vail, CO 3-16-19

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:23 pm

egieszl is a surprising source of the above comments.

Snowmass' intermediate terrain is much flatter than Vail's. Snowmass' expert terrain has tedious access, a virtue on powder days but not so much otherwise. But the Aspen areas in general are probably as crowd proof as you can get for a large resort destination in North America.

Vail has always had a crowd reputation; thus nearly all of my visits have been in January. January also reduces the chances of melt/freezing the Back Bowls, same rationale as skiing Jackson in that time frame. Therefore I have had minimal issues with snow conditions though not a lot of powder experience at Vail.

The raw numbers of skier visits vs. acreage for Vail have not increased over the past ~20 years. It's a rather average ski area in that regard overall, so I have rarely experienced excessive skier density personally.

I have many issues with Vail the Corporation, but few with Vail the ski area. Lack of high expert terrain is a flaw, but not a fatal one when there's plenty of excellent quality advanced terrain IMHO. I think Vail's popularity with intermediates is fully justified. Vail's snow record is exceeded in Colorado only by much smaller Wolf Creek, and Steamboat which is far more flawed in terrain quality and snow preservation.

My future visits to Vail are likely to be limited though. I'm locked into the Ikon Pass because of Mammoth and Iron Blosam Week, and with the exception of Whistler many more of my favored areas are on Ikon vs. Epic.
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Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
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