Abundance of snow falls for closing weekend
VAIL — A foot of fresh snow greeted skiers and snowboarders enjoying the mountain’s closing weekend on Saturday.
When the morning lines at Gondola One began to spill over onto the slopes, Vail officials made the call to let the crowds up a little early. Gondola One began taking passengers up at 8:30 a.m., a half hour earlier than scheduled on Saturday.
A crowd of locals had gathered at the Gondola for over an hour awaiting the opening, and the fresh powder.
Minturn local Rusty Lovato said it was the first time he waited with the early crowds all season.
“I got here at 8:30 a.m. one other time this season on a powder day, and the line was crazy so I just said forget it and went and got breakfast,” he said.
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VISITORS FROM ALL OVER
Lovato was joined by a crowd of a dozen friends who all headed right for Vail’s Back Bowls in the morning, which had been closed much of Friday due to lightning.
That closure was part of a cluster of inconveniences caused by the weather on Friday.
Hoping to land at the Eagle airport, the plane Ivalia Cruz of Mexico City was on flew around Eagle County for two hours before heading back to Denver, she said.
“They couldn’t land, so we had to go back to Denver,” she said. “They told us everything was canceled, so we rented a car and drove up.”
Cruz met her family on the mountain on Saturday to enjoy some skiing in the fresh snow.
“We always come out on closing weekend,” she said.
Visiting from San Francisco, Robert O’Donnell spent two weekends in Vail this year — opening weekend and closing weekend. Both were snowy. O’Donnell was joined by Kenta Takeuchi of Tokyo, Japan.
“The snow is really nice,” Takeuchi said.
They drove up from Denver on Saturday night, as well.
“From Denver to Eisenhower Tunnel was a nightmare,” O’Donnell said. “After that, it was so-so.”
PACKS IN THE BUCKET
With many stuck in Vail on Friday night due to the Vail Pass closure, business was good in town.
“I was slammed on Friday, and busy first thing Saturday morning, as well,” said Brian Little, owner of The Little Diner in Lionshead.
Little said the Future Business Leaders of America’s 2016 State Leadership Conference, which took place in Vail on Friday, kept his restaurant busy.
“They were stuck in town, like everyone else,” Little said.
Vail Mountain’s decision to stay open another week kept the Little Diner open another week, he said.
“We’re always open through Closing Day, and the Monday after for the employee ski day,” Little said.
Those out enjoying Sunday’s closing day are reminded to keep all packs small enough to fit in a 5 gallon bucket. Mountain security was also enforcing the rule on Saturday.
Vail is scheduled to open at 9 a.m. with security examining packs at all loading stations, including both gondolas and Chair 6 in Golden Peak. Other lifts that are scheduled to run Sunday are Chairs 2, 3, 4, 5, 11 and 15. Closing is scheduled for 4 p.m.
As the lifts stopped running on Saturday, the snow continued to fall.
“The weather on Saturday night and Sunday should continue the trend of Saturday with a few snow showers, some clouds, and also some breaks in the weather offering clearer skies,” reported Meteorologist Joel Gratz in a blog post on Saturday morning. “Overall, this is a great setup for a fantastic closing day on Sunday. Boy oh boy, I hope you’re at Vail this weekend because it doesn’t get any better than this for mid-April!”