Vail Daily letter: Actually, grooming remains great
Ryan Summerlin February 27, 2013
OK, it is time for a reality check concerning Vail Mountain’s grooming. The mountain (aka, urban) legends have reached a fever pitch. Even writers are using puns intended (“avalanche of letters”) to make their anecdotal claims. “Noon grooms” and “no one being seriously hurt by a cat” to “VR cutting costs” are not only wrong, they show an ignorance of facts.
Mother Nature is the culprit, not the exceptional grooming crews.
I have skied on Vail Mountain for 40 years. I currently ski over 130 days of the season, starting out every one of those days on one of the first gondolas out of Lionshead, over to Game Creek for a couple of warmup laps on Dealers Choice (always groomed) before heading either into Sundown Bowl or the front side, depending on the impact of the weather. I have found the grooming to be consistent and dependable.
There has been no change in the grooming quality or expected trails to be groomed this year from last or even before that. Grooming, as with everything on Vail Mountain, is professionally programmed and implemented.
The program includes consistency in grooming (Blue Ox on Tuesdays and Saturdays Riva on Fridays and Mondays, for example). The only exception to the schedule (which is posted online and in print every morning) is due to the lack of snow on a given trail. The schedule is well known to locals and memorized, but easily available to all.
Low snow counts in the past two seasons have been the limiting factor for the groomers.
There has never been a “noon groom,” as some lament. The last shift returned from China Bowl at 10:30 (I do miss watching them in formation going up and down Poppy Fields) and then on their way to the “cat” house near Ledges to end their shift.
Grooming hours have not been cut back. I take Chris Jarnot’s word that there are more cats in the shifts and the same 1,500 acres of grooming is done each day. It is evident every single morning on the mountain.
Have you seen the new super cats? Twice the horsepower and they groom 50 percent more terrain in a shift.
If one wants groomers, get on the lifts at 8:30 and you will see the mountain as you have never seen it before. Obviously, too many have been sitting around in the morning writing letters to the editor, missing the corduroy that is usually gone by 10:30.
Stop blaming the groomers or management for what is Mother Nature’s plan. Vail Resorts does a phenomenal job. You only need to use your options and try someplace else to see what a special mountain experience we enjoy.