VAIL - Closing Day has arrived and celebrations will be had, but there are some things to keep in mind when heading to Vail and Beaver Creek on Sunday.
The annual Chair 4 at 4 (p.m.) party has become an end-of-season tradition at Vail Mountain, but the resort and the U.S. Forest Service are looking to its patrons to celebrate responsibly if the tradition is to continue.
"Playing it safe is critical to everyone having a good time on Closing Day," said Don Dressler, snow ranger for the White River National Forest. "Take care of each other and enjoy your public lands responsibly."
Vail Mountain spokeswoman Liz Biebl said the typical end-of-season procedures will be in place Sunday. The resorts asks skiers and snowboarders to cooperate with ski patrol and Vail Mountain staff when asked to pick up trash or to exit the mountain at the end of the day. Once Vail Ski Patrol does its final sweep, the mountain will be closed and will remain closed until summer operations resume in early June.
The resort and the U.S. Forest Service remind guests at both resorts to abide by the Colorado Ski Safety Act and "Your Responsibility Code," as well as observe and obey all posted signs and closures. Those who break laws or rules of skiing could be fined or arrested.
"Guests are reminded that using any ski lift or trail while impaired by alcohol or controlled substances is prohibited under the Colorado Ski Safety Act. Guests are also not permitted to ride lifts, ski or snowboard on Vail Mountain with open containers or exposed quantities of alcohol, coolers, suitcase-like carriers, barbecues or similar items," according to a statement released by Vail Mountain. "One daypack per person will be permitted on Closing Day, provided the bag fits in a five-gallon container. Bags that do not meet the requirement will only be allowed if they contain no alcohol or controlled substances."
Breaking the rules can have serious consequences, as evidenced by punishments in years past. Anyone ticketed, arrested or caught throwing snowballs will lose skiing and snowboarding privileges for the 2013-14 season. The same goes for those who disobey signs and closures, "or engage in other inappropriate behavior."
Biebl said the resort just needs to be able to manage the celebrations and ensure guests have a good time in a safe environment.
"We have no intention of pulling the plug on everything, we just need to keep it at a manageable level," she said.
A couple of seasons ago, the resort began scheduling the annual World Pond Skimming Championships in Golden Peak at 3 p.m., which helps disperse people around the mountain so everyone isn't gathered at Chair 4 at 4. Following pond skimming, a free outdoor concert by reggae artist Jimmy Cliff takes place at Solaris in Vail Village.
Skiers and riders offered some tips on the Vail Daily's Facebook page about how and where to close out the season.
"Wear as much '80s neon as possible. Include head bands, big hair, Vuarnet sunglasses and skinny skis," wrote Kurt Desautels. "If you make it to Chair 4 at 4, just remember that most of the people skiing down at the end will be intoxicated."
Shane Kennedy breaks it down into two categories: "Got kids? Go watch some pond skimming. No kids? Top of (Chair) 4."
At Beaver Creek, there will be 60 trails open on 850 acres and five main chair lifts, plus four beginner surface lifts.
Vail will have more than 4,600 acres open, including Blue Sky Basin, China, Tea Cup, Sun Down, Sun Up and Game Creek bowls. Most of the frontside also remains open through Sunday.
"Vail's 50th anniversary season has been a truly memorable event for the resort and community," said Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain. "We hope that locals and guests alike enjoyed the season-long celebration and we invite everyone to join in the festivities both on and off the mountain on April 14 to close out this historic winter at Vail."
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vail