Don Rogers: Vail’s elephant in the room
Vail, CO Colorado
Here’s a question no one in Vail wants to answer or even think about, as far as I can tell: What do we do when the snow goes?
Yes, I know the global-warming sci-ence doesn’t convince everyone. Nei-ther does the “theory” of evolution. And some of my friends might still doubt tobacco’s hazards, such is their skepticism of science.
But the Vail Valley is a highly edu-cated, liberal place these days. What I mean is more people think like Al Gore than Rush Limbaugh. We’re all atwitter over wind credits and LEED certification. We’re trading our plas-tic grocery bags for cloth. Our favorite color is green. Our favorite word is “sustainabil-ity.”
So what happens in, oh, say, 50 short years when Vail’s base is Mid-Vail and we start snow-making on New Year’s Eve? I asked Vail Resorts’ highly pol-ished public liaisons this question. They were pol-ished enough to defer to CEO and Chairman Rob Katz.
“Listen,” he said with a chuckle. “I think we’d all have a lot more serious things to think about than whether we can go skiing.” Or something like that. I had asked if VR had considered an exit strategy from ski resorts in a world without snow.
I’m sure we will indeed have bigger issues, like trying to guess where the beachfront will wind up and whether the Caribbean will become the new Dubai, and Dubai the new Mars.
Still, Vail Resorts is a ski company, after all, and Vail is a ski town. For now.
The pine-beetle outbreak, for want of cold snaps to knock the bugs down, speaks louder, at least to me, than our past couple of good snow years.
Ironically enough, the early period of warming could be good to Vail. We may well get even better (if warmer) dumps while the lower-elevation ski hills starting in, say, Europe dry up.
The world has warmed before more than it is now, if not at as fast a pace, and it will cool again in the grand passage of time that makes a bristlecone’s lifetime a mere blink.
I’m not arguing for humans or sun spots being the culprit.
I’m just wondering when the town of Vail begins the grand, inevitable conversion to Estes Park. That is, as a summer retreat when Denver really is cooking and 100 degrees feels like a breezy spring day.
And you know, this isn’t so far away, if true. A 30-year-old today may well recall at age 80 when Vail’s streets really were heated to keep the snow off and you couldn’t grow a palm tree to save your life.
Don Rogers welcomes your com-ments. He can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2920.