Powder’s a blessing and a hassle | VailDaily.com

Powder’s a blessing and a hassle

Veronica Whitney
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyA skier comes down Bald Eagle on Grouse Mountain Thursday morning, skiers and snowboarders flocked to Grouse Mountain to hit all the powder stashes on Beaver Creek Mountain.

BEAVER CREEK – You could call it skier’s luck. Mark Simmons and his son, Todd, got an extra day of skiing out of the winter storm Wednesday and Thursday that dumped about a foot of snow here.The Simmons, from Arkansas, were getting ready to leave their home in Beaver Creek Wednesday afternoon when the Eagle County Regional Airport closed down because of the snow storm that in some more rural areas of Eagle County delivered 18 inches of new snow.”Luckily, we couldn’t leave, so we came back to ski this morning. It’s great skiing,” said Todd Simmons, 34, with a wide smile before heading into knee-deep snow on Goshawk, one of the steepest runs at Beaver Creek.Other parents, however, weren’t as lucky as Todd Simmons’ and had to stay home, despite the new snow that reached two feet in some areas of Vail’s Back Bowls. The storm was the most significant snowfall Vail and Beaver Creek had seen since Thanksgiving, when 38 inches fell at Beaver Creek. “My dad was upset he couldn’t ski with his pass today,” said Sam Strileig, a 15-year-old from Edwards who was enjoying his Christmas Week vacation with his friends while his father will have to wait until Sunday when the pass restrictions end.

“We’re heading to Grouse Mountain to get some untracked powder,” Strileig said.Winter storm effectsWhile the new powder was a blessing to those on the slopes, others struggled Thursday morning to get to work.It took Andrea Palm-Porter, who lives on the Colorado River Road about 40 miles west Vail, more than two hours to dig out of her driveway. Palm-Porter, who works for the Vail Daily, said there were 18 inches of new snow at her home before 8 a.m. Thursday.”I was in four-wheel drive trying to get out of the driveway and there was a knoll at the top of the driveway and I had to back up three times to get enough momentum to get out of the driveway and still couldn’t get out,” Palm-Porter said. “My husband got a skidsteer to try to move snow out of the driveway.”Thursday was Carlos Nunez’s second day on Beaver Creek Mountain. Despite the new snow, Nunez, 40 of Miami, who was standing on line to get his ski pass with his daughter, Natasha, 12, didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get on his skis.

“I’m in pain from yesterday,” he joked. “Today is very nice. Now we want more sun. We have enough snow for the day. The weather here is awesome. It’s not as cold and the day is beautiful. “It’s like Miami with snow.”The day started with snow Thursday, but by mid morning, some strong wind blew the storm away and the sun came out at times.Constant winds of 30 mph with gusts of up to 50 mph forced mountain operators at Beaver Creek to close down the Cinch Express lift (Chair 8), which runs to the top of the mountain, until the afternoon. Another chairlift, Drink of Water (Chair 5) remained closed for the whole day due to high winds.On Vail Mountain, the wind packed some areas in the Back Bowls with even more snow.”The wind effect was pretty cool,” said Jen Brown, spokeswoman for Vail Mountain. “What a difference one day can make. Skiing was pretty good. We have more than 5,000 acres opened – we are 95 percent open.”

More snow in storeMore snow it’s on its way this weekend, said Dave Nadler, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.”It won’t be as much as it was Wednesday night, but we’re anticipating more snow coming in late Friday and through the day Saturday,” Nadler said.About 3 to 6 inches could fall in the valley, Nadler said. Although the windy conditions will persist, Nadler said, temperatures will stay in the 30s during the day.Brown said there will still be powder at Vail Mountain. “There will still be plenty of secret places to jump into this weekend,” Brown said.Though skiers and snowboarders can always use more snow, those who made it up the hill Thursday, got their fix – at least for a while, they said.

“It was so deep and was good,” said Chris Mayer, 34, of Avon, after skiing down Peregrine, a double-diamond run. “It was so deep, in spots it was knee-deep. There were a strong 10-inches out there.”We need more,” he added.Although he and his buddies got lost in the woods, 12-year-old Winston Boldt, of St. Louis, Miss., said he had a blast skiing the powder.”We got lost in a glade near Golden Eagle,” Boldt said. “But with all the powder it was a lot of fun.”Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 454, or vwhitney@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado

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