Following the completion of the largest snowmaking project in North America this year, Vail’s plan was to start the season atop Gondola One with the Swingsville and Ramshorn runs, as well as a beginner skiing area over at Golden Peak.
The resort will have all that and more available on Friday, with a few more runs than anticipated open in the areas surrounding Chair 4, including Slifer Express, Cappuccino, Upper Powerline and Lower Meadows.
“Thanks to our enormous snowmaking expansion project, we have an entirely new early-season terrain package available this year, and we can’t wait for our guests to experience the difference,” said Beth Howard, Vail Mountain’s new vice president and chief operating officer. “I’d like to extend a huge thank you to our mountain operations teams for their hard work this summer and fall to make it all possible.”
As part of the Opening Day festivities Howard, along with snowmaking project leaders, will perform a celebratory ribbon cutting on one of Vail’s new state-of-the-art snow guns at the base of Gondola One at 8:30 a.m. Complimentary breakfast burritos and hot cocoa will be provided in Mountain Plaza at the base of Gondola One for early risers on opening day, while supplies last. Express Lift Bar will be open in Mountain Plaza as well. For dining on the mountain, Look Ma at Mid-Vail and Buffalo’s at the top of Mountaintop Express Lift (No. 4) will be fully operational starting at 9 a.m.
‘A much better experience’
Skiers on the bunny hill at Golden Peak will be able to make their way over to Gondola One in Vail Village on snow, if they want to ride the gondola and try a run down Swingsville, “a real beginner trail,” as described by vice president of mountain operations Greg Johnson.
Johnson shared Vail’s early season plans with the Vail Daily as the snowmaking project was nearing completion in October. Nearly 200 acres of new and enhanced snowmaking terrain this season, in addition to the previously existing 431 acres of snowmaking terrain, provides guests with access to higher elevation terrain, a broader variety of trails, and improved early season ski school terrain.
“We’ll upload and download Gondola One, and that’s a much better experience because you’ve got all the restaurants here in Mid Vail, in the lodge and the 10th, which will be available to our guests, they’ll have a better place to go when they want to take a break,” Johnson said. “The next thing we’re going to work on, is getting out of Lionshead, by loading on Chair 8, skiing across to Chair 2, through Cub’s Way and Columbine, and then we’ll get over to Chair 2 and then you’ll link up with Meadows … so you quickly get to Mid Vail, and we’ll go from there.”
Johnson said the goal of the project was to get Vail open quicker, transport skiers and snowboarders to the Mid Vail area more reliably from both Vail Village and Lionshead, and then get those guests back to Vail Village and Lionshead as quickly as possible, as well.
“What that does, through this terrain, it links to everybody’s favorite terrain in Chair 2, Chair 3 will be accessible as soon as we have more natural snow, and then it’s a quicker jump into the Back Bowls, and other important terrain like over towards Two Elk, with Chair 14, which is really popular beginner terrain here that skis well, early, on natural snow,” Johnson said.
In support of its major snowmaking investments on the mountain, Vail will also be kicking off exciting new traditions in the early season this year:
Beginning on Opening Day and continuing every day throughout the season, bells will be rung at 3 p.m. throughout Vail Village, Lionshead Village and on the mountain, signifying the start to après-ski: a time to celebrate the day’s achievements on the mountain and come together with the community to enjoy the post-skiing experience. During Vail Après, guests will enjoy unique offerings such as champagne toasts, signature food and drink specials, and retail promotions. Vail Mountain and the Town of Vail have partnered to bring this experience to life, distributing bells to local merchants and community partners to ring each day at 3 p.m., in homage to Vail’s European heritage.
This Thanksgiving, Vail is debuting its new holiday tradition: Revely Vail, a week-long celebration to kick off the holiday season and the 2019-2020 winter ski season. From Nov. 23-30, Revely Vail will offer family-oriented activities throughout Vail Village, including cooking classes, ice skating, a Gingerbread Contest, Explosion of Lights and a Kris Kringle Market. A signature 10th Mountain Legacy Parade will also take place along the streets of Vail on Friday, Nov. 29, honoring veterans and commemorating the unique legacy of Vail’s founders.
Early season and uphill access
All guests are reminded that they must observe all posted signs, closures and slow zones, especially during the early season. Closed trails may contain hazards due to early snow coverage. Accessing closed terrain is a violation of the Colorado Ski Safety Act and will result in the loss of skiing privileges and could involve prosecution and a fine.
During the early season, uphill access routes will be very limited and are subject to change and/or close on a daily basis. Uphill access is currently closed. For the safety of guests and employees, all uphill access users are required to call the Uphill Access Hotline before accessing the mountain at (970)-754-3049. For more information on the resort’s uphill access policy and guidelines, including designated routes during winter operations, visit our Safety Info page here.
—This story contains material from a news release issued by Vail Resorts
—Photo by Whitney Brofos