New Vail gondola to open for skiing on Friday; snow in forecast for Monday
These are both good signs that ski season at Vail and Beaver Creek, which has gotten off to a slow start, is beginning to get into full swing.
To be sure, Thanksgiving skiing in Colorado -- or anywhere in the northern hemisphere for that matter -- can be a bit of a crap shoot. Still, according to the SNOTEL website, Colorado has enjoyed (or suffered through, depending on your perspective) an unusually warm and dry November.
SNOTEL, operated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the United States Department of Agriculture, shows (pdf) that the Colorado River Basin, which includes the Vail Valley, is at 44 percent of its average annual snow pack as of Nov. 27.
However, relief, for snow riders, is on the way. The Opensnow.com website is predicting anywhere from 2-6 inches of snow in the Vail area Sunday night into Monday. And the website, run by Boulder meteorologist Joel Gratz, also says a change in the prevailing weather pattern may occur as we head into December.
In the meantime, Vail and Beaver Creek, which opened Nov. 16 and Nov. 21, respectively, are slowly rolling out as much terrain as possible. There is, however, considerable nervousness after the entire country saw one of the warmest and driest winters on record last season. Vail's Back Bowls didn't open until January, and most avid snow riders are fervently hoping this season will not be a repeat.
In previous seasons, the Vail Valley has enjoyed Indian summer right up until the Birds of Prey World Cup races, which occur this weekend at Beaver Creek, and then seen Mother Nature's snow machine kick into full gear during December.
One, Vail’s new state-of-the-art gondola in Vail Village, will open to skiers and snowboarders beginning Friday, Nov. 30, providing access to Lionshead via Lions Way to Lodgepole to Columbine.
The Gopher Hill chairlift ( No. 12) will also open to skiers and snowboarders beginning Friday, offering additional beginner terrain in the Golden Peak area. Snow riders can use Gopher Hill Lift to access the Vail Village base area and other areas of the mountain.
Snow riders currently have access to the Born Free Express Lift (No. 8), the Little Eagle Lift (No. 15) and the Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead.
Foot passenger access on both One and the Eagle Bahn Gondola will remain free through Sunday, Dec. 2.
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