Blue Sky Basin – Vail’s ultimate experience |

Blue Sky Basin – Vail’s ultimate experience

Peter W. Seibert
On the ridge between Pete's Bowl and Earl's Bowl, with the Sawatch Range in the background.

The event brought fresh reminders of the intense blueprinting, planning, mapping and modeling we had done to transform that precious terrain into a skiers’ paradise.

The final element of the resort master plan called for a massive expansion into two large bowls that would add 19 percent more terrain to the Vail area, already the largest in the United States.

At first this section was simply called Two Elk, after the creek at the bottom of the drainage. Later the name was changed to an engineer’s term, Category III, and finally the area was given a more poetic moniker – Blue Sky Basin. It formally opened on Jan. 6, 2000 – an unforgettable day for me. The weather was identical to that on the day Earl and I had first climbed the mountain in 1957 – sparkling sunshine on deep virgin powder.

Beyond that, however, the scene couldn’t have been more different. Earl and I were there, yes, but we were far from alone this time, and the mountain was far from silent. The place rang with speeches and cheers and noisy applause from a crowd of skiers and snowboarders in the thousands. There were TV crews, news anchors talking into microphones, reporters taking notes. The story made the evening news and turned up on the following day’s front pages of more than a few Colorado papers.

One headline told it all – “Pete and Earl’s dream comes alive.”

The portion of Blue Sky Basin that opened that day covered 520 acres and is known as Earl’s Bowl. The second part of the expansion opened for the the next season, 2000-01. It’s called Pete’s Bowl.

Earl and I cut a blue ribbon and I watched with joy and excitement as thousands of eager powderhounds charged down into the bottomless powder. Most of the snow was waist deep, yet in some places it rose over their heads. Yelps, yodels, and yips of pure joy echoed out of Blue Sky Basin. The noise grew fainter as the multitude descended.

As I watched people cut through the powder, the years rolled back and I thought of all the emotional peaks and valleys, the triumphs and the tragedies that had made up the fabric of my life at Vail.

Editor’s note: This is the sixth installment of the Vail Daily’s serialization of “Vail: Triumph of a Dream” by Vail Pioneer and Founder Pete Seibert. This excerpt comes from Chapter Two, entitled “Blue Sky Basin.” The book can be purchased at the Colorado Ski Museum, as well as bookstores and other retailers throughout the Vail Valley.

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