Huge storm brings huge crowds to resorts
Ryan Summerlin January 31, 2014
EAGLE COUNTY — Avon resident Zach Brown has a car port to protect his vehicle from the snow.
But that didn’t help him on Friday.
“My supervisor got his car stuck, so he called me to come open the shop,” said Brown, a manager at Starbucks in Beaver Creek. “I had a perfectly clean car, but there was 3 feet of snow stacked up behind the car port, so I got stuck too.”
As a result, the Beaver Creek Starbucks opened 45 minutes late on Friday, one of dozens of local businesses affected by the immense amount of snow that blanketed the valley Thursday and Friday at rates of nearly 1 inch per hour.
“I wasn’t supposed to work until 11, so I was a little bummed to be missing out on the snow, but thankfully I got to sneak out for a couple hours from 1 to 3,” Brown said.
In his entire life, which includes three years living in the Vail Valley, Brown has never seen a snowstorm like the one he witnessed on Thursday and Friday.
“It was epic, the best day I’ve ever had,” he said.
622 SPILLOVER VEHICLES
Brown’s balance of work, skiing and travel complications was experienced by many on Friday. Vail Pass was closed for several hours as crews performed avalanche control work in the area, and the Colorado Department of Transportation reported Interstate 70 being clogged for most of the morning and afternoon.
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office sent home its “non-essential” employees Friday afternoon and Eagle County schools were closed, as well, with many local kids out enjoying a day on the slopes during the hours they would normally be in the classroom.
At approximately 5 a.m. on Friday, Vail reported 21 inches of snow in the past 24 hours, and Beaver Creek boasted 23 inches. Liftlines at both gondolas in Vail and Lionshead kept guests waiting 30- to 45-minutes to access the slopes, and both parking garages in town were full by 9:30 a.m.
“We had 622 cars spill out onto the Frontage Road, that’s a pretty big deal for a Friday. We never have that many. Especially with the pass being closed for a few hours,” said Kevin Berga, Vail’s parking supervisor.
THE COOKIE TEST
Beaver Creek was crowded, as well.
“This morning there was such a crowd at 8:30, you wouldn’t believe it,” Sherry Lewis said.
Lewis was a part of that morning rush, and she stayed on the slopes until 2:30 p.m.
“I don’t know if you’d call it skiing, with all this snow,” she said. “I was trying to ski, that’s for sure. My legs were killing me.”
Following her day on the slopes, Lewis was a welcome face to hungry skiers — she moonlights as a “cookie time” chef at Beaver Creek, passing out free chocolate chip treats to the resort’s guests.
Lewis said besides experiencing the powder for herself, she could also tell it was a good day on the slopes at Beaver Creek through an indicator she’s found to be very reliable — the cookie test.
“People eat more cookies on the powder days,” she said. “I think they’re hungrier because they’re getting more of a workout.”