As Vail Mountain closes, a final storm adds to an already abundant snow season
Crowds enjoyed good snow conditions for Vail Mountain’s end-of-season celebration after a storm dumped nearly half a foot of fresh powder on the slopes to kick off the resort’s closing weekend on Saturday morning.
That brought Vail’s cumulative snow total on the season to 357 inches, slightly better than the 354 inches the resort claims as its annual average.
On Vail Mountain on Saturday, winter conditions persisted throughout the day. Local snowboarders Otto Jordan and Mike Narracci said they found deep snow conditions on the mountain’s front side throughout the morning on Saturday. Tele skier Sammy Katz said he took multiple laps through the Back Bowls — Vail left Sun Down and Sun Up bowls open through Closing Day, all other Back Bowls closed the week prior — and found a nice blanket of snow on that side of the mountain, as well.
Skier Michelle Hermsen had been notching 20,000 feet of vertical per day for the week leading up to Closing Day; she was skiing in honor of her friend Regina Foley who died in a hiking accident in 2018. On Sunday, sunny skies returned to the Vail area, and Hermsen said the slushy conditions at the bottom of the mountain had become too much for her knees to deal with by the end of the day, so she got the last 4,000 feet of vertical needed to meet her 20,000 per-day challenge by skiing the top half of the mountain, on Chairs 2 and 4.
“Regina is a beautiful soul that was taken too soon and will live forever in our hearts,” Hermsen said.
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Many dress up in costume for the day, and use the annual gathering on the top of the mountain as an opportunity to visit with friends. Several members of the Vail Yeti hockey team did both, reuniting for a day of camaraderie following a successful season on the ice, and dressing up as referees to add some festive attire to the annual gathering.
Vail Yeti center Brett Sorem, dressed in full referee gear including helmet and whistle, said there was seven or eight members of the Vail Yeti skiing and snowboarding together on Sunday.
“We’ve been having a blast,” he said.
The annual gathering in the Ski Patrol Headquarters area is known as “4 at 4” and was in full effect once again this season. The party derives its name from those who venture to the top of Chair 4 at 4 p.m.
At exactly 4 p.m., a deafeningly loud blast of horns was sounded from an alert system atop Chair 11, and crowds began to disperse.
Crowds were relatively tame, but one arrest did occur at the event, and another incident was being investigated as the day came to a close.
Vail Police Chief Ryan Kenney said officers observed a group of people snorting a substance out of a bag and took into custody the person who appeared to be in possession of the substance. He was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance. The man was handcuffed and escorted through the crowd of people at the 4-at-4 celebration.
“He was brought down the mountain to our facility,” Kenney said.
Following that arrest, Vail Police Officer Greg Schwartz combed the area for a person of interest in another case. The description of the man’s attire — “Black snowboarding boots and a Tarzan thong,” drew some laughs from those Schwartz was contacting in an effort to find the person.
But Kenney said the case is no laughing matter.
“We are investigating an assault,” he said.
No other arrests were reported on the mountain for Closing Day, Kenney said.