BB&B trash "worse than ever"
Most of us would be outraged to find litter scattered across our favorite creek or hiking trail, but for one afternoon every April, thousands of locals seem to forget they’re in a national forest.Because after every “BB&B” – the end-of-season party every April for 22 straight years on Vail Mountain – ski patrollers spend hours, even days, digging heaps of trash out of the snow and trees around Minnie’s Deck, the slopeside grove above Lionshead Village where the rowdy party is held.”Wednesday morning it was worse than we’ve ever seen it,” said Julie Rust, head of Vail Mountain ski patrol. “It’s beyond my wildest dream that people would go up there and leave that kind of mess in a national forest.”The party is tolerated -though not sanctioned -by Vail Mountain and the U.S. Forest Service.BB&B, once held in the Back Bowls, has become a raucous and hallowed rite of spring for locals, many of whom have spent the ski season working at restaurants and rental shops trying to help tourists get their money’s worth out of their vacations.Several days before the actual party, droves of revelers head up to Minnie’s Deck to stash liquor, beer and other substances and build elaborate snow forts that look more like foxholes. During the party, the forts become makeshift bars and end up as parties within the party.”Obviously a lot more people worry more about getting stuff up there than getting it out of there,” said Brian McCartney, vice president of Vail Mountain. “The parts of the party that are great are a lot people showed up and had a great time. The parts of the party that aren’t so good is people aren’t particularly responsible about the land.”The party is part Mardi-Gras and part rock concert, and usually includes a giant snowball fight. Hundreds of revelers come in costume. Tuesday, the colorful get-ups included a tiger suit, a space suit, Winnie the Pooh and a homemade California HIghway Patrol uniform in homage to the early ’80s TV show “CHIPs.”Some people eschew costumes -and clothes -altogether.A few BB&Bers were spotted dragging garbage bags through the grove and picking up debris.”The garbage was normal and excessive, but for those that do pack their own stuff out, we appreciate it,” McCartney said.Ski patrollers found an angry letter tacked to the deck in the grove blasting revelers who leave tons of trash behind. The letter appeared to be written by a BB&Ber who said the massive littering will eventually ruin the spring ritual.Ski patrollers put 50 trash cans, seven recycling bins and three large Dumpsters in Minnie’s Deck. Rust said she’d be thrilled if everyone brought their beer bottles back down the mountain, but just putting the debris in the trash cans would be acceptable.”Two of the Dumpsters were used as forts, and it looked like somebody tried to go down the hill in one of them,” Rust said. “Find a trash can and use it and we’re happy to take it out. Or bring a trash bag, fill it up, tie the bag and I’m happy to load it on a cat.”Mountain officials may double the number of trash cans for next year’s BB&B.Snowcats hauled four loads of garbage down the mountain after the party, McCartney said.Another problem is that animals drag the trash all over the mountain, he said.Last year, much of the garbage was buried by a blizzard that barreled over Vail Mountain just as BB&B was ending. A foot of fresh powder prevented ski patrol from cleaning up Minnie’s Deck for a few months.So one sunny morning last June, mountain employees combed the grove andhauled down several truckloads of garbage that emerged when the snow melted.Most of the junk was typical party debris, but one trash collector said he found a mostly eaten box of City Market sushi among the flotsam.Rust recommend that next year revelers do a better job of cleaning up and also, bring beer in cans, not bottles.”This year, we failed again at cleaning up after ourselves,” Rust said. “Next year. let’s do it right.”Matt Zalaznick covers public safety, Eagle County Courts and Avon/ Beaver Creek. He can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at email@example.com.