Terrain closing as season winds down | VailDaily.com

Terrain closing as season winds down

Tamara Miller
NWS Vail Closures SM 4-8 Vail Daily/Shane Macomber Snowboarders Dave Baird, left, and Merrin Jokic head home early Thursday afternoon at Vail Mountain, where despite spring temperatures, 99 percent of the skiable terrain remains open.

The ski season is coming to a close and fittingly, so is some of the terrain on Vail and Beaver Creek mountains.

Beaver Creek, which closes Sunday, has about 62 percent of its terrain open. Vail Mountain, however, has 99 percent of its terrain open, but “in fairness, some of it is very thin cover and some are bald spots,” said Bill Jensen, chief operating officer for Vail Mountain.

But skiing in Vail’s Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin is still great, skiers said Thursday.

“I think anything from mid-Vail up is good,” said Richard Brown of East Vail. “It could be worse. We’re still skiing, the lifts are open. We’re OK.”

Vail Mountain is scheduled to close April 18 – and mountain officials will adhere to that schedule. The snowpack at mid-Vail is half the average for this time of year, 41 inches versus the 82 inches listed in record books, said Jen Brown, Vail Mountain spokeswoman.

An unseasonably warm and dry March is primarily to blame for the lower-than-average snowpack. March typically is the wettest month of the year, Brown said.

There are signs posted on the mountain advising skiers to ride a chairlift down to get off the mountain, rather than navigating the thinly covered terrain toward the bottom, Jensen said.

Beaver Creek skiers will find most terrain in the main part of the ski area still open. The Arrowhead ski area closed last weekend, as scheduled. One run remains open in Bachelor Gulch – Sawbuck, said John Garnsey, chief operating officer for Beaver Creek.

Both ski resorts have had new snow the past few nights. Vail has received 6 inches of new snow in the last 24 hours. “It helps because it freshens the surface,” Jensen said. “By the end of the day the upper temperatures change that.”

In the past week, the upper elevations of Beaver Creek Mountain have received about a foot of snow, Garnsey said.

Cooler temperatures and more snow is expected today and Saturday, Jensen said.

“The April weather is consistent with what we are normally experiencing in April,” he said. “You’d have to go back to the seventies in Vail to see similar weather patterns in March like we’ve seen this year.”

Chairlifts on the main portions of both mountains run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lifts in places like Vail’s Back Bowls close earlier, Brown said.

Despite the odd weather patterns in March, both ski resorts have remained relatively busy in April. There’s been a higher number of skiers from Mexico and the United Kingdom in town. Jensen credits the upcoming Easter holiday, which conveniently falls this year in early April. Last year, Easter fell on April 22 – too late to benefit Eagle County’s ski resorts.

“We’ve been very pleased with the numbers this week,” Garnsey said. “It’s been very positive.”

Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at: tmiller@vaildaily.com or by calling 949-0555 ext. 607.

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