VAIL, Colorado - Vail's wind chill Wednesday, as low as -20, tied the record low temperature for the area in 1919, but that couldn't keep skiers and riders away from the mountain Wednesday.
At the base of Vail Mountain in Lionshead, the Vista Bahn chair lift line was empty - it seemed that every skier and snowboarder chose the gondola in order to get to the top without risking frostbite.
The National Weather Service won't have the official report of the low temperature for the day until the end of the month, but it showed temperatures hovering around -5 in Vail on its Web site. And with wind gusts as high as 30 miles per hour, the Weather Service put wind chills as low as -20.
Seth Rubenstein, of Denver, was taking advantage of the frigid weather after injuring his leg while skiing. He was sitting at the bottom of the hill with one ski boot off and his sock rolled down, exposing the bare skin on his shin and ankle to the elements.
"I'm icing it," he said.
He and his brother, Blake, and some friends came up for the day from Denver. They stopped in Silverthorne on the way to Vail to buy neck warmers because they could tell it would be miserable without them.
Ned Churchill, from Pittsburgh, and Walter Schmid, from Chicago, were braving the cold at Vail with the help from many layers of clothes. The men both have second homes in Vail and Epic Passes, so they're in town often.
Churchill poked some fun at Schmid for wearing so many layers.
"He can't move - he's wearing everything he owns," Churchill said.
Schmid counted about six layers and said he was feeling great. The guys were being smart by taking several breaks and sticking to the gondola instead of the chair lift, though.
"Mostly, we're pretty tough," Churchill said.
John Theoret and Geoff Sanz, from Toronto, in town for a week-long ski trip, wore the bare minimum in terms of layers. The guys didn't seem to be fazed by the cold snap.
"This isn't cold," Sanz said.
The Canadians were enjoying the relatively empty slopes and no lift lines - they said they hoped people continued to think it's too cold so they could have the snow to themselves.
Vail Mountain reported seven inches of new snow Wednesday morning, which is why Nick Magliaro, of Vail, braved the cold weather with his friend Steve Long and others. They layered up to get some of the best snow of the season so far.
"It's awesome up there," Long said. "Just stay moving and go fast (to stay warm)."
Liz Biebl, spokeswoman for Vail Mountain, said Vail's staff takes care of each other on particularly cold days and stays "more acutely aware of staying warm."
She said guests and employees are encouraged to watch out for frostbite, stay hydrated and take frequent breaks.
That's exactly what Shaolin Bez, a lift ticket scanner, was doing. She wore toe warmers, hand warmers, longjohns, two sweatshirts, a long-sleeve shirt, a scarf, a hat and two pairs of gloves - she was still freezing.
"I've been going in and out (of the gondola building) over and over all day," Bez said.
Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org