VAIL, Colorado - There isn't an exact formula for how much snow is required to open Vail's Back Bowls - all Ski Patrol Director Julie Rust can say as of now is that the resort isn't quite there yet.
Opening the Back Bowls depends on snow, obviously, but there's more to it than that. The kind of snow that falls is what determines the base, and the light, dry, fluffy snow isn't the best maker of a solid base.
"We're out there taking a look every day," Rust said. "Things are looking a little bit better obviously - we've gotten more than a foot (of snow) in the last week, so we're certainly happier."
Rust says the best way to determine when the Back Bowls are safe to open is simply by looking at the conditions.
"We do it the old-fashioned way," Rust said. "We just go out and take a look."
With a few more snowstorms and cold temperatures, things could turn around. It all depends on the kind of snow, though.
"A nice dump of good, wet, heavy snow that provides us with better coverage than the light, dry stuff combined with the wind (would be best)," she said.
The Ski Patrol and Vail Mountain snowcat crews have been doing what they can to assess the snow conditions and work with what is there to get ahead of the game, Rust said, but the resort isn't going to jump the gun and open terrain until the safety concerns are eliminated.
"We want to be careful to continue to provide our guests with what they expect when they get out there, so we don't want to take a risk saying we'll open (the Back Bowls) before they're ready," Rust said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.