Ski blog: A long December |

Ski blog: A long December

VAIL — Vail Mountain was eerily quiet this morning ” strange for a Friday in December.

Few cars in the village garage. And no one in line at Chair 4 at 9:30 a.m.

I thought of the Will Smith movie “I Am Legend,” set in deserted Manhattan.

Of course, it is blackout week. Locals and Front Range pass-holders are not welcome till Monday.

So what were they missing? Pretty good conditions at Vail. There were about 2 inches of new snow Friday, a nice layer of fresh snow atop the copious powder we’ve gotten over the last week.

And it was cold. Good for keeping the snow fresh, but, well … it can be uncomfortable. The lady I rode up the Vista Bahn with had one of those form-fitting face masks, and I was wishing I had one, too.

I took a warm-up run on Christmas, with the run to myself. By the time I got back to Chair 4, there was a bit of a line, but I didn’t wait at all as I jumped into the singles line.

I then tested out the Back Bowls, dropping in to Headwall in Sun Up Bowl. It was surprisingly soft under the 2 or 3 or 4 inches of fresh snow that had collected back there overnight.

What a difference a month makes. At the beginning of December, there was little terrain open, just a bit more than Born Free. Soon Vail was getting dump after dump, making this a December to remember.

It seems like more than a month ago when Vail was struggling with brown spots. Lots of powder days elongate time. By the time February came around in the record early season of 2005-06, I felt like I’d skied a full season already.

I skied down the recently groomed Gandy Dancer (just a few nascent bumps), past the empty Chair 11, and finished by skiing down the bottom part of Riva Ridge, still with a fresh groom.

At the bottom, there was a sizeable line at the Vista Bahn. All of those guests, paying top dollar for hotel rooms at Christmas week in Vail, had finally made it up to the hill.

Edward Stoner can be reached at

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