Vail hopes for responsible partying Sunday
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – Closing day at Vail is a party, a day to reflect on the season and celebrate thousands of collective powder days everyone has enjoyed throughout the season.
And while the day is usually cheerful and happy, Vail Mountain officials and local law enforcement say some partiers take the celebration a little too far.
Vail Mountain has announced some added enforcement to the rules this year as part of an effort to make sure people celebrate responsibly, specifically at Vail’s Chair 4 at 4 annual party tradition. The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Vail Police Department, U.S. Forest Service and Vail Ski Patrol will be at the party to ensure it runs smoothly.
Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot said the resort is not trying to get in the way of anybody’s good time, but they are trying to make sure that rules are followed so that the good time can continue season after season.
“We welcome everybody to come for the last day to celebrate, have a great time and reminisce about what an incredible season it has been,” Jarnot said. “But because of the volume of people we have on top of the mountain, we do some things unlike any other day.”
Things like sizing up the backpacks people bring onto the mountain and enforcing the Forest Service’s administrative 4 p.m. closure of the mountain are what skiers and boarders can expect on Sunday.
Backpacks must be able to fit into a 5-gallon container – part of the resort’s effort to limit the amount of alcohol people bring onto the mountain. It’s not illegal to drink alcohol on top of Vail Mountain, but officials are discouraging excessive drinking.
“If it’s for personal use, that’s fine,” said Don Dressler, the snow ranger for the U.S. Forest Service who will be overseeing his sixth end of the season party Sunday. “We get concerned about excessive use. Then those folks aren’t able to ski themselves safely home and they rely on us to get them down, and that’s not appropriate.”
Vail Mountain enforced a zero tolerance snowball policy a few years back and that has worked out well, Dressler said.
Since the snowball throwing has ceased, families are now able to come up and enjoy the celebration in a more relaxed setting, Dressler said.
“We want people to be able to come to Vail, hang out, say good-bye and celebrate,” Dressler said. “What we don’t want is this to generate into a free-for-all party. Our job is to find that balance.”
Many people do find that balance, Jarnot said. For the most part, the day runs smoothly and the majority of people on the mountain are respectful and helpful – everything from helping to clean up trash to shouting a thank-you to ski patrol and other mountain employees for a great season.
But a few bad eggs emerge each season and find themselves in trouble. They’ll either refuse to leave the mountain when asked or they’ll get so intoxicated that they aren’t able to ski down. There have also been incidents in the past where folks have tried to assault local police officers.
The Forest Service’s 4 p.m. closure means all lifts on the front side of the mountain will shut down. The Vail Ski Patrol will set off explosives around 4:30 p.m. to signal the official end of the season, and at that time everyone is expected to head down off the mountain.
With Pond Skimming scheduled at 3:30 p.m. and the Spring Back to Vail final concert scheduled at 5 p.m., officials hope there will be enough exciting off-mountain activities going on that will encourage people to head down from the top of the mountain.
Dressler said a 5 p.m. mountain sweep will ensure everyone gets down, and for those who refuse to leave, there will be consequences.
Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger said it’s fine to have a good time Sunday, but people need to be able to care for themselves and get off the mountain safely.
“It’s nobody else’s job to do that but yours,” Henninger said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.
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