Letters to the Editor
Time to teach
I am currently a home-schooled student in the Vail Valley. Lately, I have been doing a project on avalanches and their science. I have found, since working with avalanches, that it is much more beneficial working with professionals rather than reading The Avalanche Handbook and studying it as a textbook. This is due to the experience you get out in the field.
This past weekend, I gave ski patrol a call to see if they would have any free time on their hands to take my tutor and I out to see a normal day in the avalanche department of Ski Patrol. With no hesitation, the date was set for Wednesday, March 31. On that morning we met with various members of the Ski Patrol. One sat us down and showed us weather reports, snow condition reports, avalanche blasting reports, and basic information that they use in the avalanche department on a daily basis.
Afterward, another patroller took us down the mountain and showed us a number of areas that are under constant avalanche watch and control. These areas were all maintained with the utmost caution.
Thanks, Vail Ski Patrol, for teaching me so much about your profession.
It was like a credit card commercial.
Three 50-something women reunion at Beaver Creek Lodge. Wonderful. $$$$$$. College roommate buys full-length beaver fur coat and boots first day in Beaver Creek. Wonderful. $$$$$$ … At concierge’s suggestion, the women bus it from Beaver Creek to Vail to ride a snow cat and partake of gourmet meal at the Game Creek Club. Wonderful. $$$$$$. Fresh snow encouraged wearing of new coat, purchase of cowboy hat and goofy ski helmet covers for the kids back home. Wonderful. After dinner on Vail town bus, very drunken man throws up inches from new fur coat. Priceless.
While we joked about it at the time to shake it off, in the light of day it seems very sad that this was the impression of Vail my women friends take back with them to Minnesota and Florida. One, a president and CEO of her company, the other a Dr. of Psychology with an active practice, my friends carry this tale of their one evening in Vail to family and associates afar.
The Vail concept of pedestrian walkways is laudable, encouraging use of public transportation, so I chose to leave my car in Beaver Creek and use your system. It also seemed to make sense, due to the lateness of the 8:30 Saturday evening dinner reservation, after skiing and swimming activities during the day.
That evening, first we experienced a gondola car reeking of pot smoke. It was too late to change cars, so we shrugged it off (and loved the awesome night ride). But on the top we were all slightly embarrassed, as a family with three young kids entered our gondola car to ride down, since it erroneously appeared we had been the ones smoking the dope.
After dinner on the Vail town bus, the vomit from the one incident was so widespread on the floor, we were glad there was a back door exit so we wouldn’t have to step through it. The same sick and drunken young man appeared at the transportation center, where we needed to go to either catch a cab or bus to return to Beaver Creek. Another young male with bottle in hand was observed. So we stood outside deciding whether to take the cab or the bus.
Our mistake, we took the bus.
That bus driver was helpful and welcoming. We sat in front by him, since we did not know exactly where to get off in Avon. But we felt sorry for the bus driver when he had to first shout at, then pull over the bus, turn on the bus light and confront a group in the back for smoking (cigarettes). Then the bus driver found a man in far back who seemed to be passed out, since he did not respond to inquiry. From then on, the interior bus light correctly remained lit, so driver could keep an eye on the situation in back.
We finally reached the lot below the gate to Beaver Creek. The bus driver did us a huge favor by calling for the Beaver Creek shuttle to pick us up and drop us back at the lodge. This part went flawlessly, though by now it was well into the wee hours of the morning.
I am not sure what would be best to begin address these situations.
Should Vail employers more closely monitor their employees in regards to substance abuse? Am I wrong to assume that level of alcoholic poisoning would have resulted from prolonged consumption, possibly while on the job? If so, then the employers may possibly be losing income from liquor being consumed by employees. A larger issue would be the liability the employers would have for any number of unfortunate but predictable events occurring from drunken employee actions. Not to mention the health consequences repeated drunken behavior bestows to the drinker, over time.
At the base of the gondola, I observed no personnel at 7:30 or 8 p.m. that Saturday night. (Maybe there was someone who was on break?) No one escorted us onto the gondola (who could have at least guided us away from the dope smoky one onto a different car). I would have thought there would be someone there 100 percent of the time monitoring the base loading. Maybe someone was observing from a booth I did not see?
I suggest someone should be literally at the gondola door (as it is during the day skiing hours) to welcome guests. This was true at the top, where check-in for the restaurant, the snow cat ride and the meal were superior and delightful experiences.
I think it would be worthwhile to extend the hours of the direct Vail-Beaver Creek bus to run, say, until midnight every night. It was so easy to get to Vail from Beaver Creek on the outbound direct bus, and such a drama to do the late night return on the non-direct bus. The non-direct bus was extremely slow, even had there been no additional incidents causing the extra stop.
Your multi-day ski passes encourage skiers to ski both Vail and Beaver Creek, but by my experience of your transport system, in no way would I encourage anyone to remain in Vail to shop or dine into the later hours, as we did, if you intend to return to your lodging in Beaver Creek.
Regarding the upcoming Lionshead renovation, wouldn’t it be prudent to address the aspect of uniting the Vail-Beaver Creek areas? Has anyone considered constructing a monorail-type system between two ski areas in your new millennium planning? Is there in the plan some affordable accommodation to be built for service workers to occupy in Vail and in Beaver Creek, thus avoiding the long commute for them after their shift?
At the Vail transportation center, are security guards on watch 24/7? If so, are they empowered to report and detain any employee (as well as non-employees!) found in a drunken-disorderly state? Threat of immediate loss of local employment with strict enforcement might help clean up the center.
Your high-level transportation executives should occasionally ride these late-night buses and visit the transportation center at all hours to confirm that our experiences are just not isolated incidents.
While my CEO friend reserved accommodations in Beaver Creek for February 2005, I suspect she does not intend to bring her group for evening dining and shopping in Vail using the public transportation system.
Anne Marie Butler