With possible record snow, Vail to keep Blue Sky, China Bowl open till closing day on April 24

By David O. Williams
Real AspenMarch 31, 2011
Vail has seen so much snow this season – more than 37 feet and counting – that Vail Resorts announced today most of the front and back sides of the mountain, including Blue Sky Basin, will stay open through closing day on Sunday, April 24.

Vail is rapidly closing in on its all-time snowfall record, although that's somewhat of a tricky number to pin down. Until the 2000-01 ski season, Vail used to measure snowfall at Patrol Headquarters (PHQ) at the top of the mountain.
Mid-winter scene atop Vail Mountain this week.
Vail Resorts photo by Connor Walberg

Most of the time, but not always, it snows more at the top. Since that season, Vail has been measuring at mid-mountain, presumably for a more all-around representative snowfall figure. Because while it tends to snow more at the top (11,250 feet), it definitely snows less at the base (8,150), so Vail decided to split the difference.

Until this season, the snow stake was at Mid-Vail where the foundation for a new restaurant went in last summer (look for that facility to be built this summer at the base of Look Ma and online for next season). Now, according to Real Vail Powder Predictor Reid Griebling, Vail's snow stake is just to the east of the Lodgepole kicker, at basically the same altitude.

Since Vail started taking mid-mountain measurements, the best season on record was 2007-08 when the resort had 458 inches of snow between opening day and closing day. As of this morning, Vail has had 452 inches so far this season, with five new this morning, seven inches in the last 48 hours and 40 inches in the last week. With 24 days left in the season, Vail is certain to break that record.

The PHQ (top of the mountain) record is 505 inches during the 1977-78 ski season. That record seems well within reach, even at mid-mountain. And so much snow – and a late Easter prompting an even longer season to capture Latin American snow riders – means Vail will keep 4,500 acres, including China Bowl and Blue Sky, open till closing day.

“With one of the latest closings Vail has seen in recent years falling on Easter Sunday, we want to give guests who plan to travel during this time every reason to visit Vail and provide them with the best late-season terrain possible,” Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain, said in a release.

“The phenomenal snow conditions we've seen throughout the season will allow us to keep the vast majority of the mountain and restaurants open through closing weekend. Combined with a stellar lineup of concerts and events for Spring Back to Vail, we're looking forward to a spectacular end to the 2010-2011 season.”

Beaver Creek also could be closing in on some kind of a record. During that huge 2007-08 season, Beaver Creek wound up with a record 462 inches at mid-mountain. With nearly 400 inches at top of the mountain so far this season – where the resort also historically measured snow – Beaver Creek earlier this week was ahead of its 2007-08 pace.

However, Beaver Creek closes a week earlier than Vail – Sunday, April 17 – and won't be measuring beyond closing day. As of this morning, Beaver Creek had received two more inches of new snow, three inches in the last 48 hours, 31 inches in the last week and 344 total inches at mid-mountain.

Forecasters are calling for another 1-2 inches during the day today and then a major warming and drying trend Friday and Saturday until another storm moves in Saturday night and into Sunday night.

Here's the full list of what Vail will keep open till April 24 (this info is straight from the VR release):

• Avanti Express Lift (#2);

• Wildwood Express Lift (# 3);

• Mountaintop Express Lift (# 4);

• High Noon Express Lift (# 5);

• Riva Bahn Express Lift (# 6);

• Born Free Express Lift (# 8);

• Northwoods Express Lift (# 11);

• Gopher Hill Lift (# 12);

• Sourdough Express Lift (#14)

• Little Eagle Lift (# 15);

• Vista Bahn Express Lift (#16);

• Sun Up Lift (#17)

• Eagle Bahn Gondola (# 19);

• Orient Express Lift (#21);

• Tea Cup Express Lift (# 36);

• Skyline Express Lift (# 37); and

• Pete's Express Lift (# 39).

The Eagle Bahn Gondola (# 19) will continue normal nighttime operations for Game Creek Restaurant, Bistro Fourteen and Adventure Ridge through Saturday, April 9. The Black Forest Race Arena and NASTAR course will be open through Sunday, April 10.

All other operating hours will remain the same. Lifts will operate on Vail's front side from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Back Bowls will continue to close at 3:30 p.m. and Blue Sky Basin will close at 3 p.m. Lift operating hours are posted at the base of all open lifts and snow riders are advised to check mountain terrain and lift status reports on www.vail.com or the mobile site, http://m.vail.com for most up-to-date information.

The Vail Snowsports School will continue to operate from its Vail Village and Lionshead locations through Sunday, April 24. The Golden Peak Children's and Adults Snowsports School will be open through Sunday, April 17; the Small World Nursery in Golden Peak will remain open through Sunday, April 24.

Skiers and snowboarders will be able to dine at Two Elk through Saturday, April 23 and Buffalo's, Wildwood Smokehouse, the Look Ma level of Mid-Vail, Express Lift at Mountain Plaza, the Marketplace at Eagle's Nest and lunch at Bistro Fourteen through Sunday, April 24.

comments: 1 Comment on "With possible record snow, Vail to keep Blue Sky, China Bowl open till closing day on April 24"

Reid – March 31, 2011, at 8:37 p.m.

We shall see what the weather brings us for the first part of April. Long range models are showing a warming trend with high pressure ridging in from the southwest. Doesn't mean much now, but something to keep an eye on.

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Snow Report

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A-Basin n/a n/a
Aspen n/a n/a closed
BC n/a n/a closed
Breckenridge n/a n/a closed
Buttermilk n/a n/a closed
Copper n/a n/a closed
Crest. Butte n/a n/a closed
Eldora n/a n/a closed
Heavenly n/a n/a closed
Highlands n/a n/a
Howelsen n/a n/a closed
Keystone n/a n/a closed
Kirkwood n/a n/a closed
Loveland n/a n/a
Monarch n/a n/a closed
Northstar n/a n/a closed
Powderhorn n/a n/a closed
Purgatory n/a n/a closed
Silverton n/a n/a closed
Ski Cooper n/a n/a closed
Ski Granby n/a n/a closed
Snowmass n/a n/a closed
Steamboat n/a n/a closed
Sunlight n/a n/a closed
Telluride n/a n/a closed
Vail n/a n/a closed
WinterPark n/a n/a closed
Wolf Creek n/a n/a closed
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