Otto Wiest
Vail, CO, Colorado

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April 6, 2013
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Vail Daily letter: Will Vail wither in warm future?

Vail's first 50 years include exciting memories, but will the skiing be as wonderful in future?

It was in 1964 when we stood at Thanksgiving on top of Pepi's Face and Bill Peterson showed us in about 5-6 feet of snow how to make short turns in deep and steep powder. Today at the same time of the year, you will be happy to make on lower Born Free some first turns together with many others.

If snow is up, business is up! And if snow is low, business is low. All those extras like dining, shopping, art and events seem to be almost useless when the snow in Vail is missing.

Some people in Vail seem to forget this reality, but it's the snow and the skiing that brings the guests to Vail.

In February, I read very interesting information in the Vail Daily by Seth Borenstein about all those climate theories. It says that the snow cover in Northern Hemisphere has shrunk on average by 1 million square miles in the last 45 years.

An upcoming study in the journal Climate says computer models predict the annual global snowfall to shrink by more then a foot in the next 50 years.

What has Vail done until now to secure the base of all Vail's business? Is the future of Vail skiing really safe enough?

If the climate keeps moving forward like it did the last 50 years, then it's only a question of time when there will be no snow in Vail in the Christmas season.

Do we realize that not only the snow, but also the skiers will move north to Alaska, where new ski resorts get built like Vail started when it was founded 50 years ago?

The main problem for Vail is like everywhere, the early and the late season.

Sometimes the snow melts too early, like last spring, and sometimes the snow comes too late, like this winter. But the high location of Vail causes cold nights, which is the base for snowmaking.

So if Vail is willing to do it, there are possibilities to use much more snowmaking if there would be enough water stored.

In the the Italian Dolomites, they make snow all winter long until springtime comes. The slopes are in perfect shape. People who goes there know that they will find reliable skiing and therefore they book their vacations. It's really quite simple.

If Vail might do some serious planning about its future, then the first question should be: What part of Vail Mountain offers the safest place for long lasting snow? With low temperatures, the fewest sun shine and whenever warm winds come up the valley and cause the snowmelt, what area offers the best protection against it?

In Vail everybody goes their own way, even when the ski mountain is the base of almost all business in the valley.

Pete Seibert started Vail without money. He never said it was to expensive to start Vail.

Those 50 years about what we are proud today, have been started with very, very little money compared to the money what today's Vail Resorts and the town of Vail are using.

To run Vail without reliable snow conditions or to save money is like to to try to run a car with flat tires.

When Roger Brown said in his ski movie about the 50 years of Vail: "Vail was built by skiers for skiers!" I would like to remind everybody that Vail was not built by skiers for shareholders!

Therefore, please keep going in the same direction that made the last 50 years for Vail so very successful.

Otto Wiest


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The VailDaily Updated Apr 6, 2013 05:45PM Published Apr 6, 2013 05:44PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.