Snow, cold temps are in the forecast
Today: Mostly cloudy, high of 25.
Sunday: Sunny, high of 33.
Monday: Chance of snow, 40 percent, high of 30.
Tuesday: Snow, high of 17.
Wednesday: Partly sunny, high of 10.
Source: National Weather Service.
EAGLE COUNTY — After nearly a month of warmth and worry, it looks like winter may finally settle into the Vail Valley. That means happy locals, visitors and businesses. It also means more skiable terrain at Vail and Beaver Creek.
Vail Resorts opened terrain at Beaver Creek on Friday at Bachelor Gulch, albeit with just one trail. Beaver Creek had 120 acres of intermediate and beginner terrain accessed from four lifts: Centennial Express, the Buckaroo Express Gondola, Cinch Express and the Bachelor Gulch Express.
Venture Sports owner Mike Brumbaugh was working Friday at the company’s Bachelor Gulch location and said a handful of longtime customers returned happy from their time on the slopes.
“They were grinning from ear to ear, talking about how they had the mountain to themselves,” Brumbaugh said. “That’s not good for us, but they were happy, and they were covered in snow.”
While snow cover on the slopes is still running behind seasonal averages, conditions appear to be good where the slopes are open.
Brumbaugh said Mike Beckley, the manager of Venture Sports’ Vail Village shop, is a self-described “snow snob.” Beckley told his boss that a mid-week trip up Vail Mountain “was the best November skiing he’d ever had.”
Vail Resorts had opened new terrain that day, and the conditions were “just really good,” Brumbaugh said.
The new snow allowed Vail Resorts Friday to open more terrain on Vail Mountain. The open runs now total more than 1,000 acres. Open lifts as of Friday are: Gondola One, the Eagle Bahn Gondola, Avanti Express, Wildwood Express, Mountaintop Express, Game Creek Express, Born Free Express, Northwoods Express and Little Eagle. Additional terrain is expected to open during the weekend at Vail, officials said.
Neil Conroy is a store manager at Buzz’s Boards in Vail Village. Conroy went out for a bit of “research” Friday, and came back happy.
“It was about boot-top deep early, and the snow was soft enough that it stuck around,” Conroy said.
Opening the lift out of Vail Village has been a big help for that part of town, Conroy said.
“Any time Gondola One is closed, the village is dead,” Conroy said. “Being able to ski back down really helps us out.”
Opening more terrain also frees up a bit of elbow room for early-season skiers.
“You don’t feel like you’re on top of each other,” Conroy said.
At the moment, there aren’t a lot of skiers. That means it’s going to take more snow — and more weather cold enough to support snowmaking — to help businesses make up some lost ground.
“We got hit real hard,” Brumbaugh said of his November business. Canceling the annual Birds of Prey ski races hurt, as did late openings for the resorts.
“When hotel occupancies are down that much, I’m down that much,” he said.
The sort-of bright spot in the warm November came Thanksgiving weekend, Brumbaugh said.
“People ended up renting bikes from us,” he said. “That had never happened before. It’s not ideal, but at least we had bikes available.”
Given the snow and temperature forecasts for the next several days, those bikes may stay parked for a while. After all, there’s snow on the hills.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.