I would like to respectfully submit my objection to Vail Resorts’ proposed lift upgrade for Sun Down Bowl.
Personally, I believe that the replacement of the existing chair 5 triple chair to a high speed quad will do much to detract from the natural snow experience in Sun Down Bowl. I recognize that many view No. 5 as too slow, and I have too been “caught” down there, but this is a case where we will inevitably sacrifice quality for speed.
However, the much larger issue is a second lift built somewhere between Straight Shot and Ricky’s Ridge. This will completely alter the natural back bowl experience for the worse. All the snow will be packed down in hours rather than days. We will no longer have the opportunity to work the chop, crud, and junk that is one of the great joys of upper level skiing. The only expert non-bump skiing on Vail Mountain will disappear, to be replaced with either moguls or grooming.
Recognizing the bowl’s south facing exposure, the groomed runs will be hard pack until the middle of the day. The incredible view of Sun Down Bowl which we enjoy now will be a mere memory as that great expanse will now be interrupted by the new chair line as well as hundreds of skiers descending. The traditional traverse out to Seldom will inevitably be replaced with a road, and the Wildwood facility will become a crowded hub instead of a pleasant destination.
A final factor is one of safety. All of us know that on a busy day, the run outs to the lift are fast and aggressive. It seems to work out because the users are for the most part skilled and the volume finite.
Now quadruple that traffic and mix the abilities and we will have collisions that are far more frequent and serious.
We have a chance to preserve that which makes Vail Mountain unique among American ski areas. Please take time to consider all these factors before we take that step we can’t retreat from.
Note: I have used the term skier to be the generic to include any form or conveyance that slides on snow.