A look back at Opening Day at Vail Mountain the past five years | VailDaily.com

Here’s a look back at the past five opening days at Vail Mountain

Lift lines, crowded restaurants and packed hotels have long been part of busy times at mountain resorts.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Vail Mountain is opening this Friday with 91 acres of terrain and Beaver Creek will be right behind with an opening scheduled for Nov. 27. Locals are abuzz with anticipation for the official beginning of the 2019-2020 season. If you needed another way to get psyched, here’s a look back at what opening day looked like at Vail the past five years.


Opening Day: Friday, Nov. 21

Acres open: 540

Lifts open: Gondola One, Eagle Bahn Gondola, Avanti Express, Wildwood Express, Mountain Top Express, Born Free Express, Little Eagle Lift

Memorable moments:

  • Free breakfast burritos and hot cocoa for early risers, a tradition that’s continued throughout the years.
  • DJ music all day from the Red Bull truck at the base of the mountain.
  • A well-timed snowstorm dumped on the mountain that Saturday and Sunday.


Opening Day: Friday, Nov. 20

Acres open: 1,150

Lifts open: Gondola One, Eagle Bahn Gondola, Born Free Express,

Memorable moments:

  • Opening with 1,150 acres was the most open terrain the mountain had seen on Day 1 in years. Double Diamond Ski Shop general manager Matt Carroll guessed there hadn’t been this much open terrain since 1996.
  • There were 39 inches of snow already in November.


Opening Day: Friday, Nov. 25 

Memorable moments:

  • The mountain was scheduled to open on Friday, Nov. 16, but due to a lack of snow, pushed opening date back a week. The weather pattern that November was similar to the 2007-2008 season, which saw more than 100 inches of snow by Dec. 12.
  • The pushed-back date meant Vail and Beaver Creek opened on the same day: Beaver Creek was scheduled to open on Wednesday, Nov. 23, but also rescheduled for Friday.
  • Vail’s lifts opened at 8:40 a.m. instead of the usual 9 a.m. start.


Opening Day: Wednesday, Nov. 23

Acres open: 45

Lifts open: Eagle Bahn Gondola, Born Free Express

Memorable moments:

  • The mountain was scheduled to open Friday, Nov. 17, but the opening date was pushed back. Originally, Vail thought it would open on Friday, Nov. 23, which was Thanksgiving Day that year, but lifts started running on Wednesday at 8:45 a.m.
  • Temperatures in the 40s and a light rain on opening day and temperatures in the 50s projected for that weekend made conditions not ideal, but workable.


Opening Day: Wednesday, Nov. 14

Acres open: More than 600

Lifts open: Gondola One, Avanti Express, Wildwood Express, Mountain Top

Memorable moments:

  • The mountain was scheduled to open Friday, Nov. 16, but in a welcome twist after two years of delayed openings, the lifts started running two days and 10 minutes ahead of schedule.
  • Cesar Hermosillo, who grew up in Eagle County and had claimed First Chair for nine years running, said that the early November conditions on the mountain were the best he could remember. He and his ski partner Jen Natbony, who has also claimed First Chair for a number of years, held the title again.
  • Born Free Express, Chair 8, did not open on Nov. 14, which was a change since it had been one of the first to open for years.

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