Letters to the editor
Keep 5 slow
First of all, I would like to tell you that I have been in Vail since 1962 and I have helped from time to time Vail Associates develop new lifts and runs on Vail Mountain. In the beginning, I worked very closely with Peter Seibert. I have skied Vail Mountain for 41 years.
I have promoted Vail as a professional ski racer since 1962. I have owned and operated Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer since 1964 and Pepi Sports since 1968. I have been part of the team to bring the World Ski Championships to Vail in 1989, 1999 and hopefully 2009.
The very eastern part of the mountain starts with Outer Mongolia, then working your way west you come to Inner Mongolia, then Siberia Bowl, then China Bowl and Sun Up Bowl. Blue Sky Basin is a huge bowl for powder skiing and is an excellent area. Tea Cup Express (Chair 36) caters to a lot of powder skiers in the back bowls. The Back Bowls do not always have very much snow until late December, and sometimes not very much snow in March, either.
The Back Bowls are the most beautiful place to ski on a powder day. I personally would like Chair 5 to stay the way it is and not build a new lift. It is a real special area and it needs to be kept special. If you increase the number of high-speed lifts in this area, this very special area will be skied out in one hour. Vail Mountain now is big enough to accommodate the many powder skiers. There are many lifts you can go on to access the back bowls. Once in the back you can take chair 17, 21, 22, 36, 37, 38 and 39, all being high-speed lifts except Chair 17.
The Back Bowls helped make Vail the top ski area in this country and we need to make sure it stays this way. I am very opposed to replacing Chair 5 with a high-speed lift and especially adding another high-speed lift in this area.
No more powder
You can build as many lifts as you want in the Back Bowls. But you cannot get more powder snow there. When I came to Vail about 40 years ago, at this time of the year there was powder all over without any snowmaking. Today we are happy if the temperature allows the snowmaking to open the area.
The global warming until today is not quite 1 degree Celsius. Amazing how big the changes are. I travel a lot. There is less snow in Vail; there is less snow all over the European Alps; there is less snow in Australia and New Zealand; less snow in Norway and even the ski resorts in Patagonia told me they have less snow.
So in Vail it needs a lot of courage to build new chairlifts on a south face, which sometimes runs in the middle of January with the grass sticking out of the snow. The global warming is a fact that will continue. Is Vail on another planet? Can you really ignore the situation?
I have seen in my lifetime big glaciers almost completely disappear. So why don’t you take your money and invest it in snowmaking on the north face to keep the economy of the whole valley running? Mid Vail and Northwoods would have together with enough snowmaking ideal conditions for an early start and late spring skiing.
Also, I hope you agree when I say that the amount of fresh powder is limited and out of reach. With more or faster lifts in the Back Bowls, the snow is tracked down earlier. If it lasts now about until noon, the powder skiing will be over in the future at 10 or 11 o’clock. So hurry to get out early in the morning. How nice for the guests if the employees and the Denver skiers get one run more and the others get the leftovers. The Back Bowls will then be empty for the next two or four weeks until the next new snow may arrive. That’s a lot of money just to ski down the fresh powder by two or three hours earlier. You will not have more powder skiing and you will not have better powder skiing.
Do you really think that you may get more guests for Vail with new Back Bowl chair lifts? Most of the time they are not usable for normal skiers because of bumps, crud, slush and chopped-up snow.
These are brave decisions for a ski resort what should have, after 40 years, kind of a redesign of its ski mountain like Copper Mountain did. Vail is known as a place with many catwalks. Skiers don’t like catwalks and boarders hate them. Besides they are dangerous, like Pepi Gramshammer’s accident showed. Also, if Vail plans to have over 20,000 day skiers, there are quite a lot of bottlenecks around, which become real problems when skier numbers go over 15,000. The skis have changed, the speed has changed, the snow has changed, and besides snowboarding has changed the world of skiing. But the Vail slopes have not changed. May I mention that it is possible to make even the best things better?