Vail Daily’s Don Rogers: About as bad as it could get |

Vail Daily’s Don Rogers: About as bad as it could get

Don Rogers
Vail, CO, Colorado

For snow, this was Vail Mountain’s worst year ever.

Forget 1976-’77, the year of no snow. This winter had even less.

The Back Bowls were bare dirt into mid-January and done by April 1. Half of Vail’s terrain was closed by then.

Last time I went up, the Monday before the season ended, the nice Epic photographer worked to position our party up top to keep mud out of the background.

Just one season since the most snow Vail ever had, we just wrapped up the least. (Then it snowed, of course.)

This was as bad as it has ever gotten, and maybe as bad as could ever be. And you know what? It still was a great winter.

The groomers and snowmakers made the most of what we had.

Powder hounds and Front Rangers might have turned up their noses, but the regular Vail visitors had a blast anyway. And they spent more than they did last year, during Vail’s best snow year ever.

Vail never had less snow, and vacationers never spent more money on everything but real estate and new skis. That ought to answer the last of the naysayers about whether the Renaissance would pay off.

The bounty seemed to spread down the valley, too, judging by the double-digit sales tax figures the municipalities reported from February.

The sport is dangerous, even deadly, and we had tragedy, as well. I lost a friend, Dr. Charlie Tuft, and the Conlin family lost their 13-year-old son, Taft, to the mountain this season. This, of course, tempers everything while also demonstrating the closeness of our community.

Old dogs yammering about how we’ve lost our soul since their golden age simply don’t know what they are talking about, frankly.

The mountain spirit endures, with the booms and the busts, the record snow years back to back with the driest, just as it was in the late 1970s.

It just so happened that the economy, at least the vacation economy, surged while the snow was most scarce.

In some ways, the snow drought made spring break more fun for the visitors. They could ski one day, and ride a bike, hike or go fishing the next. Golfing wasn’t out of the question, either.

So now, ski season behind us, summer looks promising. Lodge bookings are up, marketing messages out, events teed up.

But 2002, the drought year when the largest wildfires in Colorado’s history burned, looks downright tropical compared to now.

Which means we still need snow.

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at or 970-748-2920.

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