VAIL, Colorado - Vail Mountain announced Tuesday it would reopen this weekend following 2 feet of snow that has fallen at the resort since Sunday's closing day.
Chatter spread on social media Monday as the snow came down hard throughout the valley. Skiers and snowboarders talked about the irony of a huge snowstorm the day after the lifts closed.
Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot said resort officials started talking about reopening Monday night as a result of the massive snowstorm.
"We were up yesterday for our employee (ski) day and it was absolutely incredible and then when it just kept snowing as hard is it did all day long - and we knew there was more in the forecast - we started talking about 'We should do this,'" Jarnot said. "This is why all of us are here - (the snow's) too good not to take advantage of and share. We talked about it last night and pulled the trigger."
Reopening a resort after it has officially closed is tough work. Jarnot said the resort had to figure out which employees are still in town and then rehire them and redistribute uniforms, among other logistics.
Vail Mountain spokeswoman Sara Lococo said the last time the resort extended the season past closing day was at the end of the 1986-87 season.
Jarnot said the resort will spend the next couple of days getting its staff back together.
"That's part of the reason we can't reopen until Friday," Jarnot said. "We just wanted to get the word out that it would happen."
Skiers and riders were overjoyed with the news Tuesday morning. Within 10 minutes of Vail's announcement on its Facebook page, nearly 200 people had already shared the status update. Within an hour, more than 800 people had shared the news and nearly 1,200 people had "liked" the update.
"Thank you so much Vail!" commented Jess Coulter on Vail Mountain's Facebook page. "Yesterday was torturous watching it dump all day knowing the mountains in Eagle County were all closed."
Jarnot, who was just about to board a plane Tuesday morning for a family vacation, said he never imaged in his wildest dreams that he would have missed being in Vail this week. Jarnot said it's important to note that Vail Mountain wouldn't be able to offer the level of guest services and amenities the resort typically provides. On-Mountain dining, for example, will be offered at Mid-Vail, Marketplace at Eagle's Nest and Buffalo's, but options will be limited.
"We're trying to give everybody a chance to get up and enjoy all this incredible snow," Jarnot said. "It's going to be a stripped-down experience."
Jarnot expects a lot of Front Range and local pass holders to come to Vail this weekend for "a great way to end our 50th anniversary season."
The announcement means others will also need to adjust plans, including business owners and the town of Vail.
Lionshead bar owner Dennis Foley, who owns Bart-N-Yeti's, had planned on being closed but announced he'd reopen Friday through Sunday because of the resort's reopening.
Town of Vail Public Works Director Greg Hall said the town is looking for available bus drivers before determining how much additional town bus service it could provide this weekend. The last day of work for many town bus drivers was this past Sunday, the resort's official closing day.
The town of Vail's parking garages switched to free parking Monday morning and will remain free this weekend, town spokeswoman Suzanne Silverthorn said. The town is also prepared to accommodate parking on the South Frontage Road should the garages fill up.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.