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Promises of powder fulfilled

Matt Zalaznick

Take it from Vail’s Carole Feistmann.

“It’s like skiing through pillows of down feathers,” Feistmann said as she waited in line at the Vista Bahn with the rest of the powder hounds. Feistmann, wisely, was about the only skier in line wearing powder ties on her skis.

The sporadic storm that swept through the valley Tuesday and Wednesday dropped about 10 inches of snow on the slopes, piling Vail’s mid-mountain base up to 37 inches. Another 6 inches was expected to fall Wednesday, and if so it will only add to the 135 inches that have fallen on Vail this season – far above the average of 93 inches for this time of year.



There was just about no place on the mountain Wednesday you couldn’t have a fantastic ride, though we’re told the east side of Sun Down Bowl was still a little icy. Some of the best runs – assuming you like to ski like we do – were the east-facing ridges in the Back Bowls – particularly Genghis Khan and Red Square. Tree runs in the Back Bowls, such as like Shangri-La and Yonder, also were spectacular, as were Steep and Deep and Resolution in Blue Sky Basin .

We certainly won’t forget Blue Sky’s “Cornice,” which comprises the runs Lover’s Leap and Iron Mask. The landing off the ridge was soft and the snow was fluffy all the way down.



And the slopes were still in splendid shape by noon even though they were pretty tracked out. The snow was soft enough for all to slice through the islands and clumps of powder.

“This is what winter is all about,” said Chris Oppenheimer of East Vail, just another of the many locals who flooded the mountain Wednesday. “This is the reason we live here.”

On Oppenheimer’s list of reasons for living in Vail, powder days – especially in the Back Bowls – far outrank the local bus system and the roundabouts in Vail and Avon, she said.



“On a powder day, I just head to the back, straight to the back,” Oppenheimer said.

The mountain was so busy cars lined up and down the South Frontage Road made it look more like a Saturday than hump-day. But that’s because it was pretty close to a can’t-miss day, Oppenheimer said.

“Do you know how to spell “euphoria’?” she asked.

Mountain meteorologists told us to expect more snow Wednesday and that the skies would clear up Thursday. But here’s where all of you who missed out Wednesday need to pay attention: The weather guessers are expecting another storm to move in some time Friday, and they’ve got snow in the forecast all the way up to Christmas Eve.

Oppenheimer admitted she doesn’t know how to spell “euphoria,” though she stood by the word as an apt description of the slopes.

And here’s a little something for all you hoteliers and business people out there: Tourists, guests and visitors, the targeted demographic, appear to be in a really good mood.

“We were hoping to get some good snow. We had no idea it would be like this,” said John Grimstead, who left balmy New Orleans on Monday. The temperature there? Sixty degrees and not a single powder day in the forecast.

The droves of powder-hungry locals, however, were a little intimidating, Grimstead added.

“These pros all over the mountain make me a little nervous,” he said.

Feistmann, a local, had some inclusive advice for those who don’t quite feel steady in the deep stuff.

“Don’t let the mental part take over. You know how to ski,” she said. “Once you’ve got it right, you’re addicted and then you become part of the powder ritual.”


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