Letters to the editor
Firstly, thank you, Adam Aron, for opening Vail early to allow everyone to enjoy the benefit of Mother Nature’s blessing and for making the parking structure free until the Thanksgiving holiday. This is a kind gesture.
However, your hype for the snow conditions was clearly better than your preparation for the number of people that responded to your marketing efforts.
I have skied in Vail from the time I was 9 years old (1962) and I have never seen such inefficient operation of the mountain.
It was inexcusable not to have better access to the mountain from the bottom. I stood in line at the Vista Bahn for 1 hour and 20 minutes while a friend waited over an hour to get their Colorado Pass. I’ll concede that he should have done it sooner in town or online, but you were still unprepared with that operation as well.
I realize that you need to extol the great snow conditions to procure holiday bookings and please your shareholders, but you also have the responsibility to provide a pleasurable experience to the skiers who have supported your mountain for years and years. We Front Range weekend warriors fight ridiculous traffic and other challenges to come and enjoy your resort and I feel as though some compensation is due the skiers who were so grossly inconvenienced on Saturday.
A one-day ticket, a parking coupon or something is in order for our trouble. I have never waited more and skied less, ever. Last year I had to wait on chair 17 for about 20 minutes while it was inoperable and I was given a red coupon for a free ticket. I am grateful for the generosity exhibited that day and believe that this situation warrants some reparation also.
In addition, while waiting for 1.5 hours to board chair 5, I witnessed a situation that should never have occurred. Many, many, people were throwing snow and ice balls and chunks at each other from the chairs and the ground. This continued for at least 45 minutes while my friends and I were in line.
People were allowed to get on the chair with snow and throw it into the crowd. The lift operators, ski patrol, and instructors that I observed did nothing to bring this under control.
It wasn’t until a lady that I was skiing with got hit and injured by a large chunk of hard packed snow that something was done. She went to the lift operator and asked to call the patrol from the phone in the lift shack. She then stood at the boarding platform and insisted the operator refuse to allow anyone with snow to get on the lift.
It took this action to stop a situation that could have serious consequences for your company.
You are lucky that no one received more severe injuries. I have never seen anything like this in the 47 years I have skied in Colorado.
Your mountain is usually very well managed and I always tell everyone that Vail provides a world-class skiing experience. The restaurants on the mountain, the lift operation, grooming, available terrain, information distribution, demeanor of the employees, and other functions that are under your control are normally done as well as possible so the anomaly that occurred on Saturday was quite a surprise.
Some will say that there was no way to anticipate the mass that descended upon your village on opening day. But in business it behooves you to over prepare rather than under prepare. Someone dropped the ball.
You have an opportunity to do something that will make a difference here.
Morrie Shepard III
Former Vail resident